After World War II was over, the leaders of the USSR realized that they were behind the leading states of the world in the sphere of jet aircraft construction, most notably in the full-scale production of turbojet engines. Consequently, a delegation including the designers A. I. Mikoyan and V. Y. Klimov was sent to Great Britain towards the end of 1946. Their negotiations were successful, resulting in the purchase of two of the most advanced turbojet engines at that time: the Rolls-Royce Derwent Mk.V and the Rolls-Royce Nene I/Nene II. The British consented to sell their newest strategic designs easily enough, since they believed that the Soviet industrial/technological apparatus could not handle the mass production of sophisticated assemblies. However, very soon that the Rolls-Royce engines were launched into full-scale Soviet production under the designations RD-500 and RD-45.
The emergence of the new engines led to the creation of Soviet jet fighters able to compete with the leading models of the world. In 1947, the Mikoyan Design Bureau started the development of a front line fighter with a Nene (RD-45) turbojet engine and an airtight cockpit: the I-310 ("S"). The first S-01 prototype aircraft made its first flight on December 30, 1947, and, after working on the test results, was launched into full-scale production in 1948 under the designation MiG-15. The plane's airframe was an all-metal monoplane configuration with mid-swept wings and empennage. Thus the MiG-15 became the first production swept-wing fighter.
The MiG-15 was equipped with a RD-45F single-shaft turbojet engine rated at 2,270 kg of thrust with a double-entry centrifugal compressor. The plane's armament included a 37mm Nudelman N-37D cannon with 40 rounds and two 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23KM guns with 160 rounds in total. The cannons were mounted in the forward fuselage on a lowerable carriage. Two 100-kg or 50-kg bombs could be suspended under the wings. To increase its flight range, the aircraft could carry two external fuel tanks with a capacity ranging from 250 to 600 liters.
The MiG-15 fighter was notable for its simple and reliable structure, high flight and operating characteristics, and powerful armament. Its maximum speed, rate of climb, ceiling, and flight range were the best among Soviet fighters at the time and superior to many foreign aircraft, as well.
The first production MiG-15s with RD-45F engines began to leave the factory floor in early 1949. In 1950, more advanced MiG-15bis fighters replaced them in the factory assembly lines.