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Mikoyan-Gurevich engineers designed the MiG-21 “Fishbed” in the early 1950s. The Fishbed was characteristic of the Soviet approach to war plane design and development – it was low cost and high function.

The MiG-21 was produced longer than any other fighter in history, in greater numbers than any other supersonic fighter, and took part in most wars and skirmishes from 1965 on. A total of more than 11,000 MiG-21s were built in more than 100 different variations. The Fishbed served in 35 different nations, more countries than any other aircraft.

The MiG-21 first flew in 1955 and became operational by the early 1960s. The Fishbed served in many conflicts including the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The MiG-21 was capable of Mach 2 and, at one time, the Fishbed held several world speed and altitude records. Due to lower wing loading, the MiG-21 was far more maneuverable than the F-104, though the Fishbed did give up the advantage in rate of climb and service ceiling statistics.

The Combat Jets Flying Museum acquired a MiG-21 that was built in China in 1963. The Fishbed was restored in the markings of North Vietnam, which used similar aircraft in the Vietnam conflict. The Combat Jets Flying Museum donated the MiG-21 to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1992 as part of a collection of historic jets.

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