There isn’t probably another fighter aircraft in the jet age of military aviation that was as versatile as a MiG-21. The aeroplane has an envious record of the widest spectrum of time span, operators and type of combat operations. Designed as a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor in the erstwhile USSR, the earliest induction of MiG-21 (Type -74) into the IAF was in the early Sixties and saw first action in the Indo- Pak war of 1965. It was, however, in the 1971 war of Bangladesh Liberation that the Type 77 version of this aircraft proved its mettle excelling in both Air Defence and Ground Attack roles. With
such battlefield experiences the MiG-21s platform was given more teeth by adding more external hardpoints for carriage of better weapon mix and fuel tanks to increase its endurance. Desperate need of an integral gun was also met and IAF continued to expand its fleet of MiG-21s through new acquisitions of MiG-21 M (Type 96), MiG-21 Bis (Type 75) and MiG-21 BISON while its contemporary rivals like the USAF’s F-100, RAF’s English Electric Lightning etc were soon sent to the museums.
Though MiG-21s had become the mainstay of IAF’s combat fleet from sixties to nineties, a period more than thirty years, it was the FL version (Type 77) that proved its worth in actual operations with impeccable records as the most versatile war machine, particularly in the Eastern Theatre of 1971 war contributing immensely to war effort by creating air superiority over the entire East Pakistan. The makers of this machine at erstwhile USSR probably never dreamt that this platform would become a legend one day not in its designed role but in rendering enemy airfields out of action with bombs or rocketing
enemy nerve centres with pinpoint accuracy and all that achieved with a fixed gun sight called the PKI. An absence of an integral gun denied this legend a chance to excel as a top-class air combat platform as well.
This painting endeavours to capture the spirit of the oldest MiG-21 (Type-77) aircraft, the love and adulation of each and every pilot who flew it and every technician who serviced and maintained this wonderful machine.
While the last of the Type 66 (Trainer) flew at Tezpur in 2005 the last Type 77 (C-777) was given a hero's send-off from OCU (Kalaikunda) on 08 November 2012.