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The lenght of early and late MiG-3s
a research of Alexey Matvienko
translation by Alexander Ruchkovsky
Updated on July 20, 2003
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The MiG-3 information had been scarce, represented  only by scale drawings in the Modelist Konstruktor magazine and data from V. Shavrov’s legendary “History of Soviet aircraft construction”, before a  sensational “Soviet Fighters of Great Patriotic War: MiG-3, LaGG-3, La-5” album was published in 1986 by DOSAAF publishers, which was a real gift for Soviet aviation fans.
This album by V. Voronin and P. Kolesnikov had superb drawings as well as color profiles by M. Petrovsky and historic photos.
It should be noted that the quality level of the drawings was absolutely unique.
The book has been answering all questions on design of the production MiG-3 airframes, however, in light of newer publications on this plane, a few arguable points in the drawings have appeared that seemed immaculate before.
Specific attention was drawn to the early and late MiG fuselage length issue.

All published sources unanimously quote to 8250 mm the length of the MiG-3 plane, which overtly conflicts with V. Voronin’s drawings where the late MiG is shown noticeably longer than the early one.
The album suggests the drawings are in the 1/50 scale and the scale strip basically coincides with the announced scale.
I verified the real scale of the drawing and saw the wingspan was adequate (10200 mm in scale), the length of the early MiG is shown as 8250mm and the length of the late one of 8350mm.
Even more curious is the fact that you actually find a “LENGTHENED MIG-3 (1941)” item in the MiG development picture in the album’s text, apparently targeting the late production MiG.
Studies of published stuff and discussions with fellow modellers did not add any considerable clarity, however, an interesting assumption emerged: what if early MiG-3s were as short as MiG-1s, i.e. 8150mm rather than 8250mm?
Late ones, according to this assumption, were lengthened to the “sacral” 8250mm. This interesting assumption seemed too dubious to me. MiG was not a piece of cake to fly, an unforgiving plane with over 200kg added in form of an extra tank in rear fuselage… should you fail to compensate this weight in the nose, would the plane stay balanced at all?
For other things, Soviet air industry has seen lots of unbelievable things happen, so why not again with the MiG? At any rate, this assumption would render Voronin’s drawings “good for nothing” or would at least necessitate their major corrections because of no span/length correlation.
Another opinion insisted on the common length for both early and late production MiG-3 – but which one of the Voronin's profiles should we believe to be correct?
In assessment of these opinions, it was important to find out if those drawings could be used to build a model. No problem if the drawing is just out of scale unless it presents distorted proportions. I actually suspected the latter and decided to forget, for the time being, about any announced and published lengths because of no firm knowledge which of those is the correct one.
Rather, my task was to use photos to compare proportions of  real planes and Voronin’s drawings.
Having no suitable top or bottom views, I restricted myself to analyzing profile photographs. I selected two sets of photos of early and late MiG-3s, three suitable pictures in each. Preference was given to pictures taken from a distance as their line distortions are smaller. Zoom percentage for each shot to match the drawing’s length was calculated.
This done, I measured fuselage distances on the photos, applied the zoom rate and marked the corresponding distance on the drawings to see how close the match is. To illustrate the results, I have superimposed the drawings on the photos.

Comparison of the photo of  early MiG to Voronin’s short MiG drawing revealed serious distortions of proportions:
 
you see either a too short nose/too long tail...
... or you see the canopy/wing/radiator sit too much ahead on the drawing.

Here and further on, color lines on my pictures mark noticeable fuselage panel lines. The sliding canopy on the photo is a bit moved back, this has been considered.
 
What about a “long” MiG?
Well, its side drawing is amazingly proportional to the photos of late MiGs, all fuselage distances coincided very well!
Moreover, results were the same when the “long” drawing was imposed on early (“short”) MiG photos. 
In other words, the late MiG drawing performed very well both with early and late MiG-3 photos, which allows to assume SAME LENGTH for both early and late MiG-3s.

The question what this length was remained open, however.
 
To check it from the other end, I compared the short MiG drawing with the I-200 profile photo.
It showed that the short MiG drawing is very proportional to the photo of the I-200/MiG-1 that was 8150mm long, as we know. 
This allows us to conclude that  the scale of Voronin’s profile drawings is 1/49.4 rather than 1/50.
Assuming the early and late MiGs should have had a common length of 8250mm, the profile drawing of the early MiG-3 in the album is too short.
 
To illustrate this, I put the early MiG drawing onto the photo. 
It is easy to see where the drawing and the photo do not match.
In reality, an early MiG-3 differed from a late one only by location of the separation line between the engine cowling and the cowling of the compartment behind the engine. 

On the basis of this, an act of plastic surgery was applied to the drawings.
 
This shows the original condition of the drawing
this shows the result. Here we go!
To check myself, I imposed the corrected drawing onto the photo. Quite a match!

Suggested conclusions:

1) Early and late production MiG-3s had the same length, 8250 mm, and differed by the location of separation line between the engine cowling and the cowling behind the engine, as well as by some other minor elements.
2) To correct Voronin’s profile drawings, we have to consider its scale to be 1/49.4 rather than 1/50, to lengthen the profile drawing of the early version, and to zoom the wingspan into the new scale. This done, we can hope to make a model that would be proportionally close to the original.

I am in hope that the new MiG-3 book announced to be published soon will shed more light on the history of this outstanding aircraft.
 
 
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