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Home Base: Ypsilanti, MI
Operation: Central and Eastern USA
Model: MiG-21MF
Wing Span:
23' 6"
Length: 51' 9"
Height: 13' 6"
Max Speed: 702 knots, M 2.1
Gross Weight: 20,720 lbs
Power Plant: Tumanskiy R11F2S-300
Thrust: 13,640 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 980 gallons with external tanks
Armament: 1x internal NR-30 30 mm cannon, plus 2x K-13 or K-13A (R-3S) AAM or 2x 500 kg (1,102 lbs) of bombs.

Will Ward's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF Fishbed

Will Ward is the owner and operator of this Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-21MF Fishbed, which is available for airshows, flybys and film.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (NATO reporting name "Fishbed") is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed and built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the famous Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek (English: pencil) by Polish pilots due to the shape of its fuselage. Early versions are considered second-generation jet fighters, while later versions are considered to be third-generation jet fighters. Some 50 countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its maiden flight. The fighter has the distinction of holding a number of aviation records, including 1) most produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history, 2) most produced combat aircraft since the Korean War, and 3) longest production run of a combat aircraft.

The MiG 21 jet fighter was a continuation of Soviet jet fighters, starting with the subsonic MiG-15, MiG-17, and the supersonic MiG-19. A number of experimental Mach 2 Soviet designs were based on nose intakes with either swept-back wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-7, or tailed deltas, of which the MiG-21 would be the most successful.

The E-5 prototype of the MiG-21 was first flown in 1955 and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow's Tushino Airport in June 1956. The first delta-wing prototype, named Ye-4 (or E-4) flew on 14 June 1956, and the production MiG-21 entered service in early 1959. Employing a delta configuration, the MiG-21 was the first successful Soviet aircraft combining fighter and interceptor characteristics in a single aircraft. It was a lightweight fighter, achieving Mach 2 with a relatively low-powered afterburning turbojet, and is thus comparable to the American F-104 Starfighter and French Dassault Mirage III.

When the MiG-21 was first introduced, it exhibited several flaws. Its early version air-to-air
missiles, the Vympel K-13 (NATO reporting name AA-2 'Atoll'), were not successful in combat, and its gyro gunsight was easily thrown off in high-speed maneuvers, making the initial version of the MiG-21 an ineffective aircraft. These problems were remedied, and during the Middle Eastern and Vietnam wars, the MiG-21 proved to be an effective aircraft. Subsequent MiG-21 models added design modifications to incorporate lessons learned in these wars.

Like many aircraft designed as interceptors, the MiG-21 had a short range. This was not helped by a design defect where the center of gravity shifted rearwards once two-thirds of the fuel had been used. This had the effect of making the plane uncontrollable, resulting in an endurance of only 45 minutes in clean condition. The delta wing, while excellent for a fast-climbing interceptor, meant any form of turning combat led to a rapid loss of speed. However, the light loading of the aircraft could mean that, at 50% fuel and with two Atolls, a climb rate of 58,000 ft (17,670 m) per minute was possible, not far short of the performance of the later F-16A. Given a skilled pilot and capable missiles, it could give a good account of itself against contemporary fighters. It was replaced by the newer variable-geometry MiG-23 and MiG-27 for ground support duties. However, not until the MiG-29 would the Soviet Union ultimately replace the MiG-21 as a maneuvering dogfighter to counter new American air superiority types.

The MiG-21 was exported widely and continues to be used well past the time where it might have been considered obsolete. The aircraft's simple controls, engine, weapons, and avionics were typical of Soviet-era military designs. While technologically inferior to the more advanced fighters it often faced, low production and maintenance costs made it a favorite of nations buying Eastern Bloc military hardware.

A total of 10,158 (some sources say 10,645) were built in the USSR. They were produced in three factories, in the GAZ 30 in Moscow (also known as Znamiya Truda), in GAZ 21 in Gorky and in GAZ 31 in Tbilisi. The type of "MiG" manufactured differed. Gorky built single-seaters for the Soviet forces. Moscow built single-seaters for export and Tbilisi manufactured the twin-seaters both for export and for the USSR. However, there are exceptions. The MiG-21R and MiG-21bis for export and for the USSR were built in Gorky, 17 single-seaters were built in Tbilisi (probably MiG-21F), the MiG-21MF was first built in Moscow and then Gorky, and the MiG-21U was built in Moscow as well as in Tbilisi. The count for each factory is; 5,278 (or 5,765) in Gorky 3,203 in Moscow 1,677 in Tbilisi.

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Red Eagle Evaluation and Airshows
Will Ward

Phone: (734) 369-2407

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