NATO Reporting Name: "Fishbed-F"
The MiG-21 is probably one of the best known Soviet aircraft—flown by many nations and built in larger numbers than any warplane since World War II. It was designed in response to Korean War needs for a short-range interceptor and light strike fighter. First flown in 1955, the MiG-21 was the first Soviet plane to reach Mach 2. For three decades, variants of the MiG-21 went head-to-head with the F-4 Phantom and other American-made fighters in Cold War-related conflicts worldwide.
The Museum's MiG-21 was acquired from the Czech Republic after the breakup of the Soviet Union. A Boeing employee, Jim Blue, discovered this MiG-21, along with about 60 others, destined for the scrapyard. Through generous donations from Mr. Blue and others, the MiG was purchased, shipped to Seattle, and reassembled at the Museum of Flight.
Mikoyan and Gurevich
This Soviet "experimental construction bureau" ranks with The Boeing Company as one of the world's most famous and influential aircraft design organizations. Founded by designers Artyem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich in 1939, MiG builds only fighters, creating many variants of a few basic designs. Mikoyan began design of the MiG-21 in 1953 and it remained in production through the mid-1980s.
Simply a Fighter
Soviet fighters like the MiG-21 are designed and built differently from their Western counterparts. American fighters such as the F-4, are large, sophisticated, two-engine, two-person aircraft designed to carry out many different missions. The MiG, on the other hand, is a relatively small, defensive fighter built with traditional materials and simple manufacturing. Why make them basic? Soviet aircraft can be built fast, cheap, and in large numbers. In combat, MiGs are tough, simple, rugged planes that can operate from unprepared airfields with minimum logistical support and be maintained by simple, basically unskilled labor.
In the mid-1980s, MiG-21s were in service with at least 37 air forces worldwide.
Help us preserve this historic artifact for future generations. Click here to find out about the Museum's Adopt-A-Plane program.