Design and development
The MiG-17 design was generally based on a previously successful Mikoyan and Gurevich fighter, the MiG-15. The major novelty was its introduction of a swept wing with a “compound sweep” configuration: a 45° angle near the fuselage, and a 42° angle for the outboard part of the wings. Other easily visible differences to its predecessor were the three wing-fences on each wing, instead of the MiG-15’s two, and the addition of a ventral fin. The MiG-17 shared the same Klimov VK-1 engine and the rest of its construction was similar. The first prototype, designated “SI” by the construction bureau, was flown on the 14 January 1950, piloted by Ivan Ivashchenko.
The second prototype variant, “SP-2”, was an interceptor equipped with a radar. Despite the SI prototype’s crash on 17 March 1950, tests of another prototype “SI-2” and experimental series aircraft “SI-02” and “SI-01” in 1951, were generally successful, and on 1 September 1951 the aircraft was accepted for production. It was estimated that with the same engine as the MiG-15’s, the MiG-17’s maximum speed is higher by 40-50 km/h, and the fighter has greater manoeuvrability at high altitude.
Serial production started in August 1951. During production, the aircraft was improved and modified several times. The basic MiG-17 was a general-purpose day fighter, armed with three cannons and considered to be most effective in action against enemy aircraft. It could also act as a fighter-bomber, but its bombload was considered light relative to other aircraft of the time, and it usually carried additional fuel tanks instead of bombs.
Soon a number of MiG-17P all-weather fighters were produced with the Izumrud radar and front air intake modifications. In the spring of 1953 the MiG-17F day fighter entered production. Fitted with the VK-1F engine with an afterburner, which improved its performance, it became the most popular variant of the MiG-17. The next mass-produced variant with afterburner and radar was the MiG-17PF. In 1956 a small series (47 aircraft) was converted to the MiG-17PM standard (also known as PFU) with four first-generation Kaliningrad K-5 (NATO reporting name AA-1 ‘Alkali’) air-to-air missiles. A small series of MiG-17R reconnaissance aircraft were built with VK-1F engine (after first being tested with the VK-5F engine).
Several thousand MiG-17s were built in the USSR by 1958.
Day-fighter variants (MiG-17, MiG-17F) were armed with two NR-23 23 mm cannons (80 rounds each) and one N-37 37 mm cannon (40 rounds), which were mounted on a common bed under the central air intake. The gun bed could be easily wound down for maintenance. On radar-equipped variants (MiG-17P, MiG-17PF), the N-37 37 mm cannon was replaced with were a third NR-23 23 mm cannon (all carrying 100 rounds) to compensate for the weight aft of the radar. All variants could carry 100 kg bombs on two underwing pylons and some could carry 250 kg bombs; however, these pylons were usually used for 400 l fuel tanks. The MiG-17R was armed with two 23 mm cannons.
The only variant with air-to-air missiles was the MiG-17PM (or MiG-17PFU), which could carry four K-5 (NATO: AA-1 ‘Alkali’). It had no cannons. Some countries occasionally modified their MiG-17s to carry unguided rockets or bombs on additional pylons.
The MiG-17P was equipped with the Izumrud-1 (RP-1) radar, while the MiG-17PF was initially fitted with the RP-1 which was later replaced with the Izumrud-5 (RP-5) radar. The MiG-17PM was also equipped with a radar, used to aim its missiles. Other variants had no radar.