The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was the main Soviet fighter aircraft during the early years of the Cold War.
The type was originally developed in the Soviet Union as an interceptor. The RD-45 turbojet powered it, which was a copy of the Rolls Royce Nene. Designed to shoot down heavy bombers, it carried one 37mm and two 23mm cannons. German experience in WWII had shown the need for cannons larger than 20 mm to bring down four-engine heavy bombers.
The prototype MiG-15 first flew in December 1947. 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 MiG-15 was deployed against American Air Forces in December of 1950 in Korea. On November 8, 1950, 1st Lt. Russell Brown, flying an F-80, shot down a MiG-15 in the first all-jet dogfight in history. It was apparent, however, that the MiG-15 was superior to any aircraft then in the US inventory.
Initial encounters with American aircraft led to the development of the MiG-15bis (improved). Its VK-1 engine had 1,000 lbs more thrust than the RD-45 engine of the earlier version, and had hydraulic ailerons. Although the MiG-15bis could climb faster and higher than the F-86, poor turning performance and high mach instability limited its dogfight performance. In aerial combat against the F-86, the MiG-15 suffered high losses, but against the B-29 it was very effective, and prevented the heavy bombers from operating in daylight.
- Crew: 1
- Engine: 1 x 26.5 kN VK-1 turbo-jet
- Wingspan: 10.1m
- Length: 10.1m
- Height: 3.7 m
- Wing area: 20.6 m2
- Unloaded weight: 4,960 kg
- Max speed: 1076 km/h
- Ceiling: 16,000 m
- Range: (Max. fuel) 2,000 km, (Max. payload) 1,400 km
- Armament: 1 x 37 mm MG, 2 x 23mm MG, 400 kg of bombs or missiles.