The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a full size, recently retired MiG-21 Jet Fighter available for viewing in the outdoor area of the museum. The actual engine and afterburner are also on display. This is one of many items on display in our 15,000 square foot outdoor display.
Currently in its 5th generation of aircraft modification, the original design of the MiG-21 Russian supersonic jet fighter began in the early 1950s. This aircraft is to date – by name - the single greatest manufactured combat aircraft post Korean War. Its incredible production run began in 1959 and continued into 1985. Also noteworthy is the fact MiG-21 has taken part in more wars than any other aircraft worldwide.
This aircraft was first put into service by the Soviet Air Force in 1959 - with several variants of the original design continuing on in service for the next 30 plus years. The first Soviet aircraft designed as both an interceptor and a fighter, the MiG-21 (like most interceptors) was of value only on short range missions. Despite this drawback, the MiG-21 still became a very popular aircraft. The lightweight of this aircraft’s design allowed it to reach Mach 2 speed even with its low-powered, after burning turbojet engines.
A PILOT’S PLANE
Since the MiG-21 did not have many of the conveniences or technical advantages of other aircraft, it carried the reputation as being a pilot’s plane. This status was earned since the operation of the aircraft was contingent on both the pilot himself and his notable knowledge. One such example was during Vietnam, when, despite its shortcomings, the MiG-21 was shown to be quite the challenge for the enemy’s aircraft when it was flown by skilled pilots, making it very valuable for downing U.S. aircraft and often driving them to discard their bomb loads. Despite the 13 flying aces from North Vietnam, who would actually gain their flight status using the MiG-21, the MiG-17 was the aircraft of preference due to its greater visibility and maneuverability.
In all, over 10,000 MiG-21 aircraft’s (of various designs) were manufactured over its lifetime, with many
of them being exported to a wide variety of countries. Today, many of these countries still utilize the Mikoyan-Gurevick MiG-21.