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On November 8, 1950, nearly five months after the outbreak of Korean War, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Russell Brown shot down a Soviet built MIG-15 over South Korea in what is believed to have been the first all-jet aerial dogfight in history. Apparently Brown was either very skillful or very lucky, for he flew a Lockheed F- 80 Shooting Star, and the F-80 was no match for the MIG -15 jet fighter.
First tested in 1947 and put into production the following year, the MIG -15- named for its Soviet designers, Mikoyan and Guryevich -- was probably the finest jet fighter flying at the time. With its 33 - foot wings and its tail assembly swept back at a striking 42- degree angle, and powered by a Russian copy of a Rolls-Royce jet engine, the MIG -15 could top 650 miles per hour and climb almost two miles a minute to its 50,000 - foot operating ceiling. The 36.5- foot-long fighter was armed with a single 37-millimeter and two 23-millimeter cannons mounted under its nose.
The plane was based on research conducted several years earlier in Germany. German engineers had tested the swept-wing design and found that it could reduce high-speed buffeting. Later the Russians acquired this information.
However, they lacked a suitable jet engine to complement their advanced design. England helped solve this problem by sending Russians a sample of their powerful Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet. The Russians swiftly began producing a close facsimile of the Rolls-Royce engine and soon were able to manufacture the MIG -15 in quantity.
The plane became the first jet fighter to be placed in widespread service in Russia. Not only did it become Russia's primary jet fighter, but it was also supplied in large numbers to Russian satellite countries.
It made its first public appearance during the Korean War, when its shocked the western world with its outstanding performance. Until the United States Air Force introduced the F-86, the MIG-15 reigned supreme in the sky over Korea. Some authorities believe that as many as 18,000 MIG -15s were manufactured, making the plane the most widely produced jet fighter in the World during the early 1950s.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
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Updated: March 12, 2004