The scientific tourist #228 — the MiG-21F

Seen at the Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio — it’s a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F “Fishbed” fighter-interceptor:


First flying in 1955, the MiG-21 is one of the world’s most famous jet fighters, the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history (well over 11,000 were built), and the combat aircraft with the longest production run (1959 through 1985, including at least 15 variants). More than 50 countries have flown the MiG-21 in at least 15 major variants — with some still being in service today.

The MiG-21 was built as a short-range day fighter-interceptor, and for a time it excelled in that role. During the Vietnam War, the MiG-21 was both faster (1,300 mph maximum speed) and had a better rate of climb than did the F-4 Phantom it normally faced. It was reliable, cheap, and easily maintained — a boon for the 3rd world countries that often hosted it. Fortunately for Phantom pilots, the MiG-21 also had some serious limitations — namely, it had very short range, marginal dogfighting abilities, and very poor rear visibility.

The MiG-21F was the first major production version of the fighter; this particular model was built in Czechoslovakia and flown by the Czech air force. At the time I photographed it (2006), the plane was painted and marked as a MiG-21PF of the North Vietnamese Air Force during the Vietnam War.

This entry was posted in History, Sci / Tech Tourism, Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.