Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Fishbed) Fighter Aircraft
The successful Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-21 Fishbed was a giant leap from earlier MiG turbojet-powered, swept-wing fighters for the Soviets.
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The MiG-21 was undoubtedly the most successful Cold War fighter in terms of reach, operating in over 50 air forces around the globe and seeing production well past the 10,000 example mark. The aircraft was developed with lessons learned in the Korean War based on after-action reports and valuable pilot input. The end-product for the Mikoyan-Gurevich firm would be the pinnacle of MiG fighter development that began in 1938 during World War 2 and culminated in over a decade of research, testing and development to produce the exceptional MiG-21. Despite having limited range (common in many of the early thirsty jet-powered implements), the MiG-21 was none-the-less easy to operate, easy to maintain and cost-effective to the point that many-a-nation went on to field the type - some even to this day.
Mikoyan-Gurevich was formed in the relatively early stages of World War 2 by the Soviet government. The firm's initial production offerings became the modestly-successful MiG-1 and MiG-3 piston-engined fighters that helped to stave off the German advance into Russia. While not an overly spectacular aircraft - utilizing a basic conventional light airframe with a very powerful engine - it gave Mikoyan-Gurevich some level of successful to build a foundation on for developments to come. By the end of World War 2, the firm had produced their first production jet-powered aircraft in the MiG-9 "Fargo". While unspectacular in itself and very prone to accident, the Fargo was still produced in nearly 600 examples and set the stage for the firm's next success in the smallish MiG-15 "Fagot".
The jet-powered, swept-wing MiG-15 appeared as something of a surprise to UN pilots in their straight-wing Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars and Republic F-84 Thunderjets. It was not uncommon for UN piston-powered aircraft to square off against these silver-colored nimble machines as well. The MiG-15 proved more than a handful to her adversaries - especially when in control by Soviet airmen - to the point that a counteragent - the North American F-86 Sabre - was brought in to force a political and military "tie" to the conflict, an "uneasy peace" more or less. Over 12,000 MiG-15's were ultimately produced with a further few thousand more coming under license outside of the Soviet Union.
The MiG-15 was bettered in the development MiG-17 which was already in the works during the Korean War and made operational in the Soviet inventory in 1952. Though not utilized in the Korean conflict, it went on to see notable action in the Vietnam War and elsewhere. While an improvement over the MiG-15 in most regards, the MiG-17 was still a subsonic performer - that is, operating under the mach 1 speed ceiling. Production still topped over 10,000 examples.