|This page is about the Soviet jet fighter MiG-21SMT. For other versions, see MiG-21 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
During the early 1970s, the issue of low range in the MiG-21s was brought to attention of the higher ups in the Soviet Union and the Mikoyan design chain. The issue caused by high fuel consumption of the R-13 engine coupled with the small amount of fuel carried on board in this interceptor's small airframe. Two solutions were quickly devised, the first being a upgraded, more efficient engine, which would not be ready for a while. The other solution was to simply hammer in a larger fuel tank into the MiG-21's airframe. The resulting design for the second solution was the MiG-21SMT (Sapfir Modernizirovannyy Toplivo, "Sapphire [Radar], Modernized, Fuel [Increased]"). This variant featured a plethora of upgrades, namely the updated model of the Sapfir radar and its respective fire control system, allowing the aircraft to use not only R-3R radar guided missiles, but the latest R-60 and R-60M close range missiles. But the largest difference in this variant was the increased fuel load from the comically large saddle tank added, earning this variant the nickname "Hunchback" among its pilots, who strongly disliked flying it. The SMT also featured a strongly upgraded engine, to cope with the weight increase of the extra fuel and new avionics, but this was sadly not enough to appease the pilots, who found the SMT to be generally unfavourable to fly compared to the older, lighter, and more nimble Fishbeds. The "Hunchback" was so unpopular with Soviet pilots (who regularly complained to their higher ups about the SMT), that all MiG-21SMTs were rebuilt into the MiG-21ST variant starting from 1972, which was essentially just a MiG-21SMT with the smaller (and lighter) saddle tank from the MiG-21bis.
The MiG-21SMT (NATO Code: Fishbed-K) was introduced in Update 1.95 "Northern Wind". Being the first Soviet fighter in the game with access to countermeasures, this aircraft opens many new doors to pilots of the Soviet tree. The SMT also brings with it many new weapons to the Soviet fighter line, such as the R-3R radar missile and the deadly R-60 close range missile. In addition to the under-the-hood upgrades, the SMT also features a very strong engine, allowing for fast acceleration and great top speed, and also features a massive increase in fuel capacity, resulting in a steep weight increase. All of these changes from previous fighters require pilots of the MiG-21SMT to completely re-learn how they fly and engage enemy aircraft, as the SMT will very quickly bleed its speed during almost any manoeuvre, but on the other hand can easily gain it back if it disengages safely and flies straight using the powerful engine. Most importantly, this aircraft acts as a decisive criterion in the play style of the Soviet jets that follow it. Players who enjoy this aircraft for its flight performance and ability to dogfight most of its adversaries up close should move on to research the foldered MiG-21bis, the ultimate Soviet MiG-21 model, while those that favour this aircraft's avionics and missile advantages over its opponents may wish to advance directly to the MiG-23M Flogger, a radically different design which relies much more on its strong missiles and avionics than its flight performance.
As an evolution of the previous MiG-21F-13, the MiG-21SMT inherits some flight characteristics of its older sibling.
Both of them can pull high angle-of-attack (AoA) which enables its pilot to easily get guns on target at the cost of extreme speed loss. Both of them are light aircraft which enables them to climb with ease. And both of them have high wing loading, which can hinder manoeuvrability, particularly at high altitudes where the atmosphere is thinner. However, that's where the similarities end, as the MiG-21SMT comes with upgrades, most notably removed armour which shaved 500 kg off its scale and an uprated engine, the R-13F-300, which outputs 5722 kgf, 700 more than R-11F-300 on MiG-21 F-13. In practice, this means that the MiG-21SMT is best in class when it comes to acceleration and climbing performance.
Manoeuvrability-wise, the SMT is extremely nimble at lower altitudes, where its high AoA can outweigh its high wing load, and high acceleration can mitigate speed loss, allowing it to pull hard turns, provided the pilot monitors the speed. At high altitudes, the story is different, as it proves to be very unresponsive, leaving the user vulnerable to attacks, particularly to missiles. One more characteristic any prospecting user should note is that the aircraft tends to break its wings beyond 11 G, and considering the MiG-21SMT will merrily pull over 12 G at high speed turns if the boosters modification is equipped, unequipping it may help if the pilot has trouble with wings ripping.
When it comes to raw straight-line speed, the MiG-21SMT can get to its top speed much faster than its contemporary fighters at any altitude. In fact, speed should always be monitored, as it can easily reach its relatively high wing speed limit of ~1,300 km/h indicated airspeed (IAS), even at level flight. High acceleration and high top speed mean that the MiG-21SMT is more than able to intercept almost any target, the only exception being F-4C which is already sitting at its top speed. One more notable feature is that due to its low weight and high thrust, energy management is a breeze and the aircraft will quickly both lose and gain speed, which may prove useful when trying to stay on the target's back.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 13,000 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear||Drogue chute|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 650||< 600||< 950||N/A|
|Engine name||Number||Wing loading (full fuel)|
|Tumansky R-13F-300||1||6,052 kg||379 kg/m2|
|Engine characteristics||Mass with fuel (no weapons load)|| Max Takeoff|
|Weight (each)||Type||12m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||43m fuel|
|1,140 kg||Afterburning axial-flow turbojet||6,852 kg||7,288 kg||7,907 kg||8,717 kg||9,900 kg|
|Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)|
|Condition||100%||WEP||12m fuel||20m fuel||30m fuel||43m fuel||MTOW|
|Stationary||3,917 kgf||7,120 kgf||1.04||0.98||0.90||0.82||0.72|
|Optimal|| 3,917 kgf
| 7,935 kgf
Survivability and armour
The MiG-21SMT is a light fighter and its survivability reflects that. It lacks armour and the airframe is fragile. On top of it all, MiG-21, in general, has a very unstable airframe, which means that any changes to its aerodynamic properties may make it difficult to control. Exercise caution when flying it.
Modifications and economy
|CCIP (Guns)||CCIP (Rockets)||CCIP (Bombs)||CCRP (Bombs)|
The MiG-21SMT is armed with:
- A choice between two presets:
- 1 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannon, belly-mounted (200 rpg)
- 1 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannon + 64 x countermeasures
The GSh-23L fires at a rate of 3,396 rounds per minute, which leaves the plane with a 3.53 second firing time.
The MiG-21SMT can be outfitted with the following ordnance presets:
- Without load
- 2 x R-3S missiles
- 2 x R-3R missiles
- 4 x R-3S missiles
- 4 x R-3R missiles
- 4 x R-60 missiles
- 64 x S-5K rockets
- 64 x S-5K rockets
- 4 x S-24 rockets
- 4 x 250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs (1,000 kg total)
- 2 x 500 kg FAB-500M-54 bombs (1,000 kg total)
- 2 x ZB-500 incendiary bombs
Custom loadout options
|250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs||1||1||1||1|
|500 kg FAB-500M-54 bombs||1||1|
|ZB-500 incendiary bombs||1||1|
|S-5K rockets||16||16, 32||16, 32||16|
|Maximum permissible weight imbalance: 570 kg|
The MiG-21SMT can be armed with both anti-air missiles and ground strike ordnance on its four hard-point pylons under the wing. While most of the weapons can be seen on other aircraft, the unique weapon that this aircraft can carry is R-60 IR air-to-air missile. Compared to R-3S which can be found on most Soviet aircraft capable of launching missiles, R-60 has a much more sophisticated IR tracking system, allowing it to track targets up to 5 km away, and keep them on its sights at a much faster pace, which results in a reliable lock that not many targets can shake off. R-60 can also be fired in a wider range of situations, as the missile can track targets while on the pylon. This is critical to how the missile works which means that the missile has a much higher launch load factor and is able to intercept targets immediately after being launched. This is much different than the R-3S which tracks targets only half a second after launch and needs the platform to stay still in order to track the target, leaving the aircraft vulnerable to attacks. R-60 is a much smaller missile than R-3S, weighing at 44 kg instead of 77 kg that an R-3S weighs. Missile's explosive payload is also significantly smaller, weighing at 3.5 kg. Rocket motors on R-60 are much smaller than on R-3S and this means that R-60 is much slower than R-3S, and even though it can lock on targets at 5 km, it has a lower range than R-3S. In practice, R-60 is a reliable and potent anti-aircraft weapon that excels at taking out even nimble targets in dogfights at ranges from 300 m to 2 km but is unable to reach targets beyond 3 km due to its less powerful rocket motors. R-3S, however, can only be used reliably at targets which are not paying attention or are unable to react quickly to a missile launch, but they can also be used to intercept targets at much further ranges than R-60.
When it comes to dumb-fire rockets, MiG-21SMT can carry S-5K 55 mm rockets and S-24 240 mm rockets. S-5K have a small warhead that is able to penetrate 150 mm of armour at 0°. However, due to their small warhead, they need a direct hit on the target in order to do any damage and even if they do connect, the damage is minimal to any armoured target. S-24, though, is a 235 kg behemoth, capable of taking out most targets with a single hit.
Usage in battles
Combining its ability to pull high angle-of-attack on demand, excellent acceleration, high top speed and powerful dogfighting weaponry, MiG-21SMT is a potent air superiority dogfighter/interceptor. It allows the pilot to intercept any target, quickly get on its back and stay there, while also giving the user a safety net in the shape of its acceleration that enables it to break from any engagement with ease. It is recommended to stay at low altitude and not use full elevator if not in a dogfight. For air-to-air combat, the 4 x R-60 setup is the most versatile, albeit the 2 x R-60 and 2 x R-3R setup will allow you to get the most out of head-on scenario. If going for the latter option, make sure to create a keybind to switch between the different missiles using the Weapons selector mechanic. Overall, the MiG-21SMT is a versatile plane adaptable to any playstyle.
Enemies worth noting
- F-8E - A common enemy, while it turns worse, it retains energy significantly better. It is capable of carrying AIM-9C SARH guided AAMs, which can be very dangerous at higher altitude if chaff is not carried.
- F-5C - One of if not your most common enemy. it retains energy better but struggles regaining speed when at low speed due to poor engine power.
- MiG-21MF - The MiG-21MF is very similar to the MiG-21SMT, it carries R-60 missiles which are very hard to evade by manoeuvring alone, however it can be fooled by flares very easily.
- Mirage IIIE - Carries the Matra Magic I AAM that are nearly impossible to dodge without flares. However, when in a dogfight, the Mirage IIIE is inferior in almost every aspect.
The MiG-21SMT is equipped with a Sapphire-21 search and tracking radar. The radar is mounted in the nose of the aircraft.
|Sapphire-21 - Target Detection Radar|
| 30,000 m
|Sapphire-21 - Target Tracking Radar|
|20,000 m||300 m||±30°||±17°|
Pros and cons
- High thrust-to-weight ratio
- High top speed
- Excellent acceleration from 1,000 - 1,200 km/h
- Excellent rate of climb, can maintain mach 1+ at 30 degrees
- One of the many MiG-21 variants capable of using a radar missile, being the R-3R
- Maintains speed and energy in turns better than the MiG-21F-13
- Its RP-22SM radar has high tracking range
- Much higher rate of fire than earlier cannon-armed Soviet jets
- Can perform a cobra with full real controls
- Increased fuel load compared to other MiG-21 variants
- Access to RWR and countermeasures
- GSh-23L cannon is mounted oddly and has poor ballistics
- Less agile than other MiG-21 variants
- Using afterburner on the deck can overspeed the aircraft even in a slight climb; do not linger above redline at all if possible
- Radar has shorter detection range than most competitors
The MiG-21 was a supersonic interceptor aircraft designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (Mikoyan OKB) located in the Soviet Union. The development of the aircraft began in early 1950's, when Mikoyan OKB finished their first design of the aircraft designated as Ye-1. However, the prototype was quickly determined to be too under-powered, and led to the a redesign of the aircraft, designated Ye-2. Both of these aircraft and the prototype to follow had swept back wings, such as those found on the MiG-15. The first prototype to have the signature delta wings of the MiG-21 was the Ye-4. The aircraft made it's maiden flight on June 16th, 1955, and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Display at Moscow's Tushino Airfield in July 1956. The MiG 21 became the Soviet Unions first successful fighter and interceptor aircraft, it was lightweight, and had a powerful afterburner, allowing it to reach speeds of up to Mach 2, and was comparable to the French Dassault Mirage III, and American Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter and Lockheed F-104 Starfighter at the time. However, the aircraft had a short range, which was worsened by the poor placement of its fuel tanks. Due to this, the development of the MiG-21 SMT began. The SMT variant of the MiG-21 contained more fuel tanks in the spine of the aircraft, which resulted in the aircraft being hard to fly as a result of the enlarged spine. The fuel tank however, did give the aircraft an increased range of up to 250 km (155 mi). The SMT variant also had an electronic countermeasures capability. The MiG-21 SMT is no longer in service.
|Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (Микоя́н и Гуре́вич Опытное конструкторское бюро)|
|Fighters||MiG-3-15 · MiG-3-15 (BK) · MiG-3-34|
|Jet fighters||MiG-9 · MiG-9 (l)|
|MiG-15 · MiG-15bis · MiG-15bis ISH|
|MiG-21F-13 · MiG-21PFM · MiG-21S (R-13-300) · MiG-21SMT · MiG-21bis|
|MiG-23M · MiG-23ML · MiG-23MLD|
|MiG-27M · MiG-27K|
|MiG-29 · MiG-29SMT|
|Export/Licensed||␗MiG-9 · ␗MiG-9 (l)|
|◊MiG-15bis · J-2*|
|MiG-17AS · J-4* · Shenyang F-5*|
|◊MiG-19S · J-6A*|
|◄MiG-21 SPS-K · ◊MiG-21MF · ◊MiG-21 "Lazur-M" · ▄MiG-21bis · ◊MiG-21bis-SAU · J-7II**|
|◊MiG-23BN · ◊MiG-23MF · ◊MiG-23MLA|
|◊MiG-29 · ◄MiG-29G|
|*Licensed and domesticated with Chinese designations.|
|**Unlicensed, reverse-engineered and domesticated with Chinese designations.|
|See Also||Shenyang · Chengdu|
|USSR jet aircraft|
|Yakovlev||Yak-15 · Yak-15P · Yak-17 · Yak-23 · Yak-28B · Yak-30D · Yak-38 · Yak-38M · Yak-141|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich||MiG-9 · MiG-9 (l) · MiG-15 · MiG-15bis · MiG-15bis ISH · MiG-17 · MiG-17AS · MiG-19PT|
|MiG-21F-13 · MiG-21PFM · MiG-21S (R-13-300) · MiG-21SMT · MiG-21bis|
|MiG-23M · MiG-23ML · MiG-23MLD · MiG-27M · MiG-27K|
|MiG-29 · MiG-29SMT|
|Lavochkin||La-174 · La-15 · La-200|
|Sukhoi||Su-9 · Su-11|
|Su-7B · Su-7BKL · Su-7BMK · Su-17M2 · Su-17M4 · Su-22M3|
|Su-25 · Su-25BM · Su-25K · Su-25T · Su-39|
|Ilyushin||IL-28 · IL-28Sh|