Military Review

Flying Kalashnikov ('Spiegel online', Germany)

Flying Kalashnikov ('Spiegel online', Germany)
Photo: Mikhail Zamfiresku

From the translator: Some time ago, Spiegel started the “Eines Tages” column, which literally means “One fine day,” but in meaning it is equivalent to our “Once upon a time”, fairy tales begin in these German words legends Old articles, articles that should not be forgotten are reprinted in this section. Thanks to our scout and windruf translator for finding this article and sending it to me for translation. It was not easy to translate, the article was written emotionally, but I hope that I was able to convey the feelings of the author.

While Uwe Bayreuter is rolling out its MiG-21 onto the runway of the Preschen military airfield, at some point he was overwhelmed with memories: he served 10 for years as a pilot of the 3 th fighter squadron of the National People’s Army of the GDR (NDA GDR) "Vladimir Komarov" Brandenburg. 10 years this 32 old man gave a military career. He flew in all three squadron links, was promoted to Major of the NNA GDR, and always flew MiG-21: more than 1300 sorties, flew around 840 hours. And today, December 14, 1990, it's over.

German Air Force archive

The summer pilot 32 looked through the flashlight once more: once the fighter jets were forced by the platform, now empty, and the concrete as if swept away by a janitor, the airfield looks deserted. Bayreuter releases the brakes and MiG, taking off, rushing along the strip with a roaring afterburner. And when the plane leaves the ground after a few seconds, Bayreuter still notices another figure on the runway - the squadron commander, standing at attention and saluting, escorts the last MiG-21 to the gloomy December sky. “Still, someone noticed that here and now the era of these planes is ending,” Bayreuter recalls the unusual gesture of the Comet.

Photo: Manfred Ziban (State Archives)

With the reunification of Germany in the 1990 year, after the 34 years of its existence, the army of the GDR gradually began to obey the Bundeswehr. And while part of the NNA GDR soldiers hoped to continue the service, their equipment was destroyed or given away by the Bundeswehr. Thus, in Germany, the time of the flying legend ended, because with the removal of the MiG-21 from service, the most common military aircraft in the airspace between the Elbe and the Oder disappeared stories.

Photo: US Department of Intelligence

Recycling for 50 000 brands

Their cancellation usually takes place very quickly and without pathos. The last Bayreuter flight lasted only 29 minutes. The end point was Rothenburg on the River Naiss, the central gathering point fleet former troops of the Air Force and Air Defense NNA GDR. Soon, the decommissioned vehicles will be loaded onto trucks and sent from here to Dresden to the ELBE aircraft plant, where they will be disposed of for 50 marks per aircraft. Back the pilot also rides on the ground, in the bus.

Thirty years ago, the memorable silhouette of the MiG-21 first appeared in the sky over the GDR. No one on earth knew then that the famous Soviet design bureau of Mikoyan and Gurevich with his new aircraft with one turbine and deltoid wing had a great breakthrough. Already in the 1953 year, when the arms race was in full swing, MiG engineers were working on a completely new fighter: it had to become very maneuverable and fly through the sky at a speed twice the speed of sound.

Photo: Pakistan Air Force

Four years it took designers, this time was spent on experiments with different forms of the wing and fuselage. And now - 10 machines of the trial series rolled out of the hangar of the aircraft plant No. XXUMX in Tbilisi. The prototype with a triangular wing and a thin fuselage, called the "E-31", in 5, received the name by which it would soon become known as the main fighter of the armies of the Eastern bloc - the MiG-1957.

Photo: US Department of Intelligence

"Air Kalashnikov"

When the 1959 of the year began the serial production of these fighter-interceptors, which could rise to a height of more than 18 000 meters, one of the prototypes set a new world speed record - an impressive 2 388 kilometers per hour. The original idea of ​​the Soviet aircraft builders - to create a powerful and at the same time easy-to-operate machine - came true. For two years, all the Warsaw Pact countries have put this fighter into service with an inimitable air intake cone in the nose section. They were followed by Finland, Yugoslavia, India, Indonesia, Iraq and Cuba. The maneuverable and reliable MiG-21, which could take off even from a simple field without a runway, in a short time broke all sales records. "Air Kalashnikov", so it was called, comparing in reliability with the legendary Russian AK-47.

Photo: Matthias Heikel (State Archives)

Moreover, the GDR was in a special position among buyers, as the owner of the portal claims, Holger Muller: “The most western country of the Warsaw Bloc was the first country outside the USSR in which these fighters were based in the GSVG air force (Group of Soviet Forces in Germany)”. “The 16 Air Force, located here, was the spearhead of the USSR Air Force and therefore received the newest technology,” says Muller, who served 20 years ago in the ANA aircraft technician and has since fallen in love with this famous fighter.

Photo: Holger Muller

In the GDR, aircraft enthusiasts had almost no chance of ignoring the MiG-21 - by the mid-seventies in the GDR Air Force the number of these machines had grown to 400. And about 500 was the Red Army. “This number of MiG-21 fighter jets has never been assembled anywhere else in such a small area,” says Muller.

Photo: Matthias Heikel (State Archives)

Western military strategists were alarmed

For the air fleet of NATO, this ultra-high-speed fighter, which in a few years has spread in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean islands and the Mediterranean, has become a potential danger. For the first time, Western observers noticed the MiG-21 at the military parade in Tushino in 1961 year. In NATO, he was dubbed "Fishbad", the Western military could only speculate about the characteristics of the MiG-21.

Photo: Holger Muller

During the Vietnam War, everything changed: with a single-seat Soviet fighter, American pilots first encountered the Asian jungle. American pilot Jack Broughton, who flew the Thunderchief at the F-105, later talked about his first meeting with the North Vietnamese MiG-21: “He flew up so quickly that I first thought that my car had broken down and I needed to eject” . An air battle began, during which Broughton managed to reach the tail of the MiG, but the fighter disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Broughton recalls with insult: "I could not pursue him, he just disappeared."

Photo: AR

Military strategists on the other side of the Iron Curtain were worried - apparently, an enemy fighter was flying in the sky, surpassing their interceptors in all parameters. Worse, it was so cheap to manufacture that it appeared at once in all the hot spots of the Cold War: Cuba, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The American magazine Popular Mechanics made the appropriate calculations comparing the MiG-21 with the two-seater F-4 American Phantom, which also flew in Vietnam: “For each enemy pilot and plane worth 1 000 000 dollars, we lose two pilots and a plane which costs four times as much. ”

Photo: US Department of Intelligence

Technically inferior, but economically superior

To finally get detailed information about the MiG-21, the CIA tried to carry out a secret operation and take possession of one of the cars in the GDR. Günther Laudan, who fled to the Federal Republic of Germany, was to return to East Berlin and convince the NNA pilot to move to West Germany with his MiG-21 aircraft. But Stasi learned about this plan. Laudan was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, he was later sent to the west.

Despite the fact that after a few years the Americans managed to get one of the much-desired MiG-21 aircraft and test it in the desert of Nevada - they could not stop the victorious march of these machines all over the planet. MiG-21 flew everywhere, and in the air over the Arctic Ocean, and over the savannas of southeast Africa. The secret of success of these machines in their reliability, coupled with a simple and at the same time, confident aerodynamics. “For many third world countries, simple and reliable MiG equipment was as easy to understand as possible,” Müller explains. China even began to produce it in its factories. By the end of the sixties, the MiG-21 had become a key player on the world stage.

Photo: Holger Muller

Photo: AR

The situation did not change even after the USSR ceased production of these machines in 1985, which by that time produced about 10 000 units. About twenty different modifications of this nimble fighter were in service: single and twin, fighter and interceptor, fighter-bombers and reconnaissance - many of them could be armed even with nuclear weapons. weapons. Despite the fact that the technical characteristics of the MiG-21 inferior to the newest American aircraft F-15 and F-16, economically it was much more profitable.

Arriving West

When the eastern bloc collapsed in 1991, the MiG-21 was in service in many armies of the Warsaw Pact countries. Relatively cheap maintenance and cheap and affordable parts allowed this car to fly from socialism to capitalism at supersonic speeds. The Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau, now called the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, noticed the potential of their vehicles and, in the early 90s, offered the market a modified model of this more than thirty-year old aircraft with more modern weapons and new onboard electronics.

Photo: Reuters

And although F-104, a potential enemy of the MiG-21 Fighter, has long disappeared in the West, the success story of the Soviet machine continues. Ironically, this aircraft is now in service with the NATO countries, the very military alliance, against the aircraft of which the MiG once rose into the sky. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia - six countries whose air force is flying the MiG-21, have joined the Western alliance.

Photo: Reuters

2010 year

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  1. Sergh
    Sergh 8 January 2013 11: 09
    Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia

    These countries will not see such a gift anymore, but will (already feed) feed an alien army. Now the equipment will be given to them only for large grandmas.
    1. YARY
      YARY 8 January 2013 11: 24
      Sergey, good day!
      I think that it should have weapons in the country's arsenals that are never sold to anyone. Even the cards have a "joker".
      1. smprofi
        smprofi 8 January 2013 17: 15
        Quote: Ardent
        I think that should be in the arsenals of the country weapons that are not sold to anyone and never

        such was the 2K11 "Circle" air defense system under the Union. before entering service, the S-300 was not even supplied to the Warsaw Pact. Well, when the "Circle" was removed from service, then it went to "our smaller brothers"
    2. smprofi
      smprofi 8 January 2013 17: 12
      Well ... Bulgaria decided to purchase 9 units of F-16. and not even second-hand, but third-hand: first these planes served at the gringo for 5 years, then another 25 in Portugal. total ... half price for 30 year old airplanes.
      1. Thunderbolt
        Thunderbolt 8 January 2013 17: 23
        Quote: smprofi
        Bulgaria decided to purchase 9 units of F-16.

        Judging by the history of these airplanes that you told, the Bulgarians are clever guys laughing Or "intra-bloc" rules dictate to overpay for their safety ...
        1. smprofi
          smprofi 8 January 2013 17: 46
          xpensive,% 20Third-Hand% 20F-16% 20Aircraft
    3. Yoshkin Kot
      Yoshkin Kot 8 January 2013 20: 02
      airplane era
  2. Dart weyder
    Dart weyder 8 January 2013 11: 54
    Wonderful car, what else can I say! And the Hungarians, the Bulgarians and the Romanians - there wouldn’t be enough money (except for excessive loans))) neither for the old Migi-21, nor for anything else - so the USSR did it and gave it the Air Force!)
  3. koksalek
    koksalek 8 January 2013 11: 56
    He served in the GSVG and I remember how, day and night, our helicopters flew over Weimar and the surrounding area and felt that we had something to adequately respond to any trick of the capitalists. In civilian life, our MIGs also flew around the city in the Urals, day and night, and this was a common sight. In my childhood, it was 4-5 that I remembered how one such silver bird fell in our forest in the forest and we heard a roar from the fall, but we understood little and were a little frightened by the whole little boyish crowd, and I was sorry for this beautiful silver bird in my boyfriend.
  4. 755962
    755962 8 January 2013 11: 59
    Ironically .... How often I began to hear these words on the site. And even ceased to be surprised at this ...
  5. Locksmith
    Locksmith 8 January 2013 13: 01
    Quote: Sergh
    These countries will not see such a gift

    And rightly so, let them admire our planes from afar. smile
  6. Thunderbolt
    Thunderbolt 8 January 2013 13: 44
    .................................................. ..............................
    .................................................. ...............
  7. askort154
    askort154 8 January 2013 13: 59
    He spent his childhood in Armavir, where he constantly (above his head lifted up)
    the usual Yak-11s flashed, then the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, but especially,
    I remembered the case when it flashed over my head, previously not seen,
    delta wing, "miracle". I, not arbitrarily escaped "U ... shit"
    We walked with the Father, he pretended not to hear. It was the only one
    the case in my life when I swear at him, the blame was delight from
    first seen, super handsome MiG-21 !!!
    1. smprofi
      smprofi 8 January 2013 17: 23
      He lived for 5 years in a garrison where the MiG-21 regiment was based at the airport.
      and seen enough, and heard enough ...
      especially "fun" when in the summer you dive into the water, and at this moment MiGar enters the hill. when it comes in and even under water, nothing is heard. but if the exit from the water coincides with the moment the fighter exits the hill (nozzle in your direction, afterburner) - here you will feel the whole thrill!
      I also remember how in the fall of the 73rd they drove MiGari to Egypt through our garrison ... The runway resembled the deck of an aircraft carrier on a flying day. they left with jambs with a full BK of 10 pieces through Yugoslavia, inside the wedge - An-10. on it, under the cover of a MiG-21 pair, the crews returned back to our garrison.
    2. Sandov
      Sandov 9 January 2013 20: 32
      15 MiGs showed themselves in Korea, ass tore amers to the blue.
  8. valokordin
    valokordin 8 January 2013 14: 40
    Quote: askort154
    The childhood took place in Armavir, where it was constantly (above the head lifted up)
    the usual Yak-11s flashed, then the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, but especially,
    I remembered the case when it flashed over my head, previously not seen,
    delta wing, "miracle". I, not arbitrarily escaped "U ... shit"
    We walked with the Father, he pretended not to hear. It was the only one
    the case in my life when I swear at him, the blame was delight from
    first seen, super handsome MiG-21 !!!

    I also saw this in Borisoglebsk. As it was recently, but for a long time
    1. askort154
      askort154 8 January 2013 14: 54
      valokordin I also saw this in Borisoglebsk. As it was recently, but for a long time

      Yes, really .... time is relentless .....
  9. AK-47
    AK-47 8 January 2013 16: 47
    For two years, all the Warsaw Pact countries put this fighter into service ... Finland, Yugoslavia, India, Indonesia, Iraq and Cuba followed.

    Finland became the first country not included in the Warsaw Treaty Organization to receive the MiG-21-e. The first ten MiG-21F-12s landed at the Finnish Kuopio airbase on April 6, 1963.
  10. alex86
    alex86 8 January 2013 17: 33
    Without going into technical details, one of the most beautiful and harmonious aircraft, if subjectively - simply the MOST beautiful.
  11. vladimirZ
    vladimirZ 8 January 2013 17: 55
    He served as a technician on the MiG-21R. Class car. Beautiful and reliable. You will earn money on preparing the plane for the next flight, and right above the parking lot, suddenly for you, a "fine fellow" will pass in a MiG-21 - your legs will spontaneously bend and your heart will hoot. In the flight shift, 3 flights per hour-10. Flights every other day. 3-4 flight days per week. The pilots had a minimum monthly flight time of 20-25 hours. Not like now. Most of the airfields have been forgotten, abandoned, and the cat cried planes.
    1. smprofi
      smprofi 8 January 2013 19: 16
      Here's what we did from our airdrome:

      in the background hangars periodically flash under the MiG-21
      True, this is the former Yugoslavia ...
      1. Monopoly
        Monopoly 31 January 2013 11: 27
        smprofi, and this is by chance not the Tekel garrison?
  12. avt
    avt 8 January 2013 17: 58
    But the first cars went hard. But what a "sweet" they did in the end! By the criterion "cost and efficiency", perhaps an unsurpassed plane !!!
  13. Stavros-dok
    Stavros-dok 8 January 2013 18: 48
    Wonderful, legendary machine is still ENT enjoying popularity in many countries of the world. good
  14. leva. 1948
    leva. 1948 8 January 2013 20: 46
    The legend of Soviet aviation is MIG-21. I bow to this fighter and defender of our Motherland
  15. melkie
    melkie 8 January 2013 21: 08
    In college in 1985, I started flying on the L 39, and then moved to the MiG 21, it's just a crazy car. She has no equal in maneuverability and power-to-weight ratio. In modern conditions, equip it with modern weapons and radar and in battle.
  16. merkel1961
    merkel1961 8 January 2013 23: 14
    For two years I flew a MiG-21pfm in Borisoglebsk VVAUL. After such a "desk", you can easily master any aircraft (I am with a model).
  17. Edgar
    Edgar 11 January 2013 12: 55
    unfortunately the MiG-21 is far from ideal. and if in Vietnam competent application emphasized its advantages, then in the Middle East, illiterate showed flaws in all its glory.
    1. karbofos
      karbofos 12 January 2013 02: 00
      any weapon should be used correctly, illiterate fighting four helicopters per day lose in one town lol