MIKOYAN MIG-21BIS FISHBED-L:  C-340

The MiG 21 series Single seat fighter/strike aircraft was developed from a series of prototypes built from 1955.  The first early series MiG 21 aircraft went into service in 1957.  The final series was the MiG 21 bis with more powerful motor and updated electronics and examples of these were employed by the Air Forces of both Angola and Mozambique.

 The Museum’s example is an Angolan Air Force MiG-21bis, Serial Number C-340, piloted by Lieutenant Vinez of the Angolan Air Force that carried out an emergency landing on 14 December 1989 near Otjiwarongo, South West Africa (Namibia.  In Angola, the Air Defence network would have detected that a possible MiG was en-route to defect, a little unknown fact was that even during operational flights as late as 1988, the Angolan Air Force fighters never carried sufficient fuel to effect a defection from Lubango/Mocamedes or Namibe to Ondangwa, or from Menongue/Cuito Cuanavale to Rundu.  This aspect was illustrated during an incident in 1987 when a Su-22 Fitter reportedly departed from Menongue to conduct a reconnaissance mission along the Kavango River, North West of AFB Rundu.  This aircraft crashed several miles from the border due to a lack of fuel, whilst en-route to the target area.

On 14 December 1989, this MiG-21bis Fishbed, Serial Number C-340 of the Angolan Air Force flown by Lieutenant Domingos José de Almeida Vinez, took-off from the airfield at Lubango (FNBU position 14:56 South 13:35 East) on a routine ferry flight from Lubango to the airfield at Menongue (FNME 14:39South 17:41East).  The aircraft climbed to altitude on a general heading of 090 degrees magnetic.  On a number of occasions, the aircraft entered clouds and upon regaining visual contact with the ground, the Pilot was no longer able to orientate himself as to his position.  After a while, he elected to divert to Cuito Cuanavale (FNCV), South East of FNME.

According to Lt Vinez, he had lost all visual queues he had been used to using when navigating between these two airfields and after setting course in a South Easterly direction, he continued believing that he would soon pick up the Non-Directional Beacon of Cuito Cuanavale.  This never happened as he was way off course from his planned route.  The only maps carried in the aircraft were standard ‘Shell’ type road maps.  These maps are of little value in the aviation environment and are completely useless during an Instrument Flight Rules mission!  Lt Vinez continued flying South for approximately another 20 minutes until he crossed a major river which he believed was the Cuito River.

The area east of the Cuito River was UNITA controlled territory.  Continuing on his present course, the aircraft began giving the pilot a ‘Low Fuel’ warning at which time, he elected to attempt an emergency landing.  After preparing the aircraft for the Forced Landing, he selected an open field and executed a near prefect ‘normal’ landing near Otjiwarongo in SWA.  The aircraft only sustained minor damage.  Contrary to popular belief, Lt Vinez had no intention on defecting to the RSA/SWA.  During discussions at the accident site with him, his greatest concern was that he was indeed in UNITA occupied territory.  It took some time to convince him otherwise."  Unlike the MiG-17 from Mozambique that had defected to the RSA some years before, there was no formal request from the Angolan Air Force to return the aircraft, so it was returned to static display condition for the SAAF Museum by the Atlas aviation’s Apprentice School and delivered to the Museum during 1991.

SPECIFICATIONS
Country of Origin: Russia (Soviet Union)
Manufacturer: Mikoyan Guryevich MiG-21bis
Served with: Angolan Air Force
Role: Air-to-air Fighter and Ground Support
Power Plant: One Tumanskii Turbojet Engine Delivering 7 00kg of Thrust
Empty weight: 5 895 kilograms    12,966 pounds
Max Take-Off Weight: 10 420 kilograms    22,972 pounds
Max speed at altitude: Mach 2.1 (2,230 km/h)
Maximum Range: 1 225 kilometers    760 MI / 660 NMI
Service Ceiling: 17 800 meters    58 400 feet

ARMAMENT
1 x 16,500 lb s.t. Tumansky R-25
1 x Twin barrel 23mm GSh-23 cannon plus four wing hard points for 3,300 lb (1,500 kg) e.g. four K-13 (AA-2 “Atoll”) or AA-B “Aphid” air to air missiles or rocket pods
1 x Under fuselage hard point for centre-line drop tank