Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-15 Jet Fighter


The MiG-15 began life just after WWII when the Soviet Air Force charged the major Soviet aircraft design bureaus with developing a high-altitude day interceptor able to operate from rough strips, reach Mach 0.9, have good maneuverability at high altitude, carry heavy armaments and have a flight endurance of over 1 hour. This was quite the demand considering that they didn’t have a decent jet engine. They purchased an excellent power plant, the Rolls-Royce Nene jet engine, from the British who were desperate for hard cash. The configuration, with the high-set swept wing, high tailplane and nose intake was inspired by the German Focke Wulf Ta-183 design. The Americans code-named it "Fagot".

It had serious shortcomings in handling (stall and spin in a tight circle), equipment and armament (slow rate of fire and small number of rounds), but its performance was superior to that of any Western fighter. The aircraft caught the Americans by surprise when it appeared in combat in Korea on November 1, 1950. The Americans were flying their first jet fighter, the F-80 Shooting Star, and P-51 Mustangs. The MiG-15 totally outclassed the now-antiquated P-51, the F-80, Shooting Star and the F-84 Thunderjets with superior speed, rate of climb, fire power, range and ceiling. However, WWII combat pilots in F-80s and P-51s still shot down several MiG-15s, such was their expertise. The Americans had to wait until December, 1950 for the arrival of the F-86 before a comparable jet was available. Even then the MiG-15 had a higher rate of climb, equal manoeuvrability and could dive faster. The West was shaken out of its complacent attitude toward Soviet fighter capabilities in the Korean skies. Fortunately Korean and Chinese pilots were timid and the Russian pilots reputed to be flying with them were not numerous enough to make a big difference in Korea.

The MiG-15 first saw operational flight in 1948. Most Warsaw Pact nations bought and flew the MiG-15, and its variants remained in service in the air forces of China, Egypt, North Korea and Syria until, in some cases, the 1980s.

Technical Details
The MiG-15 was a single-seat fighter-interceptor powered by the Klimov RD-45F (Rolls-Royce Nene copy) turbojet, with 5,005 lb thrust. In level flight it achieved Mach 0.9 and in a dive 0.92. It had a range of 885 miles (1,424 km) and a ceiling of 51,000 ft (15,500 m).

Shortly after production started the MiG-15bis was developed with an upgraded engine, the Klimov VK-1 with 5,959 lbs. of thrust. Maximum speed was 668 mph (1076 km/h), with the same range and ceiling. The long range was due to the initial incorporation of a pair of 55 igal (250 liter) slipper tanks on the wings.

The initial variants of the MiG-15 carried two 23 mm. cannons below the left side of the nose and one 37 mm. cannon below the right side. The major improvement in armament was replacing the cannons with "revolver" cannons to hold more shells. The guns were mounted in a carriage which was lowered for easy maintenance (seen below). Rockets or two 2,000 lb. bombs under each wing could also be carried instead of the slipper tanks, although in Korea they rarely did.

MiG 15 cannon pack

Canadian Aces Home Page

Images From:
Miles Constable, copyright retained.
MiG-15 gun pack from the USAF Museum’s Korean Conflict History Gallery
Details from:
Aircraft of the Soviet Union by Bill Gunston
The Military Aircraft Database by Emmanuel Gustin.
The Presidio Concise Guide to Soviet Military Aircraft by Bill Sweetman
Great Fighting Planes by Alan Austin and Anthony Dicks