MiG-15 Visual Arts Government Social Studies World History

The prototype for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 first flew in 1947. 

Used by North Korea, during the Korean War, a MiG-15 was part of the first all-jet dogfight in aviation history.  At the time, in the 1950s, the MiG-15 was superior to any of America’s military planes.  

We learn more about this interceptor from the Federation of American Scientists:

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was originally developed in the Soviet Union as an interceptor. The RD-45 turbojet powered it, which was a copy of the Rolls Royce Nene.

Designed to shoot down heavy bombers, it carried one 37mm and two 23mm cannons. German experience in WWII had shown the need for cannons larger than 20 mm to bring down four-engine heavy bombers.

The prototype MiG-15 first flew in December 1947. It began appearing in service in 1949 and by 1952 it had been provided to a number of Communist satellite nations, including North Korea where it was used extensively against United Nations forces. The MiG-15 was deployed against American Air Forces in December of 1950 in Korea.

On November 8, 1950, 1st Lt. Russell Brown, flying an F-80, shot down a MiG-15 in the first all-jet dogfight in history. It was apparent, however, that the MiG-15 was superior to any aircraft then in the US inventory.


Initial encounters with American aircraft led to the development of the MiG-15bis (improved). Its VK-1 engine had 1,000 lbs more thrust than the RD-45 engine of the earlier version, and had hydraulic ailerons. Although the MiG-15bis could climb faster and higher than the F-86, poor turning performance and high mach instability limited its dogfight performance.

In aerial combat against the F-86, the MiG-15 suffered high losses, but against the B-29 it was very effective and prevented the heavy bombers from operating in daylight.

Lt. Russell Brown's history-making dogfight, against the MiG-15, took about 60 seconds. Although it was the first jet-to-jet aerial combat event in history, it remained Lt. Brown's only air-to-air combat win.

The in-text picture, above, depicts an F-80C "Shooting Star" like that flown by Lt. Brown against his MiG-15 opponent. It is online courtesy the U.S. Air Force.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5184stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jul 19, 2019

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Federation of American Scientists.



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