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:

Mig-29

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?
  • 6
    I think it's a periscope for the trainer – ratchet freak Aug 28 '15 at 14:10
  • 2
    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. – ROIMaison Aug 28 '15 at 15:03
  • 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. – Peter Kämpf Aug 30 '15 at 7:45
  • Asking more then one question is not advisable but optimal. – DuckLord May 17 '16 at 6:58
up vote 46 down vote accepted

Additional details to Marco's selected answer.

The periscope replaces the rear view mirror on the two-seaters version because the instructor seat (aft) is not high enough, contrary to other training aircraft, to see the runway. The runway is projected on a second mirror inside the cockpit (that's why it's named a periscope and not a mirror):

enter image description here
Photo by Pavel Vanka. Modified.

enter image description here
(Source)

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
(Source)

  • 8
    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. – KeithS May 16 '16 at 18:40
  • 6
    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. – Wayne Werner Nov 21 '16 at 23:07
  • 12
    @WayneWerner -- the space-pen story is a myth. – Malvolio May 23 '17 at 14:35
  • @Malvolio No source given under the link, and a businessman with an interest in selling his extra-developed "space pens" to NASA. – user7241 Dec 24 '17 at 11:46
  • 2
    @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. – a CVn Dec 24 '17 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 http://www.airvectors.net/avmig23_2_5.jpg
Image courtesy of Airvectors.net

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