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Category: Air support/Malaya-Korea

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The Dreaded MIGs

In 1948, the Soviet MiG design bureau developed a high-performance jet fighter design called the I-310. It incorporated some advanced features, such as a 35-degree wing sweep, and it promised to be a sprightly performer. However, the design lacked one essential component: A suitable engine. This problem was resolved when the British government authorized the Rolls-Royce company to export their Nene turbojet engine to Russia. As soon as the Russian Klimov design bureau received the engines, they immediately developed their own copy of the Nene, called the Klimov RD-45. Within months, the first prototype of the I-310 had flown with the new engine. The aircraft was redesignated MiG-15 and entered service early in 1949.Later in the year, the improved MiG-15bis version appeared, and a two-seat trainer version, the MiG-15UTI, was also introduced. In 1950, Western air forces were surprised at the combat capability of the new design in the skies over Korea. The MiG-15 could out-climb, out-turn, and fly higher than the US-built F-86 Sabre. Fortunately, Allied pilots were better-trained and had better equipment installed in their aircraft, and they prevailed against the MiG.

The MiG-15 was developed by the Soviet Union following WW II. It began appearing in service in 1949 and by 1952 it had been provided to a number of Communist satellite nations, including North Korea where it was used extensively against United Nations forces.

The airplane on display was flown to South Korea on September 21, 1953 by a defecting North Korean pilot who was given a reward of $100,000. The airplane was subsequently flight-tested on Okinawa and then brought to Wright-Patterson AFB for additional flight tests. An offer by the U.S. to return the airplane to its "rightful owners" was ignored, and in November 1957 it was transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum for public exhibition.

Span: 33 ft. 1 1/2 in.
Length: 33 ft. 3 5/8 in.
Height: 11 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 11,270 lbs. max.
Armament: Two 23mm cannons and one 37mm cannon, plus rockets or 2,000 lbs. of bombs
Engine: VK-1 of 6,000 lbs. thrust (copy of British Rolls-Royce "Nene" engine)
Serial number: 2015357

Maximum speed: 670 mph.
Cruising speed: 525 mph.
Range: 500 miles
Service Ceiling: 51,000 ft.

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces