MiG-17 Fresco, Mikoyan-Gurevich

MiG-17 Fresco

The MiG-17 This was a thoroughly redesigned MiG-15, with a redesigned aft fuselage and a new wing to correct the deficiencies that the earlier MiG-15 had at higher speeds. It was the first Soviet fighter to have an afterburning engine. The MiG-17 was built in large numbers; production was also undertaken in Poland, China and Czechoslovakia. The aircraft was used by at least 22 countries.

Type: MiG-17F 'Fresco-C'
Country: Soviet Union / Russia
Function: fighter
Year: 1954
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 3380 kg Klimov VK-1F afterburning turbojet (with centrifugal compressor)
Length: 11.26 m
Height: 3.80 m
Wing Span: 9.63 m
Wing Area: 22.60 m2
Wing loading: 237 kg/m²
Empty Weight: 3930 kg
Max.Weight: 6075 kg
Thrust/weight: 0.63
Speed: 1145 km/h (at 3000 m)
Ceiling: 15100 m
Rate of climb: 65 m/s
Range: 1470 km (some other sources claim 1080 km)
Armament: 1*Nudelman N-37 cannon (37mm), 2*g 23mm (80 rounds per gun, 160 rounds total), 500 kg of external stores on two pylons


The design of the MiG-17 was undertaken to correct the deficiencies that the earlier MiG-15 had at higher speeds. It was the first Soviet fighter to have an afterburning engine, the Klimov VK-1.

In 1949, the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau began work on a new fighter to replace the MiG-15. Two features of the aircraft were a thinner wing of greater sweep and a redesigned tail that improved stability and handling at speeds approaching Mach 1. Although similar in appearance to the MiG-15, the MiG-17 has more sharply swept wings, an afterburner, better speed and handling characteristics and is about three feet longer. The wings of the aircraft are mid-mounted and tapered with blunt tips. They have wide wing roots. The engine is one turbojet inside the body and has a round air intake in the nose. It has a single, small exhaust. The fuselage is short, thick, cigar-shaped and tapered to the rear. It has a blunt nose and bubble canopy. The tail fin is swept-back and tapered with rounded tip. Flats are high-mounted on the tail fin, swept-back, and tapered. Flats and fin overhang the exhaust.


The MiG-17 design was generally based on a previously successful Mikoyan and Gurevich fighter, the MiG-15. The major novelty was its introduction of a swept wing with a "compound sweep" configuration: a 45 angle near the fuselage, and a 42 angle for the outboard part pf the wings. Other easily visible differences to its predecessor were the three wing-fences on each wing, instead of the MiG-15's two, and the addition of a ventral fin. The MiG-17 shared the same Klimov VK-1 engine and the rest of its construction was similar. The first prototype, designated "SI" by the construction bureau, was flown on the 14 January 1950, piloted by Ivan Ivashchenko. The second prototype variant, "SP-2", was an interceptor equipped with a radar. Despite the SI prototype's crash on March 17 1950, tests of another prototype "SI-2" and experimental series aircraft "SI-02" and "SI-01" in 1951, were generally successful, and on September 1 1951 the aircraft was accepted for production. It was estimated that with the same engine as the MiG-15's, the MiG-17's maximum speed is higher by 40-50 km/h, and the fighter has greater maneuverability at high altitude.

Serial production started in August 1951. During production, the aircraft was improved and modified several times. The basic MiG-17 was a general-purpose day fighter, armed with three cannons and considered to be most effective in action against enemy aircraft. It could also act as a fighter-bomber, but its bombload was considered light relative to other aircraft of the time, and it usually carried additional fuel tanks instead of bombs.

Soon a number of MiG-17P all-weather fighters were produced with the Izumrud radar and front air intake modifications. In the spring of 1953 the MiG-17F day fighter entered production. Fitted with the VK-1F engine with an afterburner, which improved its performance, it became the most popular variant of the MiG-17. The next mass-produced variant with afterburner and radar was the MiG-17PF. In 1956 a small series (47 aircraft) was converted to the MiG-17PM standard (also known as PFU) with four first-generation Kaliningrad K-5 (NATO reporting name AA-1 'Alkali') air-to-air missiles. A small series of MiG-17R reconnaissance aircraft were built with VK-1F engine (after first being tested with the VK-5F engine).

Several thousand MiG-17s were built in the USSR by 1958.


The MiG-17 became a standard fighter in all Warsaw Pact countries in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were also bought by many other countries, mainly in Africa and Asia, that were neutrally aligned or allied with the USSR.

The prototype MiG-17 first flew in January 1950 and was reported to have exceeded Mach 1 in level flight. Production began in late 1951, but the aircraft were not available in sufficient quantities to take part in the Korean War. Deliveries to the Soviet Air Force began in 1952. Five versions of the aircraft eventually were produced. Early production MiG-17s were fitted with the VK-1 engine, a Soviet copy of the Rolls-Royce Nene. The VK-1F, an improved version with a simple afterburner and variable nozzle, was developed for the main production version, the MiG-17F (Fresco C). In 1955 the radar equipped MiG-17PF (Fresco D) entered service as a limited all-weather interceptor. The MiG-17PFU was armed with four AA-1 "Alkali" radar-guided missiles, making it the Soviet Union's first missile armed interceptor. Even though it was considered obsolete by the mid-1960s, the MiG-17 gave a good account over Vietnam, being flown by most of the top North Vietnamese pilots, including the leading ace, Colonel Tomb.

MiG-17s were not available for the Korean War, but saw considerable service as the main fighter aircraft of the North Vietnamese Air Force during the Vietnam War, when they frequently worked in conjunction with MiG-21s. The American fighter community was shocked in 1965 when elderly, subsonic MiG-17s downed more sophisticated Mach-2-class F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers over North Vietnam. To redress disappointing combat performance against smaller, more agile fighters like the MiGs, the Americans established dissimilar air combat training programs such as "Top Gun", which employed subsonic A-4 Skyhawk and F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft to mimic more maneuverable opponents such as the MiG-17. Some Vietnamese pilots, in fact, preferred the MiG-17 over the MiG-21; it was more agile, though not as fast. MiG-17s also flew against Israel in the various Arab-Israeli conflicts.

The MiG-17 served with nearly 30 air forces worldwide, including the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact countries, China, Afghanistan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Morocco, Cuba, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Though smaller than the USAF F-86 Sabre of Korean War fame, its weight and performance favourably compared to that aircraft. Soviet production of the MiG-17 ended in 1958 with over 6,000 produced. It continued to be built under license in Poland as the Lim-5P and in China as the J-5/F-4. China's first reproduced jet fighter plane, the J-5, successfully flew in Shenyang for the first time on 19 July 1956, and General Nie Rongzhen went in person to Shenyang to offer congratulations.


The strategic purpose of this, and most other Soviet fighters, was to shoot down U.S. bombers, not engage in dogfights. This subsonic (.93 Mach) fighter was effective against slower (.6-.8 Mach), heavily loaded U.S. fighter-bombers, as well as the mainstay American strategic bombers during the MiG-17's development cycle (such as the B-50 or B-36, which were both still propelled by reciprocating engines). Even if the target had sufficient warning and time to shed weight and drag by dropping external ordnance and accelerate to supersonic escape speeds, doing so would have inherently forced the enemy aircraft to abort its bombing mission. By the time the USAF introduced strategic bombers capable of cruising at supersonic speeds, such as the B-58 and FB-111, however, the MiG-17 became obsolete in PVO service and was supplanted by supersonic interceptors such as the MiG-21 and MiG-23.


* MiG-17 - basic fighter with VK-1 engine ("aircraft SI"), Fresco-A
* MiG-17A - fighter with VK-1A engine with longer lifespan
* MiG-17AS - attack conversion, fitted to carry unguided rockets
* MiG-17P - all-weather fighter with Izumrud radar ("aircraft SP"), Fresco-B
* MiG-17F - basic fighter with VK-1F engine with afterburner ("aircraft SF"), Fresco-C
* MiG-17PF - all-weather fighter with Izumrud radar and VK-1F engine ("aircraft SP-7F"), Fresco-D
* MiG-17PM (PFU) - fighter with radar and K-5 (NATO: AA-1 'Alkali') air-to-air missiles ("aircraft SP-9"), Fresco-E
* MiG-17R - reconnaissance aircraft with VK-1F engine and camera ("aircraft SR-2s")

Some withdrawn aircraft were converted to remotely controlled targets.

Aviation Top100 Home go back