MiG-21bis: Ultimate Fishbed

The MiG-21bis is the most advanced massively produced version of the renowned Soviet Cold War era jet fighter. Soon, this top performing and highly anticipated jet fighter will make its way into the aerial battlefields of War Thunder with the release of the upcoming update “New Power”!

Briefly: The definitive variant of the well-known MiG-21 jet fighter, featuring a more powerful engine and an assortment of deadly missiles.

MiG-21bis, jet fighter, USSR, VI rank.

Pros

  • Climb rate 225 m/s!
  • Increased flight performance
  • Very capable both against aerial and ground targets

Cons

  • No countermeasures
History

By the late 1960’s, the Soviet high command sought to increase the effectiveness of the MiG-21 jet fighter, especially at lower altitudes, while at the same time knowing that this could only be achieved by developing a more powerful engine for it. As a result, in 1971, the order to develop what would essentially become the MiG-21bis was issued by the Soviet high command.

As both the power plant manufacturer - Tumansky - as well as the MiG aircraft design bureau were already working on improvements, this order only officially recognized their work, and as a result, by 1972 the MiG-21bis was ready.

Unlike preceding variants, the MiG-21bis managed to strike a balance between performance and endurance. Additionally, the aircraft was fitted with an improved radar and a systems monitor, which made maintenance substantially easier. Furthermore, the maximum number of missiles the aircraft could carry was increased to six while it also received the option to carry the new R-13M air-to-air missile with increased range over the preceding R-3S; and R-60 missiles as well.

The first MiG-21bis was constructed in 1972 and was adopted into service in the same year. Well over 2,200 units of the MiG-21bis would be manufactured, including licence-built versions. The MiG-21bis was one of the most widely produced variants of the aircraft and saw widespread use with numerous operators around the globe. In fact, some modernized modifications are still in combat use today.

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In War Thunder, the MiG-21bis will be a new jet fighter coming to the top rank of the Soviet aviation tree with the release of the next major update. With its insanely powerful engine, improved flight characteristics and deadly missiles, the MiG-21bis will not only become the new crowning jewel of the Soviet aviation tree but will also quickly become the new fan-favorite among jet jockeys!

Fun fact: pilots nicknamed the MiG-21 “balalaika”, the same name used for a traditional Russian stringed instrument with a triangular wooden body.

Starting off with the feature that truly makes the MiG-21bis stand out from all its predecessors - namely the engine. Being powered by the Tumansky R-25-300 turbojet engine, generating up to a mind-boggling 9,900 kgf of thrust while afterburning at sea level at Mach 0.9-1.0, the MiG-21bis can reach about the same top speeds as its predecessors (up to Mach 2.04 at high altitudes), but doing this much faster thanks to greater acceleration.

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Subsequently, the aircraft’s climb rate has also seen a substantial increase up to 225 meters per second, while constructional changes to the aircraft’s airframe also allow it to sustain higher load factors. All these improvements will become most noticeable to pilots during low altitude dogfights, making the MiG-21bis a much more formidable dogfighter in this combat scenario than its preceding variants as a result.

However, the MiG-21bis didn’t only receive major upgrades to its flight performance; its firepower was also improved! While still carrying the twin-barrel Gsh-23 gun pod as its primary weapon, the MiG-21bis does carry an increased ammunition load of 250 rounds for this weapon. Furthermore, the total number of air-to-air missiles the aircraft can carry was also increased to a total of six, compared to four on the preceding MiG-21SMT.

Lastly, the MiG-21bis receives access to a brand new missile too. While still carrying the familiar R-3R, R-3S and R-60 missiles, the new R-13M missile now also joins the arsenal. Being in essence a further developed modification of the R-3S, the R-13M that possesses a longer range and better agility, allowing it to better track targets. The MiG-21bis also retains access to unguided munitions such as bombs and rockets of various calibers for all those passionate close air support pilots out there.

The MiG-21bis will soon become available to all pilots for research as the brand new top Soviet jet fighter, coming to War Thunder as part of the next major update. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to the news as we continue revealing what exciting new additions the upcoming update has in store for you. Until then, clear skies pilots!


The War Thunder Team

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