A fantastically preserved aircraft - till it was painted over!
HAL had been manufacturing MiG-21 variants for over two decades. Starting with the Type-77, the FL right upto the Type-75, the final bis version, over 600 examples of this Mach-2 aircraft were produced. HAL also established overhaul facilities for the MiG-series aircraft which were all undertaken at thier Ozhar plant near Nasik. To represent its role in the the MiG aircraft’s productions, A MiG-21U [NATO Code: Mongol] two seater conversion trainer is on display at the Museum.
|MiG-21U [U-2974] is in an impeccable condition at the HAL Museum. The Nose inlet is covered with a special cover fastened to the aircraft.|
The MiG-21 serialled U-2974 is in immaculate condition. The aircraft is in grey paint, with its original stencil work reproduced in great detail. The aircraft has its ejection seats in place and is externally complete. The intakes are covered with red metal covers, and the aircraft carries a centerline droptank and two rocketpods.
A matter of intrigue are the front undercarriage bay covers. All IAF aircraft have the serial number painted in different places across the aircraft, inside the aircraft and on parts that might have to be detached in the process of maintenance. The front undercarriage covers carry the number ‘C-2776’ painted on the inside. It is known that C-2776 was a Bis that flew with No.26 Squadron ‘The Warriors’, photos of which are available on the net. But how the covers ended up on U-2794 is a mystery that requires further investigation.
Though U-2974 is an excellent example of an aircraft, One cant help wondering that a single seat MiG-21FL or a MiG-21Bis would have been more representative of HAL’s contribution to the IAF’s MiG saga. The MiG-21 is not the last MiG to be produced by HAL. The MiG-27M suceeded the MiG-21Bis in the production line at Ozhar. HAL Ozhar has a MiG on display at its local facilities. Perhaps in the future, we might see a single seat MiG-21 on display here.