Classic Publications Ltd.
Mikoyan MiG-21 Famous Russian Aircraft
by Yefim Gordon and Keith Dexter with Dmitriy Komissarov
Reviewed By  Clare Wentzel, IPMS #1096

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MSRP: $79.95 USD
ISBN: 978 1 85780 257 3
Distributed by Specialty Press:

Ask me anything about the MiG-21. I expect that I can find the answer in this book. I consider this 720 page, hardbound book to be the definitive reference book on the MiG-21. The three authors are world famous Russian aviation writers and have combined to provide a complete and broad coverage of this famous Cold War era fighter.

I volunteered to review this book because I have been a fan of MiG-21 for many years. When I was studying Engineering, I appreciated the way that MiG engineers had met the problem of supersonic flight with reasonable landing characteristics plus I have been a fan of Small Air Forces for years. I am not aware of any other warplane that served in as many different Air Forces.

The MiG-21, NATO designation "Fishbed", was one of the most successful tactical fighters developed in the Soviet Union. It entered production in 1959 and continued until 1986. Over 12,000 units were produced in the Soviet Union plus many more in China. Over 5000 copies were exported and many remain in service today. With the MiG-21, the Soviet Union had a contemporary airplane that was faster, had better climb rate, was more maneuverable and less expensive then previous models. The type held 17 world records, seven of which were established by female pilots. It represented the face of the Soviet Union for many years and was as much a Political Weapon as a Military Weapon

The book is organized into twelve parts plus an appendix that includes details of about 2500 MiG-21 production aircraft. In addition, the Introduction provides a quick overview of the design philosophy and the steps leading to the design and development the MiG-21.

Part One covers the Origin of the Family. It covers in detail the swept wing Ye-2 and Ye-50 series of prototypes and follows them as they progress into the delta wing Ye-4 and Ye-5 series. The next four parts follow the MiG-21 into production and then the development of different variants for interception, training etc. Part Six covers Experiments and Projects. This chapter includes details of several designs with different intake locations, canard surfaces, STOL designs and tailless delta designs for research on the SST. Great color and black and white photos and detailed charts provide excellent coverage of these developments.

Part Seven covers production and further development of the basic MiG-21 design in China. In 1961, the Soviet Union granted a manufacturing license to China for the basic MiG-21 F-13 model and its engine. This became the J-7. When an ideological rift developed between China and the Soviet Union, the Chinese started their own development of the basic model. This included a number of models for export to nearby countries. Chinese developments also included interceptor variants, various intake configurations and a whole series of models with a double delta wing plan form.

Parts Eight and Nine cover the MiG-21 in Soviet service and at war in various locations from India-Pakistan to Eritrea-Ethiopia. Each of the wars is covered with separate photos, many in color, a number of color profiles and a write-up. Part Ten covers some specific one-on-one comparisons between the MiG-21 and several of its major adversaries. Of particular interest is a discussion of the comparison with a captured U.S. F-5E from Vietnam.

Part Eleven covers The MiG-21 in Detail. Essentially, this is forty pages of walk-around photos of various MiG-21 variants. The photos, most in color, cover all of the little details that the modeler is looking for. Great content!!

Part Twelve concludes with a compilation of MiG-21 Operators. This was pure eye candy for a dedicated Small Air Forces fan like myself. This section goes from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and is larger than most books. It contains 245 pages, chock full of great color photos, color profiles, charts defining color and markings of specific aircraft and detailed descriptions of the usage of the MiG-21 by the different countries.

This book is very highly recommended. It contains lots and lots of new, well-organized material for the aviation historian as well as for the modeler. I am aware that this hardcover book is somewhat expensive but the vast amount of information provided makes it a bargain. This book contains 1350 black and white and color photos plus many, many color profiles. The data sheet that accompanied the book states that the book includes 15 line drawings. I counted at least 68. Lots of much smaller monograph books are in the mid-30 to 40 dollar range so this book is a real bargain.

The book can be obtained directly from Specialty Press. They can be contacted at 1-800-895-4585 or at A $6.95 shipping and handling fee will be added to each order. The book is also available from many quality booksellers.

Again, this book has my highest recommendation. It is the definitive book on this interesting fighter plane. I would like to express my thanks to Specialty Press for providing this sample for review. Also, thanks to IPMS/USA for letting me review this great book.

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