There are virtually hundreds of cases where warring nations have made cash offers to the enemy. Sometimes the money is for defections or weapons. Other times it is for aid to friendly personnel or to purchase loyalty to a friendly government. We are going to discuss one of the most amazing of the reward campaigns, the attempt to steal a combat-ready Russian MiG-15 Fighter for one hundred thousand dollars. This entire operation is a mystery. There is still a great deal of doubt about who first conceived the idea of stealing a Russian Fighter plane. To make it even more interesting, there is some doubt as to whether anyone ever really expected to get an aircraft.
Why did the United Nations need to study a MiG-15? The Soviets designed the new fighter just after WWII. It was a high-altitude day interceptor able to operate from rough strips, reach almost Mach 1, be maneuverable at high altitude, armed with cannons, and had the ability to stay in the air for over 1 hour. The Soviets powered it with a British Rolls-Royce jet engine. It had serious shortcomings in handling. The high T-shaped tail obscured the rear and could injure a pilot ejecting from the aircraft, and the canopy fogged up during rapid dives. Still, its performance was superior to that of any Western fighter. The MiG-15 totally outclassed the American P-51 Mustangs, F-80 Shooting Stars, and the F-84 Thunder jets. The Americans had to wait until December 1950 for the arrival of the swept-wing F-86 Sabre-jet. Even then the MiG-15 climbed and dived faster, and was every bit as maneuverable.
The name of this mysterious plot is Operation Moolah, the Korean War effort to entice a Communist pilot to fly a MiG-15 fighter to an allied airfield for a reward of $100,000.