The Mikoyan MiG-19 (NATO codename Farmer) has been defined ‘the Super Sabre of the Iron Curtain’ and without a doubt it has been one of the longest lived fighter-bombers ever created by Mikoyan (as well as the first to be designed without the help of Guverich and the last to bear the Istrebitel service name, fighter of ‘destroyer’). It was produced by three different countries, almost uninterruptedly, from 1953 to 1971; the USSR, former Czechoslovakia and China. China name for MiG-19 is F-9.
The success of this aircraft is due to many factors, in particular a certain flexibility which finds little comparison with other Soviet combat aircraft, even subsequent ones.
In the West, even as late as the mid 1950’s, this aircraft was ignored or confused with the Mikoyan MiG 17SN and I-320 (R1) and the Lavochkin La-160, although its construction had already been ordered on July 30, 1951, when it was evident that this project was far superior to its competitors: the Yakovlev Yak-1000, Lavochkin La 190 and the Mikoyan-Gurevich I-350 (single-engined with a turbojet Lyulka AL-5). Therefore, for western observers, the MiG-19 unexpectedly appeared in the 1955 Tushino Air Show in which no fewer than 48 aircraft of this type took part.
The MiG-19 did not follow the logical line of development of the MiG-15 and MiG-17 because of the poor reliability of the Lyulka turbojet and it rather bears the marks of the MiG-9. Its design was inspired by a government request to create the ‘fastest fighter in the world’, a requirement, therefore, very similar to that which produced the U.S. North American F-100 and the Lockheed F-104.
Thanks to the availability of the compact Mikulin 19.62 kN AM-5 (2.000 kg/st, 4.409 lb/st) turbojet Mikoyan and Gurevich’s OKB (Opytno-Konstruktorskoye Byuro eng. Experimental Design Bureau) decided, private venture, to adapt the traditional circular cross section fuselage of the I-350 to the two engines, placed side by side in the tail. The set of cannons contained in the nose of the MiG-17 was substituted with a gun in the nose and two wing-mounted ones so that the firing exhausts would not affect the flux through the air intake.
The first I-360 prototype flew, for the first time, in 1952 and in September of the same year, (according to other sources in 1953), was followed by the I-350M piloted by Major Grigori Sedov.
The first version of a pre-series MIG-19F (Farmer-A) with two 21.34 KN turbojets (2.175 kg/s, 4,795 Ib/st) dry and 29.83 kN (3.040 kg/s. 6.702 Ib/st) with reheat (Mikulin AM-5F followed the year after. This, involved a day fighter configuration, armed with two 23 mm NR-23 and one 37 mm N-37 cannons. Then followed the MiG-19PF (Farmer-B, also known as the ‘limited all-weather Farmer’), featuring an extended nose to accomodate a Izumrud (Emerald) search and intercept radar developed in co-operation with the Czech industry.
During the first period of use the MiG-19F and 19PF revealed a few troublesome inconveniences with regards to controls. Therefore, on the assembly line the MiG-19S (Farmer-C) with all-moving slab type tailplanes evolved. During production the MiG-19S (briefly also known as the MiG-19SF) also underwent replacement of the original motors with the Klimov VK-9F/RD-9B and the armament was replaced with three Nudelmann-Richter 30 mm NR-30 cannons recognized by their big muzzle brake. A variation with limited all-weather performance was also produced with the installation of a RP-5 Izumrud (Scan Odd) radar and of a Sirena tail warning radar, called Farmer-D. A two-seater MiG-19UTI model was also constructed but in very small quantities. The final mass-produced version, was the MiG19PM (Farmer-E) in which all the cannons were removed and the arming was exclusively made up of four radar homing K-5M (AA-1 Alkali) missiles. The MiG-19PM remained in service in first line units until 1969 and in second line units until 1971-72. Farmer-C, instead, served in the tactical aviation until 1973 and was then progressively assigned to secondary units and training use.
Other noteworthy versions are the F6, built in China in the Shenyang plant; the reconnaissance MiG 19R with two cameras in place of the central cannon, the SM 10 with probe for inflight refuelling, the SM 12PM with tire control similar to that of the MiG-21, with armament made up of two K-5M, two Tumansky RZ-26 turbojets, the SM-12PMU, same as the above but with two RZM-26 motors and an auxiliary Dushkin RU -01S rocket, the SM-30 for take-off tests with catapults, the SM-50, modified in 1959 by the installation of two RD-9BM motors and an auxiliary U-19 rocket by which it could reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.8, the F-9, a version of the F 6 produced in China with R2L radar and modified forward fuselage: the MiG-19SV, specialized point interceptor version powered by two RD-9BF engines with modified afterburner and intended to run continuously on full reheat; endurance was of only 25 minutes and TBO was restricted at 75 hours.
Recently the Chinese and Pakistans have, in addition to the NR-30 cannons, mounted two K-13A (AA-2 Atoll) missiles on the day versions and the MiG-19 fought very well in the Indo-Pakistan conflict shooting down eight Suknoi Su-7, three Hunters and one MiG-21.