14 January

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. It is an advanced development of the very similar appearing MiG-15 of the Korean War.

While the MiG-15bis introduced swept wings to air combat over Korea, the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau had already begun work on its replacement in 1949, originally the MiG-15bis45, which would fix any problems found with the MiG-15 in combat. The result was one of the most successful transonic fighters introduced before the advent of true supersonic types such as the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 and North American F-100 Super Sabre. The design would ultimately still prove effective into the 1960s when pressed into supersonic dogfights over Vietnam against much faster planes which were not optimized for maneuvering in such slower speed, short-range engagements.

While the MiG-15 used a Mach sensor to deploy airbrakes because it could not safely exceed Mach 0.92, the MiG-17 was designed to be controllable at higher Mach numbers. Early versions which retained the original Soviet copy of the Rolls-Royce Nene VK-1 engine were heavier with equal thrust. Later MiG-17s would be the first Soviet fighter application of an afterburner which offered increased thrust on demand by dumping fuel in the exhaust of the basic engine.

Though the MiG-17 still strongly resembles its forebear, it had an entirely new thinner and more highly swept wing and tailplane for speeds approaching Mach 1. While the F-86 introduced the “all-flying” tailplane which helped controllability near the speed of sound, this would not be adopted on MiGs until the fully supersonic MiG-19. The wing had a “sickle sweep” compound shape with a 45° angle like the U.S. F-100 Super Sabre near the fuselage (and tailplane), and a 42° angle for the outboard part of the wings. The stiffer wing resisted the tendency to bend its wingtips and lose aerodynamic symmetry unexpectedly at high speeds and wing loads.

Other easily visible differences to its predecessor were the addition of a third wing fence on each wing, the addition of a ventral fin and a longer and less tapered rear fuselage that added about 3 feet in length. The MiG-17 shared the same Klimov VK-1 engine, and much of the rest of its construction such as the forward fuselage, landing gear and gun installation was carried over. The first prototype, designated I-330 “SI” by the construction bureau, was flown on the 14 January 1950, piloted by Ivan Ivashchenko.

The MiG-17 first saw combat in 1958 over the Straits of Taiwan and was used as an effective threat against supersonic fighters of the United States in the Vietnam War.