Photo: Robert Deering 10/23/2006
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
he MiG-21 is one
of the world's most famous jet fighters.
This Soviet-made aircraft first flew in
1955, and more than 50 countries have used
various versions. Western forces code-named
the MiG-21 "Fishbed," and some versions have
flown well into the 21st century. The USSR
built more than 10,000 MiG-21s before ending
production in 1985.
In the Southeast Asia War, the MiG-21 was a dangerous adversary. Fast as U.S. jets, it was more agile than the F-4 Phantom, its main opponent. Although American forces lost about 50 aircraft to North Vietnamese MiG-21s, the U.S. Air Force shot down 68 MiG-21s in air combat.
North Vietnam had more than 200 MiG-21s. The aircraft on display, a MiG-21PF, carried air-to-air missiles but no guns. It is painted to represent a plane from North Vietnam's elite 921st Fighter Regiment.
Engine: Tumansky R-11F2-300 with more than 13,000 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 1,300 mph
Armament: Two K-5 "Alkali" radar-guided or K-13 "Atoll" heat-seeking missiles
Range: 870 miles, 1,110 miles with auxiliary tank
Ceiling: 62,000 ft.
Source: National Museum of the United States Air Force