Mikoyan-Gurevich DIS (MiG-5) Proposed Long-Range Escort Fighter / Heavy Fighter
Several major issues greeted the promising MiG DIS heavy fighter during its short wartime existence - culminating with just two prototypes realized.
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Nearly all world air services of the interwar period entertained the concept of a twin-engined "heavy fighter" intended to escort bomber formations as well as carry out individual, specialized attacks against ground targets. In many ways these were multi-role platforms before the term for aircraft became commonplace and were able to take on all manner of over-battlefield tasks all the while retaining inherent fighter-like qualities. There proved some notable ventures in the heavy fighter category - namely the British de Havilland DH.98 "Mosquito", the German Messerschmitt Bf 110, and the American Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" - while the Soviets attempted several twin-engine types for their part including the oft-overlooked entry coming from Mikoyan-Gurevich - the MiG DIS ("Dalniy Istrebitel Soprovozhdenya").
The DIS was developed to a Soviet Air Force requirement calling for a long-range fighter escort. In time the requirement grew to include several other battlefield roles including bomb delivery, torpedo delivery and fast reconnaissance. Design work began in 1940 and Mikoyan-Gurevich joined Grushin, Polikarpov, and Tairov in attempting to fill the need. The Mikoyan-Gurevich entry became the "DIS-200" and the engine of choice was set to be 2 x Charomskii series M30 or M40 systems. A streamlined fuselage, fitting the cockpit at front, was devised with a split vertical tail fin arrangement at rear. Wings were fitted well-ahead of midships and each given an underslung engine nacelle - the engines driving three-bladed propeller units. The undercarriage relied on a "tail-dragger" arrangement in which the main wheels retracted into each nacelle.
Proposed armament centered on a single 23mm VYa cannon (fitted to a removable ventral pod) with 2 x 12.7mm BS heavy machine guns and 4 x 7.62mm medium machine guns. A bomb-/torpedo-carrying capability was worked in with the load reaching up to 2,205 lb. However, if fitted with this war load, the aircraft lost its ventral cannon pod.
Because the Charomskii engines were not ready in time, the airframe was arranged with 2 x Mikulin AM-37 12-cylinder Vee-type engines developing 1,400 horsepower (each). Ground-running involving the "DIS-T" prototype began in mid-May 1941 which led to a first flight recorded on June 11th but the design quickly proved unsatisfactory performance-wise - its top reachable speed was less than 350 miles per hour. To rectify issues, changes were appropriately instituted which involved drag reduction techniques and use of four-bladed propellers and this work led to a 32mph speed increase. Still not a production-worthy platform, it was recommended that development continue to improve the product. The Axis advance towards Moscow, where the DIS-T was being worked on, forced operations to be relocated further east and delayed the program considerably. Production issues with the AM-37 engine also derailed the impending heavy fighter design (which had secured the "MiG-5" designation by now).
The DIS-200 designation was then used for the second prototype as well - the "DIS-IT". First flight of this model was recorded during January 28th, 1943 and primarily differed in its use of 2 x Shvetsov M-82F 14-cylinder radial piston engines, each outputting at 1,700 horsepower. Armament was modified to 2 x 23mm cannons and 4 x 7.62mm machine guns and performance included a maximum speed of 375 mile per hour.
By 1943, however, the Soviet situation had changed considerably from the time of the German invasion of 1941 and there proved little need for a heavy fighter type in escorting Air Force bomber formations. Instead the aircraft production focus for the Soviets fell to more tactically-minded platforms that could surgically strike Axis formations with greater accuracy. This also meant a relaxation of any range requirements for Soviet aircraft would be operating from bases closer to the enemy in their push towards Berlin. This led to a full cancellation of the MiG DIS project in October of 1943.