First flights in the DCS: MiG-21bis!

Leatherneck Simulation’s DCS: MiG-21bis is not a new aircraft to DCS World but it is a new aircraft to my hangar and this summer sale I decided to buy this 1960s era interceptor and see what all of the fuss is about. So, what is the MiG-21bis like and what really is all of the fuss about?

A missile with some more missiles attached to it

One of the most produced jet interceptors of all time. Presenting the MiG-21!

The MiG-21 is a very interesting aircraft with over 10,000 aircraft produced in the USSR during the types’ production run plus a couple hundred extra constructed in places like Czechoslovakia and India. The numbers get even larger when counting the Chinese built J-7 that the MiG-21 was based on.

The MiG-21 has been likened to the AK-47 of jet fighters being cheap yet capable and allowing air forces in countries that had limited available funding to maintain a Mach 2 capable interceptor for air defense duties. North Vietnam used the MiG-21 in large numbers during the Vietnam war and several air forces still operate the MiG-21 in the modern day.

The design of the MiG-21 optimizes interceptor performance at the cost of nearly everything else. Instantaneous turn rate is very good but the tiny delta wings have very high wing loading meaning that energy bleeds very quickly in tight turns. Despite that, the MiG-21 can climb at an incredible rate nearly matching early model F-16s despite having only 15,650 lbf available from its R-25 turbojet engine. It can do Mach 2 under ideal circumstances but more realistically can do Mach 1.6 or 1.7.

It’s a good looking cockpit despite the complexity of the instrumentation. It’s easier than it looks actually.

The landing profile is interesting too as landing speeds hover around 350km/h until the very last seconds and the angle has to be very low (around 5-10 degrees). Anything more and the jet drops like a rock or tail strikes the runway.

My first landing went extremely well with just the suggested angle and speed but I had trouble trying to deploy the parachute and I rolled off the end of 19R at McCarran International Airport. Next time will be better but it could have been worse too!

Extremely cheerful and always trying to kill you

The MiG-21bis is an absolute blast to fly. It’s extremely quick to roll and responds nearly instantly to pilot command. Though that jet engine may not be the most powerful the jet’s design sure makes up for it and the MiG-21bis climbs impressively quickly and accelerates just as fast.

There’s no fly-by-wire digital control to rescue a bad situation either and the jet has all kinds of things that prohibit certain kinds of maneuvers. Under or overspeed the engine and you could be looking at trying to fly an un-powered brick madly trying to restart the engine before time runs out.

Pull too tightly and you’ll definitely run into some problems with your engine or with controlled flight or both.

The cockpit looks complex when you first approach it but despite my early misgivings found it has its own style and once you get through the initial thought process it starts to make sense. Or at least some of the time.

All of these quirks from its flight model to its design seem to be well modeled by Leatherneck Simulations. The same quirks give the MiG-21 a ton of character and life. This is well supported by the art design on the MiG-21 which, though slightly dated for DCS World 2.5 standards, still holds up extremely well. Leatherneck is doing some major upgrades on the MiG-21bis sometime in the future and I’m looking forward to those as they will go a long way towards cementing the reputation of an already beloved module for DCS World.

All of those details above ultimately boil down to just one thing: the MiG-21bis is just fun to fly! I’m looking forward to putting some more stick time into this module.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Boris_CRO says:

    ? June 23. 2019 ? First flight in MiG-21? The most legendary plane of all time is put on the side for years ?


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Let me know when you find a way to double the amount of time in my day ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mischiew Rithe says:

    I liked this little jet at once, when I finally decided to get it (you’re not alone buying it very late 😉 ).

    If you like realistic system handling, you should have a look at the “Mig 21Bis Pilot`s Flight Operating Instructions” manual on Avialogs. I saw that the startup and takeoff procedures were completely different to the ones described in the DCS manual, I guess the latter may have been used for scrambling and intercepting incoming foes – or used by lazy pilots, who knows.

    It’s a very interesting mix, the cockpit is obviously not yet the ergonomic type and it’s a little bit like a magic world you have to walk into and find your path 😀 I just love the analogue feeling of it.

    It’s been a while since I tested them, the training missions are outdated and some don’t work very well, especially the first (which is a bit of a farce). I gave an update to M3 a while ago but I think they just discarded them. The first mission is very sensitive on the triggers so you have to respect the instructions to the letter (though honestly, just skip it and learn the procedures from the Avialogs manual, you’re better off), and for the other missions I think you mainly have to update the radio frequencies if you want to use ATC, but it’s optional.

    I hope they’ll update them, though, and that someone makes a nice DLC campaign for this beautiful machine, it deserves as much!

    Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. TexasWarbird says:

    I thought it was kinda funny while I was reading the part about you having trouble with the chute lol

    I bet you left the gear lever in the up position, rather than bringing it back down to neutral and bleed the air from the system! Just goes to show you this module is pretty on point with the small details! I’m glad you’re enjoying this bird – as I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it too. It’s pretty fun taking her through some A2G sorties as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s probably what happened. I need to work on my key bindings before things really come together.

      Goal with this module is to launch into a GAW scenario, come away with a couple of kills and RTB. Life goals!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael Dwyer says:

    Must No Buy Another Aircraft.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It’s difficult!


    2. Mischiew Rithe says:

      But they keep finding our weak spots…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Oh that they do!


  5. Blue 5 says:

    I tried to learn it for DACT training in our squad, but gave up and went back to the F-5 as I could not cope with yet another set of systems to memorise.


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