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The MiG-15 had been a great shock to the United Nations forces in Korea, during the early part of the Korean War. The first generation jet fighters on the Allied side, such as the Lockheed P-80, Gloster Meteor F.8, and Republic F-84G Thunderjet, were found to be sadly lacking in air-to-air combat against the swept-wing MiG-15 with its reverse-engineered copy of the British Rolls-Royce Nene engine. It was natural, therefore, that the MiG design bureau would wish to build on this success when looking to produce their next generation fighter.

Retaining the Klimov VK-1 engine of its predecessor, the prototype MiG-17 had a ‘compound sweep’ wing, with 45º from fuselage to mid-span, and 42º outboard of this; it first flew on 14th January 1950. The armament was also identical to the MiG-15 , with a single 37mm Nudelman cannon, paired with two 23mm Nudelman-Richter cannon. These were intended to blast unescorted NATO bombers from the sky, and were less than optimal in a dogfight against quicker, more manouverable fighters.

After WW2 the borders of Poland had been shifted westward and she had lost territory to the USSR, whilst falling into their sphere of influence (Winston Churchill was right about the ‘Iron Curtain’, and Poland lent their name to the Warsaw Pact). Some things remained the same, however, and the famous firm of PZL-WSK at Mielec still continued to make aircraft, only now they were Russian designs built under licence. Following on from the Lim-1 and Lim-2 family of aircraft, which were versions of the MiG-15, the Polish company obtained a license for the MiG-17. The Polish Air Force took delivery of their equivalent of the MiG-17F (NATO reporting name, ‘Fresco C’) as the Lim-5 in 1956, but decided that as well as interceptor and reconaissance sub-types they needed a strike fighter version. The first attempt at this - the Lim-5M - with modified thicker wings to carry up to four rocket pods or bombs, had less than desirable flying characteristics, so despite being put into service, an early re-work of the design was ordered. What came next was the Lim-6bis, an example of which you can see here (serial number 1F0325, ex Polish Air Force – Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej), at the Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island.

Powered by a Lis-5 (a Polish-built version of the Klimov VK-1F producing around 7,450 lbs static thrust), it could carry two 105 US gallon drop tanks under the wings, as well as its primary armament, two UB-16-57 (MARS 2) pods. Each of these pods contained a potent load of 16 x 57mm S-5 unguided rockets, although free-fall bombs, or napalm tanks could be carried as an alternative. The gun armament remained the same. One easy distinguishing feature of the Lim-6bis was the ‘bullet’ fairing above the jet pipe, which was for the SH-19 brake parachute, used on the rough, short-field strips near the front.

The Lim-6bis was also used in large numbers by the East German Air Force (Luftstreitkräfte der NVA) and the Egyptian Air Force (Al-Qûwât al-Gawwiyä al-Misriyä) as well as other foreign users.

Strangely, there is a link between the A-20H Havoc of the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum at Genoseo, NY and this Lim-6bis. They were both imported into the USA by David C. Tallichet, Jnr., the well-known warbird enthusiast, and this Lim-6bis (one of a batch of 25 Lim-5 and Lim-6 which Tallichet bought) was subsequently donated to QAM, becoming their very first complete display aircraft!

There is just one thing I might mention, in that the camouflage colours with which the aircraft has been refinished are somewhat different to the sample aircraft (‘buzz’ number, ’105′) which is exhibited at the Krakow Museum in Poland. It still represents a very worthy preservation effort, however.

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