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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3 - Soviet Union, 1941

Detailing the development and operational history of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 11/2/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3  
Picture of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 was one of the faster Soviet piston-engined fighters available at the start of World War 2, though still outclassed by Germany types.

Despite being one of the fastest Soviet piston-engine designs in the early years of the war, the MiG-3 was dogged by less-than-stellar handling characteristics and was genuinely still outclassed by German counterparts in the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 series. The system was also woefully under-armed in its early versions and was relegated to bomber escort and close-support duty during its tenure. Eventually, the system would give way to the more capable Lavochkin series of radial-engined platforms even though some 3,400 examples of the MiG-3 were to be produced.

The MiG-3 was a single-seat, single-engine, low-wing monoplane fighter. The elongated nose section depicted the spacing needed to mount the long engine fielding the Mikulin brand. Appearing in initial forms as the I-61 prototype, the system graduated into production as the MiG-1. The MiG-1 proved no match in the early opening rounds of conflict, armed with just three machine guns and still operating with handling problems and fitted with a 1,200 horsepower Mikulin V-12. Only about 100 of the MiG-1 series were produced in 1940, giving way to the slightly improved MiG-3 in 1941.

Picture of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3
Picture of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 / MiG-3

The MiG-3 offered up only a slight boost in handling capability and was initially fielded with the same woeful three gun armament. Later models would improve this count by adding one additional heavy caliber (.50) under each wing. Provisions for under wing rockets (totaling 6) and two bombs were part of the MiG-3's armament capabilities. Additional modifications to the MiG-3 resulted in a sliding canopy assembly, slightly redesigned wing systems and a constant speed propeller system. Horsepower from the Mikulin AM-35A V-12 amounted to an impressive 1,350hp putting the overall top speed somewhere near 400 miles per hour.

Despite all this, the MiG-3 would never shake the handle of being a "hot rod" aircraft and nothing more. The Lavochkin series of aircraft would take the mantle and offer up exceedingly better performance over the MiG-3 series. In the end, Mikoyan-Gurevich would still end up designing one of the more memorable piston engine aircraft of the war and lay down the groundwork for decades more work in the field of interceptor design culminating with the fabulous MiG-29 Fulcrum multi-role platform.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 Specifications

Service Year: 1941
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Type: Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft
National Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer(s): Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB - Soviet Union
Total Production: 3,422

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 26.74 feet (8.15 meters)
Overall Width: 33.79 feet (10.30 meters)
Overall Height: 8.76 feet (2.67 meters)

Weight (Empty): 5,721 lb (2,595 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 7,385 lb (3,350 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 1 x Mikulin AM-35A V-12 piston engine developing 1,350 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 346 knots (398 mph; 640 kph)
Maximum Range: 675 nautical miles (777 miles; 1,250 km)
Service Ceiling: 39,370 feet (12,000 meters; 7.46 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,935 feet-per-minute (1,199 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 12.7mm Beresin BS machine gun mounted over engine.
2 x 7.62mm ShKAS machine guns mounted over nose.

Later models would feature additional 2 x 12.7mm machine guns underwing, one per wing.

6 x 3.23 inch rockets
2 x 220lb bombs

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Soviet Union

Model Variants

I-61 - Prototype Model Designation
MiG-1 - Initial Production Models of which some 100 examples were produced; fitted with Mikulin AM-35 V-12 engine of 1,200hp; 3 x machine guns.
MiG-3 - Production Model Designation of improved MiG-1 samples; fitted with AM-35A engine of 1,350hp; later models added 1 x 12.7mm machine guns under each wing; sliding cockpit canopy; improved handling.

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