Top 10 Facts About the MiG-21 Fighter


A supersonic jet fighter and an interceptor aircraft, this plane has built a legacy for the Soviet Union. With that, here are the Top 10 facts about the MiG-21 Fighter, the world’s most widely produced supersonic jet fighter of all time.


1. SPECIFICATIONS

Let’s start our list off with the plane’s general dimensions. This third-generation fighter jet comes at an average size of 14.7 meters long and four meters tall. It also has a wingspan of seven meters as per Military Wiki


2. FIRST FLIGHT

The MiG-21 fighter aircraft had its first flight on June 16, 1955. According to Matsimus, the Mikoyan design bureau began developing the MiG-21 in the 1950s to replace the crash-prone MiG-19s. The Soviet Air Force introduced this aircraft to the public during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow’s Tushino airfield in July 1956. Three years later, the aircraft’s production began, and it was operational for service soon after.


3. LONGEST PRODUCTION RUN

You should also know that the MiG-21 had the longest production run of any combat aircraft in history. According to an infographic from visual.ly, the production started from 1959 to 1985. These included all of the MiG-21 variants during those years. And since it had the longest production run in history, it’s a dead giveaway that the MiG-21 also holds the record for the “most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history” after having a total estimate of around 13,000 units manufactured.


4. CODE NAME

There are a lot of names associated with the MiG-21. The most common name for this aircraft, which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gave, is the code name “Fishbed.” According to historynet.com, the Soviets hated that name. Another nickname for this aircraft is the “Balalaika,” which referenced MiG-21’s wings that resembled the instrument balalaika’s looks. Other nicknames that are associated with this aircraft include: “Ołówek,” Polish for “pencil,” and “Én Bạc,” meaning “silver swallow,” in Vietnamese.


5. PENCIL DESIGN

Another interesting fact you should know is the MiG-21’s unique design. There’s a reason why the Polish call this aircraft the “pencil,” and it was because of its distinctive nose design. Looking at this picture from Worldwide Military, we can see its cone-shaped nose that is sharp as a pencil. According to aviation.stackexchange.com, this design is a crucial factor in the plane’s speed. The cone in front is needed as the Mig-21 is a supersonic aircraft. This pointy nose breaks the shockwave, reducing the rate of the air entering the engine.


6. OPERATIONAL HISTORY

Next on our list is the Operational History the MiG-21 has. According to Wikipedia, the MiG-21 serves approximately 60 countries over four continents. And it is still operated by many nations up to this day. History has seen this fighter jet battle it out against some of the world’s best combat jets from 1960 until the late 1980s, mostly wars involving Eastern and Middle Eastern Nations. During those years, a notable achievement for this aircraft was its victory for Vietnam against the U.S. Air Force in December 1966, when the MiG-21 pilots downed 14 F-105 Thunder chiefs without any losses.


7. INDIAN AIR FORCE

Even though the Mig-21 is a Russian-made plane, it has contributed a lot to Indian History. According to ssbtosuccess.com, the MiG-21 was the Indian Air Force’s primary fighter during the India-Pakistan war in 1965 and 1971. It also aided the IAF in the 1999 Kargil War, where IAF professional pilots destroyed many Pakistani military positions.


8. PERFORMANCE

A big reason for the MiG-21’s combat achievements is its speed and firepower. Although the MiG-21’s design makes the fighter fast by default, its performance is still impressive for its classification. According to the Museum of Flight, the MiG-21 can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2.0 with its single jet engine. This fighter plane can also carry weapons ranging from various rockets, missiles, bombs, and guns.


9. VARIANTS

The production of the MiG-21 didn’t only include one variant. There are at least 12 variants that have been produced, according to globalsecurity.org. With each variant having different settings or design in its engine, armament, and cockpit. China’s Chengdu J-7 and F-7 are also variants of the MiG-21. Other international variants include the Aero S-106 of Czechoslovakia and India’s MiG-21FL. These were all built under license from Mikoyan-Gurevich.


10. LOW COSTS

Our last fact about the MiG-21 is that it has a low cost per unit. According to the Military Machine website, this aircraft is cheap but reliable. Looking into a foreign Air Force’s perspective, this combat plane is the best plane to acquire because it’s an affordable, rugged, and reliable fighter jet aircraft. Furthermore, the MiG-21 currently has a value of 25.1 million USD.

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