The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third-generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 “Foxbat”. It was the first attempt by the Soviet Union to design look-down/shoot-down radar and one of the first to be armed with beyond visual range missiles. Production started in 1970 and reached large numbers with over 5,000 aircraft built. Today the MiG-23 remains in limited service with various export customers.The basic design was also used as the basis for the Mikoyan MiG-27, a dedicated ground-attack variant. Among many minor changes, the MiG-27 replaced the MiG-23’s nose-mounted radar system with an optical panel holding a laser designator and a TV camera.The MiG-23’s predecessor, the MiG-21 (NATO reporting name “Fishbed”), was fast and agile, but limited in its operational capabilities by its primitive radar, short range, and limited weapons load (restricted in some aircraft to a pair of short-range R-3/K-13 (AA-2 “Atoll”) air-to-air missiles). The MiG-23 was to be a heavier, more powerful machine designed to remedy these deficiencies, and match Western aircraft like the F-4 Phantom. The new fighter was to feature a totally new S-23 sensor and weapon system capable of firing beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles.
A major design consideration was take-off and landing performance. Existing Soviet fast jets required very long runways which, combined with their limited range, restricted their tactical usefulness. The Soviet Airforce demanded that new aircraft have a much shorter take-off run. Low-level speed and handling was also to be improved over the MiG-21. This led Mikoyan to consider two options: lift jets, to provide an additional lift component, and variable-geometry wings.
The General Dynamics F-111 and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II were the main Western influences on the MiG-23. The Soviets, however, wanted a much lighter, single-engine fighter to maximize agility. Both the F-111 and the MiG-23 were designed as fighters, but the heavy weight and inherent stability of the F-111 turned it into a long-range interdictor and kept it out of the fighter role. The MiG-23’s designers kept the MiG-23 light and agile enough to dogfight with enemy fighters.The aircraft was not used in large numbers by the non-Soviet air forces of the Warsaw Pact as originally envisioned. When the MiG-23s were initially deployed, they were considered the elites of the Eastern Bloc air forces. However, very quickly the disadvantages became evident and the MiG-23 did not replace the MiG-21 as initially intended. The aircraft had some deficiencies that limited its operational serviceability and its hourly operating cost was thus higher than the MiG-21s. The Eastern Bloc air forces used their MiG-23s to replace MiG-17s and MiG-19s still in service.Early Western reports claimed that the aircraft had poor dog fighting capability, due to being designed to out accelerate the F-111. Later analysis showed the MiG-23 to be equivalent to the F-4, surpassed only by newer fourth-generation fighters, such as the F-15 and F-16. (The MiG-23 is considered a third-generation jet fighter.) The Soviet combat manual for MiG-23M pilots claims the MiG-23M to have a slight superiority over the F-4 and Kfir, and describes combat history involving Syrian MiG-23MFs versus Israeli F-15 and F-16s, which it labels “successful”. The MiG-23 was the Soviet Air Force’s “Top Gun”-equivalent aggressor aircraft from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. It proved a difficult opponent for early MiG-29 variants flown by inexperienced pilots. Exercises showed when well-flown, a MiG-23MLD could achieve good kill ratios against the MiG-29 in mock combat by using hit-and-run tactics and not engaging the MiG-29s in dogfights. Usually the aggressor MiG-23MLDs had a shark mouth painted on the nose just aft of the radome, and many were piloted by Soviet-Afghan War veterans. In the late 1980s, these aggressor MiG-23s were replaced by MiG-29s, also featuring shark mouths.
By 1990, over 1,500 MiG-23s of different models were in service with the VVS and the V-PVO. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Air Force began to cut back its fighter force, and it was decided the single-engine MiG-23s and MiG-27s were to be retired to operational storage. The last model to serve was the MiG-23P air defence variant and it was retired on 1 May 1998.When East and West Germany unified, no MiG-23s were transferred to the West German Air Force, but twelve former East German MiG-23s were supplied to the U.S. When Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Czechs received all the MiG-23s, which were retired in 1998. Hungary retired their MiG-23s in 1996, Poland in 1999, Romania in 2000, and Bulgaria in 2004.
The MiG 23M is available from Flying Tigers as a Pre-Order Model. At this time the Retail Price of the model has not been announced by Hobbymaster but I would expect a price around £95 or so, which would be similar to the Tomcat recently announced (see below). please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01604 499034 to register your interest and I will reserve a model for you…as I am sure this is likely to be a sell out !
Flying Tigers Offers of the Week.
I have added some Restocks and New items to offer of the week. Please check this out by clicking on the link here or on any of the images below and it will take you straight to the model page on the website.
Thank you for your support over the Black Friday Weekend and CyberMonday. It certainly was a very busy few days. thank you for your patience on the dispatch of your orders… they have all been dispatched and should already be with you.
I will be adding more brands and new products over the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled for New Arrivals and more Special offers.
Finally , please take a look at the image below of Hobbymaster 1/48th scale HA8603 Hurricane Nicolson. It has been sent to me by one of my regular customers who has added a replica V.C. as a finishing touch.
I think you will agree that it finishes the display very well indeed. I do not sell these replicas but will gladly pass on the details of where to buy these if you email me for details.
That is all for this week, thank you for taking time to read this week’s Newsletter.