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The MiG-15 was extremely simple although advanced in concept. It had a better rate of climb, ceiling and high-altitude radius of turn than any Allied jet aircraft at the time. It came as a shock to the American pilots who first encountered it in combat over Korea.
Conceived in 1947, the design lacked a suitable engine until the British Government made a gift of an example of their latest turbojet, the Rolls-Royce Nene, to the Soviet Union. It was immediately stripped and copied and went into production for the new fighter and within eight months the prototype MiG-15 was flying, entering service in 1948.
Put into mass production in the Soviet Union, MiG-15s were also built under licence in Poland, Czechoslovakia and China. Its very simplicity made it an ideal jet fighter for many of the Soviet Union's client states and at least thirty Air Forces have operated the single-seater or the Mig-15UTI two-seat trainer. In 1950, the MiG-15bis, fitted with a more powerful engine and improved avionics, replaced the earlier model. By 1994 only the Cuban Air Force was still flying Soviet-built MiG-15bis aircraft, but several other Air Forces fly examples built in China.