This image depicts a MiG-17, a Soviet-era fighter jet. The MiG-17 was the first Soviet fighter which had an after-burning engine (the Klimov VK-1).

What's an after-burning engine? Let's take a look at how it works. We won't be viewing the after-burning engine of a MiG-17, but the principles are the same.

For planes with afterburners, fuel gets injected directly into the exhaust stream. When that fuel is in the exhaust stream, it burns by using the stream’s remaining oxygen. When that happens, the exhaust gases get hotter and more expansive. Hotter and more expansive gases can increase the jet engine’s thrust capability by as much as 50% (or more).

An afterburner—in concept and construction—is essentially a combination of fuel injectors, a tube and a flame holder (in which the jet fuel burns) plus an adjustable nozzle (like we see in the video above). An engine, with an afterburner, has to have an adjustable nozzle. That’s the mechanism which allows it to work whether the afterburners are on or off.

One thing to keep in mind about afterburners: They need a lot of fuel to operate. That extra power, in other words, doesn’t come cheaply. As a result, afterburners are used when they are needed—like taking off from a short runway—and not in normal flight.

Now that we understand how the after-burning engine works, let's see it in operation. To see the engine running, and then producing the after-burner flames, move the video to:  4:52; 6:50 and 7:30.

We can see a MiG-17's after-burner, at work, in this photo which Balon Greyjoy took on April 16, 2016 (while the plane was flying at "Take to the Skies Airfest 2016," in Durant, Oklahoma).


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) tells us that this plane (which NATO code-named FRESCO) replaced the MiG-15. It had:

...a thinner wing of greater sweep and a redesigned tail that improved stability and handling at speeds approaching Mach 1 (speed of sound).

Although similar in appearance to the MiG-15, the MiG-17 has more sharply swept wings, an afterburner, better speed and handling characteristics and is about three feet longer.

The wings of the aircraft are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered with blunt tips. They have wide wing roots.

The engine is one turbojet inside the body and has a round air intake in the nose. It has a single, small exhaust.

The fuselage is short, thick, cigar-shaped and tapered to the rear. It has a blunt nose and bubble canopy.

The tail fin is swept-back and tapered with rounded tip. Flats are high-mounted on the tail fin, swept-back, and tapered. Flats and fin overhang the exhaust.

The prototype MiG-17 (NATO code name Fresco) first flew in January 1950 and was reported to have exceeded Mach 1 in level flight. Production began in late 1951, but the aircraft were not available in sufficient quantities to take part in the Korean War.

Deliveries to the Soviet Air Force began in 1952. Five versions of the aircraft eventually were produced. Early production MiG-17s were fitted with the VK-1 engine, a Soviet copy of the Rolls-Royce Nene. The VK-1F, an improved version with a simple afterburner and variable nozzle, was developed for the main production version, the MiG-17F (Fresco C).

In 1955 the radar equipped MiG-17PF (Fresco D) entered service as a limited all-weather interceptor. The MiG-17PFU was armed with four AA-1 "Alkali" radar-guided missiles, making it the Soviet Union's first missile armed interceptor.

Even though it was considered obsolete by the mid-1960s, the MiG-17 gave a good account over Vietnam, being flown by most of the top North Vietnamese pilots, including the leading ace, Colonel Tomb.

The MiG-17 served with nearly 30 air forces worldwide, including the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries, China, Afghanistan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Morocco, Cuba, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

Though smaller than the USAF F-86 Sabre of Korean War fame, its weight and performance favorably compared to that aircraft. Soviet production of the MiG-17 ended in 1958 with over 6,000 produced.

It continued to be built under license in Poland as the Lim-5P and in China as the J-5/F-4.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jul 23, 2018

Media Credits

Image, described above, online courtesy FAS.




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"MiG-17" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 23, 2018.
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