In March 1946, some of the Soviet design bureaus were issued with a specification for a new jet powered aircraft. The specification included a speed over 1,000kmh, a ceiling of over 45,000ft, pressurised cockpit, cannon armament, the ability to carry out army cooperation (ground attack) and operate off grass in all weathers.
The response from Mikoyan-Gurevich was the I-310, which was test flown on December 30th, 1947. The distinctive looking aircraft incorporated a 35 degree sweep back on the wings, and 2 degrees anhedral. The tail surfaces were also swept, with the leading edge of the fin set at 56 degrees. The horizontal stabilisors were set high on the fin to keep them as far as possible from the CoG. Two prototypes were built (S-01 and S-02), but production as the MiG-15 was initiated in March 1948 before testing was complete. The prototype aircraft were used for engine testing, with powerplants including the RD-45 Soviet version of the Rolls-Royce Nene, and the Klimov VK-1 and its variants.
The MiG-15 quickly became the backbone of Soviet fighter units, and remained so for ten years. The aircraft is best known for its role in the Korean conflict, where its American opponents acknowledged its capabilities. The aircraft was exported to allies of the Soviet Union and participated in a number of other conflicts and political crises in the 1950's. The aircraft was produced in a number of variants (including reconaissance, night fighter, and ground attack), with the all-round capability Mig-15bis being the most common. Countries to operate the type included Cambodia, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft was licence built in Hungary (as the S-102 and S-103) and in Poland (as the Lim-1 and Lim-2). The two seat trainer, the MiG-15UTI appeared in 1952. A number of single seat aircraft were also converted to UTI configuration. The longevity of the type has been shown with the MiG-15UTI remaining in the training role well into the 1990's. The aircraft has been taking on a new role in the last decade as the MiG-15 has become part of the international 'Warbird' scene.
New Zealand's sole example of the MiG-15UTI is part of that Warbird interest. Built in 1957 (c/n26016-01), the aircraft flew 607 hours before being transferred to the Polish Air Force in 1962. The aircraft was reconfigured as a MiG-15UTI/SBLim-2, and continued to serve until 1992. Sold in 1993, it was shipped to Australia, and registered VH-NZM on December 10, 1993. Reassembled and returned to airworthiness at Winrye Aviation at Bankstown, the aircraft was not flown as approval could not be obtained, although engine runs were performed in 1994. The MiG was shipped to Port Chalmers in New Zealand, and the aircraft was reassembled at Dunedin. Registered as ZK-MIG on April 4th 1996, the aircraft had its first test flight on April 25th in the hands of RAAF pilot S/L Phil Frawley. Due to the lack of a suitable pilot, the aircraft was unfortunately unable to perform at that year's Warbirds over Wanaka . The aircraft debuted at Wanaka in 1998 in the hands of Graham Bethell as part of the Russian themed programme. The aircraft is owned by Mike Kelly and Murray Paterson of Southair Aviation, and presented in Soviet markings, still with its Polish flying number '501'.
Last Update:- 26 October, 2001
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