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Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)

Interceptor Prototype Aircraft

Soviet Union | 1962

"What would have been the next evolution of the MiG-21 Fishbed became just two prototypes - and one of these lost to an accident during flight testing."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/18/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
While it may seem that the West was the only power at work on fantastical "x-planes" during the Cold War decades, Soviet engineers were constantly evolving technologies all their own. With the success of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 "Fishbed" under their belt, engineers at the OKB continually developed the line through a series of test subjects largely for experimental purposes. One of these test subjects became the Ye-8 based heavily on the Fishbed and intended as the next incarnation of the line. However, engine difficulties ultimately doomed the project which stood as just two completed prototypes by the end - and one of these lost to an accident.

In 1961, Moscow authorities called for a new variant of the MiG-21 supersonic interceptor/fighter for use in day-night/all-weather interception scenarios. The aircraft would retain its single-seat/single-engine configuration and its primary armament would be 2 x Vympel K-13 air-to-air missiles directed by the RP-22 (Volkov "Sapfir-21") radar. Increased performance would come from an uprated engine fit. It was intended that the new design would carry the designation of "MiG-23" once in service and exist in its developmental stage as the "Ye-8". The former was eventually assigned to another Mikoyan-Gurevich product, the "Flogger".

The engine of choice became a Tumansky R-21F-300 turbojet based on the RD-11F series. Airflow was dramatically increased thanks to larger compressor inlets and a new afterburner component provided better short-term, high-speed output. This single installation would power the new design and provide the needed capabilities to rocket the aircraft into the air in short notice and propel the system towards the intended target zone.

On the whole, the airframe would remain faithful to the original MiG-21. Qualities carried over were the single vertical tail fin with low-mounted tailplanes, the delta-wing configuration and the tubular fuselage. The aircraft kept the sharp-angled lines along all of its wing surfaces.

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However, that was where the similarities ended for the Ye-8 exhibited an all new nose section, an all new intake arrangement, and featured additional wing surface appendages for greater stability and control. The original MiG-21 carried the iconic nose-mounted intake that was so commonplace to post-World War 2 jets and its shock cone emanated from this opening. In the Ye-8, a complete nosecone assembly was introduced ahead of the cockpit in an effort to house the new radar. The engine aspirated through a bifurcated (split) air intake held under the cockpit (in fact very similar to the modern-day Eurofighter Typhoon) and nine fuel tanks were tied together to provide greater fuel delivery efficiency. Canard foreplanes were then added along the sides of the nose just ahead of the cockpit and a the raised dorsal spine of the MiG-21 remained, restricting rearward views to an extent. Slightly noticeable was the lower position of the tailplanes when compared to the MiG-21. Additionally, a sizeable ventral fin was added under the tail and made to fold sideways upon landing (this feature later standardized in the finalized MiG-23 "Flogger" design). A tricycle undercarriage was fitted with the nose leg longer than that seen in the MiG-21 - giving the aircraft a pronounced "nose up" appearance when on the ground.

Factory No.155 was charged with construction of two Ye-8 prototypes (Ye-8/1 and Ye-8/2) by June 1961 and the first was ready for display as soon as March 5th, 1962. Testing then began in April of that year which showcased the design sound after a few flights. However, engine issues began to arise from the fifth flight onward and nearly killed its test pilot. Ye-8/1 was lost on September 11th, 1962. Prototype Ye-8.2 began its flying phase in June of 1962. The two prototypes differed slightly between themselves but neither was fitted with their intended radar kit.

Engine reliability issues with the Tumansky R-21F-300 continued to dog the program throughout its development and this ultimately led to its cancellation despite the promising nature of the basic design. Radar and armament were never fitted. All was not lost, however, for experience and data garnered from the Ye-8 test phase helped to influence the aircraft that would become the official MiG-23 "Flogger" aircraft in the Mikoyan-Gurevich product line.

As completed, the Ye-8 held an overall length of 14.9 meters and a wingspan of 7.15 meters. The R-21F-300 turbojet engine outputted 10,330lbf on dry thrust and 15,820lbf with afterburner engaged. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 1,385 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 65,600 feet.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8/1 Interceptor Prototype Aircraft.
1 x Tumansky R21F-300 turbofan engine developing 15,820lbf with afterburner (10,330lbf dry thrust).
1,386 mph
2,230 kph | 1,204 kts
Max Speed
65,617 ft
20,000 m | 12 miles
Service Ceiling
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8/1 Interceptor Prototype Aircraft.
48.9 ft
14.90 m
O/A Length
23.5 ft
(7.15 m)
O/A Width
14.3 ft
(4.35 m)
O/A Height
11,464 lb
(5,200 kg)
Empty Weight
18,078 lb
(8,200 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23) Interceptor Prototype Aircraft .
PROPOSED (never fitted):
2 x Vympel K-13 air-to-air missiles
Notable series variants as part of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23) family line.
Ye-8 - Base Series Designation
Ye-8/1 - First prototype; lost to accident.
Ye-8/2 - Second prototype; testing abandoned.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 2 Units

Contractor(s): Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB (MiG) - Soviet Union
National flag of the Soviet Union

[ Soviet Union (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (1,386mph).

Graph Average of 1,050 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.
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Image of the Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-8 (Fishbed) / (MiG-23) Interceptor Prototype Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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