Modern Airplanes/Jets


MiG-21 Fishbed

Nation Flag

Soviet Union

Model Box

Date Deployed: June 14, 1956
MiG-21 Fishbed North Vietnam with Ambush Camouflage 
Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurewitsch  
Model from Academy of Korea Kit # 2171 Built on 03-06-2007        1/48 scale



   The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21) (NATO reporting name "Fishbed") is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed and built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. More than 30 countries of the world have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its first flight. Its Mach 2 capability exceeds the top speed of many later modern fighter types. Estimates are that more than 8,000 MiG-21s were built, more than any other supersonic jet aircraft.

   The first generation of MiG jet fighters was based on designs similar to late-WWII German jet designs, starting with the subsonic MiG-15, MiG-17, and the low supersonic swept-wing MiG-19. A number of experimental Mach 2 Soviet designs were based on nose intakes with either swept-back wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-7, or tailed delta wings, of which the MiG-21 would be the most successful.

   The E-5 prototype of the MiG-21 was first flown in 1955 and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow's Tushino Airport in June 1956. The first delta-wing prototype, named "Ye-4", (also written as "E-4") flew on 14 June 1956, and the production MiG-21 entered service in early 1959. Employing a delta-wing configuration, the MiG-21 was the first successful Soviet aircraft combining fighter and interceptor characteristics in a single aircraft. It was a lightweight fighter, achieving Mach 2 speed using a relatively low-powered afterburning turbojet, and is thus comparable to the American F-104 Starfighter and French Dassault Mirage III.

   When the MiG-21 was first introduced, it exhibited several flaws. Its early version air-to-air missiles, the Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name AA-2 'Atoll'), were not successful in combat, and its gyro gun-sight was easily thrown off in high-speed maneuvers, making the initial version of the MiG-21 an ineffective aircraft. These problems were remedied, and during the Middle Eastern and Vietnam wars, the MiG-21 proved to be an effective aircraft. Subsequent MiG-21 models added design modifications to incorporate lessons learned in these wars.

   The MiG-21 initially achieved renown in the Vietnam War, during which it saw frequent action. It was one of the most advanced aircraft at the time; however, many North Vietnamese aces preferred flying the MiG-17, since the high wing loading on the MiG-21 made it less maneuverable than the MiG-17. Although the MiG-21 lacked the long-range radar, missiles, and heavy bombing payload of its contemporary multi-mission U.S. fighters, it proved a challenging adversary in the hands of experienced pilots especially when used in high speed hit and run attacks under GCI control. MiG-21 intercepts of F-105 strike groups became so effective in downing US aircraft or forcing them to jettison their bomb-loads by December 1966 that the USAF resolved to do something about it and launched Operation Bolo in January 1967 to draw the MiG-21s into an aerial engagement. By masquerading as a F-105 strike group, F-4 Phantoms led by Colonel Robin Olds lured the MiG-21s up through an overcast and claimed 7 of them shot down.

   By the bombing halt in Operation Rolling Thunder in 1968, poor air-to-air combat loss-exchange ratios against smaller, more agile enemy MiGs during the early part of the Vietnam War eventually led the Americans to establish dissimilar air combat training programs such as "Top Gun", which employed subsonic A-4 Skyhawk and F-5 Tiger II aircraft to mimic the performance of more maneuverable opponents like the MiG-21.

   A VPAF MiG-21MF flown by Phạm Tuân over Hanoi, North Vietnam on December 26, 1972 was apparently responsible for the only claimed combat kill of a (U.S. Air Force) B-52 Stratofortress in history. The B-52 had been circling above Hanoi during Operation Linebacker II. During that operation, two MiG-21s were shot down by B-52Ds, the last air-to-air victories for American aerial gunners. Over the course of the Vietnam War, between April 26 1965, and January 8, 1973, USAF F-4s and A-4s downed 68 MiG-21s.[citation needed]

   The MiG-21 was also used extensively in the Middle East conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s by the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq against Israel. The MiG-21 initially faced Israeli F-4 Phantom IIs and A-4 Skyhawks in the 1970s, but was later outclassed by the more modern F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon, which were acquired by Israel beginning in the 1980s. The MiG-21 was also used in the early stages of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, 1979.

   Interestingly, Egypt would eventually be shipped some American Sidewinder missiles, and these were fitted to their MiG-21s and successfully used in combat against Libyian MiG-23s during the brief 1977 war.





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