The J-8 project was largely made possible due to the transfer of MiG-21 technology from the Soviet Union in 1961. The maiden flight of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation J-8 fighter aircraft took place on July 5, 1969 but the production version did not enter service until the early 1980’s. This Chinese plane was codenamed Finback by NATO and designated under the F- naming protocol.
The F-8 was finally fitted with a solid nose for the F-8II (Finback-B), based on the layout of the Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 Flagon-A fighter, to house more powerful radar than was possible on the MiG-21 open nose design. The F-8II series was a delta-winged aircraft powered by 2 Wopen-13A (WP-13A) engines and a maximum speed of Mach 2.2. The F-8II first flew on 12 June 1984 and the exhibit on display at the Combat Air Museum was manufactured in 1985. The F-8II version of the series was shown at the Paris Air Show in 1989.
On 1 April 2001, a later version Chinese F-8D fighter collided with a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft flying over disputed waters about 70 miles (110 km) south of China. The US EP-3 crew was forced to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island. The pilot of the F-8D ejected but was never found and presumed dead. The crew of 24 Americans was detained for 11 days, eventually allowed to return home after senior US Government representations. The American aircraft was detained on Chinese property (disassembled to gain access to sensitive equipment and information) and not returned for another 3 months.