10 Facts About The MiG-15

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The Soviet Union’s Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 is the Soviet Union’s single-seat, single-engine jet fighter, and one of the most feared high-performance weapons of the 20th century. 

Here are ten interesting facts about this stellar aircraft: 

1. It was the first of its kind to have swept wings and reach high transonic speeds

With MiG-15s flying in the skies, the USAF’s superiority when it comes to aerial combat was challenged. 

Thus, it was also the same jet that forced the US Army to come up with projects that build swept-wing jet fighters. 

2. A new generation of MiG-15s was paraded for the first time in an air show in Moscow

On July 1949, these jet fighters paraded in front of Stalin and the public for the first time. MiG designers Mikoyan and Gurevich were awarded the Stalin prize for their designs. 

3. It had a maximum speed of 652 miles per hour

It was also capable of flying at 50,000 feet. Moreover, the jet was equipped with powerful armaments- two 23-millimeter and a single 32-millimeter cannon. 

4. It was powered by a single VK-1 Turbojet engine, a direct imitation of the Rolls Royce Nene engine

Back in 1948, Great Britain under the agreement of not using the engines bunkered several Rolls Royce Nene engines to the Soviet Union. 

These were then reverse-engineered by Klimov, a Soviet manufacturer with specific Soviet touches. The VK-1 was then manufactured and installed in Russia’s all-new jet fighter. 

5. Most of the pilots that flew it were enormously impressed

According to Valentin Bondarenko, a MiG pilot, his first impression of the jet was hard to describe in words.

“In the MiG-15, the conditions for the pilot were wonderful. It was designed with love. The cockpit was right in front of the plane so the view was fantastic. While I was flying, it was like gliding over a precipice,”  Bondarenko said. 

6. It was the first Soviet Union jet fighter to have an ejection seat

Before, pilots used to do manual ejections. The ejection seat features a double parachute for the pilot as the seat cushion is found above the ejection pan.

7. MiG-15s had an enormous impact when they appeared in the skies above Korea

According to Richard Holmes, a military historian, “It was like a psychological blow to the Americans who were shocked to be technically outclassed by this war machine.”

The MiG was also cut above the typical propeller aircraft Americans were using at that time. 

8. The MiG-15’s superiority in the skies was challenged when American F-86 Sabres were rushed from the US to take the MiGs head on

While the Sabre was a good plane, it couldn’t compete with the MiG. The MiG-15 was very well-armed than the Sabre. It had three machine guns, and the caliber of these guns was such that one hit could destroy the Sabre. 

9. The primary role of the MiG-15 was to intercept American bombers which were raiding North Korea with their Sabre escorts

The principal tactic of the jet was to take advantage of its superior altitude, ambushing the American air armadas below. 

10. The Russians claimed that the MiG combat record gave them a four-to-one advantage

Meanwhile, the US claimed a ten-to-one ratio in favor of the F-86 Sabre against the MiG-15. While the actual numbers are in dispute, the MiG-15 was an extraordinary aeronautical achievement and way ahead of its time.