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24th of September 1966

It was on this day that Marina Solovyeva set a speed record for female pilots when she pushed her Mikoyan Gurevich Ye-76 to a speed of over 11oo knots (1270 mph - 2044 kph).

The Mikoyan-Gurevich Ye-76 is a second-generation interceptor of the MiG-21 family, it was the

MiG-21PF were the P indicates it is a Perekhvatchik ("Interceptor") and the F indicates Forsirovannyy ("Uprated"). The aircraft was identified by NASA as with "Fishbed -D"

The Mig-21 was built in countless variants. A staggering 11.496 have reportedly been built; Marina SOlovyeva

  • 10.645 in the USSR

  • 849 in India

  • 194 in Czechoslovakia

This is not counting the Chinese version (license-built) of the MiG-21, of which more than 2400 were built between 1965 and 2013

The MiG-21 had several nicknames;

  • Balalaika, as it resembled a string instrument with the same name when looking at the shape of the aircraft from above

  • Olowek, which is Polish for pencil, referring to its fuselage shape

  • Én Bac, which is Vietnamese for silver swallow

It was used by about 60 countries around the globe, and to date 66 years after the first flight, there are still examples of flying.

Development of the MiG-21 started in the 1950s when a preliminary design for a prototype with the designation Ye-1 was finished in 1954. As it became clear that the Ye-1 was underpowered, a redisgn took place, designated Ye-2. These early prototypes had swept-back wings. Later variants, from the Ye-4, would feature delta wings, the first prototype of this version flew on the 16th of June 1955. The lightweight fighter-interceptor was capable of flying at Mach 2. Its basic design would be used by either aircraft manufacturers. One issue with the MiG-21 was its endurance, which was about 45 minutes. This was partly caused by the location of the internal fuel tank, forward of the Centre of Gravity. This resulted in an out of trim situation with lower fuel quantities onboard. Another issue was the fact that when flying certain manoeuvres the engine would be starved of fuel.

Books and internet pages of the Mig-21 family can provide more information than fits in a little short read like this. To conclude some specifications for a MiG-21; General characteristics

  • Crew: 1

  • Length: 15.0 m (49 ft 2.5 in) (with pitot)

  • Wingspan: 7.154 m (23 ft 5.66 in)

  • Height: 4.125 m (13 ft 6.41 in)

  • Wing area: 23.0 m2 (247.3 sq ft)

  • Empty weight: 5,339 kg (11,770 lb)

  • Gross weight: 8,725 kg (19,235 lb)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Tumanskiy R25-300 , 40.21 kN (9,040 lbf) thrust dry, 69.62 kN (15,650 lbf) with afterburner


  • Maximum speed: 2,237 km/h (1,468 mph, 1,276 kn)

  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.05

  • Range: 1,210 km (751 mi, 653 nmi) (internal fuel)

  • Service ceiling: 17,800 m (58,400 ft)

  • Rate of climb: 225 m/s (44,280 ft/min)

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