If you look at the MiG-21 in the photograph, I wouldn’t blame you if you kept scratching your head about the variant that you are seeing.
The MiG has the spine and the vertical fin of a Type 77, but at the point where it intersects the spine, it looks like that of Type 76!. Instead of the single piece forward hinging Canopy, this has the traditional windscreen and side opening canopy of the latter variants – what exactly is this aircraft?
It is actually a Type 77 aka MiG-21 FL. that was put up on display at the Allahabad College of Engineering and Management (ACEM). Though the name says Allahabad College of Engineering, this college is actually 45 miles northwest of Allahabad roughly halfway between Allahabad (now Prayagraj) and Kanpur cities.
First bought to our notice by Mr. Vijay Singh in November 2017, the mystery can be solved a bit. The airframe was first set up around 3rd November and by the looks of the condition above, the main fuselage was in quite a bad shape, possibly used as some sort of a spares source. The canopy was missing, and most of the spine was missing as well. But in the photographs, one can see ‘spares’ bought along .. like the windshield and side hinging canopy. It is likely that the airframe was earmarked for scrapping but somehow ended up in the college.
Whoever worked on it did a pretty good job with patching, filling and sanding. The aircraft looks much better in the above photos – with the missing parts ‘filled in’ and sanded and primed. When it was finished the aircraft even featured dummy AAMs on the underwing pylons!
The final product in 2018 (left) and 2022 (right) looks quite good and is a tribute to the folks who worked on putting this aircraft together. One suspects that this aircraft was bought as scrap and then restored privately. It is a bit mind-boggling if the IAF would have gone to such extents when they had many ready-made retired airframes they could have donated and saved themselves work.
The aircraft does retain the original tail number – C1002, an airframe of 71 war vintage. Buit right before the war, it was noted in 2003 in service with the OCU in Tezpur.