Yesterday we looked at how the Russians had copied the B-29 Superfortress bolt for bolt. Today we look at the Russians being innovative.
In the immediate post war years all the major nations of the world were working on their new jet fighters. The Americans and British were working to improve on the technology they had learned during the war as well as the vindicated German documents we received at the end of the war. The Russians were doing the same and managed to come up with a surprise of their own. Powered initially by British Nene turbojets but later on by exact copies of the engine the Mig-15 could be found prowling the skies over North Korea.
The Mig-15 has been accused of being a copy of a German design by Kurt Tank known as the Ta183. It isn’t hard to look at that wind tunnel model above and say that the Mig-15 is a direct relative. Upon closer inspection you can see many glaring differences between the two and you will see the comparison is merely superficial. From the length of the design to the height of the tail the differences are as common as the similarities. It was far easier for us, in the west, to want to believe the Russians were incapable of creating their own aircraft then to combat what they had made.
When the US encountered the Mig-15 in Korea we were still flying fighters from World War Two and some very early jet designs. We had tested the swept wing but never incorporated it into any of our production aircraft. Until the introduction of the North American F-86 the Mig-15 had no real rival in the skies in the late 40s and early 50s. The influence of American combat in Korea with the Mig-15 had delayed the F-86′s development. The prototype had straight wings and was found to be deficient. The aircraft was sent back to have swept wings designed and implemented before being deployed. The Russians had led the way and we were following in its wake. The advantage would be short lived but more importantly the Russians would never have this lead again for the rest of the Cold War. The Americans had learned their lessons and wouldn’t rely on older designs until the end of the Cold War.
Discovery’s “Wings of the Red Star” about the Mig-15 and the F-86 Sabre.
The Mikoyan Mig-15 was not a perfect aircraft. It was built crudely and quickly as was the Russian custom. One of its primary advantages was in its armament. The guns would make up for some of this crudeness consisting of two 23mm and 1 37mm cannon. Not very many aircraft would be able to take hits from that combination for long before falling out of the sky. Still its time was short lived and it would be replaced by more indigenous pure Russian designs. It did demonstrate the Russians were more then capable of innovating on their own if they were allowed to.
[all images from Wikipedia.org]