The MiG-19 Farmer was the first supersonic fighter built in the former USSR. The MiG-19 prototype made its first flight in September 1953 and was placed into production in 1955. It was the Soviet Union’s primary fighter during the last half of the 1950’s. Possibly as many as 10,000 MiG-19’s, in various versions, were built by the Soviet Union, China, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union phased out the MiG-19 in the early 1960s in favor of the more advanced MiG-21. However, the MiG-19 continued to be used by the other nations for many more years.
The first use and loss of a U.S. fighter to a MiG-19 (Chinese PLAAF J-6) was in 1965 when a USAF Lockheed F-104 Starfighter piloted by Captain Philip E. Smith was attacked by a Chinese aircraft over Hainan Island. His Starfighter took cannon fire which damaged a portion of his wing and missile mount. He ejected and was captured by the Chinese. Smith was held prisoner until released on 15 March 1973, due to improving US-China relations following U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972.