At the start of the War on the Eastern Front the MiG-3 was one of the most modern fighters of the Russian air force, VVS. The MiG-3 was the result of an urgent improvement on the MiG-1 or I-200.
The MiG-1 was the result from an urgent requirement issued by the VVS (Voenno-vozdushniye Sily, the Soviet air force) early in 1938. This requirement called for a high-altitude fighter, and Artyem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich took up their first design. In the fall of 1938 a preliminary design was drafted, and in the spring of 1939 the construction of a prototype was authorised. The men were subsequently instructed to establish their own design bureau, and in October this new bureau finalised the design of the new fighter.
Initiallly the fighter was drawn up in two forms, the I-61 and I-63 (I stands for Istrebitel which means something like 'Fighter' or 'Destroyer'). The difference between the two designs was merely the use of a different engine, being either a Mikulin AM-35A or Mikulin AM37 respectively. In November 1939 an order for three prototypes was issued. The I-63 was dropped soon afterwards, and the I-61 was redesignated I-200 in January 1940.
The first I-200 prototype was quickly constructed, and a typical 'modern' fighter of that era first flew in April 1940. Like contemporary aircraft, it was a cantilever low-wing monoplane design, with fully retractable tailwheel landing gear and an enclosed cockpit. Contrary to most contemporary aircraft was the use of materials. In this case the fighter was of mixed construction: the forward and central sections were of welded steel tubes construction covered with Dural panels, the rear- and tail- sections were semi-monocoque structures with a skin of bakelite-impregnated plywood over wooden longerons and stringers. The wing was a stressed-skin structure: the flat center section, which was tapered in thickness and chord, had a flush-riveted Dural skin over a steel and Dural structure, while the dihedraled outer wing panels, which were also tapered in thickness and chord, possessed a skinning of bakelite-impregnated plywood over a wood structure. All the control surfaces were of fabric-covered Dural construction, and comprised standard elevators, rudder and ailerons, the latter outboard of the Shrenk-type trailing-edge flaps that were of Dural construction.
The first prototype had a very good performance, but was terrible to handle. Partly this was due to the short rear fuselage, and the small horizontal tail surfaces. Even while improvements were made, the first 100 aircraft were ordered nevertheless due to the urgency of the VVS.
|Technical data on the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3|
|Powerplant||1 × Mikulin AM-35A Vee, rated at 1350 hp (1006.41 kW)||Role during war|| |
|Length||27 ft 0.8 inch||Height||8 ft 8.33 inch|
|Empty weight||5952 lb||Operational weight||7385 lb max|
|Wing Span||33 ft 5.5 inch||Wing Aspect ratio||5.97|
|Wing Area||187.73 sq ft||Service ceiling||39370 ft|
|Maximum speed||398 mph at 25590 ft||Cruising speed||unknown|
|Initial climb rate||Climb to 16,405 ft in 5 min 42 sec||Range||742 miles max|
|Fuel capacity internal||145 Imp gal (174 US gal)||Fuel capacity external||-|
|Machine guns|| ||Cannons||-|
|Bomb load||Up to 441 lb, carried on two underwing hardpoints rated 220 lb each. General disposables load consisted of: ||Torpedoes/rockets||Alternatively to weapons on hardpoints: |
|Crew||1||Naval or ground based||Ground|
|First flight (prototype)||5 April 1940||Operational Service||April 1941 - 1945|
|Manufacturer||Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau||Number produced||about 3.220 total, 3.120 this version|
|Length||8.25 m||Height||2.65 m|
|Empty weight||2700 kg||Operational weight||3350 kg max|
|Wing Span||10.2 m||Wing Aspect ratio||5.97|
|Wing Area||17.44 m²||Service ceiling||12000 m|
|Maximum speed||641 km/h at 7800 m||Cruising speed||unknown|
|Initial climb rate||Climb to 5.000 m in 5 min 42 sec||Range||1194 km max|
|Fuel capacity internal||600 liters||Fuel capacity external||-|
|Machine guns|| ||Cannons||-|
|Bomb load||Up to 200 kg, carried on two underwing hardpoints rated 100 kg each. General disposables load consisted of: ||Torpedoes/rockets||Alternatively to weapons on hardpoints: |
Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:
|Different versions of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich I-200||Initial designation of the MiG-1, the forefather of the MiG-3. Only the first prototype was designated with this. |
Number built: 1
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1||This fighter was the initial version of the MiG-3. It had excellent performance, at high altitudes, but suffered from bad handling characteristics. Even though flight trials had showed the problems of the MiG-1, the type was ordered into production nevertheless. The VVS needed the high-altitude interceptors too much to be able to afford any more delay. This version was powered and armed like the MiG-3, and differed slightly in performance characteristics and other technical details from the MiG-3: empty weight of 5,736 lb (2.602 kg), loaded weight of 6,834 lb (3.100 kg), max level speed of 302 mph (486 km/h) at sea level, max level speed of 390 mph (627 km/h) at an altitude of 23,620 ft (7.200 m), range of 455 miles (730 km). |
Number built: 100
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3||While the MiG-1 was in production an intensive program of improving the MiG-1 was started. The resulting fighter was designated MiG-3. It had the same powerplant as the MiG-1, and most of the aircraft had the same armament as well. Some aircraft were fitted with 1 × 20 mm ShVAK cannon in place of the UBS machine gun, others having 2 × UBS machine guns, and a small number supplementing the standard arrangement of three machine guns with two more UBS machine guns in underwing gondolas. The improvements involved the enlargement of the internal fuel capacity in four tanks with inert gas protection, removal of all provision for drop tanks, replacement of the original propeller by a VISh-61SH unit with greater pitch movement, larger mainwheel tires, a fixed tailwheel, an armored pilot’s seat under a canopy with an aft-sliding rather than side-hinged section, a reprofiled rear fuselage giving the pilot improved fields of vision, greater dihedral on the outer wing panels, and a number of detail improvements. |
Number built: 3.100
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 AM-38||During the Autmn of 1941 most improvement plans for the MiG-3 were directed at it's engine. The MiG-3 had failed to fulfil it's promise, mainly because the airial combats took place at the low and medium altitudes, not the high-altitude in which the MiG-3 was superior. |
One of the engines seen fit for the MiG-3 was the Klimov Am-38, which had higher power output, but lower altitude capability.. One production fighter was modified, and entered flight trials at the LII (Letno-Issledovatel'skii Institut or Ministry for Aviation Industry Flight Research Institute). The fighter was lsightly heavier than the standard MiG-3 weighing 7,330 lb (3.325 kg). Max level speed was 367 mph (592 km/h) at optimum altitude. With this engine the MiG-3 became the fastest of all contemporary fighters at low and medium altitudes, except for the Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 and Bf 109F-4.
Drawbacks of the new engine was the overheating. The MiG-3 had retained the same oil and water coolers, but the engines produced more heat. This meant that the fighter was unfit to be used for operational service, and subsequently the program was abandoned.
Number built: 1
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 M-82||Another possible engine was the Shvetsov M-82 radial engine. Trying to save as much of the original fighter as possible, only the wing centre section and forward fuselage were slightly change. This was done to simplify any possible production change from MiG-3 to MiG-3 M82. Although performance was lsightly slower than the MiG-3 AM-38 rate of climb and take-off performance were radically improved, something which had worsened with the MiG-3 AM38. |
Sadly, work on this new version dragged too long, and ultimately production of the MiG-3 was halted in favour of the Ilyushin Il-2 attack aircraft.
Number built: 5
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9||Other designation for the MiG-3 M-82. |
The MiG-3 was one of the main fighters of the VVS when Operation Barbarossa went off. Although it had an excellent performance at high altitude, this was of no use for the fighters. Most air battles were fought at a low to medium altitude, in which the MiG-3 lacked maneuverability and performance.
Of the MiG-1 produced, most aircraft had succumbed during the couple of months in which it became operational and Operation Barbarossa. This was due to the high number of accidents caused by the viciously bad handling characteristics.
Nevertheless, it was the first really advanced and powerful fighter of the Soviets, and as such can claim it's place in the Haal of Fame. It was in front line duty for an extended time, even after productionhad already stopped. After that it was often used for training purposes, or defence of secondary low-risk installations and areas. It was most of the time outclassed by the German fighters (Messerschmitt Bf 109F series), but occasionally could claim great victories.
| Previous |
(Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse)
|Warbirds Main page||Homepage of Frans Bonné|| Next |
(Mitsubishi A6M Reisen)