I noticed that some Mig-29 Fighter Jets have a little mirror-like-thing over the cockpit. I can't imagine a possible usage from it (If it's really a mirror).

Here's a picture from Wikipedia:


As you can see on the following picture, not every Mig-29 has this thing:

enter image description here

  • What is this "Mirror"-like-thing supposed to do?
  • Why can't I find it on every Mig-29?
  • When is this thing used? In combat, training etc.?
  • How does it help the pilot / trainer in flight?
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I think it's a periscope for the trainer $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 14:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It is an actual mirror as you can see more clearly in this image:upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/…. I guess it is used to let the trainer have an unobstructed view. $\endgroup$
    – ROIMaison
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ Come on, @ratchetfreak, it is indeed a retractable periscope. Put this in an answer already and I upvote you. I hate to leave a question unanswered. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ Asking more then one question is not advisable but optimal. $\endgroup$
    – Josef
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 6:58

2 Answers 2


Additional details to Marco's selected answer.

On the two-seater version, the instructor seat (aft) is not high enough, contrary to other training aircraft, to see the runway. A forward view mirror replaces the rear view mirror and allows the instructor to see ahead. The runway is projected on a second mirror inside the cockpit, creating a full periscope system:

enter image description here
Photo by Pavel Vanka. Modified.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Note how the projected part of the image fits very well into the direct view of the exterior.

An opening is created in the canopy when the top mirror is deployed. From below this is what it looks like (not exactly the same model):

enter image description here
Photo by Burkhard Domk. Modified.

The bottom mirror unfolds down to instructor eyes height:

enter image description here

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Very elegant and fairly cheap. Western trainer aircraft have favored "stadium seating" (trainer sits higher than pilot) coupled with a forward-looking CCTV camera, and an instructor familiar enough with the plane that he can land it blind. $\endgroup$
    – KeithS
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 18:40
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of the story about how NASA spent (m|b)illions of dollars to figure out the whole space pen, while Kosmonauts just used a pencil. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 23:07
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ @WayneWerner -- the space-pen story is a myth. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Malvolio No source given under the link, and a businessman with an interest in selling his extra-developed "space pens" to NASA. $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 11:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @jjack space.stackexchange.com/a/1713/415 is relevant. One of the sources cited from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing_in_space is physics.org/facts/apollo-nasa-pen.asp which also states that the USSR started using the same Space Pen at the end of the 1960s. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 17:06

It's a mirror for a periscope used by the instructor (sitting in the back seat) to see the runway on landing.

As reported here, two-seater versions of MiG-21 and MiG-23 also have the same feature.

In this picture, the periscope is, in fact, clearly visible on the back seat's canopy.

Image of MiG, showing mirror over canopy
Image courtesy of Airvectors.net

  • $\begingroup$ The MiG-23's rear seat had really poor visibility, I think they even called it "The Coffin" or something, so the periscope here was a necessity for the instructor to see anything going on ahead $\endgroup$
    – BryBuriya
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 8:24

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