|Note: Base stats only (no upgrade installed)|
|Maximum Speed on height||1009 km/h|
at sea level
|Maximum Altitude||15500 m|
|Turn Time||21.7 seconds|
|Rate of Climb||29.0 m/s|
|Takeoff Run||475 m|
|Armament||2x 23 mm NR-23 cannon (160 rds)
1x 37 mm N-37D cannon (40 rds)
|Burst Mass||10.80 kg/s|
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-15;) is a jet fighter aircraft developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB for the Soviet Union. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in most applications.
The MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made, in excess of 12,000 were manufactured. Licensed foreign production may have raised the production total to over 18,000.
Design, Development & Operational History Edit
The first turbojet fighter developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich was the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9 which appeared in the years immediately after World War II. It used a pair of reverse-engineered German BMW 003 engines. The MiG-9 was a troublesome design which suffered from weak, unreliable engines and control problems. Categorized as a first generation jet fighter, it was designed with the straight-style wings common to piston-engined fighters.
The Germans just failed to have their turbojets with thrust over 1,130 kilograms (2,490 lb) running at the time of the capitulation in May 1945 which limited the performance of immediate Soviet postwar jet aircraft designs. They did inherit the technology of the very advanced axial compressor Junkers 012 and BMW 018 Jets that, in the class of the later Rolls-Royce Avon were some years ahead of the currently available British Rolls-Royce Nene engine. The Soviet aviation minister Mikhail Khrunichev and aircraft designer A. S. Yakovlev therefore suggested to Premier Joseph Stalin that the USSR buy the conservative but fully developed Nene engines from Rolls-Royce for the clandestine purpose copying them in a minimum of time. Somewhat logically, Stalin is said to have replied, "What fool will sell us his secrets?"
Designated MiG-15, the first production example flew on 31 December 1948. It entered Soviet Air Force service in 1949, and subsequently received the NATO reporting name "Fagot." Early production examples had a tendency to roll to the left or to the right due to manufacturing variances, so aerodynamic trimmers called "nozhi" (knives) were fitted to correct the problem, the knives being adjusted by ground crews until the aircraft flew correctly.
An improved variant, the MiG-15bis ("second"), entered service in early 1950 with a Klimov VK-1 engine, an improved version of the RD-45/Nene, plus minor improvements and upgrades. Visible differences were a headlight in the air intake separator and horizontal upper edge airbrakes. The 23 mm cannons were placed more closely together in their undercarriage. Some "bis" aircraft also adopted under-wing hardpoints for unguided rocket launchers or 50–250 kg (110–550 lb) bombs. Fighter-bomber modifications were dubbed "IB", "SD-21", and "SD-5". About 150 aircraft were upgraded to SD-21 specification during 1953–1954. An unknown number of aircraft were modified to "IB" specification in the late 1950s.
The MiG-15 arguably had sufficient power to dive at supersonic speeds, but the lack of an "all-flying" tail greatly diminished the pilot's ability to control the aircraft as it approached Mach 1. As a result, pilots understood they must not exceed Mach 0.92, where the flight surfaces became ineffective. Additionally, the MiG-15 tended to spin after it stalled, and often the pilot could not recover. Later MiGs incorporated all-flying tails.
The MiG-15 was originally intended to intercept American bombers like the B-29. It was even evaluated in mock air-to-air combat trials with a captured U.S. B-29, as well as the later Soviet B-29 copy, the Tu-4 "Bull". To ensure the destruction of such large bombers, the MiG-15 carried cannons: two 23 mm with 80 rounds per gun and a single 37 mm with 40 rounds. These weapons provided tremendous punch in the interceptor role, but their limited rate of fire and relatively low velocity made it more difficult to score hits against small and maneuverable enemy jet fighters in air-to-air combat. The 23 mm and 37 mm also had radically different ballistics, and some United Nations pilots in Korea had the unnerving experience of 23 mm shells passing over them while the 37 mm shells flew under. The cannons were fitted into a simple pack that could be winched out of the bottom of the nose for servicing and reloading, allowing pre-prepared packs to be rapidly swapped out.The MiG-15 was widely exported, with the People's Republic of China receiving MiG-15bis models in 1950. Chinese MiG-15s took part in the first jet-versus-jet dogfights during the Korean War. The swept-wing MiG-15 quickly proved superior to the first-generation, straight-wing jets of western air forces such as the F-80 and British Gloster Meteor, as well as piston-engined P-51 Mustangs and Vought F4U Corsairs with the MiG-15 of First Lieutenant Semyon Fyodorovich Khominich scoring the first jet-vs-jet victory in history when he bagged the F-80C of Frank Van Sickle, who died in the encounter. Only the F-86 Sabre, with its highly trained pilots, was a match for the MiG.
Its baptism of fire occurred during the last phases of the Chinese Civil War (1946–49). During the first months of 1950, the aviation of Nationalist China attacked from Taiwan the communist position in continental China, especially Shanghai. Mao Zedong requested the military assistance of the USSR, and the 50th IAD (Истребительная Авиадивизия, ИАД; Istrebitelnaya Aviadiviziya; Fighter Aviation Division) equipped with the MiG-15bis was deployed south of the People's Republic of China. On 28 April 1950, Captain Kalinikov shot down a P-38 of the Kuomintang, scoring the first aerial victory of the MiG-15. Another followed on 11 May, when Captain Ilya Ivanovich Schinkarenko downed the B-24 Liberator of Li Chao Hua, commander of the 8th Air Group of the nationalist Air Force.
In February 1950 50th IAD had already been moved to China to support PLAAF defending Shangai and begin training Chinese pilots in the MiG-15. The Soviet pilots and technicians that were already in China relocated from Shanghai to northeast China at the end of 1950. In the Soviet Union more MiG-15 pilots were recruited, the volunteers had to be younger than 27 years and priority was given to the WW2 veterans. They formed the 29th GvIAP, which formed the core of the Soviet unit, the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps (64th IAK).The MiG-15's performance amazed its Western opponents. The British Chief of the Air Staff said "Not only is it faster than anything we are building today, but it is already being produced in very large numbers.
The Russians, therefore, have achieved a four year lead over British development in respect of the vitally important interceptor fighter". The MiG-15 proved very effective in its designed role against formations of B-29 heavy bombers, shooting down numerous bombers. In a match-up with the F-86, the results were not as clear-cut though Americans claimed that the F-86 had the advantage in combat kills. The Soviet 64th IAK (Fighter Aviation Corps) claimed 1,106 UN aircraft destroyed in the Korean War, compared to Allied records that 142 Allied aircraft were downed by the Soviet MiG-15 pilots. Western experts do acknowledge many Soviet pilots earned bigger individual scores than their American counterparts due to a number of factors, though overall figures of NATO were probably overstated.
For many years, the participation of Soviet aircrews in the Korean War was widely suspected by the United Nations forces, but consistently denied by the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War, however, Soviet pilots who participated in the conflict have begun to reveal their role. Soviet aircraft were adorned with North Korean or Chinese markings and pilots wore either North Korean uniforms or civilian clothes to disguise their origins. For radio communication, they were given cards with common Korean words for various flying terms spelled out phonetically in Cyrillic characters. These subterfuges did not long survive the stresses of air-to-air combat, however, as pilots routinely communicated (cursed) in Russian. Soviet pilots were prevented from flying over areas in which they might be captured, which would indicate that the Soviet Union was officially a combatant in the war.
The USSR never acknowledged that its pilots ever flew over Korea during the Cold War. Americans who intercepted radio traffic during combat confirmed hearing Russian-speaking voices, but only the Communist Chinese and North Korean combatants took responsibility for the flying. Until the publishing of recent books by Chinese and Russian and other ex-Soviet authors, such as Zhang Xiaoming, Leonid Krylov, Yuriy Tepsurkaev and Igor Seydov, little was known of the actual pilots. The Americans recognized the techniques of their opponents whom they called "honchos", and dubbed "MiG Alley" the site of numerous dogfights in the northwestern portion of North Korea where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea.
The Soviet fighters operated close to their bases, limited by the range of their aircraft, and were guided to the air battlefield by good ground control, which directed them to the most advantageous position. They weren't allowed to cross an imaginary line drawn from Wosan to Pyongyang, and never to fly over sea. The MiG-15s always operated in pairs, with an attacking leader covered by a wingman. Most of the first regimental, squadron commanders and pilots in 1951 were World War II combat veterans, and were well prepared and trained. But from February 1952, when the crack pilots of the 303rd and 324th IAD were largely replaced by rookies, inexperienced and ill prepared, F-86 Sabres and their well-trained US pilots would keep the edge until the end of the war. The only other advantage the Sabre pilots had was Chodo Island radar station, which provided radar coverage of MiG Alley.
Large formations of MiGs would lie in wait on the Chinese side of the border. When UN aircraft entered MiG Alley, these MiGs would swoop down from high altitude to attack. If the MiGs ran into trouble, they would try to escape back over the border into China. Soviet MiG-15 squadrons operated in big groups, but the basic formation was a 6-plane group, divided into 3 pairs, each composed of a leader and a wingman.
Those first encounters established the main features of the aerial battles of the next two and a half years. The MiG-15 and MiG-15bis had a higher ceiling than all versions of the Sabre – 15,500 m (50,900 ft) versus 14,936 m (49,003 ft) of the F-86F – and accelerated faster than F-86A/E/Fs due to their better thrust-to-weight ratio – 1,005 km/h (624 mph) versus 972 km/h (604 mph) of the F-86F. The MiG-15's 2,800 m (9,200 ft) per minute climbing rate was also greater than the 2,200 m (7,200 ft) per minute of the F-86A and -E (the F-86F matched the MiG-15s rate). A better turn radius above 10,000 m (33,000 ft) further distinguished the MiG-15, as did more powerful weaponry – one 37 mm N-37 cannon and two 23 mm NR-23 cannons, versus the inferior hitting power of the six 12.7 mm (.50 in) machine guns of the Sabre. But the MiG was slower at low altitude – 935 km/h (581 mph) in the MiG-15bis configuration as opposed to the 1,107 km/h (688 mph) of the F-86F. The Soviet World War II-era ASP-1N gyroscopic gunsight was less sophisticated than the accurate A-1CM and A4 radar ranging sights of the F-86E and -F. All Sabres turned tighter below 8,000 m (26,000 ft).
Thus if the MiG-15 forced the Sabre to fight in the vertical plane, or in the horizontal one above 10,000 m (33,000 ft), it gained a significant advantage. Furthermore, a MiG-15 could easily escape from a Sabre by climbing to its ceiling, knowing that the F-86 could not follow him. Below 8,000 m (26,247 ft) however, the Sabre had a slight advantage over the MiG in most aspects excluding climb rate, especially if the Soviet pilot made the mistake of fighting in the horizontal plane.
The main mission of the MiG-15 was not to dogfight the F-86, but to counter the USAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. This mission was assigned to the elite of the Soviet Air Force (VVS), in April 1951 to the 324th IAD of Colonel Ivan Kozhedub, the World War II Allied "Ace of Aces", and later to the 303rd IAD of General Georgiy A. Lobov, who arrived to Korea in June of that same year.
A total of 44 MiG-15s achieved victories in that mission on 12 April 1951 when they intercepted a large formation of 48 B-29 Superfortresses, 18 F-86 Sabres, 54 F-84 Thunderjets and 24 F-80 Shooting Stars heading towards the bridge linking North Korea and Red China over the Yalu river in Uiju. When the ensuing battle was finished, the experienced Soviet fliers had shot down or damaged beyond repair 10 B-29As, one F-86A and three F-80Cs for the loss of only one MiG.
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