October 4, 2022

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.

This topside view of the MiG reveals the delta-shaped wings . The aircraft carries a centerline fuel droptank and two rocket pods under the wings. Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge U-2974’s history is not known. The aircraft is in good condition overall, as can be seen in this side profile of the aircraft.

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.

Click to Enlarge Closeup of the Cockpit section of U-2974 shows the detailed paint and stencil work on the aircraft. The aircraft has both its ejection seats in the cockpit.
The aircraft as seen from the rear. The display areas are chained off to prevent the public from getting too close to the aircraft. Click to Enlarge

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.

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