The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron has repainted its two-seat MiG-15UTI — more precisely, a Polish-built SB Lim-2 — from its former Soviet colours into a surprising US Air Force scheme.
Upon the start of the war in Ukraine, it became apparent to NAFHS founder Kenneth Aarkvisla that there was little appetite among airshow organisers, particularly in the UK, to see historic aircraft flying with Russian markings, so an alternative was called for.
He considered a return to the aircraft’s original Polish scheme, but felt that, with two examples flying in Poland in those markings, something different was called for.
The result is that the SB Lim-2, now registered LN-MIG after many years on the US register as N104CJ, has been finished as a former North Korean People’s Army Air Force MiG-15bis that was evaluated by the USAF from 1953-56.
The single-seater, serial 2057, fell into American hands during the Korean War when, on 21 September 1953, it was flown by Senior Lt No Kum-sok from Sunan, Pyongyang, to Kimpo AB, South Korea. Having gone undetected during the 17-minute flight, he touched down in the wrong direction, nearly hitting an F-86 Sabre on take-off. Taxiing in, he parked among the based Sabres and surrendered to security. The defection came after the US launched Operation ‘Moolah’, offering $100,000 to the first pilot to defect to South Korea with a MiG-15bis. No Kum-sok’s jet was not the first example to fall into Western hands, however, as a Polish Air Force pilot had defected in March 1953, landing on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
It was decided to retain the MiG for evaluation. Painted in USAF colours with ‘buzz number’ TC-616, it was transported to Kadena AB, Okinawa, in a C-124 Globemaster II and flown by various pilots, including Maj ‘Chuck’ Yeager. Subsequently shipped to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, further evaluation was conducted against numerous US combat aircraft both there and at Eglin AFB, Florida.
This came to an end in 1956 while the MiG was being flown from Wright-Patterson by an RAF pilot, Flt Lt Ernest Chandler. Following a heavy landing, it was retired from flying, but repairs were undertaken to static display standard and today the aeroplane can be seen in the National Museum of the US Air Force at the airfield where its flying career concluded.
The NAFHS aircraft received its new colours at its Rygge base, and soon afterwards was flown to the UK for a debut appearance at the Duxford Summer Air Show. Other events at which it will be seen this summer include the Air Legend Paris Villaroche display on 10‑11 September.