75 years. TsAGI's contribution to forge the Victory: I-200 (MiG-1) high speed fighter
22 October 2020
On December 8, 1939 a special Pilot Design Department which had made a part of the Aviation Plant-1 became a separate entity headed by young aircraft designer, Artem Mikoyan and by his deputy director, Mikhail Gurevich. The main goal of the Pilot Design Department — the future Mikoyan Design Bureau — was the creation of I-200 high speed fighter.
This aircraft project began under the leadership of the famous aircraft designer, Soviet “king of fighters” N.N. Polikarpov. The I-200 was conceived as a front-line fighter for conducting active air combat and destroying the enemy based on its speed advantages. Therefore, special attention was paid to the selection of the best aerodynamic shapes, which, in combination with a powerful engine, promised to provide fairly high flight characteristics.
After the approval of the design, the designers proceeded to working drawings, and to speed up the process, technologists and production workers were involved in the project. People worked in two shifts and even on weekends. In the wind tunnels of TsAGI, aircraft model testing was performed to validate the correctness of the preliminary aerodynamic calculation and predicted stability. The conclusion of the Institute on the draft design of the fighter said that ‘the project of the I-200 AM-37 aircraft from the point of view of aerodynamics is, of course, complete.’ The prototypes of the I-200 were assembled very quickly. During factory tests, the aircraft showed good flight data, so at the end of May 1940, a decree was issued to launch a new fighter into series.
The I-200 had a mixed design: the tail section of the fuselage with the tail fin and the wing panels were made of moulded impregnated wood, and the front section of the fuselage, the center section and the stabilizer were all-metal. The armament included three synchronous machine guns: a UBS machine gun and two rapid-fire ShKAS machine guns. The aircraft was equipped with a retractable landing gear and possessed high aerodynamic characteristics, which, in combination with the powerful AM-35A engine, provided maximum speed of 600 km/h at flight altitude of up to 12 thousand meters.
In the course of serial production, intensive improvement of the I-200 began. TsAGI joined this work. Studies of the aircraft in the T-101 wind tunnel made it possible not only to identify reserves for increasing its aerodynamic perfection in the shortest possible time, but also to improve the characteristics of stability and controllability. Flight tests to fine-tune the I-200 were also progressing at a fast pace: all changes were checked in flight and immediately introduced into production. Due to the need to distinguish the aircraft of the first series from the improved ones and regarding the general change in the aircraft designation system in the USSR, the first hundred I-200 aircraft were given the name MiG-1, and the subsequent, modernized ones, the MiG-3.