Combat Air Museum banner
Combat Air Museum "Wing"
Mikoyan_Gurevich MiG-21PF Fishbed

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF Fishbed D

Return button

This jet fighter is an icon of the Cold War and came to symbolize the military might of the former Soviet Union. MiG-21s in Soviet service outnumbered the fighter strength of all NATO air forces. Over 50 years after it first entered service in 1959, the MiG-21 has served with over 50 air forces of the World. More than 10,000 MiG-21s were built, making it the most widely produced jet fighter built to date with at least 14 versions produced. The fighter was both exported by the Soviet Union and built under license by other nations. The Chinese built a copy, without license, as the Chengdu J-7. Into the first decade of the 21st century, it is now reaching the twilight of its career as a front line fighter with various nations, including a few who are now part of NATO, the former main rival of the Soviet Union. Some predictions are that the MiG-21bis version may still be flying as late as 2015 with new engines and radar.

The MIG-21 was designed as a fast-climbing point defense interceptor and long range capability was not a concern in its design. Its range was eventually extended by use of a 129 gallon (490L) centerline fuel tank. It could reach 40,000 feet altitude in five minutes after takeoff. It was light, fast, and nimble, one of the most maneuverable warplanes of its era. The NATO code name for the MiG-21 was, and is, Fishbed.

The MiG-21 was a deadly adversary for US pilots over the skies of North Vietnam, especially in close-quarter battle. During the early part of the Vietnam War, the air-to-air combat loss-exchange ratios against the smaller and more agile MiG-17s and MiG-21s was so poor that it lead the US Navy to establish their Navy Fighter Weapons School "Top Gun," initially at Miramar Naval Air Station, (San Diego) California, in March 1969. The US Air Force also established Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) that eventually became Red Flag (1975) exercises held at Nellis Air Force Base, (Las Vegas) Nevada and Eielson AFB, (Moose Creek) Alaska. The school and exercises re-emphasized the need for Air Combat Maneuvering (dog fighting) training. Thirteen of the sixteen North Vietnamese Air Force Aces flew MiG-21s. Israeli pilots in the 1970s felt the MiG-21 fighter was the best enemy fighter they flew against during encounters with Arab nations.

This aircraft is a MiG-21PF. Its history is largely unknown. It is apparently a Soviet export, built circa 1967. It came to the United States sometime after the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and was part of the former Champlin Fighter Museum in Mesa, Arizona. The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, acquired the MiG when it bought the bulk of the Champlin collection in 2000. Most of the collection was moved to Seattle by 2003, but the MiG remained in Mesa as Seattle already had a MiG-21 on exhibit. The aircraft was placed on loan to Combat Air Museum in 2007.

The fighter is in Czechoslovakian markings. Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Slovak Republic) on January 1, 1993. The stenciling on the aircraft is in the Czech language. But if you look at the metal plates on the bullet shape tail cone, you will find Russian Cyrillic. Also, look for stenciling that reads TERMOČLÁNKY, ELEKTROMECHANIZMUS, and HYDRAULICKÉ.

The MiG-21PF was one of a few versions of the fighter that did not carry an internal cannon. Its wing pylons could carry air-to-air heat seeking and radar guided missiles, rocket pods, or bombs.

This aircraft is on loan from the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington


Basic Role:
Multirole combat, single seat interceptor and fighter
One Tumansky R11F2-300 turbojet 13,610-lb thrust with afterburner
8,708 lb (38.8 kN) thrust military power
13,635 lb (60.6 kN) thrust afterburner
Maximum speed:
1,353mph (2,177 km/h) @ 42,650ft (13,000 m)
Max. Range:
Without aux. tank: 870 miles (1,400 km), With aux. tank: 1,100 miles (1,770 km)
Combat radius: 310 miles (500km)
Service Ceiling:
62,300 ft (18,989 m)
23 ft. 5.5 in (7.15 m), Wing Area: 256 sq ft (23.78 sq m)
49 ft 4 in (15.04 m)
15 ft. 9 in (4.09 m)
11,390 lbs (5,167 kg) Empty: Gross 17,086 lbs (7,750 kg) Max. Takeoff: 20,438 lb (9,271 kg)
Atoll heat-seeking or Alkali radar-guided air-toair missiles; rocket pods; up to 3,300 lb (1,497 kg) of general purpose bombs.
Serial number:


Return button
Copyright © 2008-2018 Combat Air Museum