Mig-21 Facts That Might Surprise You

Mig-21 Facts That Might Surprise You | World War Wings Videos

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The MiG-21 is probably one of the best-known Soviet planes. It was the Soviet Union’s first modern, second-generation fighter. Here are some MiG-21 facts that might surprise you: 

1. It’s the oldest fighter that’s currently in active service

Despite its age, the MiG-21 is still used by several air forces and private operators around the world.

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The jet first started testing in 1955 and entered service with the Soviet Union in 1959. 

2. Because of its delta wing, Russian pilots called in the “balalaika” after the stringed folk instrument

It is the fastest balalaika in the world. In 1959, its prototype set a world speed record of 2,388 km/hr.

Two years later with a rocket engine added to the airframe, it set an altitude record of 34,714 m (113,891 ft.)

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3. A special feature of early MiG-21s is a pilot escape system

When the pilot ejects from the aircraft, the canopy attaches itself to the seat and forms a capsule to protect the pilot.

When clear of the aircraft the lower attach points are released, allowing the canopy to drift away.

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Then, the pilot separates from the seat and the parachute opens. This system allows a safe escape for the pilot at an altitude over 110 meters and airspeed below 1,100 km/hr. 

4. The MiG-21 is the most produced supersonic fighter in the world

All in all, 11,496 units were built. China also license-built more than 2,400 units.

The Chinese variants have updated hydraulic and fuel systems. The MiG-21 was exported to about 50 nations. 

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5. All MiG-21 variants have the same performance and endurance 

The plane’s takeoff speed is about 400 km/hr or 250 knots. Maximum speed at sea level is just above Mach 1. The service ceiling is approximately 60,000 feet. 

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