Monday, December 16, 2013

MiG 19

MiG 19 - NATO code name:  Farmer

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG – 19

First flight:                   1953, September 18
Type:                           single-seat day twin-engine fighter-bomber
                                    Tumansky RD-9B turbojets (2)
                                    2549kg / 5730lb thrust
                                    3300kg / 7275lb afterburning
                                    30mm / 1.18in cannon NR-30 (3)
                                                Wing root – 2
                                                Nose - 1
                                    500kg / 1102lb weapons under the wings
            Length:            12.6m / 41ft 4in
            Height:              3.88m / 12ft 8.75in
Wingspan:       9.2m / 30ft 2.25in
Wing Area:      25m2 / 269.11ft2
Aspect Ratio:   3.24
Wing Sweep:   55o
Tailplane:         5m / 16ft 4.75in
            Empty:             5760kg / 12,699lb
            Normal:            7545kg / 16,634lb
            Max take-off:   9100kg / 20,062lb
            Internal:            1687kg / 3719lb
            External:          1140kg / 1608lb with 2 drop tanks
            Max speed:     1450kph / 901mph
            Cruise speed:  950kph / 590mph
            Ceiling:            17,900m / 58,725ft
            Range:             2200km / 1367 miles with drop tanks
            Climb:              6900m / 22,640ft per minute

MiG 19: split air intake; wing fence for streamlining

When you have several powerful nations crunched up in the small space that is Europe bad things are bound to happen.  It’s been that way for hundreds of years.  Joe Stalin knew something about the dynamics of power between nations.  Stalin was a realist.  There are no friendships among the community of nations.  There are only shared interests and conflicts of interests.  Diplomacy is the preferred means of settling issues of dispute but history has proved the value of a powerful military no matter the approach leaders choose to make.  When another nation wants something you consider to be yours appeals to morality are a poor second to the threat of a strong military presence and the will to use devastating force. 

Armed with 3 30mm cannon; armament on wings

The United States and the Soviet Union had a brief alliance because they shared the need to destroy Nazi Germany.  Once that issue was settled the suppressed conflicts of interest between the two nations quickly re-emerged and the gloves came off.  Both nations soon found themselves in a race to develop weapons of technical superiority over the other.  At the very least neither nation wanted to concede a military advantage to the other, if at all possible.  This was dramatically demonstrated in the rapid deployment new combat aircraft during the early years of the Cold War.

Air-to-Air missiles mounted under wings

Development of the Soviet MiG-19 reflected the urgency that also motivated America’s bringing to operational status jets such as the F-80 Shooting Star and the F7U Cutlass.  Early models were prone to accident because the engineering had not been thoroughly worked out.  You took a big risk piloting a jet on the bleeding edge of technology.  It’s a good reason why patriots of both countries honored these anonymous men in uniform.

F-6 with brakechute:  Chinese version of MiG 19

The first MiG-19s put into service had to be withdrawn because of a series of crashes due to stability problems.  The MiG-19 may have taken on the role of a fighter-bomber but it was clearly meant to be an interceptor.  It was a screaming dart of a jet with two engines equipped with afterburners, an astounding swept-wing of 55 degrees and performance that could best most any contemporary jet in a dogfight.  Is it any wonder this aircraft would quickly dive itself into the ground on the slimmest pretext of pilot error?  It’s clear the tailplane absolutely had to become a single movable piece but other adjustments probably had to do with allowing mere mortals to fly the aircraft without killing themselves.  They could have benefited from the kind of on-board computers we have today that keep inherently unstable jets, like the B-2 bomber, airborne.  

Arab nations among foreign buyers of MiG 19, F-6

The MiG-19 was a killing beast.  Imagine what three 30mm cannon would do to your airframe if you got lit up in the MiG’s crosshairs?  Sure, the cannon range might have been longer and their rate of fire wasn’t blistering but how many rounds this size does it take to shred your means of staying airborne?  May, 1972 over North Vietnam:  7 American F-4 Phantoms are shot down by the Chinese version of the MiG-19.  Of course the American Phantoms knocked 10 of these MiGs out of the sky but the MiG-19 was designed in the 1950s.  It’s obsolete.  What gives?  Here’s something to think about.  The Israeli’s claimed to have shot down several MiG-19s without a single loss of their own during the Six Day War in 1967.  Here’s the difference in results between 1967 and five years later over Vietnam.  Israeli pilots were trained to dogfight.  American pilots were taught to fly jets.  The Phantoms that first appeared over the skies of Hanoi had no guns.  It was all about the technology.  Simply lock your radar on an enemy bogie and fire your missile.  Wrong – we weren't quite in the push-button age of The Jetsons, yet.  Guns still mattered and so did the skill of the pilot in the cockpit.  That was just one of the many painful lessons leaders in the U.S. hopefully learned from their experience in Vietnam.

A-10 exhibits ground support design unlike MiG 19

Let’s sum it up.  The engineers at Mikoyan-Gurevich came up with a damn good fighter – fast, reliable and effective.  It out-performed the F-100 Super Sabre, its American equivalent.  It lacked combat radius so let’s not think of it as a true fighter-bomber.  You need to get somewhere and you also need fuel enough to have time over the target if you’re serious about a ground support mission.  Supersonic speed is of no use if all you want to do is land a bomb accurately on someone’s head.  You want ground-support?  Is there any plane better at what it does than the American A-10 Warthog?  The problem is the Air Force is always looking for reasons to ground this plane forever.  Backing up grunts on the ground isn't sexy enough for the strategically minded big brass.  If you’re serious about wowing the ladies don’t drop a turd in the punchbowl and don’t tell them you fly a Warthog.

F-100 was no match for MiG 19 in dogfight performance

MiG 19 reveals twin-engine configuration

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