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MIG 21 FISHBED - MOLNIA 81322

THE CLOCK

This clock is the successor of the MIG-15’s Wostok, made by the brand Molnia. It equipped practically all of the planes from the Pact of Warsaw during the Cold War. Although the dial is very similar to its antecessor’s the movement is completely different.

It has two barrels that can be winded up for 3 days. It has 21 rubies, and ,like all Russian clocks, inside heating, gives time, time of flight and has chronograph.

THE PLANE

The MIG-21 is after the C-130 Hercules, the most constructed military plane since the Second World War, surpassing the number of 13.500 planes, and being used by more than 56 countries.

Capable of reaching MACH 2 in leveled flight stands out its great maneuvering, especially at high altitudes, and its simplicity to be maintained. The armament, a 30mm cannon and IR missiles, were clearly insufficient. Another disadvantage was it was only good for fair weather operations, limited radar with an effective reach of 15 miles, and its short autonomy, with launchable external tanks it reached an hour of flight at most.

The MIG-21 is still flying nowadays in actualized versions, made especially by Israelis. It has been used in the last 30 conflicts, such as the Gulf War or in Yugoslavia. In the Vietnam War the MIG-21, taking advantage of its easy maintenance, was used from small auxiliary airports or from roadways, using rockets to take off. They surprised the American bombers, attacking and fleeing quickly.

THE COCKPIT

The narrow cockpit of the MIG-21 didn’t have a place to rest the arms or hands. The seat was very deep in and its height couldn’t be regulated giving a limited visibility. The temperature control had to be regulate before take off in one of three options: 61ºF, 68ºF or 77ºF, after take off, it couldn’t be changed.

During the interceptions missions and dogfights, a lot of work had to be done inside the cockpit. Apart from flying the plane, the pilot had to operate the radar, manage the fuel (it had 7 tanks), manipulate the weapon selection and activation system, which had many buttons distributed all around the cockpit, which made, in some cases, the pilot switch hands while flying.

 

OPERACIÓN BOLO

In the Vietnam War due to the strange political agreements, Vietnamese bases couldn’t be attacked, to prevent damaging any Russian planes so the Soviet Union wouldn’t take part in the conflict.

The Vietnamese never went into battle, they attacked the bombers and then fled, also they counted with a great coverage of artillery and antiaircraft missiles.

The American objectives and strategies were decided in Washington according to political reasons instead of the war reasons, giving absurd orders like flying everyday at the same time and the same route, making the enemy just have to wait. All of this caused numerous casualties (43 American planes were taken down in July of 1966) and caused drop of the Air Force’s morale. This situation coincided with a huge development of the commercial aviation, which made 1.400 pilots leave the army.

To change the morale fall, the person named was Robin Olds, II World War ace with 12 victories, leader of the 8th Tactical Wing of the Air Force. He gave his squadron a great spirit, flying in the lead of his men and training them for war.

Olds designed the BOLO OPERATION. It consisted in tricking the enemy imitating the F-105 squads, but using F-4s, so the MIG-21s would combat against F-4s.

The 2nd of January of 1967, flying the dairy routes of the F-105s, using it’s same radio frequency, call signs, time, flying patterns, and even in some F-4s the same electronic countermeasure of the F-105 was installed; four groups of four planes went out, and waited on a layer of mid-height clouds for the MIG-21s, which didn’t take too much time to show up. When they came out of the clouds and had eye contact, they attacked the enemy, which didn’t react on time when they saw it wasn’t the same F-105s of everyday. 7 MIG-21s were shot down with no losses, and the enemy was forced to change its strategy.

In the picture, Colonel Olds with his bulletproof mustache.

Fom the book FIGHTER PILOT by Robin Olds

 

 

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