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The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21; NATO reporting name: Fishbed) is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "Balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek (English: pencil) by Polish pilots due to the shape of its fuselage.
A total of 10,645 aircraft were built in the USSR, 194 MiG-21F-13s were built under licence in Czechoslovakia and India built 657 MiG-21FL, MiG-21M and MiG-21bis.
Like many aircraft designed as interceptors, the MiG-21 had a short range. This was not helped by the poor placement of the fuel tanks, which caused the airplane's center of gravity to shift rearwards once two-thirds of the fuel had been used. This had the effect of making the plane statically unstable to the point of being uncontrollable, resulting in an endurance of only 45 minutes in clean condition. Additionally when more than half the fuel was used up in early versions, violent maneuvers prevented fuel from flowing into the engine, thereby causing it to shut down mid flight.