“WHAT FOOLS WOULD SELL US THEIR SECRETS?”

Stalin’s supposed remark about Britain’s decision to provide the USSR with jet engine technology has long been seen as a fair summary of the whole affair. The truth, though, is rather more complex

BRITISH JETS TO THE USSR

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S-1, the initial prototype of the MiG-15 fighter — known at that time as the I-310. It took to the air for the first time on 30 December 1947.
MiG/FOXBAT FILES IMAGE LIBRARY
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Members of the Soviet commission that visited British aeronautical facilities in December 1946, including Vladimir Klimov and Artem Mikoyan, stand with a Gloster Meteor.
VIA TONY BUTTLER

Slicing through the cold winter’s air over the Korean landscape, the arrow-winged jets came as the most unpleasant of surprises to the UN air forces. Outclassing anything available in theatre, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 could climb away even from Allied jets such as Lockheed P-80s and Gloster Meteors as if they were standing still. Only the urgent deployment of three squadrons of the US Air Force’s most advanced fighter, the North American F-86 Sabre, restored the balance in the air. Over the next two years, Sabres and MiG-15s would duel in ‘MiG Alley’ high over the Yalu River.

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