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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-III: The Forgotten Soviet Fighter Plane
By 1938 Soviet authorities released the specifications for a combat aircraft with good perfomances at high altitude that could be manufactured very rapidly.
Two aircraft designers 'Artyem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich' were assigned to the task, and by the end of 1938 drawings had already finished. In 1939 the newly designed airplane had been approved by the Soviets, an aircraft company was instated to ensure a continued development of the given specifications.
The company produced two designs the I-61 and the I-63, in 1939 the I-61 came of the drawing board as the winner and 3 prototypes were built.
The I-63 was rejected mainly because of problems with engine developments, it seemed that the Mikulin AM-37 engine was not as reliable compared to the Mikulin AM-35A that was fitted into the I-61.
Later on the I-61 was renamed I-200 prototype, and made its first flight on the 30th of March 1940.
The fighter looked very aerodynamic in combination with a closed cockpit and retractable wheels, yet the Soviets had their own unique style of manufacturing aircraft with wood and metal.
The fighter had a topspeed of 651 km/h and was easily the fastest combat airplane in the world at that time.
Stabillity was a great issue with the I-200, the plane had the tendency to overturn when the pilot made a sudden move.
The First MiG
After some modifications the I-200 served as a basic model for the MiG-1, this fighter had no protection against enemy fire whatsoever. In the beginning the MiG had one 12.7 mm Beresin and two 7.62 mm ShKAS machineguns mounted in the nose, but soon experiments were conducted with diffirent types of armament.
Some Migs were equipped with one 20 mm ShVAK cannon instead of a 20 mm UBS machinegun, other planes had just two 12.7 mm UBS machineguns fitted on them.
Another variation in armament was to have two 12,7 UBS machineguns placed under the wings in addition to the standard weapons configuration of three machineguns in the nose.
The aircraft was capable of carrying one bomb on each wing or disposable fuel tanks as an altertive. Due to their of lack of stabillity, many pilots died in accidents with the MiG-1's.
So when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviet Union gradually started to replace all of the MiG-1's with MiG-3's in a necessity to avoid more pilot losses.
The MiG-3 fighter plane was the third aircraft designed by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. It was an excellent interceptor for its time, and a big improvement compared to its predecessor the MiG-1 that made its first flight in april 1940.
The two aircraft were similar in basic design, but the MiG-3 had some major diffirences, for example it had a new type of propellor installed, the wings had been altered which resulted in a greater range.
The MiG-3 had better armament and was made more bullet proof than the MiG-1. This new type of fighter had been put to the test on Russia's western front in 1941 with promissing results.
The MiG-1 was commissioned simultaneously with the MiG-3, but very soon the MiG-1's short comings became obvious.
Nevertheless the Russians did not care about the MiG-1 being inferior to the MiG-3 and used both fighter planes as much as they could until the MiG-1's retirement in 1943.
The MiG-3's flight characteristics where far better when flying at an altitude above 5000 meters, this meant that the MiG-3 was a formidable adversary against the Luftwaffe although its poor manueverbility.
When production stopped in 1942, over 3422 of both types had been manufactured, but in the first months of 1943 improved Luftwaffe fighter planes started to get the upperhand in dogfights against the MiG-3's.
This led to the replacement of the MiG-3's by La-7's and Yak-3's on the western battlefield, from that time on they were only being used for reconnaissance missions until the end of the war in 1945.
Country - Soviet Union
Crew - one
First Mission - end of 1941
Decomissioned - 1945
Propulsion - Mikulin AM-35A liquid cooled V12 engine.
Armament - one Beresin 12.7 mm and two ShKAS 7.62 mm machineguns mounted in the nose with a maximum load of 200 kg of bombs and rockets (or chemical weapons) mounted under the wings.
Dimensions - wingspan: 10,2 m, length: 8,2 m, height: 3,5 m, wing area: 17,44 m².
Weight - empty: 2595 kg, fully loaded: 3350 kg.
Performances - maximum speed: 640 km/h, sevice ceiling: 12.000 m, climbing rate 1200 m per/min, range: 1195 km