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Role Fighter
Manufacturer Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB
First flight 18 September 1953
Introduction March 1955
Status In service with DPRK Air Force
Primary users Soviet Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Number built 2,172 (excluding production in China)
Variants Shenyang J-6
Nanchang Q-5

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-19) (NATO reporting name: "Farmer") is a Soviet second-generation, single-seat, twin jet-engined fighter aircraft. It was the first Soviet production aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in level flight. A comparable U.S. "Century Series" fighter was the North American F-100 Super Sabre, although the MiG-19 would primarily oppose the more modern McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and Republic F-105 Thunderchief over North Vietnam.

Design and development

On 20 April 1951, OKB-155 was given the order to develop the MiG-17 into a new fighter called "I-340", which was to be powered by two Mikulin AM-5 non-afterburning jet engines (a scaled-down version of the Mikulin AM-3) with 19.6 kN (4,410 lbf) of thrust. The I-340 was supposed to attain 1,160 km/h (725 mph, Mach 1) at 2,000 m (6,562 ft), 1,080 km/h (675 mph, Mach 0.97) at 10,000 m (32,808 ft), climb to 10,000 m (32,808 ft) in 2.9 minutes, and have a service ceiling of no less than 17,500 m (57,415 ft). The new fighter, internally designated "SM-1", was designed around the "SI-02" airframe (a MiG-17 prototype) modified to accept two engines in a side-by-side arrangement and was completed in March 1952.

The prototype suffered from poor cockpit pressurization and the engines proved temperamental with frequent flameouts and surges with rapid throttle movements. The engines were upgraded to the AM-5A standard with 21.1 kN (4,740 lbf) of thrust each, which exceeded the power output of the Klimov VK-1F in afterburner while providing better fuel economy. The SM-1 was barely supersonic, reaching 1,193 km/h (745 mph) at 5,000 m (16,404 ft)—Mach 1.03. This performance was deemed insufficient for the new supersonic fighter and an afterburning version of the engine, the AM-5F, was proposed. While not implemented, the AM-5F served as the basis for the Tumansky RD-9 which powered production aircraft. Further development of the twin-engine concept resulted in a government request for the "I-360", internally designated "SM-2", which was also powered by the AM-5F engines, but featured a highly swept wing.

SM-2 (I-360) was built in 1952 and, compared to SM-1, had 1.6m longer fuselage, wingspan reduced from 9.26 to 9.04m, and weight increased from 5219 to 6802 kg. SM-2 also had a new 55° wing. N-37D guns were placed in wing roots to open space in a nose for the radar. Cockpit and landing gear were redesigned, and low vertical stabilizer increased in size. In April 1952 first prototype was sent to LII, with first flight on May 27, 1952 by G. A. Sedov. It was immediately clear that AM-5A engines were not powerful enough, and they were replaced with AM-5F [2150 kg/2700 kg with afterburners]. New engines allowed a maximum speed of M=1.19 in horizontal flight. As a result of testing air brakes and control surfaces were slightly modified, with new aircraft receiving designation SM-2A, and then [after additional modifications] SM-2B.

Second prototype, SM-2/2 had a modified tail [low-positioned horizontal stabilizers instead of T-tail], and guns with shorter barrels. However, AM-5F was still not considered powerful enough, and both prototypes received yet more powerful AM-9B [2600 kg/3250 kg with afterburners]. Serialized version of that engine was designated RD-9B. With the new engine, SM-2B received designation SM-9/1, first flight on January 5, 1954, by G. A. Sedov, who made a total of 132 flights. Final changes included modified air intake, new NP-23 guns [340rounds], radio RSIU-3M "Klen", responder "Uzel-1", and radio-rangefinder SRDM-1M "Konus"

The Soviet of The Ministers of the Soviet Union issued an order #286-133 to start serial production on February 17, 1954 [factories in Gorkiy and Novosibirsk]. Factory trials were completed on September 12, 1954, and government trials started on September 30.

MiG-19 armed with four Kaliningrad K-5 air-to-air missiles.

Initial enthusiasm for the aircraft was dampened by several problems. The most alarming of these was the danger of a midair explosion due to overheating of the fuselage fuel tanks located between the engines. Deployment of airbrakes at high speeds caused a high-g pitch-up. Elevators lacked authority at supersonic speeds. The high landing speed of 230 km/h (145 mph) (compared to 160 km/h (100 mph) in the MiG-15), combined with absence of a two-seat trainer version, slowed pilot transition to the type. Handling problems were addressed with the second prototype, "SM-9/2", which added a third ventral airbrake and introduced all-moving tailplanes with a damper to prevent pilot-induced oscillations at subsonic speeds. It flew on 16 September 1954, and entered production as the MiG-19S.

Approximately 5,500 MiG-19s were produced, first in the USSR and in Czechoslovakia as the Avia S-105, but mainly in the People's Republic of China as the Shenyang J-6. The aircraft saw service with a number of other national air forces, including those of Cuba, North Vietnam, Egypt, Pakistan, and North Korea. The aircraft saw combat during the Vietnam War, the 1967 Six Day War, and the 1971 Bangladesh War.

All Soviet-built MiG-19 variants were single-seaters only, although the Chinese developed the JJ-6 trainer version of the Shenyang J-6. With stabilization problems and "numerous crashes", the Russians had lost faith in the MiG-19, and moved on to the newly emerging MiG-21.[1]

In the USSR, the MiG-19 was superseded by the MiG-21. The Shenyang J-6 remained a staple of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force until the 1980s and has also been developed into the Nanchang Q-5 (NATO reporting name "Fantan") attack aircraft. Despite its age, the MiG-19 and its descendants exhibit good handling characteristics at low altitude and a surprisingly high rate of climb, and their heavy cannon armament—a one-second burst from three 30 mm NR-30 cannons had a projectile mass of 18 kg (40 lb)—makes them formidable adversaries in close combat.

Russian built MiG-19s were still in service in North Korea, Myanmar (Burma), and Zambia as of 2014.

Operational history

During their service with Soviet Anti-Air Defense and in East Germany, MiG-19s were involved in multiple interceptions of Western reconnaissance aircraft. The first documented encounter with a Lockheed U-2 took place in the autumn of 1957. The MiG-19 pilot reported seeing the aircraft, but could not make up the 2,234 m (7,000 ft) difference in altitude. When Francis Gary Powers's U-2 was shot down in the 1960 incident, one pursuing MiG-19P was also hit by the salvo of S-75 Dvina (NATO: SA-2 "Guideline") missiles, killing the pilot Sergei Safronov. In a highly controversial incident, on 1 July 1960, a MiG-19 shot down an RB-47H (S/N 53-4281) reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Arctic Circle with four of the crew killed and two captured by the Soviets (they were released in 1961). In another incident, on 28 January 1964, a MiG-19 shot down a T-39 Sabreliner which had strayed into East German airspace while on a training mission; all three crewmembers were killed.

Vietnam War

Hanoi decided in early 1969 to strengthen its air defenses by creating a third jet fighter unit; the 925th Fighter Regiment. This unit would consist of late model MiG-17s and the newly acquired MiG-19s (nearly all of which were J-6s from the People's Republic of China (PRC)). The regiment was established at Yen Bai, and by April 1969, nine combat-rated MiG-19 pilots were posted for combat duty. While some of North Vietnam's MiG-17s and all of their MiG-21s were supplied by the Soviet Union, the MiG-19s (J-6 models) were supplied by the PRC, which seldom exceeded 54 MiG-19s in number.[2]

The first use and loss of a U.S. fighter to a MiG-19 (J-6) was in 1965 when a USAF Lockheed F-104 Starfighter piloted by Captain Philip E. Smith was attacked by a People's Liberation Army Air Force aircraft over Hainan Island. His Starfighter took cannon fire which damaged a portion of his wing and missile mount. Smith gave chase and did receive missile tone on the MiG but, within a millisecond of pressing his missile firing button, his Starfighter lost all power. He ejected and was captured. Smith was held prisoner until released on 15 March 1973, due to improving US-China relations following U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972.[3][4]

The North Vietnamese Air Force began receiving the MiG-19 at the end of Operation Rolling Thunder, which ended in 1968. Despite their limited numbers, MiG-19s were involved in extensive combat during Operations Linebacker 1 and Linebacker 2 (aka the Christmas Bombing). The NVAF claimed only seven victories over U.S. aircraft, using the MiG-19, all of which were F-4 Phantom IIs.[5] The MiG-19 was tested by U.S. pilots in the United States in 1969 after receiving a Chinese J-6 (F-6 exported model) from Pakistan.[N 1][6] In addition to finding the aircraft to have a good canopy allowing good visibility for the pilot, along with 3 hard hitting 30mm cannons, U.S. pilots found the MiG-19 (J6/F6) to be an excellent fighter, "like the MiG-17, it could easily out-turn the Phantom...and could out-accelerate the F-4 out to Mach 1.2, but was slower than the MiG-21.".[7] However, the MiG-19's strongest fault was its extremely short range, as one U.S. test pilot remarked, "after going in full after-burner at low altitude for 5 minutes, the MiG driver will be looking for a place to land!"[8] This, combined with the aircraft's twin engines, which were difficult to maintain, made the MiG-19 unpopular with North Vietnamese pilots.[9]

North Vietnamese Air Force (NVAF) and Communist Chinese air-space violation air to air kills; all 6 with 30mm cannon.
MiG-19/J-6 Aerial combat victories in the Vietnam War 1965-1972[10][11]
Date MiG-19 unit Aircraft destroyed Destroyed aircraft unit/comments
9-20-1965 Unknown F-104C Starfighter USAF 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron/Downed by Chinese MiGs.[12][13]
8-21-1967 Unknown (2) A-6 Intruders USN VA-196/Downed by Chinese MiGs[14]
5-10-1972 925th Fighter Regiment (FR) F-4D Phantom II USAF 555th TFS
5-10-1972 925th FR F-4E USAF 58th TFS
5-18-1972 925th FR F-4D USAF 421st TFS

The MiG-19 lacked mounts for air-to-air missiles but it had the one advantage over the early model F-4 Phantom II: it was armed with a cannon. NVAF MiG-19s had three 30mm cannons which "were notable for their large muzzle flash"[15] when fired. The aircraft were loaded with 90 rounds per cannon, giving approximately 6 seconds of firing time. A single 2 second burst of 90 shells could impact a U.S. aircraft with 81 lb (37 kg) of metal.[16] This contrasted to a U.S. 20mm cannon such as the Vulcan and Colt Mk 12 which would deliver 39 and 35 pounds of metal respectively.[17]

Confirmed aerial victories by MiG-19s while assigned to the 925th FR, which match U.S. records occurred on: 10 May 1972 in which two F-4 Phantoms were shot down by MiG-19s flown by Pham Hung Son and Nguyen Manh Tung. Both NVAF victories over the F-4s were accomplished by cannon fire.[18][19][20] Combat results of the 925th FR using MiG-19s, according to the North Vietnamese Air Force were: two F-4s on 8 May 1972; two F-4s on 10 May 1972; one F-4 on 18 May 1972; and two F-4s shot down on 23 May 1972;[5] these losses were in exchange for 10 MiG-19s lost in aerial combat with U.S. jets. On 2 June 1972, in the skies over North Vietnam, a MiG-19 was the first recorded jet fighter to be shot down in aerial combat by cannon fire at supersonic speeds,[21] by a USAF F-4 Phantom flown by Phil Handley.


A J-6 fighter on display at the China Aviation Museum

The MiG-19 apparently was in front line service with the PLAAF, and saw limited combat against their Nationalist adversary, the Republic of China Air Force (Nationalist China). One major air battle between Communist and Nationalist Chinese aircraft occurred in 1967, with 12 J-6s taking on four Lockheed F-104 Starfighters. Each side claimed one kill.

There were reports of People's Republic of China J-6s (MiG-19s) flying combat missions during infrequent border squabbles with the Soviets, though with no records of dogfights, and encounters during the Vietnam War with U.S. aircraft that strayed into Chinese airspace. These confrontations resulted in a few shoot-downs of U.S. aircraft, with no recorded losses of Chinese aircraft, although the MiGs sometimes had to make a hasty retreat back into Chinese airspace when the Americans flew in reinforcements.

Middle East

In 1962, Egyptian MiG-19s saw some action in the ground-attack role during the civil war in Yemen during the early 1960s. The first reported air combat in the Mideast with the MiG-19 was on 29 November 1966, when two Egyptian MiG-19 fighters battled Israeli Mirage IIICs. The Israelis claimed two kills and no losses. Around 80 MiG-19s were in service with Egypt during the Six-Day War in 1967, but more than half were destroyed on the ground during the opening Israeli airstrikes of Operation Focus. Israeli pilots, however, did find the MiG-19 a potentially dangerous adversary because of its performance, maneuverability, and heavy armament.

Following the war, the Egyptians organized the surviving MiG-19 aircraft and assigned them air defense tasks of Egypt's interior. The Soviet Union did not supply Egypt with any replacement of the MiG-19s destroyed in the Six Day War, but Egypt might have received some from Syria and Iraq, so that by the end of 1968 there were 80+ MiG-19s in service with the Egyptian Air Force (EAF). The aircraft also saw combat during the War of Attrition; in one engagement on 19 May 1969, a MiG-19 aircraft engaged two Israeli Mirages, shooting down one with cannon fire while the other escaped.[22] Egypt had around 60 Mig-19s in service during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 in which they served as close air support aircraft.

The Iraqis obtained some MiG-19S fighters in the early 1960s, but later sold them all off (a couple remaining in local museums), though the survivors did see some action against the Kurds in the 1960s. It is claimed that the Iranians acquired a batch of their own F-6s.

Horn of Africa

In the Horn of Africa, the Somali Armed Forces flew the F-6 against the Ethiopian National Defense Force during the Ogaden campaign. The SAF also used the aircraft against rebel positions in the late 1980s.

Nile Valley

In the Nile Valley, Sudan used its MiG-19S fighters against separatists in southern Sudan. At least one such aircraft was shot down.

African Great Lakes

In the African Great Lakes region, Tanzania flew MiG-19S fighters against Uganda during the war between the two states in 1978 and 1979.


MiG-19PM with drop tanks.
MiG-19PM shows the nose inlet housing the radar.
MiG-19 in Tiraspol
Czech S-105 (MiG-19S) at Prague Aviation Museum.
MiG-19 (NATO reporting name
"Farmer-A"; OKB:[23] SM-9/1)
First production version armed with 3 23 mm NR-23 cannons.
"Farmer-B"; OKB:[23] SM-7)
Version equipped with RP-1 Izumrud radar in the nose and armed with 2 23 mm NR-23 (later 2 30 mm NR-30) cannons in the wings. Had provision for an unguided rocket pack under each wing, elongated tailfin fillet, all-moving tailplane, third airbrake added behind the ventral fin. Vympel K-13 (AA-2 'Atoll') air-to-air missile (AAM) capability was added late in its service life; entered production in 1955.
MiG-19P equipped with the Gorizont-1 ground control datalink.
"Farmer-C"; OKB:[23] SM-9/3)
Further development equipped with Svod long-range navigation receiver and armed with 3 30 mm NR-30 cannons. Had provisions for an unguided rocket pack or a FAB-250 bomb under each wing; entered service in 1956.
Reconnaissance version of the MiG-19S with cameras replacing the nose cannon and powered by uprated RD-9BF-1 engines.
Late production MiG-19S powered by the same uprated RD-9BF-1 engines as the MiG-19R.
High-altitude version for intercepting reconnaissance balloons, reached 20,740 m (68,045 ft) on 6 December 1956; entered service in 1956.
MiG-19SV with a new wing, small increase in altitude above MiG-19SV; did not warrant production.
[23] SM-50)
High-altitude version to intercept the Lockheed U-2, equipped with a self-contained liquid-fuel booster rocket pack; appears to have been abandoned because of inability to control the aircraft at very high altitudes and the aircraft's tendency to enter supersonic spins.
Single-seat radar-equipped, all-weather interceptor fighter aircraft; built in small numbers.
Variant with removed cannons, armed with 4 Kaliningrad K-5M (NATO: AA-1 "Alkali") beam-riding missiles. Entered production in 1957.
MiG-19PM with Lazur ground control datalink.
Rocket pack fit similar to MiG-19SU.
A single MiG-19P equipped to carry Vympel K-13 (NATO: AA-2 "Atoll") missiles.
Target drone converted from the MiG-19 and MiG-19S.
Two MiG-19 Ps converted to flying laboratories for testing the Grushin K-6 developmental AAM (intended for the Sukhoi T-3 jet fighter) and Almaz-3 radar.
New fighter prototype, developed into the MiG-21; four aircraft built.
Missile simulator for testing the Raduga Kh-20 (NATO: AS-3 "Kangaroo") cruise missile.
Zero-length launch (ZEL) version with PRD-22 booster rocket.
Missile simulator for testing the Raduga K-10 (NATO: AS-2 "Kipper") cruise missile.
Avia S-105
Czechoslovak licenced built MiG-19S.
Shenyang J-6
Chinese-built version of the MiG-19. This version was inducted into the Pakistani Air Force as the F-6. The F-6 was later modified by the Pakistani Air Force to carry U.S.-built AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.


Operators of the MiG-19
Hungarian Air Force MiG-19PM.
Afghan Air Force. 36 acquired by the Royal Afghan Air Force from 1964.
Albanian Air Force. 85 Soviet-built. All retired in 2005.
The MiG-19 served in the Bulgarian Air Force from 1958 to 1973.
Cambodian Air Force
 People's Republic of China
Chinese-built variant Shenyang J-6, all single-seaters retired from frontline combat service in 1992, except for Nanchang Q-5 variant,[24] some J-6 was converted to target/attack drone (number not confirmed). As of 2010 all were decommissioned.
Cuban Air Force
Czechoslovak Air Force operated many MIG-19S, MIG-19P, MIG-19PM and licenced build S-105
 East Germany
East German Air Force
Egyptian Air Force
Hungarian Air Force
The Indonesian Air Force acquired a number of MiG-19S in 1961 and used during the preparation of Operation TRIKORA in 1962, (the taking of Western New Guinea from the Netherlands) in Western New Guinea (now, Papua and Papua Barat); several of these aircraft crashed. All aircraft sold to Pakistan
Iraqi Air Force
 Khmer Republic
Khmer National Air Force
Military of Mozambique
 North Korea
North Korean Air Force. J-6 still in service.
Pakistan Air Force. Operated Chinese J-6 from 1965 to 2002. Some of them are on display on squares in various cities.
Polish Air Force. A total of 22 MiG-19P and 14 MiG-19PM interceptors served between 1957 and 1974
Romanian Air Force. A total of 17 MiG-19P and 10 MiG-19PM aircraft were in service between 1958 (1959 for the PM) and 1972.
Somali Air Corps
 Soviet Union
Sudanese Air Force.
Syrian Air Force
Tanzanian Air Force
Vietnam People's Air Force
Zambian Air Force

Specifications (MiG-19S)

3-View drawing of MiG-19

Data from OKB MiG Aircraft and History[25]

General characteristics


  • Guns: 3x 30 mm NR-30 cannons (75 rounds per gun for wing guns, 55 rounds for the fuselage gun)
  • Hardpoints: 4 underwing pylons, with a maximum load of 1000 kg[26]  and provisions to carry combinations of:
    • Rockets: unguided rockets
    • Missiles: 4 Vympel K-13 AAMs
    • Bombs: Up to 4× 250 kg (550 lb) bombs

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ Michel III, p. 188
  2. ^ Toperczer 2001, p. 64.
  3. ^ Smith and Herz p. 29-35, 67, 68, (1992)
  4. ^ "Smith, Philip Eldon." Retrieved: 21 July 2011
  5. ^ a b Toperczer 2001, p. 90.
  6. ^ Michel III-p 188,189
  7. ^ Michael III, p. 189
  8. ^ Michel III p. 189
  9. ^ Michel III-p188,189
  10. ^ Hobson p. 271
  11. ^ Toperczer (#25) p. 90
  12. ^ Hobson p. 32
  13. ^ Smith & Herz p. 8, 12, 31
  14. ^ Hobson p. 114
  15. ^ Michel III p. 189, 212
  16. ^ Michel III, p. 189, 312
  17. ^ Michel III p. 13, 16
  18. ^ Michel 1997, p. 212.
  19. ^ Sherwood 1999, pp. 231–232.
  20. ^ Ethell and Price 1989, pp. 55–61, 141.
  21. ^ Davies #55, p. 37, 38
  22. ^ Nicolle and Cooper 2004, p. 27.
  23. ^ a b c d "Modifications." OKB MiG Design Bureau (Unofficial reference website). Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
  24. ^ Baddeley, Adam. "The AMR Regional Air Force Directory 2011." Asian Military Review, February 2011. Retrieved: 21 July 2011.
  25. ^ "MiG-19 Characteristics." OKB MiG Aircraft and History. Retrieved: 15 September 2012.
  26. ^


  1. ^ This MiG-19 is currently on display at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. Courtesy of the USAF 457th Technical Evaluation Squadron, Nellis AFB, Area 51.


  • Butowski, Piotr (with Jay Miller). OKB MiG: A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft. Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1991. ISBN 0-904597-80-6.
  • Crosby, Francis. Fighter Aircraft. London: Lorenz Books, 2002. ISBN 0-7548-0990-0.
  • Davies, Peter E. USAF F-4 Phantom MiG Killers 1972-73 (Osprey Combat Aircraft #55). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2005. ISBN 1-84176-657-7.
  • Ethell, Jeffrey and Alfred Price. One Day in a Very Long War: May 10, 1972, Air Combat, North Vietnam. New York: Random House, 1989. ISBN 978-0-517-07934-8.
  • Hobson, Chris. Vietnam Air Losses, United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in Southeast Asia 1961-1973. Midland Publishing (2001) England. ISBN 1-85780-115-6.
  • Koenig, William and Peter Scofield. Soviet Military Power. Greenwich, Connecticut: Bison Books, 1983. ISBN 0-86124-127-4.
  • Michel III, Marshall L. Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam 1965-1972. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55750-585-3.
  • Nicolle, David and Tom Cooper. Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat (Osprey Combat Aircraft #44). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2004. ISBN 978-1-84176-655-3.
  • Robinson, Anthony. Soviet Air Power. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-180-0.
  • Sherwood, John D. Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience. New York: Free Press, 1999. ISBN 0-312-97962-2.
  • Smith, Philip E. and Peggy Herz. Journey Into Darkness: The Gripping Story of an American POW's Seven Years Trapped Inside Red China During the Vietnam War. New York: Pocket, Simon & Schuster, 1992. ISBN 0-671-72823-7.
  • Sweetman, Bill and Bill Gunston. Soviet Air Power: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Warsaw Pact Air Forces Today. London: Salamander Books, 1978. ISBN 0-517-24948-0.
  • Toperczer, István. MiG-17 And MiG-19 Units of the Vietnam War (Osprey Combat Aircraft #25). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2001. ISBN 1-84176-162-1.

External links

  • The RB-47H incident (USAF Museum).
  • MiG-19 FARMER at Global
  • MiG-19 Farmer at Global Aircraft
  • Cuban MiG-19
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