Soviet high-speed fighter MiG-1/MiG-3

The aircraft, which became the most massive new generation fighter in the Red Army Air Force at the beginning of the Soviet-German war, was conceived as an interceptor fighter optimized for medium and high altitudes. Development under the code “K” (I-61) began in 1939 under the guidance of N.N. Polikarpova.

In December 1939, the design was handed over to a new design bureau formed at Moscow Aviation Plant No. 1 (chief designer A.I. Mikoyan, deputy – M.I. Gurevich). The aircraft, which received the new designation I-200, was a single-seat monoplane of mixed design (wing consoles and aft fuselage compartment with a keel wooden, the rest of the airframe nodes – metal) with the retractable landing gear. The project was supposed to install the AM-37 motor (1,600 hp), but due to its unavailability, AM-35A (1350 hp) -12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine was installed on the aircraft. The armament consisted of three synchronous machine guns – one 12.7 mm BS (ammunition 300 rounds) and two 7.62 mm ShKAS (total ammunition 1600 rounds). Suspension of bombs weighing up to 220 kg was provided.

The first flight of the I-200 prototype took place on April 5, 1940. In August-September 1940 the aircraft passed state tests, showing good flight data (for example, the maximum speed on the I-200-2 prototype with full armament was 628 km / h at altitude 7200 m). Since December 1940, Plant No. 1 began mass production of the fighter; soon other enterprises were to join it.

The plans for the rearmament of the Red Army Air Force assigned one of the priority places to the aircraft since it was assumed that in the future war air battles would take place mainly at medium and high altitudes – namely, the I-200 was best adapted to such conditions.


MiG-1 – the first production version. In December 1940 – February 1941 Plant No. 1 manufactured 100 aircraft.

Crew, man: 1
Length, meters: 8.15
Height, meters: 3.32
Wingspan, meters 10.2
Wing area, m2: 17.44
Empty weight, kg: 2602
Maximum take-off, kg: 3099
Speed max. near the ground, km / h: 521
Max speed, km / h at altitude, km: 628 / 7.0
Climb time, m / min: 5000 for 5.3
Practical ceiling, m: 12000Practical range, km: 576
Armament machine guns, mm: 4×7.62 and 2×12.7
Gun armament, mm: none

MiG-3 – was built by plant number 1 (including the evacuation in Kuibyshev), as well as the pilot plant number 155 in Moscow. The wing and shields have been changed, the fuel supply has been increased, the centralized tanks have been introduced, and a new radiator has been used. Since July 1941, automatic slats, a new screw, bulletproof glass of a lantern peak, a neutral gas system were introduced, the plumage and ailerons were changed. Armament, for the most part, corresponded to the MiG-1. Since February 1941, some of the vehicles were equipped with underwing units for suspending two additional 12.7 mm BK machine guns. Machines of the 27th series (September 1941) had only two synchronous BS machine guns. Some aircraft of the last series had two synchronous BS and one ShKAS, or two 20-mm synchronous guns SP-20 (in particular, all aircraft built by plant No. 155 had cannon weapons). Missile weapons – up to 6 82-mm rockets, on aircraft of the latest series, the suspension of 6 132-mm shells is provided. It was serially built until January 1942 (3102 aircraft were produced), in April-July 1942, 75 aircraft were assembled at plant No. 155 from the existing reserve.

Crew, man: 1
Length, meters: 8.25
Height, meters: 3.32
Wingspan, meters: 10.2
Wing area, m2: 17.44
Empty weight, kg: 2699
Maximum take-off, kg: 3350
Speed max. near the ground, km / h: 505
Max speed, km / h at altitude, km: 603 / 7.8
Climb time, m / min: 5000 for 5.7
Practical ceiling, m: 11500
Practical range, km: 1000
Armament machine guns, mm: 2×12.7 or 2×7.62 and 1×12.7
Gun armament, mm: (or) 2×20

Combat use

MiG-1 deliveries to combat units began in February 1941 – they were received by the 146th, 31st, and 41st IAPs. Since March, the MiG-3 arrived en masse. That month, plant number 1 produced 481 such a machine, and in June delivered a record number – 1289 MiG-3s. The development of combat pilots was not easy – in the “pre-war generation” MiG-3 was the most stringent in piloting and the most unreliable. This led to a significant loss of aircraft during retraining. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the Soviet-German war, the Red Army Air Force had 13 regiments in the border districts fully equipped with the MiG-3: the 4th, 55th, and 146th IAPs in OdVO, 23rd, 28th and 149- m in KOVO, 41st, 124th, 126th and 129th in ZapOVO, 15th and 31st in PribOVO, as well as 153rd and 159th in LenVO. Four more regiments in the same districts began to receive new aircraft and began to rearm in the Far East – in the 34th IAP of the Trans-Baikal Military District. The border districts had a total of approximately 900 MiG-3s (including a small number of MiG-1s) – the figures given in various sources vary significantly. Another 175 MiG-3s were listed as part of the 6th Air Defense Fighter Corps formed on June 20, 1941, which covered Moscow.

In the spring of 1941, the MiG-1 and MiG-3 were used to intercept German intelligence in border areas. In particular, in April they intercepted and landed a high-altitude reconnaissance officer Junkers Ju-86P. With the beginning of World War II, those regiments that managed to master the MiG-3 actively participated in border battles, causing significant losses: for example, the Western Front Air Force had 238 MiGs on June 22, and by July 8 there were only 23 MiG-3s. I could not radically affect the situation and the introduction of new regiments armed with the MiG-3, in particular, the 401st and 402nd IAPs, staffed by experienced test pilots. The use of the MiG-3 in the air defense system of Moscow, Leningrad, Sevastopol became relatively more successful. Sometimes regiments armed with MiG-3 were also used for the ground attack – in the first weeks of the war on the Leningrad front, and then on the central section of the Soviet-German front.

On January 1, 1942, there were 686 MiG-3s out of 2401 fighters in the Red Army Air Force. The regiments armed with them took part in all significant operations – Rzhevskaya in April and Rzhevsko-Sarychevskaya in August, as well as in the Battle of Stalingrad. They were also operated by the naval aviation (in particular, the 7th, 8th and 62nd IAPs of the Black Sea Fleet). Losses for 1942 amounted to 326 MiG-3, and since production almost stopped, the number of vehicles in the ranks decreased rapidly. In 1943, the presence of the MiG-3 was noticeable only in air defense aircraft. The last aircraft of this type was withdrawn from service in 1945.

The MiG-3 was not exported, but single trophy specimens were used by the German, Romanian and Finnish air forces.

The MiG-3 was a good high-altitude fighter-interceptor, but in the role of a front-line fighter intended for operations mainly at low and medium altitudes, it was outnumbered by Yakovlev’s aircraft. This is what caused the rapid removal of the MiG-3 from production.

Graduated from Embry-Riddle Aviation University with a master's degree in aviation science. He began his career as an aviation researcher in local periodicals. Has a pilot license. Now are the author and developer of the Plane Worlds.