• MiG-21 Interceptor

    MiG-21 Interceptor

    By Nigel C. Martin (20 April 2004)

    The other day I had a thought as I was downloading another superb aircraft from this excellent site. We are very lucky that there are so many developers who offer quite freely their creations so we can download and use. Thank you, all your efforts they are really appreciated and please keep going...

    There really are some fantastic offerings capable of being used in FS2002 and FS2004 and of course CFS. So my commercial developer friends, a collective word of caution to all 'we' the buying public are looking for something, well... Special, before we part with our hard earned cash.

    Well, I am glad I got that off my chest; Call it therapy if you wish. Onto the latest offering from Just Flight, the mighty MiG-21. This offering comes from the Captain Sim stable so great things await I hope?

    A few quick facts: Way back in the autumn of 1953 immediately after the Korean War our Russian friends started developing a new breed of fighter. They wanted the fighter to reach speeds up to a stonking Mach 2 with a service ceiling of 60,000 feet. The successful design was for use with the 'Front Air Force'.

    From many designs tendered, the preferred choice was from Mikoyan Gureyvich, this design being of tubular design with swept-back wings (I wonder if he ever saw the USAF Sabre...). This was to become the MiG-21. Production started on the prototype with the maiden flight taking place in January 1956, with full production at the MiG Gorky plant in 1959.

    Nobody has actual numbers of production but it is believed the number is around 13,500, double that of F-4 Phantoms produced.

           

    For what ever reason, the MiG-21 was codenamed 'Fishbed' by NATO and was considered to be one the most successful fighters produced in that era. Two limiting factors were the limited operational range and armament restrictions.

    As well as Russia, production under license was permitted in Czechoslovakia, China and India.

    The Flightsim Version

    Loading the program, if your computer has the 'auto-run' facility, is a breeze; if not select install and hey presto all done, and ready for some action. After selecting the aircraft clean or with external tanks, etc, one can select the air force and country of your choice. Some interesting options here as RAF or USAF versions are on offer! Well I can only assume these were procured and used to assimilate the performance during the Cold War period etc. That said these are worth a gander, odd they may look but very smart.

    Being patriotic I chose the RAF version. You will be impressed by the graphic detail both externally and internal--simply excellent, and the virtual cockpit is fun.

    One step back my friends, you must take time out to read the instruction manual. This is presented within the program. Select in programs Justflight, select MiG, then opt for manual. You have two further options, a printable or interactive (web site connection active for this option). I have to admit I felt the interactive option could have been more engaging, but this option proved to be very useful. I printed off the instructions in an attempt to assist me to understand the VERY accurate cockpit detail and gauges.

           

    I felt there should have been an 'easy' printable sheet with the core action points/buttons to press or click presented in a clear way. Perhaps this should have been presented, as a hard copy within the pack not relying on the buyer to 'find' it. Hey Ho we are all experts aren't we? No problem. Perhaps a version that can easily be photocopied up in pro would make our life easier?

    This would not be a major issue had it not been the fact my Russian is not very good...nonexistent actually, so the information and detail on the vast array of instruments was crucial.

    The instructions are comprehensive and hyper realistic, though a better explanation on autopilot and drogue shoot deployment would be useful. Select your favorite airport, and you are now positioned within the cockpit. Again the detail is fantastic. Select open exit and the cockpit canopies open, nice detail, but the canopies open as if they spring loaded! Way too fast.... The pilots are well represented but no movement of heads, shame. If you select the RAF, USAF, Norwegian or Luftwaffe the pilots still have the Russian Helmets on. A little odd me thinks...

    Lined up, flaps down and trim to natural. This is a must. The flight dynamics I can only guess (understandably because I have never flown one these beauties) are very accurate because it demands some continual attention to trim at all times in the air. Canopy locked, straps tight, select full military power, the engine winds up, reheat kicks in, pop out and have a look, great engine sounds, and an interesting reheat cone from the engine. Not bad, not as good as Just Flight's Tornado. OK you say, the engine is completely different thus the cone pattern would reflect this and to a degree I would go with that view, but the teacher says, "good, but could do better."

           

    Nose up at V1, 124 km/h slight increase in speed, 178 km/h the bird lifts off. Remember to trim, then select gear up. Really great detail here well worth savoring. Gradual flaps up--watch that speed builds. The external detail comes alive in mid air great reflection shadows; I guess all the detail you would expect from the Captain Sim camp. The HUD system is a delight with several operational choices. If you will be using this bird in CFS2 you will see some pretty nice sighting detail which will be at your command.

    I was taken with the external fuel tank jettison option, I selected this and bang, it was gone. Hit the external view but it was still there... That would have been a nice touch to see that fall away to terra firma. Maybe this is a reality in CFS2? Not possible in FS2004?

           

    Because of the flight dynamics, i.e., it needs to go fast to stay in the air, the approach is interesting and requires a lot of input (great, that's how it should be!).

    Select the flaps, set to 45 throttle back maintaining your speed above 300 km/h (if not boys and girls, as aerodynamic a brick!) get the glide slope angle correct, over the threshold, throttle back to idle, nose up, wallop, on the ground. Oops a lot of smoke, speed brake deployed and hit the drogue shoot (very nice and realistic touch and you will need 7500 feet to land, 4600 feet to take off) turn off the active select open cockpit and the two canopies oblige.

    Another sortie over...

    If fast moving chunks of metal are your thing (they are for me) this will be a great addition to your collection. At the price it represents good value for trouble free installation and use, with some superb detail in and outside the aircraft. To boot, many diverse color schemes are available to choose from.

    Any major gripes? Well no, not really. My observations have already been made, briefly, the lack of pilot movement, and pilot flight suites, or more accurately the one style flying helmets annoyed me. I would imagine a simple task to include the variations dependant on the air force option selected and in my humble view would have vastly improved the graphic detail. The reheat or 'ring' effect didn't work for me; I felt this could have been improved upon. I guess very few considering the breath of the program. However I have not flown the MiG within CFS2; from all accounts it would be quite an experience, with many supplied missions, and two military airfields to fly from. (airfields not available in FS2004).

    The overall impression is superb detail, a very impressive product and something that should be in your squadron.

    In the cockpit some of the instruments are tricky to use. A nice pointed mouse cursor should do the trick though. Some of the instrument adjustment buttons are 'hidden' which will require you 'hunt' a little. This aircraft does demand your attention to understand all the functions, because of the Russian text, but it's well worth the effort. And it will take some time to get to grip with the various settings like the autopilot, but the joy is in the flying. I must confess I have been continually flying my MiG-21 with my quest to do a text book take off and landing. Not there yet, but still trying, and enjoying it. Yup have fun...I am.

    Nigel C. Martin
    [email protected]

    Visit publisher Just Flight's web site


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