Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of WW2, designed by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. It was a development of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1. MiG-3 was introduced 1941 and retired 1945, only five-year service.

Gaining a reputation as a ‘hot ship’ in the early years, the MiG-3 was plagued by difficult handling and very poor armament, and although among the fastest of Soviet fighters of that period, it proved no match for the German Bf 109G or Fw 190. Flown in prototype form as the 1-61 in the spring of 1940, the initial design included the 895-kW (1,200-hp) Mikulin AM-35 V-12 engine, and this was retained in the production MiG-1, which started appearing in September 1940, Handicapped by the overall length of the engine, which resulted in poor pitch and directional stability, and armed with only three machine-guns, the MiG-1 suffered heavily in the opening months of Operation ‘Barbarossa’, and the MiG-3, delivered during the second half of 1941, proved little better with a 1007-kW (1,350-hp) AM35A engine, which gave the fighter a top speed of 640 km/h (398 mph); introduced at the same time was a constant-speed propeller, increased wing dihedral and sliding cockpit canopy.

Handling was only marginally improved, so the MiG-3 was transferred to attack bomber escort and close support duties; in 1942 two 12.7-mm (0.5in) machine guns were added in underwing fairings by operational units, but gradually the aircraft was replaced by radial-engine fighters such as the La-5. Total production was 3,422, of which 100 were the earlier MiG-1.

Even with the MiG-3’s limitations, Aleksandr Pokryshkin (1913-1985), the third-leading Soviet, and Allied, ace of the war, with 53 official air victories (plus six shared), recorded a number of those victories while flying a MiG-3 at the beginning of the war.

The Russian company Aivarestoration has rebuilt three Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3s. They fly with Allison engines. One is in the US and the third, rebuilt from one shot down in 1942, first flew again around the start of 2010. It will remain in Russia.

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