Find a Security Clearance Job!


Interceptor Aircraft - 1945-1955 - Design Bureaux

The division of two categories of aircraft, bombers and fighters, was reinforced by the structure of the Ministry of Aviation. Of ten bureaus, three design-oriented bureaus were devoted to fighters, bombers, and engines. Thus, categories of aviation were conceived in this manner. This division parallels the 1930's institutionalization of bomber design activities in the Zhukovski Academy under Tupolev and of fighter design activities in TsAGI under Polikarpov. Main Designers schooled under either of these two men basically remained working in either one category or the other. Sukhoi was the exception of a Tupolev protg who worked in fighters. But the exception supports the rule somewhat. His aircraft tended to be heavy fighters more appropriate to ground attack and he mixed fighter and light bomber design activities with a lack of success. Only in the late 1950's did his heavy aircraft come into vogue.

Although the pre-war centralization of basic research in the TsAGI infers a common downward flow of basic aerodynamic findings, it is clear that the sharing of information did not work very well. Somehow, during the development of the MiG-15, Mikoyan and Gurevich knew much more about swept wings than did Lavochkin. One suspects that the MiG bureau had better access to wind tunnels and to German test results. Alternately, the MiG team might have acquired its own test facilities. Likewise, Lavochkin appears to have been ill-informed about the capabilities of the Derwent engines he was to work with. Although a partial explanation of the MiG-15 success can be attributed to the theoretical talents of Gurevich, better information also seemed to support the MiG collective's single-minded pursuit of a bold design. The system includes competition for information.

One is struck by the manner in which engine allocations prejudiced the success of a particular prototype. The double JuMO configuration had an obvious power advantage over a single-engine BMW-powered design. Likewise the Nene engine's greater thrust and smaller frontal area offered advantages of a similar magnitude over the Derwent engine. Both allocations favored Mikoyan and Gurevich. A great deal was at stake for the Soviets to base their long-range planning for aviation on the assumption that British engines could be obtained. To be sure, back-up programs were under way, but the weight of development effort appears to have been committed to third-generation engines while lengthy negotiations were ongoing. This is risky policy behavior, but the payoff was enormous. In light of the outcome, it was quite a reasonable risk based on good intelligence about British commercial procedures and about British Labor Government politics.

There was a competition among design bureaus for personnel, equipment, and facilities. There was also a system of materialistic rewards in the form of overtime pay, bonuses, and state prizes which operated in the aviation industry. All of these things flowed from "successful" designs. Successful designs were those which were committed to serial production. There was also a system of negative rewards. It can be represented by Hangar Seven of the internal prison which operated during the 1930's. In the post war years it was represented by the fate of the Sukhoi bureau.

Between the Stalinist criteria which prevailed until 1950 ("the winner will be the one who gives us the best fighter . . . and also deliver first") is a very real conflict. One with a mathematical bent will point out that either delivery time or performance can be optimized. Yakovlev made his reputation by delivering first; Mikoyan made his by delivering best. In the post war period, Mikoyan and Gurevich played the better mixed strategy between these two objectives. Lavochkin also played a mixed strategy, but his timing appears to have been out of cycle.

Soviet wartime and post war fighter aviation was dominated by two men: Alexander Yakovlev and Artem Mikoyan. These two represented the foremost among a very small group of heroes, the Design Bureau Chiefs, after whom aircraft were named. These men were literally "Heroes of Socialist Labor." Among this group was a collegial relationship supported by a similar education, the same mentors, common work experience, and intramural competition. These men shared a common ethic with the Aviation Engineering Service of the air forces.

One of these men - Yakovlev then Mikoyan - was Stalin's personal advisor on aviation. Their influence extended beyond fighter aviation matters. Yakovlev held a favored position because of his two-hat assignment as Deputy Commissar (later Minister) of Aviation. Mikoyan held a favored position because he was the brother of Anastas Mikoyan, an even closer associate of Stalin generally in charge of the consumer goods area in the post war period. An active area of Anastas' interest was foreign trade; he had been charged with responsibility for foreign aid during the war, and he was later to be foreign policy advisor to Khrushchev.

The Mikoyan relationship worked in at least two ways during post war aviation development. First it clarified the opportunities inherent in British technology to both the design and trade portions of the government. Second it allowed Artem Mikoyan a separate channel to the Politbureau-one that he used for political relief on behalf of others in the aviation establishment as early as 1937. Stalin's preference among designers changed in 1946 after the success of the MiG-9, when Yakovlev resigned his position as Deputy Minister. Thus Mikoyan was in a favored position in the competition for information and resources from the time of the first jet prototypes on. In addition, he used his favored position well. His were the best of the post war designs. Thus, securing himself in this favored position, his design objectives, which emphasized speed and altitude, predominated over alternate design approaches which might have favored range or improved supporting systems. Personal politics helps explain why the MiG-15 was a success and how Stalin came to be committed to improvement of the MiG as the route of aviation development.

The first task for the development of a new generation fighter was given by government decree in 1953. The main developers were to become the famous Mikoyanovskoye OKB-155 and the recently restored OKB-51 P.O. Sukhoi, who had already become famous for military jet aircraft.

Naturally, the Mikoyan Design Bureau had all the advantages. In those years, this OKB was well funded and conducted work on a large scale. At the same time, there were projects of fighters of the I and E series, the MIG-19 and its further development, the SM series aircraft, were modified and improved. Mikoyan already had contacts with the engine OKB-117 Klimov V. Ya. (Installed on the MiG-15, 17) and OKB-300 Mikulin A. A. (RD-9 engines for the MiG-19). The engines of the same design bureaus were guided by OKB-155 during the development of a new aircraft.

A blank spot in history continues to be the reason why not one of the latest engines developed under the guidance of V.Ya.Klimov was ever launched into the series. But then they were designed in a lot of OKB-117: VK-3, VK-5, VK-7, VK-11, VK-13 and VK-15. Since not one of the new Klimovs engines was brought, then no plane appeared with him. Therefore, in the second half of the fifties, the Mikoyanites only reached the front-line light MiG-21 fighter.

Restored to the post of General Designer P.O. Sukhoi also led work on a wide front. At the same time, two machine projects were launched: a fighter and an interceptor. Moreover, each of the machines was designed in two versions: with an arrow-shaped (series C) and a triangular (series T) wing. All four projects were united by a single engine AL-7F, developed in OKB-165 A.M. Cradles. We can say that Sukhoi also focused on previously established relations with the engine design bureau, since the first Lyulka engine was installed in 1946 on the experimental Su-11 heavy subsonic fighter (the first with the same name). The resolution set the following characteristics: maximum speed from 1900 to 1950 km / h, rate of climb - 15000 m in 2 minutes, practical ceiling up to 20,000 m, range without hanging tanks - 1600 km and take-off run - 500 m.

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'

Page last modified: 12-12-2019 19:05:16 ZULU