MiG 15 Midget
The MiG-15 began life just after WWII, when the Soviet Air Force charged their aircraft design bureaus with developing a high-altitude day interceptor, able to operate from rough strips, reach Mach 0.90, have good maneuverability at high altitude, carry heavy armaments and have a flight endurance of over 1 hour. This was quite a demand.
Though called a Soviet design, it was developed from plans taken from Germany as a war prize and is almost identical to the Focke-Wulf Ta-183 design that was not completed before the war ended. They also did not have a decent jet engine and approached Great Britain for help. The British welcomed this approach from their ally and offered the Rolls Royce ‘Nene’ and ‘Derwent’ engines for them to manufacture under licence. The Nene was selected and went into production by Klimov as the RD-45 turbojet.
The resultant aircraft was outstanding, and it’s appearance in the skies over Korea in1950, shocked and stunned the Americans and their allies fighting for South Korea. Their deadly attacks, armed with three cannon, quickly ran all piston-engined aircraft from the battlefield including the B-29 bomber, the task for which they had originally been designed. This also included all first generation jets such as the Lockheed F-80, Republic F-84 and the Gloster Meteor, all of which eventually became efficient ground support aircraft. Indeed, the loss of five RAAF Meteors to the one soviet ace, Alexandr Smortzcow, resulted in our own Air Force quickly pushing ahead with their acquisition of the North American F-86 Sabre. This imbalance improved slightly with the introduction of the early F86’s but did not really change until the F-86 with the `all flying tail’ came on line. At the end of the war, the loss ratio was 13 to 1 against the MiG.
First flown in 1948. First flown in combat in Korea in 1950.
First jet v. jet battle was 8 Nov. 50 with a US. Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star which resulted in the loss of the MiG
NATO nickname for the MiG-15 was “Fagot” and for the MiG-15UT1(2 seat trainer) was “Midget”. The Russian nickname was “Air Soldier” and the 2 seat “Matushka or Good Old Woman “
The MiG-15 flew with 31 Communist Bloc countries and the UTI version still flies in some as the basic jet trainer. They also flew with Indonesia, only a few hundred kilometers from our shores, but because of poor servicing and flying training, never presented a threat.
They were built or assembled in four countries, Russia, Poland as the Lim-2, Czechoslovakia as the CS 102 and China as the J-2. China commenced production with the MkII (MiG 17) version. Over 13000 aircraft were built.
It was powered by a Klimov 45 turbojet (Rolls-Royce Nene copy) and this engine was developed far beyond that of the British company basically because the latter had developed far more efficient and powerful designs. Because of the resultant Cold War that developed between the East and the West, Russia never paid any manufacturing rights. This engine is the same as that used in the Australian De Havilland Vampire, each plane producing far different performances, The MiG outperforming the Vampire in every respect. This was basically because of it’s swept-wing design. This imbalance was not rectified until the appearance of the F-86E, Lockheed’s “All Flying Tail” version of it’s famous Sabre, which was also the first fitted with 4 cannons instead of. 50 machine guns.
Russian pilots and their MiG’s were sent to the Korean war, their aircraft stripped of all Russian insignia and wording, the pilots dressed as civilians, guarded by secret police, on the Trans-Siberian railway, to give them time to learn some Korean language. They flew from Chinese bases across the border so as not to create an international incident.
Armed with 1x37mm (1.5″) and 2x23mm (1″‘) cannon it packed a lethal punch.
On 21 Sept 53, North Korean Pilot Kum Suk Ago defected with his aircraft and the US, finally had it’s hands on a MiG 15. The aircraft was transported Stateside for evaluation and was flown by many pilots including Gen. Chuck Yeager of sound barrier fame.