Yakovlev Yak-3

Yakovlev Yak-3

infobox Aircraft
name =Yak-3
type =Fighter
manufacturer =Yakovlev

caption =
designer =
first flight =12 April 1941 (I-30)
introduced =1944
retired =1945
status =
primary user =Soviet Air Force
more users =Normandie-Niemen Air Force of the Polish Army
produced =
number built =4,848
unit cost =
developed from=Yak-1
variants with their own articles =

The Yakovlev Yak-3 (Russian language: Як-3) was a World War II Soviet fighter aircraft regarded as one of the best fighters of the war. It was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war, and its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance. [ [http://www.vectorsite.net/avyak1.html Yak Piston Fighters] ]

Design and development

The origins of the Yak-3 went back to 1941 when the 1-30 prototype was offered along with the I-26 as an alternative design to the Yak-1. The I-30, powered by a Klimov M-105P engine, was of all-metal construction, using a wing with dihedral on the outer panels. Like the early Yak-1, it had a ShVAK 20 millimeter cannon firing through the prop spinner and twin ShKAS 7.62 millimeter machine guns in the nose, but was also fitted with a ShVAK cannon in each wing. The first of two prototypes was fitted with a slatted wing to 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 the late fall of 1941.

In 1943, Yakovlev designed the Yak-1M which was a smaller and lighter version of the Yak-1. A second Yak-1M prototype was constructed later that year, differing from the first aircraft in 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 Piotr Mikhailovich Stefanovskiy was so impressed with the new aircraft that he recommended that it should completely replace 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. A total of 4,848 aircraft were produced.

The designation Yak-3 was also used for other Yakovlev projects - a proposed but never built, heavy twin-engine fighter and the Yakovlev Yak-7A.

Operational history

Lighter and smaller than Yak-9 but powered by the same engine, the Yak-3 was a very agile dogfighter and a forgiving, easy-to-handle aircraft loved by both rookie and veteran pilots. Early combat experience showed it to be superior to all Luftwaffe fighters at altitudes below 5,000 m (16,400 ft). It could roll with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and its turn rate was far superior (it was able to complete a full circle in 18.6 seconds). The biggest drawbacks of the aircraft were its short range, the tendency of the glued-on plywood covering the top of the wings to tear away under high-G loads, and poor engine reliability in early models. 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 due to significant weight savings.


The first 197 Yak-3 were armed with a single 20 mm ShVAK cannon and one 12.7 mm UBS machine gun, with subsequent aircraft receiving a second UBS for a weight of fire of 2.72 kg (6.0 lb) per second using high-explosive ammunition.


; Yak-3: main production version; Yak-3 (VK-107A): Klimov VK-107A engine with 1,230 kW (1,650 hp) and 2x 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannons with 120 rounds of ammunition each. After several mixed-construction prototypes, 48 all-metal production aircraft were built in 1945-1946. In spite of excellent performance (720 km/h (447 mph) at 5,750 m (18,860 ft)), VK-107 was prone to overheating and it was decided to leave the engine for the better-suited Yak-9.; Yak-3 (VK-108): Yak-3 (VK-107A) modified with VK-108 engine with 1,380 kW (1,850 hp), and armed a single 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannon with 60 rounds of ammunition. The aircraft reached 745 km/h (463 mph) at 6,290 m (20,630 ft) in testing but suffered from significant engine overheating. Another Yak-3 with 2x 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannons was also fitted with the engine with similar results. ; Yak-3K: tank destroyer with a 45 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-45 cannon, only a few built because Yak-9K was a better match for the weapon; Yak-3P: produced from April 1945 until mid-1946, armed with 3x 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannons with 120 rounds for the middle cannon and 130 rounds for each of the side weapons. The three-cannon armament with full ammunition load was actually 11 kg (24 lb) lighter than that of a standard Yak-3, and the one-second burst mass of 3.52 kg (7.74 lb) was greater than that of most contemporary fighters. Starting in August 1945, all Yak-3 were produced in the Yak-3P configuration with a total of 596 built.; Yak-3PD: high-altitude interceptor with Klimov VK-105PD engine and a single 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannon with 60 rounds of ammunition, reached 13,300 m (43,625 ft) in testing but did not enter production due to unreliability of the engine.; Yak-3RD (Yak-3D): experimental aircraft with an auxiliary Glushko RD-1 liquid-fuel rocket engine with 2,9 kN (650 lbf) of thrust in the modified tail, armed with a single 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannon with 60 rounds of ammunition. On May 11, 1945, the aircraft reached 782 km/h (485 mph) at 7,800 m (25,585 ft). During the August 16 test flight, the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons, killing the test pilot V.L. Rastorguev. Like all mixed powerplant aircraft of the time, the project was abandoned in favor of turbojet engines.; Yak-3T: tank destroyer version armed with 1x 37 mm Nudelman N-37 cannon with 25 rounds and 2x 20 mm Berezin B-20S cannons with 100 rounds each. Cockpit was moved 0.4 m (1 ft 4 in) back to compensate for the heavier nose. Engine modifications required to accept the weapons resulted in serious overheating problems which were never fixed and the aircraft did not advance beyond the prototype stage.; Yak-3T-57: single Yak-3T with a 57 mm OKB-16-57 cannon; Yak-3TK: powered by a VK-107A engine, and fitted with an exhaust turbocharger.; Yak-3U: Yak-3 fitted with Shvetsov ASh-82FN radial engine with 1,380 kW (1,850 hp) in an attempt to increase performance while avoiding the overheating problems of VK-107 and VK-108. Wingspan increased by 20 cm (8 in), wings moved 22 cm (9 in) forward, cockpit raised by 8 cm (3 in). Armament of 2x 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannons with 120 rounds per gun. The prototype reached 682 km/h (424 mph) at 6,000 m (19,680 ft) and while successful did not enter production because it was completed after the war.; Yak-3UTI: two-seat conversion trainer based on Yak-3U powered by Shvetsov ASh-21 radial piston engine. The aircraft became the prototype for the Yak-11.


;FRA: (Normandie-Niemen squadron);POL: Air Force of the Polish Army;USSR: Soviet Air Force;YUG: SFR Yugoslav Air Force
*39th Fighter Aviation Division
**111th Fighter Aviation Regt - Skoplje
**113th Fighter Aviation Regt - Zagreb-Pleso
*44th Fighter Aviation Division
**112nd Fighter Aviation Regt - Mostar
**254th Fighter Aviation Regt - Mostar
*21st Mixed Aviation Division
**204th Fighter Aviation Regt - Zadar

Modern recreations

In addition, since 1991, a number of Yak-3s have been newly manufactured by Yakovlev for the warbird market using the original plans and dies. These are powered by Allison V-1710 engines and have the designation Yak-3M. Several of these are airworthy today, mostly in the United States, but also in Germany and Australia. Others have been converted to "Yak-3U" status from Yak-11 trainers for private owners, with these aircraft also being popular worldwide.

pecifications (Yak-3)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
length main=8.5 m
length alt=27 ft 10 in
span main=9.2 m
span alt=30 ft 2 in
height main=2.39 m
height alt=7 ft 11 in
area main=14.85 m²
area alt=159.8 ft²
empty weight main= 2,105 kg
empty weight alt= 4,640 lb
loaded weight main= 2,692 kg
loaded weight alt= 5,864 lb
max takeoff weight main= kg
max takeoff weight alt= lb
engine (prop)=Klimov VK-105PF-2 V-12
type of prop= liquid-cooled piston engine
number of props=1
power main=962 kW
power alt=1,290 hp

max speed main=646 km/h
max speed alt=401 mph
range main=650 km
range alt=405 miles
ceiling main=10,700 m
ceiling alt=35,000 ft
climb rate main=18.5 m/s
climb rate alt=3,645 ft/min
loading main= 181 kg/m²
loading alt=36.7 lb/ft²
power/mass main=0.36 kW/kg
power/mass alt=0.22 hp/lb
* 1x 20 mm ShVAK cannon,
* 2x 12.7 mm Berezin UBS machine guns

ee also

Yak-1 -
Yak-7 -
Yak-9 -
similar aircraft=
Bf 109G - Focke Wulf Fw 190 - Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX - P-63 Kingcobra - P-51 Mustang




* Donald, David and Lake Jon., eds. "Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft". London: AIRtime Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-880588-24-2.
* Gordon, Yefim and Khazanov, Dmitri. "Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War, Volume One: Single-Engined Fihters". Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-85780-083-4.
* Green, William. "Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters". London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (seventh impression 1973). ISBN 0-356-01447-9.
* Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. "WW2 Aircraft Fact Files: Soviet Air Force Fighters, Part 2". London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-354-01088-3.
* Kopenhagen, W., ed. "Das große Flugzeug-Typenbuch." Stuggart, Germany: Transpress, 1987. ISBN 3-344-00162-0.
* Liss, Witold. "The Yak 9 Series (Aircraft in Profile number 185)". Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967.
* Mellinger, george. "Yakovlev Aces of World War 2". Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-84176-845-6.
* Morgan, Hugh. "Soviet Aces of World War 2". London: Reed International Books Ltd., 1997. ISBN 1-85532-632-9.
* Шавров В.Б. "История конструкций самолетов в СССР 1938-1950 гг. (3 изд.)". Kniga: Машиностроение, 1994 (Shavrov, V.B. "Istoriia konstruktskii samoletov v SSSR, 1938-1950 gg.,3rd ed. (History of Aircraft Design in USSR: 1938-1950)". Kniga, Russia: Mashinostroenie, 1994. ISBN 5-217-00477-0.
* Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. "Yak Fighters in Action (Aircraft number 78)". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1986. ISBN 0-89747-187-3.
* Степанец А.Т. "Истребители ЯК периода Великой Отечественной войны". Kniga: Машиностроение, 1992. (Stepanets, A.T. "Istrebiteli Yak perioda Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny (Yak Fighters of the Great Patriotic War)". Kniga, Russia: Mashinostroenie, 1992. ISBN 5-217-01192-0.

External links

* [http://www.aviation.ru/Yak/#1 Yak-3]
* [http://www.wio.ru/tacftr/yak.htm Yak Fighters table]
* [http://www.vectorsite.net/avyak1.html Yak Piston Fighters]
* [http://www.iremember.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=399&Itemid=20 Interview with Yak-3 WWII pilot]
* [http://www.peachmountain.com/narayan/LeBourget_Yak3.aspx Last remaining Normandie Niemen Yakovlev 3 on static display at Le Bourget Air and Space Museum/Musée de l’air et de l’espace]

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