Russian The Yakovlev 3 – Interceptor or Escort Fighter?
It was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war. Its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance.
(Video) WW2 Yak3 Fighter – In Cockpit During Airfield Attack
A World War Two Russian Yak-3 fighter formates on a ‘lend-lease’ Curtiss P-40 and attacks an enemy held airfield. Seen from the in-cockpit view of the ‘Russian’ pilot during a display at a New Zealand Warbirds airshow held at Ardmore Aerodrome, Auckland, New Zealand.
It proved a formidable dogfighter.Marcel Albert, World War II French ace, who flew the Yak in USSR with the Normandie-Niémen Group, considered it a superior aircraft when compared to the P-51D Mustang and the Supermarine Spitfire. After the war ended, it flew with the Yugoslav and Polish Air Forces.
Design and development
The origins of the Yak-3 went back to 1941 when the I-30 prototype was offered along with the I-26 (Yak-1) as an alternative design. The I-30, powered by a Klimov M-105P engine, was of all-metal construction, using a wing with dihedral on the outer panels.
(Video) This awesome Yak-3 fighter is shown here during its display at the Classic Fighters airshow held at Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim, New Zealand in 2007.
Copyright © 2013 Historical Aviation Film Unit
Like the early Yak-1, it had a 20 mm ShVAK cannon firing through the hollow-driveshaft nose spinner as a motornaya pushka, and twin 7.62 mm synchronized ShKAS machine guns in cowl mounts ahead of the cockpit on the fuselage, but was also fitted with a ShVAK cannon in each wing.
The first of two prototypes was fitted with a slatted wingto improve handling and short-field performance while the second prototype had a wooden wing without slats, in order to simplify production. The second prototype crashed during flight tests and was written off. Although there were plans to put the Yak-3 into production, the scarcity of aviation aluminum and the pressure of the Nazi invasion led to work on the first Yak-3 being abandoned in late fall 1941.
The Yak 3 was a deadly weapon when skilled hands held the stick. In one engagement on July 14, 1944, eight Yak 3s squared off against 60 German aircraft. Without sustaining a loss the Yak 3 formation brought down three Ju 88s and four Me 109s.
In 1943, Yakovlev designed the Yak-1M which was a lighter version of the Yak-1. It incorporated a wing of similar design, but with smaller surface area and had further aerodynamic refinements, like the new placement of the oil radiator, from the chin to the wing roots (one of the visual differences with the Yak-1, -7, -9). A second Yak-1M prototype was constructed later that year, differing from the first aircraft in that it had plywood instead of fabric covering of the rear fuselage, mastless radio antenna, reflector gunsight and improved armor and engine cooling.
The chief test pilot for the project Petr Mikhailovich Stefanovskiy was so impressed with the new aircraft that he recommended that it should completely replace the Yak-1 and Yak-7 with only the Yak-9 retained in production for further work with the Klimov VK-107 engine. The new fighter, designated theYak-3 entered service in 1944, later than the Yak-9 in spite of the lower designation number.
Lighter and smaller than Yak-9 but powered by the same engine, the Yak-3 was a forgiving, easy-to-handle aircraft loved by both novice and experienced pilots and ground crew as well. It was robust, easy to maintain, and a highly successful dog-fighter. It was used mostly as a tactical fighter, flying low over battlefields and engaging in dogfights below 4 km (13,000 ft).
Unresolved wartime problems with the Yak-3 included plywood surfaces coming unstuck when the aircraft pulled out of a high-speed dive. Other drawbacks of the aircraft were short range and poor engine reliability. The pneumatic system for actuating landing gear, flaps and brakes, typical for all Yakovlev fighters of the time, was problematic. Though less reliable than hydraulic or electrical alternatives, the pneumatic system was preferred owing to significant weight savings.
In 1944, the Normandie-Niemen Group re-equipped with the Yak-3, scoring with it the last 99 of their 273 air victories against the Luftwaffe.
|Power Plant||1 x 1,300-horsepower VK 105PF liquid cooled in-line engine|
|Max speed:||655 Km/h (407 mph)|
|Ceiling:||10,700 m (35,105 ft.)|
|Range:||900 km (559 mi.)|
|Weight (empty):||2,105 kg (4,641 lb.)|
|Weight (loaded):||2,660 kg (5,864 lb.)|
|Wingspan:||9.17 m (30 ft. 2 in)|
|Length:||8.48 m (27 ft. 10 in)|
|Height:||2.41 m (7 ft. 11 in)|
|Armament:||2 x 7.62mm machine guns; 2 x 30mm cannons; 1,321 pounds of bombs or rockets|
|Service||1944 – 1946|
These are powered by Allison V-1710 engines and have the designation Yak-3M, but with the props turning counterclockwise like aCurtiss P-40‘s Allison V-12 would, opposite of the Klimov V-12s used during the war. Several of these are airworthy today, mostly in theUnited States, but also in Germany and Australia.
(Video) Yakovlev Yak-3 Soviet WW2 fighter (In Russian)
Others have been converted as reproductions instead, to “Yak-3U” status from Yak-11 trainers for private owners, with these aircraft also being popular worldwide
4,848 Yak 3s were built. The plane served until 1946.