Aviation of World War II
Work under design of fighter I-200. have begun in 1939 under Nikolay Polikarpov's headed. At that time was considered quite probable, that air fights of the future war will pass on mean and high altitudes. Proceeding from this concept, also formed I-200. If several years ago from a fighter the superiority in a manoeuvrability, now was required, that a fighter should conduct active air fight on the basis of speed advantages. Thus, I-200 should become both high-altitude, and a high-speed fighter.
After formation of KB of Mikoyan and an excommunication from project Polikarpov, all further works above I-200 were conducted in it KB.
The first experimental I-200 has left on tests in April, 1940. As the airplane met the main requirements the solution on his start in a series has soon taken place. On a course of the organization and the beginning of series production operational development of an airplane and its improvement implemented.
In the beginning of 1941 of first hundred I-200 have given mark the MiG-1, and the subsequent - MiG-3. The name of MiG-3 (Mikoyan & Gurevich), by which it is now more generally known, would appear to be a pun on an abbreviation of Mikoyan, the name of the man responsible for the carrying out of the later development work, since "Mig" in Russian means a twinkle or flash, and is an obvious reference to its speed. To the beginning of war MiG became the most numerous fighter of new generation in the Soviet air forces.
When it came into service some time in 1941, the MiG-3 was easily the fastest Russian fighter, but its top speed of 360 m.p.h. (maximum speed of 640 km/h at the altitude 7.8 km) has almost certainly been bettered by still later types, such as the Yakovlev Yak-7.
Powered by a liquid-cooled, Vee-type AM-35A engine which, with two-stage supercharger, develops a maximum of 1,200 h.p., the Mig-3 has various arrangements of armament according to the exact duties it is required to perform. Like our Hurricane and Spitfire fighters, it began life with five wing-guns. A later model had one 0.5 in. machine-gun above the engine and two 0.30 in. machine-guns firing from blast troughs on each side of the cowling below the exhaust outlets, all synchronised with the airscrew. Detailed: "Armament MiG-3".
Character of operations of the begun Great Patriotic war has defined also character of war in air. On the Soviet-German front during all war air fights were conducted basically at altitudes up to 4 km. Thus, the big altitude performance the MiG-3, which in the beginning was considered as its doubtless advantage, became lack. Besides quality of the production manufacturing in the beginning of war was low. The MiG-3 had demanded high (to measures a wartime) qualification of pilots.
During a meeting in Moscow on December 23 1941, in the presence of Stalin, Mikoyan, Petlyakov, Mikulin, Ilyushin and many other, the delays by factory directors in shifting production of MiG-3s and AM-35As into Il-2s and AM-38Fs was discussed. As a result, Stalin sent an angry telegram: "You have deceived our country and our Red Army. Our Red Army needs Il-2s as much as it does bread and water. Szenkman is producing one Il-2 per day, and Tretyakov is producing one to two MiG-3s. This is an insult to the country and to the Red Army. We need Il-2s, not MiGs. This is your last warning". The telegram led to the immediate suspension of MiG-3 production, while production of the Il-2 grew rapidly, even beyond the planned volume.
Manufacture MiG-3 have stopped in the beginning of 1942, and total 3272 fighters of this type were built.
* Forcing of the engine during 10 minutes.
** On speed making 90 % from maximal.
Comparative Analysis of Designs and FTD of Soviet and German Fighters that Took Part in the WWII
Flight Technical Data - FTD
... If the I-16 was too nimble and unstable, then in the case of the MiG-3, our aircraft designers seem to have gone to the other extreme. This aircraft was difficult and reluctant to enter any maneuver, especially at high speeds. Efforts on the control stick at a speed of 350 km/h were many times higher than those of the I-16 or Yak-1, and with an increase in speed, this difference only increased.
Unfortunately, the unflattering review of the MiG-3 by the famous fighter pilot General NG Zakharov is quite justified: “The MiG-3 was too heavy for a fighter. He did not forgive mistakes in piloting, he was designed for a good pilot. The average pilot would automatically pass into the category of weak ones at a moment's notice, while a weak pilot would not have been able to fly on it at all. "And such assessments were not uncommon.
The unstable and unreliable operation of the motor worsened the picture even more. AM-35 had a low throttle response, that is, it slowly gained momentum. He also noted one more insidious property - with an excessively sharp "gas supply", this engine could suddenly stall. Candles were often burnt out and had to be replaced every three hours of operation. In addition, the AM-35 in flight "spat" oil seeping through the gearbox shaft seals. To prevent oil from splashing the cockpit glazing, a special plate - a cut-off plate - had to be placed on top of the hood, which, of course, did not have the best effect on aerodynamics.
Despite the fact that the theoretically calculated ceiling of the fighter was 11,500 meters (and this figure appears in aviation reference books), the report of the Air Force Research Institute says that in reality the MiG-3 could not fly above 8000 - 8500 m due to a drop in pressure oil below acceptable limits. The AM-35A could not cope with this defect during the entire time of its serial production, and therefore the "high-altitude" characteristic in relation to the MiG-3 is illegal.
The equipment and armament of the MiG-3 also caused a lot of criticism: the absence of an artificial horizon and a gyrocompass among the instruments made it difficult to fly in the clouds and at night. It was difficult to aim through the dull glass of the PBP-1 collimator sight even at close distances, and the poor cooling of the machine guns placed close to the hot engine made it impossible to shoot in long bursts because of the risk of "burning" the barrels. This became for the pilots another unpleasant "addition" to the already far from heroic firepower of a three-machine gun fighter.
But despite all its shortcomings, the MiG-3 was the most massive Soviet new generation fighter on the eve of the German attack on the USSR. During the first half of 1941 they were built 1363 copies. By dawn on June 22, there were 917 "Migs" in the five border districts (almost 22% of the total number of fighters), and two days later, only about 380 remained. However, such colossal losses, of course, are explained not only by defects in the aircraft itself, but also , no less important factors, the analysis of which is beyond the scope of this article.
If we return to the comparison of flight and combat characteristics, we can draw a disappointing conclusion that the MiG-3 was inferior to its German opponents in almost all respects, with the exception of the acceleration characteristics during a dive. At the peak, the much heavier MiG-3 picked up speed faster than the Messerschmitt, and then, due to inertia, it could make a higher and steeper “slide”.
The generalized assessment of the fighter by combat pilots, Air Force Research Institute testers and the aviation command was generally negative. This is one of the reasons that the production of the MiG-3, having reached its peak in August 1941, then sharply declined. But the decision of the State Defense Committee on a sharp increase in the production of Il-2 attack aircraft equipped with AM-38 engines finally put an end to it. And these engines were produced by the same plant as the AM-35A. In October, the production of "35" engines stopped in favor of the "38", and in December the production of the MiG-3 also dropped to zero. A total of 3278 of these machines were built. By the end of the next year, they no longer met at the front.