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High-altitude Fighter

Mikoyan, Gurevich


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.

WW 2 Beginning Soviet Fighters
Yak-1 Yak-1 Yak-7b MiG-3 LaGG-3 LaGG-3
Year of issue 1941 1943 1943 1941 1941 1943
Length, m 8.48 8.48 8.48 8.25 8.81 8.81
Wing span, m 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.2 9.81 9.81
Wing area, m2 17.15 17.15 17.15 17.44 17.62 17.62
Weight, kg:
Maximum takeoff weight 2858 2884 3005 3300 3280 2990
Engine M-105P M-105PF M-105PF AM-35A M-105P M-105PF
Power, h.p. 1100 1210 1210 1350 1100 1210
Maximum speed, km/h at sea level 480 501 531 472 474 542
at altitude 577 592 588 622 549 591
m 4,950 4,100 3,860 7,800 5,000 3,560
Time to 5,000 m, min 9.2 6.2 6.6 5.7 7.4 5.8
Service Ceiling, m 10,000 12,500 10,200 11,500 9,300 9,500
Service Range*, km 700 625 600 630 700 650
Number Cannon 1 1 1 - 1 1
Machine guns 2 1 2 3 3 1

* Forcing of the engine during 10 minutes.

** On speed making 90 % from maximal.

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  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "Planes of Stalin falcons" /Konstantin Kosminkov and Dmitriy Grinyuk/
  • "The Soviet planes" /Alexander Yakovlev/
MiG-3 No 2115, 1941