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It was this aircraft that made the word "MiG" familiar to the world. Since Sikorsky's Ilya Muromets, the MiG-15 became the first design that put the Russian airspace industry to leading position. From that time the words "MiG at your six!" mean "trouble".
The work on the new fighter initially called "1-310" or "S" begun in January 1947. The initial plan was to install on the new aircraft Rolls Roys Nene II an engine. It was soon was put into serial production under the designation RD-45F. Despite the well-known myth the design of the German Та 183 never was a starting point for the MiG-15. Many features of the Та 183 were found to be unsatisfactory and the work on the design was started from the blank sheet of paper. The swept-back wing plane with an air intake in the nose was certainly the most promising that time — most of the fighters of the era had similar layout and nobody blames them for copying them from the Та 183. This legend was born partially by German designers who were willing to sign their name under the good work and partially by Western mass-media that tried to assure everyone that Russians could not produce something worthy themselves (only a few years later they understood how wrong they were!). After the War Kurt Tank developed his Та 183 into Pulgui II — the fighter that turned out to be nothing interesting.
The maiden flight of the MiG-15 took place on December, 30, 1947 and in March 1948 first MiGs rolled out of the production line of the Plant # 1 in Kuybyshev. Putting the new fighter into serial production so quickly is explained by the fact that the MiG-15 performance far exceeded WS specification requirements.
In 1949 the improved MiG-15bis model appeared. It differed from it's predecessor in being powered by the VK-1 engine. The new engine was more reliable and it significantly improved the performance. Initially the design fitted with VK-1 engine was called MiG-17, but later this name was given to another design with 45 degree swept-back wing. Like the original MiG-15 the MiG- 15bis was put into serial production before the evaluation program was completed.
In 1949 the trainer version was born — the UTI MiG-15 ("1-312", "ST"). For a long time it served in WS flight schools and for many Russian pilots this aircraft became the first they were flying. In 1951 two new versions were put into serial production — the reconnaissance MiG- 15Rbis and long-range MiG-15Sbis intended to protect the bombers during their missions. Two other variants — the MiG-15Pbis (interceptor) and MiG-15bis with a brake parachute were produced in a small series.
The glory came to the MiG-15 in the sky of Korea. MiGs took part in this conflict from 1 November 1950 up to the end of the war. Both MiG-15 and MiG-15bis were employed there and both planes proved themselves to be the best fighters of their time. Hundreds of MiGs killed by the Western newspapers lethal linotypes each day returned home safely and the next morning took off for another mission. During the war the fighter was further improved that made it even more dangerous opponent in the air combat. The idea to send the MiG-17 to Korea was rejected because of the simple reason — the MiG-15 did the job quite well.
The MiG-15 was produced on nine production plants (#1, #21, #31, #99, #126, #135, #153, #292, and #381). During the years of the serial production (1949-1959) 13131 aircraft were built.