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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

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(Redirected from MiG-15)
Single-seat MiG-15 of the Polish Air Force
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich
Maiden flight 30 December 1947
Introduced 1949
Status Trainers in service
Primary users Soviet Air Force
PLA Air Force
North Korean Air Force
41 others
Number built ~12,000 + ~6,000 in license
Variants MiG-17

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (Template:Lang-ru) (NATO reporting name Fagot) was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where it outclassed all enemy fighters except the F-86 Sabre. The MiG-15 also served as the starting point for development of the more advanced MiG-17 which would oppose American fighters over Vietnam in the 1960s. The MiG-15 is believed to have been the most numerous jet aircraft ever made, with over 12,000 built. Licensed foreign production perhaps raised the total to over 18,000.[1]

Design and development

File:MiG-15 RB2.jpg
Front view of a MiG-15

Most early jets were designed like piston-engined fighters with straight wings, limiting their high speed performance. German research during World War II had shown swept wings would perform better at transonic speeds, and Soviet aircraft designers were quick to take advantage of this information. Claims of Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich (lead designers of the "MiG" bureau) being heavily influenced by the Focke-Wulf Ta 183, however, have been discredited. Although the abortive late-war German jet had swept wings and bore a superficial resemblance to the later MiG-15, the two aircraft are very different in structure and general design. The Soviets did seize plans and prototypes for the Ta-183, but the majority of Focke-Wulf engineers were captured by Western armies. Currently, most sources acknowledge that the MiG-15 is an original design benefiting from German research, but conceived, designed, engineered, and produced by the Soviets.[2]

By 1946, Soviet designers were finding it impossible to perfect the German-designed HeS-011 axial-flow jet engine, and new airframe designs from Mikoyan were threatening to outstrip development of the engines to power them. Soviet aviation minister Mikhail Khrunichev and aircraft designer A.S. Yakovlev suggested to Premier Joseph Stalin the USSR buy advanced jet engines from the British. Stalin is said to have replied, "What fool will sell us his secrets?"[2]

However, he gave his consent to the proposal and Mikoyan, engine designer Vladimir Klimov, and others travelled to the United Kingdom to request the engines. To Stalin's amazement, the British Labour government and its pro-Soviet Minister of Trade, Sir Stafford Cripps, were perfectly willing to provide technical information and a license to manufacture the Rolls-Royce Nene. This engine was reverse-engineered and produced as the Klimov RD-45, subsequently incorporated into the MiG-15.[2] Rolls-Royce later attempted to claim £207 million in license fees, without success.[citation needed]

In the interim, on 15 April 1947, the Council of Ministers issued decree #493-192, which ordered the Mikoyan OKB to build two prototypes for a new jet fighter. As the decree called for a first flight as soon as December, designers at OKB-155 fell back on an earlier troublesome design, the MiG-9. The MiG-9 suffered from an unreliable engine and control problems; the first would be solved by the excellent new Klimov engine, and to solve the second, the designers began experimenting with swept wings and redesigning the tail. The resulting prototypes were designated I-310.

The I-310 was a clean, swept-wing fighter with 35° sweep in wings and tail, and exceptional performance, with a top speed of over 650 mph (1,040 km/h). Its primary competitor was the similar Lavochkin La-168. After evaluation, the MiG design was chosen for production. Designated MiG-15, the first production example flew on 31 December 1948. It entered Soviet Air Force service in 1949, and would subsequently receive the NATO reporting name "Fagot." Early production examples had a tendency to roll to the left or right due to manufacturing variances, and so aerodynamic trimmers called "nozhi (knives)" were fitted to correct the problem, the knives being adjusted by ground crews until the aircraft flew correctly.[2]

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.[3] (Visible differences are: a headlight in air intake separator and horizontal upper edge of air brakes in MiG-15).

The MiG-15 arguably had sufficient power to dive at supersonic speeds, but could not do so because it did not feature an "all-flying" tail. As a result, the pilot's ability to control the aircraft deteriorated significantly as Mach 1 was approached. Later MiGs would incorporate all-flying tails.

The MiG-15 was originally intended to intercept American bombers like the B-29, and was even evaluated in mock air-to-air combat trials with interned ex-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 cannon armament: two 23 mm with 80 rounds per gun and a single 37 mm with 40. 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 cannon were fitted into a neat pack that could be winched down out of the bottom of the nose for servicing and reloading, in principle allowing a preprepared pack to be switched in for rapid turnaround. (Some sources mistakenly claim the pack was added in later models.)[2]

A variety of MiG-15 variants were built, but the most common was the MiG-15UTI (NATO reporting name Midget) two-seat trainer.

File:MiG 15.jpg

Because Mikoyan-Gurevich never mass-produced the transition training versions of the later MiG-17 or MiG-19, the MiG-15UTI remained the sole Warsaw Pact advanced jet trainer well into the 1970s, the primary training role being fulfilled exclusively by Czechoslovak Aero L-29 Delfin and the L-39 Albatros jet trainers (save for Poland, which used their indigenous TS-11 Iskra jets). While China produced two-seat trainer versions of the later MiG-17 and MiG-19, the Soviets felt that the MiG-15UTI was sufficient for their needs and did not produce their own trainer versions of those aircraft.

Operational history

File:USAF MiG-15.jpg
MiG-15 delivered by a defecting North Korean pilot to the US Air Force

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 after communist North Korea's invasion of South Korea. The swept-wing MiG-15 quickly proved superior to the first-generation, straight-wing jets of the United Nations air forces, such as the F-80 and Gloster Meteor, as well as piston-engined F-51 Mustangs and F4U Corsairs (although an American F-80 would score the first all-jet, air-to-air kill in history over a MiG-15). Only the F-86 Sabre with its highly trained crews were a match for the MiG.

The F-86 was America's first swept-wing fighter and was introduced in December 1950. Although the Sabre could not match the MiG-15 in some performance areas, superior tactics and pilot training allowed Sabre pilots to achieve high kill ratios. Eager to obtain an intact MiG for testing, the United States offered a reward of US$100,000 and political asylum to any pilot who would defect with his airplane. [4] Eventually, Lieutenant No Kum-Sok, who claimed to be unaware of the reward, landed at Kimpo Air Base in September 1953,[5] allowing the first detailed evaluation of the aircraft.

This MiG-15 was minutely inspected and was test flown by several test pilots including Chuck Yeager. Yeager reported in his autobiography the MiG-15 had dangerous handling faults, and claimed in a visit to the USSR, Soviet pilots were incredulous he had dived in it, this supposedly being very hazardous.[6] When this story got back to the Russian pilots Yeager claimed to have talked to, they angrily denounced it. In fact, although the MiG-15 did have some handling quirks and, could, in principle, exceed flight limits in a dive, its airbrakes opened automatically at the redline limit, preventing it from going out of control.[2] Lieutenant No's aircraft is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

Throughout the 1950s, Soviet and Warsaw Pact MiG-15s intercepted USAF reconnaissance aircraft, shooting down several.[citation needed] MiG-15s of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) frequently engaged Republic of China (ROC) and U.S. aircraft in combat, and in 1958, a ROC fighter achieved the first air-to-air kill with an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, against a PLAAF MiG-15. [7] The MiG-15 also served with the Arab air forces during the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis and the 1967 Six-Day War.

The MiG-15 achieved an air-to-air kill on 13 June 1952, but it remained a secret for many years. Its victim was a Swedish Air Force DC-3 signals reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea, which set off what has become known as the Catalina affair (after the shooting down of a Catalina flying boat sent out to search for the missing DC-3) [3].

The famous Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin died during a March 1968 training flight in a MiG-15UTI. Due to poor visibility and miscommunication with ground control, the plane flew into the ground.[8]


The USSR built around 12,000 MiG-15s in all variants. It was also built under license in Czechoslovakia (as the S-102 and S-103) and Poland (as the Lim-1 and Lim-2 and biplace SB Lim-1 and SB Lim-2).

In the early 1950s, the Soviet Union delivered hundreds of MiG-15s to China, where they received the designation J-2. The Soviets also sent almost a thousand MiG-15 engineers and specialists to China, where they assisted China's Shenyang Aircraft Factory in building the MiG-15UTI trainer (designated JJ-2). China never produced a single-seat fighter version, only the two-seat JJ-2.[4]

The designation "J-4" is unclear; some sources claim Western observers mistakenly labelled China's MiG-15bis a "J-4", while the PLAAF never used the "J-4" designation. Others claim "J-4" is used for MiG-17F, while "J-5" is used for MiG-17PF. [5] Another source claims the PLAAF used "J-4" for Soviet-built MiG-17A, which were quickly replaced by license-built MiG-17Fs (J-5s).[6] What is certain is, the service lives of the J-2 and J-4 in the PLAAF were short, as they were quickly replaced by the more capable J-5 and J-6.[citation needed]


Egyptian Air Force MiG-15UTI
  • I-310 : Prototype.
  • MiG-15 : First production version.
  • MiG-15P : Single-seat all-weather interceptor version of the MiG-15bis.
  • MiG-15SB : Single-seat fighter bomber version.
  • MiG-15SP-5 : Two-seat all-weather interceptor version of the MiG-15UTI.
  • MiG-15T : Target-towing version.
  • MiG-15bis : Improved single-seat fighter version.
  • MiG-15bisR : Single-seat reconnaissance version.
  • MiG-15bisS : Single-seat escort fighter version.
  • MiG-15bisT : Single-seat target-towing version.
  • MiG-15UTI : Two-seat dual-control jet trainer.
  • J-2 : Chinese designation of the MiG-15 single-seat fighter.
  • JJ-2 : Chinese designation of the MiG-15UTI two-seat jet trainer.
  • J-4 : Chinese designation
  • Lim-1 : MiG-15 jet fighters built under license in Poland.
  • Lim-1A : Polish-built reconnaissance version of the MiG-15 with AFA-21 camera.
  • Lim-2 : MiG-15bis built under license in Poland, with Lis-2 (license VK-1) engines.
  • Lim-2R : Polish-built reconnaissance version of MiG-15bis with a place for a camera in the front part of the canopy.
  • SB Lim-1 : Polish Lim-1 converted to equivalent of MiG-15UTI jet trainers, with RD-45 jet engines.
  • SB Lim-2 : Polish Lim-2 or SBLim-1 converted to jet trainers with Lis-1 (VK-1) jet engines.
  • SBLim-2A or -2Art: Polish-built two-seat reconnaissance version, for correcting artillery.
  • S-102 : MiG-15 jet fighters built under license in Czechoslovakia.
  • S-103 : MiG-15bis jet fighters built under license in Czechoslovakia.
  • CS-102 : MiG-15UTI jet trainers built under license in Czechoslovakia.


File:World operators of the MiG-15-2.png
Current operators of the MiG-15 in bright red and former operators in dark red

Specifications (MiG-15bis)

Template:Aircraft specification



  1. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (Ji-2) Fagot B
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Gordon, Yefim. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-85780-105-9.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Yefim Gordon
  4. [1]
  5. Kum-Sok & Osterholm 1996
  6. Yeager and Janos 1986, p. 208.
  7. [2]
  8. Doran, Jamie and Bizony, Piers. Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin. London: Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1998, p. 210-229. ISBN 0-74753-688-0.
  9. Afghanistan (AFG), World Air Forces - Historical Listings
  10. Albania (ALB), World Air Forces - Historical Listings


  • Belyakov, R.A. and Marmain, J. MiG: Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design. Annapolis, MD: US Naval Institute Press, 1993.
  • Butowski, Piotr (with Miller, Jay). OKB MiG: A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1991. ISBN 0-904597-80-6.
  • Davis, Larry. MiG Alley Air to Air Combat over Korea. Warren, Michigan: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1978. ISBN 0-89747-081-8.
  • Gordon, Yefim and Davison, Peter. Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot (WarbirdTech Volume 40). Speciality Press, 2005. ISBN 1-58007-081-7.
  • Gordon, Yefim and Rigmant, Vladimir. Warbird History: Mig-15 - Design, Development, and Korean War Combat History. Motorbooks, 1993.
  • Gordon, Yefim; Skala, Stanislav; Bašný, Jiří; Ovčáčík, Michal and Susa, Karel. MiG-15 Fagot, all variants (bilingual Czech/English). Prague 10-Strašnice: MARK I Ltd., 1997. ISBN 80-900708-6-8.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft: 1875-1995. London: Osprey Aerospace, 1996.
  • Higham, Robin, Greenwood, John T. and Hardesty, Von. Russian Aviation and Air Power in the Twentieth Century. London: Frank Cass, 1998.
  • Karnas, Dariusz. Mikojan Gurievitch MiG-15. Sandomierz, Poland/Redbourn, UK: Mushroom Model Publications, ISBN 83-89450-05-4.
  • Krylov, Leonid and Tepsurkaev, Yuriy. Soviet MiG-15 Aces of the Korean War. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publications, 2008. ISBN 1-84603-299-7.
  • Kum-Suk, No and Osterholm, J. Roger. A MiG-15 to Freedom. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0-78640-210-5.
  • Mesko, Jim. Air War over Korea. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 2000. ISBN 0-89747-415-5.
  • Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. MiG-15 Fagot Walk Around (Walk Around 40). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 2006. ISBN 0-89747-495-3.
  • Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. MiG-15 in action (Aircraft number 116). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1991. ISBN 0-89747-264-0.
  • Sweetman, Bill and Gunston, Bill. Soviet Air Power: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Warsaw Pact Air Forces Today. London: Salamander Books, 1978. ISBN 0-51724-948-0.
  • Werrell, Kenneth. Sabres Over MiG Alley: The F-86 and the Battle for Air Superiority in Korea. Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2005.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Legends of the Air 1: F-86 Sabre, MIG-15 and Hawker Hunter. Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-87567-112-9.
  • Yeager, Chuck and Janos, Leo. Yeager: An Autobiography. New York: Bantam Books, 1986. ISBN 0-553-25674-2.

External links

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence
MiG-8 - MiG-9 (I-210)/MiG-9 (I-301) - MiG-13 (I-250) - MiG-15 - MiG-17 - MiG-19 - MiG-21

Related lists
List of military aircraft of the Soviet Union and the CIS - List of fighter aircraft See also

Template:Mikoyan aircraft

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