Artem Mikoyan

Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan

Mikoyan (right) and Gurevich (left)
Born 5 August [O.S. 23 July] 1905
Sanahin, Elisabethpol Governorate, Russian Empire
Died December 9, 1970(1970-12-09) (aged 65)
Nationality Soviet Union
Engineering discipline Aeronautical Engineering
Employer(s) Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau
Significant design MiG-15
Significant awards Hero of Socialist Labor
Hero of Soviet Union (twice)
Stalin Prize (1948, 1949)

Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan (Armenian: Արտյոմ (Artyom) Հովհաննեսի Միկոյան or Անուշավան Հովհաննեսի Միկոյան Hovhannyesi Mikohan or Anowshavan Hovhannyesi Mikohan; Russian: Артём Ива́нович Микоя́н) (5 August [O.S. 23 July] 1905 — December 9, 1970) was a Soviet aircraft designer of Armenian descent. In partnership with Mikhail Iosifovich Gurevich he designed many of the famous MiG military aircraft.


Early life and career

Mikoyan was born in Sanahin, Armenia.[1] His older brother, Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, would become a senior Soviet politician. He completed his basic education and took a job as a machine-tool operator in Rostov, then worked in the "Dynamo" factory in Moscow before being conscripted into the military. After military service he joined the Zukovsky Air Force Academy, where he created his first plane, graduating in 1937. He worked with Polikarpov before being named head of a new aircraft design bureau in Moscow in December 1939.[clarification needed] Together with Gurevich, Mikoyan formed the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau, producing a series of fighter aircraft. In March, 1942, the bureau was renamed OKB MiG (Osoboye Konstruktorskoye Büro), ANPK MiG (Aviatsionnyy nauchno-proizvodstvennyy kompleks) and OKO MiG. The MiG-1 proved to be a poor start, the MiG-3 went into production but only occasionally could it fight in its intended high-level interceptor role. Further MiG-5, MiG-7 and MiG-8 Utka did not progress beyond research prototypes.

Jet aircraft designs

Early post-war designs were based on domestic works as well as captured German jet fighters and information provided by Britain or the US. By 1946, Soviet designers were still having trouble in perfecting the German-designed, axial-flow jet engine, and new airframe designs and near-sonic wing designs were threatening to outstrip development of the jet engines needed to power them. Soviet aviation minister Mikhail Khrunichev and aircraft designer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev suggested to Joseph Stalin that the USSR buy advanced jet engines from the British. Stalin is said to have replied: "What fool will sell us his secrets?" However, he gave his assent to the proposal, and Artem Mikoyan, engine designer Vladimir Klimov, and other officials traveled to the United Kingdom to request the engines. To Stalin's amazement, the British Labour government and its pro-Soviet Minister of Trade, Sir Stafford Cripps were willing to provide technical information and a licence to manufacture the Rolls-Royce Nene centrifugal-flow jet engine. This engine was reverse-engineered and produced in modified form as the Soviet Klimov VK-1 jet engine, later incorporated into the MiG-15 (Rolls-Royce later attempted to claim £207m in licence fees, without success).

In the interim, on April 15, 1947, Council of Ministers issued a decree #493-192, ordering the Mikoyan OKB to build two prototypes for a new jet fighter. As the decree called for first flights as soon as December of that same year, the designers at OKB-155 fell back on an earlier troublesome design, the MiG-9 of 1946. The MiG-9 suffered from an unreliable engine and control problems.

The I-270, a prototype based on German concepts, developed into the I-310 in the USSR and into F-86 Sabre in the States. With the Klimov version of the British Nene jet engine, this design became the MiG-15, which first flew on December 31, 1948. Despite its mixed origins, this aircraft had excellent performance and formed the basis for a number of future fighters. The MiG-15 was originally intended to intercept American bombers such as the B-29 Superfortress, and was even evaluated in mock air-to-air combat trials with interned ex-U.S. B-29 bombers as well as the later Soviet B-29 copy, the Tupolev Tu-4. A variety of MiG-15 variants were built, but the most common was the MiG-15UTI (NATO 'Midget') two-seat trainer. Over 18,000 MiG-15s were eventually manufactured, then came the MiG-17, and MiG-19.

The MiG-15s were the jets used during the Korean War by Communist forces, and "MIG Alley" was the name given by U.S. Air Force pilots to the northwestern portion of North Korea, where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea. During the Korean War, it was the site of numerous dogfights between U.S. fighter jets and those of the Communist forces, particularly the Soviet Union. The F-86 Sabre and the Soviet-built MIG-15 'Fagot' were the aircraft used throughout most of the conflict, with the area's nickname derived from the latter. Because it was the site of the first large-scale jet-vs-jet air battles, MIG Alley is considered the birthplace of jet fighter combat.

Later work

Memorial to Artem Mikoyan in Sanahin, Armenia

From 1952 Mikoyan also designed missile systems to particularly suit his aircraft, such as the famous MiG-21. He continued to produce high performance fighters through the 1950s and 1960s.

He was twice awarded the highest civilian honour, the Hero of Socialist Labor and was a deputy in six Supreme Soviets.

After Mikoyan's death, the name of the design bureau was changed from Mikoyan-Gurevich to simply Mikoyan. However, the designator remained MiG. Many more designs came from the design bureau such as the MiG-23, MiG-29 and MiG-35 and variations.

He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Artem Mikoyan's grave at Novodevichy


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