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Yefim Gordon was born in 1950 in Vilnius, Lithuania (then part of the Soviet Union) and graduated from the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute in 1972. He has been researching Soviet and Russian aviation history for more than 40 years. A professional photographer, Yefim Gordon has published hundreds of features and photographs in Russian and foreign aviation magazines. He has authored and co-authored more than 120 books on Soviet and Russian aviation.
Dmitriy Komissarov was born in 1968 in Moscow and graduated from the Moscow State Linguistics University in 1992. He has worked as a translator ever since, with the most of his work associated with his interest in aviation. Dmitriy Komissarov has authored at least two books and translated or co-authored more than 50 others. He has also written numerous magazine features in two languages on Soviet and Russian aviation.
This tome is the latest of the MiG-31 series of books that Yefim Gordon has authored and published over the years. This includes the 1997 Aerofax book of 96 pages, “MiG-25 Foxbat, Mig-31 Foxhound”; 2005’s Midland Publishing’s 224 page Famous Russian Aircraft: MiG-31; 2011’s Pen & Sword’s 227 page FlightCraft Book 8 Mikoyan MiG-31 Interceptor. Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov have packed a whopping amount of information into this 320 glossy page monograph. I counted 140 black and white photographs, 619 color photos, 67 line drawings, 23 color illustrations, and 79 color profiles. Andrey Yurgenson provides all the line drawings which also include sections. The color profiles by Viktor Mil’yachenko; Sergey Igmat’yev are scattered throughout the book early on, but become much more apparent later on in the book (see Page 274 as an example). The front cover features a color photograph of a MiG-31BM (Type 28) releasing from refueling. The large color photograph on the rear cover features a MiG-31B (51 Blue) taxiing past two other Foxhounds. There are several tables throughout the book, but Appendix Two: MiG-31 Family Production List is truly significant at ten pages long.
Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov kick off this tome with the beginnings of air to air interceptors in the Introduction. The first “Heavy Interceptor” was the Lavochkin La-250, dubbed ‘Anaconda’ due to its looks. The Russian goal of an interceptor capable of traveling in excess of 500 miles and at altitudes above 65,000 feet. Heavy interceptors were also not designed to fight in close combat and were originally armed with missiles only. Although the La-250 had a troubled development history, before being cancelled; other designs soon emerged. These eventually gelled into the MiG-25 Foxbat. The MiG-25 first flew on March 06, 1964 and was introduced into service in 1970.
Design studies on the MiG-25 Foxbat successor began during the Foxbat’s test program in 1965, and these are described in Chapter One: From ‘Bats’ to ‘Dogs’: Shaping the Interceptor. Many of the design studies are depicted in drawings or in models. A good example is illustrated on Page 13 where alternative Yak-33 studies are depicted. The MiG-31 was originally considered to be an upgraded MiG-25, but the desire to have higher sea-level speeds, longer range, and improved radar, while retaining the MiG-25’s ceiling and high speed at altitude.
The MiG-31 achieved its first flight on September 16, 1975 and went into service in 1980. Chapter Two: The MiG-31 Takes Flight, addresses the MiG-31 prototypes and the initial production airframes. Page 69 highlights just some of the many changes that were introduced in this timeframe. The upper two black and white photographs show off an all-metal nosecone and a one-piece wrap-around windshield that did not make it into production. There was no shortage of accidents during this period and several first-person accounts are quite enlightening. I would note that one typo on page 82 lists all of the pilots involved in this phase of the program as being for the MiG-29. I am fairly positive these twenty-four test pilots were working on the MiG-31 flight testing and acceptance testing.
Chapter Three: The ‘Kennel’: Foxhound versions addresses the nearly 30 variants of the Foxhound. The information on a few of these variants is quite slim, but most of them are discussed in depth. A good example is on Page 143 that shows off a model of the MiG-31I (‘Ishim’) Suborbital Launch System. The hope for this project was to modify some of the MiG-31D airframes in Kazakhstan to enable the placement of multiple small satellites into orbit on short notice. Ultimately, this project did not go forward for a variety of reasons, but primarily due to a lack of a market. The following Chapter Four: The MiG-31 in detail features plenty of color detail shots and black and white drawings. These cover all the major airframe components, cockpits, landing gear, radar, and armament. A good example of the detail that can be found is displayed on Page 202.
The final chapter (Five: ‘Beware of the Dog’: The MiG-31 in Service) kicks off with what the Soviets considered a significant threat: The Lockheed Blackbirds. The Blackbird overflights provoked the Russian radar systems providing a nice map of them to the United States. Another factor was at the time, Russian fighters were not equal to the F-15C Eagle, F-14D Tomcat, or even the F/A-18 Hornet fighters. Initial conversions from the Yak-28P, Tu-128/Tu-128M, and the Su-15TM provided a substantial upgrade, however, the slow MiG-31 production rate delayed many units from converting well into the nineties. There are several first person accounts of intercepts, including a few Blackbirds. This chapter also includes most of the color side profile illustrations. Although ‘Nose Art’ was not permitted, many of the Foxhounds carried names of Soviet war heroes like “Boris Safonov, Twice HSU”. The contents listed below just reinforce how thorough this book is.
- Chapter One: From ‘Bats’ to ‘Dogs’: Shaping the Interceptor
- Ye-155PA (MiG-25PA) Heavy Interceptor (project) and its competitors [Page 013]
- Ye-158 Interceptor (project)
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (project)
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-19) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-21) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-22) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-33) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-44) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 518-55) project
- Ye-155MF Tactical Bomber (izdeliye 518-11) project
- Ye-155MF Tactical Bomber (izdeliye 518-45) project
- Ye-155MF Tactical Bomber (izdeliye 518-56) project
- Ye-155MF Tactical Reconnaissance (izdeliye 518-31) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 515) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 515-31) project
- Ye-155MP Interceptor (izdeliye 515-55) project
- Ye-155MF Tactical Bomber (izdeliye 515-56) project
- Ye-155MP (MiG-25MP) Interceptor (izdeliye 83)
- The People Who Participate in the development of the MiG-25MP (MiG-31)
- Chapter Two: The MiG-31 Takes Flight
- Ye-155MP (MiG-25MP) Interceptor Prototypes (izdeliye 83)
- MiG-31 Prototypes / LRIP Development Aircraft (izdeliye 01) [Page 69]
- The Target Parameters During the Experiment on 15th February 1978 [Table]
- The Pilots Who Participated in the Manufacturer’s Flight Tests and State Acceptance Trials of the MiG-31
- Chapter Three: The ‘Kennel’: Foxhound Versions
- MiG-31 Production-Standard Interceptor (izdeliye 01)
- MiG-31 Upgrade Demonstrator
- MiG-31 Interceptor with IFR Capability (izdeliye 01DZ)
- MiG-31B Interceptor (izdeliye 01B, izdeliye 12)
- MiG-31BS Interceptor (izdeliye 01BS, izdeliye 06)
- MiG-31E Export Interceptor (izdeliye 01E)
- MiG-31M Interceptor (Ye-155MPM, I-255, izdeliye 515-57, izdeliye 05)
- MiG-31M Interceptor (izdeliye 05B, izdeliye 05BM)
- MiG-31M Interceptor (izdeliye 515-59, izdeliye 09, Project)
- MiG-31D Experimental Anti-Satellite Interceptor (izdeliye 07)
- MiG-31F Multi-Role Tactical Fighter (Project)
- MiG-31FE Multi-Role Tactical Fighter (Project)
- MiG-31BM Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (First Use of Designation, izdeliye 01BM)
- MiG-31S Suborbital Launch System (Project)
- MiG-31 ‘Ishim’ Suborbital Launch System (Project) [Page 143]
- MiG-31 Suborbital Launch System with ARS Rocket Glider (‘Aerospace Rally’, Project)
- MiG-31 ‘Mikron’ Suborbital Launch System (Project)
- ‘MiGBus’ Passenger Transport System (Project)
- MiG-31 ‘Mother Ship’ for Hypersonic Research UAV (Project)
- MiG-31BM Interceptor (Second Use of Designation, izdeliye 01BM; Type 28, Type 58, Type 78)
- MiG-31BSM Interceptor Prototypes
- MiG-31 Interceptor (Type 85)
- MiG-31 Interceptor (Type 89)
- MiG-31 with FBW Controls (Project)
- MiG-31LL-SAPS Ejection Seat Testbed
- MiG-31 Buran Spacecraft Approach Technique Testbed
- MiG-31K Missile Strike Aircraft
- MiG-31 Experimental Anti-Satellite Interceptor (Type 08)
- The Pilots Who Participated in the Manufacturer’s Flight Tests and State Acceptance Trials of the MiG-31
- Chapter Four: The MiG-31 in Detail
- Tail Unit
- Landing Gear
- Control System
- Fuel System
- Pneumatic System
- Environment Control System
- Oxygen System and Crew Gear
- De-Icing System
- Inert Gas Press Pressurization System
- Fire Suppression
- Avionics and Equipment
- The Main Specifications of the N007 Radar [Table]
- The Main Specification of the izdeliye 8TK ISRT
- Crew Rescue System
- The MiG-31 sans suffix from Batch 82 Onwards (izdeliye 01DZ) Differs from the Basic Version in the Following Respects:
- The MiG-31BM Has the Following Additional Differences from the Basic Version: [Page 202]
- Main Specifications of the MiG-31 (izdeliye 01/01DZ, MiG-31B and MiG-31BS [Table]
- Chapter Five: ‘Beware of the Dog’: The MiG-31 in Service
- Soviet PVO Aviation Units Operating the MiG-31 (Up to, and Including 1991) [Table]
- Post-Soviet Operations
- Foxhounds Abroad
- Constant Reforms
- Naval Foxhounds
- What’s in a Name? [Page 274]
- Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul
- Appendix One: MiG-31 Family Specifications
- Appendix Two: MiG-31 Family Production List
- Appendix Three: Accident Attrition
- Line Drawings
I found a first person account of a major flight incident quite interesting. On April 11, 2008, a MiG-31BS had its forward canopy rip away on a post-repair check flight. “We lit the afterburners and accelerated to Mach 2.35 at 52, 490’. After this we initiated a turn back to base. Since we had 6.5 tons of fuel remaining, we decided to burn off another ton before deaccelerating to subsonic speed…to cool the canopy…Just then, there was an explosion followed by a dreadful noise. For a few seconds, I had no idea what had happened, but I remember that the audio warning system was saying that the aircraft was maneuvering at its limit. The powerful airstream squeezed me into my seat with such force that I could barely breath.” If you want to know what happened next, you will need to buy this book!
I have to say that I have been fascinated by the MiG-25 and MiG-31 ever since Jay Miller loaned me an early release copy of Yefim Gordon’s MiG-25 Foxbat, Mig-31 Foxhound 1997 release through AeroFax. This release adds 96 pages from the prior Famous Russian Aircraft monograph on the MiG-31 and I am extremely impressed with the coverage and quality of this monograph. Mind you, this isn’t a quick read, due to 320 pages of small print, but it did keep my attention. The 849 photographs and drawings are well captioned as are the 79 colorful side profiles. Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov have found a path to weave in a tremendous amount of data and still manage to provide a compelling and readable storyline. This is an essential book in your library for both the historian and the scale modeler.
My thanks to Crecy and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.