Goodbye Fagot

By Bryan • china, military • 16 Nov 2005

Before you slap me for being so awfully un PC, please, read on. For the flight geek in all of us.

Albania has retired the last MiG-15 fighters still in service…Albania got its first MiG-15s from Russia in the 1950s, but later got the Chinese version (the J-2). There are only ten J-2s left in Albanian service, and most will probably end up with collectors, or museums. There are also 24 MiG-17s and 60 MiG-19s (all Chinese copies.)

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Next to the German Me262, the Mig 15 (NATO codename FAGOT) can probably be considered one of the fathers of the modern combat jet. This little silver dude first burst onto the scene during the Korean War where it rapidly proved an formidable advesary (ah, the days when the US Airforce was not the absolutely invincible machine that it is today).

I remember strapping myself into the armchair, powering up Chuck Yeagers Air Combat and taking the controls of one of these mackdaddies. For hours I’d pile on and rain fire into digital P-51’s, B-29’s, F-86’s and other unsuspecting UN targets over the two tone green polygons of the Korean landscape.

I had the opportunity to see some of these cold war warriors up close last year. There’s a Mig 15, along with a Mig 21, 23 and a couple of Ka-25 choppers (well, their Chinese ‘engineered’ equivilants) sitting in the Aviation and Technology University in Nanjing. The Fagot certainly is far, far smaller than I would have guessed. It is not much more that a seat attached to jet engine. I wouldn’t say it’s much bigger than the the old Red Ford.

Poor Mikoyan-Gurevich…they used to be the backbone of Russian aviation. Producing an array of technologically inferior, yet astondingly robust combat models. Seriously, would Top Gun have been the movie that it was without good ole Migs?

Their last operational piece was the cool looking, but apparently poorly designed Mig-29 Fulcrum. China ordered a bunch of these as a replacement for their aging air fleet, only to be incredibly disappointed by their peformance, instead opting for a license to domesitcally produce the latest Sukhoi models (33’s, 30’s, and 27’s…of which the PLAAF now has considerable numbers).

Mig hasn’t put anything on the market in awhile. Their latest endeavor would have been the Mig 1.42, an apparent response to the F-22 Raptor, but it appears as if that has been put on the shelf. Mig is now reffered to as RAC, or the Russian Aircraft Corporation, and seems to be moving towards commerical aircraft design and away from military contracts. The torch has been passed to Sukhoi, which is now the weapon of choice in the Russian bargain basement sale of new, and slightly used weapons systems.

Moving back to North America…this is really incredible…

The B-52 Stratofortress (one of my favourite planes) first flew in 1954, with the last model rolling of the production lines in 62′. The USAF is planning on keeping the remaining 100 or so operation until 2050!

Imagine flying an 84 year old airframe on a combat mission! Fantastic!

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