Written by Johan Smidt (Friends of the Museum)
Most probably the most produced fighter aircraft in the world since the Korean War with the longest production run from 1959 – 1985. The characteristic layout with the shock cone and front air intake did not see widespread outside the USSR and proved to have limited development potential because of very limited space for radar.
Typical of Soviet-era design, the Mig had simple controls, engine, weapons and avionics. The use of the tail with delta wings aids in stability and control enhancing pilot safety. Even though technologically inferior to the more advanced fighters it faced, low production and maintenance costs made it a favourite among developing countries.
The airflow to the engine was regulated by a cone in the air intake and is three staged. On speeds up to M=1.5 it is fully retracted, between speeds of M=1.5 and M=1.9 it is centred and with speeds higher than M=1.9 it is fully forward.
One of its more notable uses was during the Angolan civil war. They were used as fighter-bombers and most losses were due to ground fire. Angolan and Cuban Mig’s had encounters with SAAF Mirages. On 6 November 1981 Major Johann Rankin scored the SAAF’s first kill since the Second World War, downing the Mig of Lt. Danacio Valdez.