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Operation Barbarossa: 
MiG-3s wrecked and captured by Germans
last modified on February 28, 2005                                         file name:  mig3captured.html
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At the date of the German attack, 17 Soviet Air Force regiments (IAPs) based near the Soviet borders had already received a total of 917 MiGs, plus 64 received by Baltic and Black Sea Naval Aviation; in spite of this, only pilots of few units (20th Mixed Air Division, 41st, 124th, 126th IAP of the Western Special Military District and the 23rd Kiev Air Regiment, 55 IAP on the Southern front) were able to fly well this aircraft.

The attack came in a strongly unfavourable moment for Soviet Air Force, because:

Probably, Stalin was conscious of the weakening of his armed forces, and made anything to gain time delaying the war; he ignored many informations preannouncing the German attack some months before. He thought they were false informations, maybe created by British or by German officers that wanted him to react with some provocations to force Hitler to really start a war against him.
For example, Major General  S. Chernykh, commander of the powerful 9th Mixed Air Division of the Western Special Military District, noticed the tension on the border and repeatedly asked instructions to the High Command, that answered "Just don't give in to any provocation".
So the aircrafts remained aligned on their airfields and uncamouflaged; many front-line airports were at less than 10 km from the border, even within the range of ground artillery.
Some destroyed MiG-3s in an airport captured by Germans. The devastation caused by fire is evident.
The aircrafts based near the border were forthemost destroyed during the first attack of the Luftwaffe on the early morning of June 22, 1941, the first day of war.
The 9th Mixed Aircraft Division had a total of 409 aircrafts, of which at least 233 were new MiGs; it lost 347 of its aircrafts on the first day of war, fortemost destroyed on the ground. 
The following days the Division commander General Chernykh was arrested as a "people's enemy" and shot, in spite of his value during the Spanish Civil War and of his award as Hero of the Soviet Union.
The pilot D. Kokonev was one of the few to take off with an I-16, and rammed a German bomber at half past four in the morning; this was the first "taran" attack of the Great Patrioctic War.
On the morning of 22 June, Soviet Army air Force Commander General  P. Zhigarev sent 99 new MiG-3s on the front, but the decision was wrong: Soviets had to evacuate rapidly many airfields, and often there was not the possibility to fly away all aircrafts, so many of them had to be abandoned or destroyed.
On June 24, there was not a single new fighter in the west, but on 25 June more than 200 new aircrafts arrived, and new regiments arrived at the front daily.
The photo above shows an aircraft captured by Germans in summer 1941, probably at Minsk.
The underwing pod looks to be without gun, because no barrel protrudes from it.
Note the opened panels of gun pods ammo and of wingroot fuel tanks, and the flap of the oil cooler outlet in fully opened position on the side of the nose.

Copyright Jan Koennig.
Please see his photo gallery of Soviet aircrafts at

A photo of a captured MiG-3.
Some bullet holes on the fuselage show stripped fabric, and yellow putty appears visible. 
The fuel tank appear as exploded, but no traces of fire are visible.

Photo colorized by Massimo Tessitori on an original bw base of Jan Koennig

This aircraft looks damaged, in particular its propeller blades are broken (not bended), probably by Soviets before leaving the aircraft. The aircraft looks to have been repainted on its upper surfaces, probably by Germans after the capture, to camouflage it against Russian air attacks.

Two excellent photos of an example captured by Germans. 
The aircraft appears tho have suffered some damage for a bomb blast.
Note the swastika overposed to the red star on the fuselage.
The radio installation was relatively rare on early MiG-3s, and became more common on later examples.
Note the red star over the wing uppersurface, that was standard on pre-war MiGs. 
This use was abandoned when the war started, to reduce the visibility from above, and was replaced by painting red stars on the tail.

The Germans captured 22 MiGs in near-flyable condition and tried to sell them to Finland.
Finns were aware of the problems of MiG-3s, so they refused to pay them, hoping to obtain them for free, but this didn't happened.

Copyright Jan Koennig.
Please see his photo gallery of Soviet aircrafts at

A photo of a damaged MiG-3 of the 31 IAP on Kaunas airfield, occupied by Germans.
This aircraft is the same represented in the colorized photo above, with German officers.

The MiG-3s were already operational in many hundred examples in July 1941, so were destroyed on the ground or captured in a greater quantity than other new-generation Soviet fighters, such as the LaGG-3 and Yak-1. 

from Salamander- modern fighting aircrafts-MiG

Further MiG-3 captured at Siauliai air base. 
The photos show many I-16, SB-2, SB-2bis and a German He-111.
Note the non-homogeneous color of the green MiG; this look was recurrent on many early MiGs.
It is not clear if it was due to color alteration (as the difference between wooden and metallic parts could suggest), repainting, or if it is a sort of camouflage.
Compare the shade of MiG with the darker color of I-16s.

On most units there were both old Polikarpov fighters and MiGs, not mastered by most pilots, that often chose to fly biplanes instead of new fighters.

On the Northern front, German troops occupied the Kaunas airport, in Lithuania, on June 25; there they found 86 soviet Airplanes of 8 SAD, forthemost leaved undamaged, including many MiG-1s and MiG-3s  of 31th IAP (the unit had 37 MiGs in service).

from Barbarossa victims

This image shows German soldiers on a wrecked MiG-3. 
This example features an unusually horizontal demarcation line between light blue and green on the fuselage; usually this line is oblique, from the wingroot to the tail surface leading edge.
It's evident that rear fuselage (wooden) and metallic parts of fuselage, wing and tail were painted before being assembled.

Copyright Jan Koennig.
Please see his photo gallery of Soviet aircrafts at

This dramatic photo shows probably examples of 31 IAP, captured by Germans probably at Kaunas air base at the beginning of the war. 

From Barbarossa Victims

Here is a damaged example captured by Germans. It looks to have a 2-green field-made camouflage, while one wing is from a different aircraft, with a mysterious light color (perhaps yellow putty after the stripping down of the fabric layer covering the wooden wing).
The damage appears to have been produced by the nearby blast of a bomb; perhaps some souvenir hunter collaborated to this.

from Barbarossa victims

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