Yakovlev Yak-3 Fighter Aircraft
The capabilities of the new Yakovlev Yak-3 came as a nasty shock to the German Luftwaffe over Soviet skies in World War 2.
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The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a further development of the Yak-1 series of fighters (detailed elsewhere on this site) and was well renowned for possessing an impressive rate of climb and unmatched maneuverability. The system appeared in 1944 and, though it was eventually superceded by other more capably designs, many Yak-3 pilots still preferred these aircraft regardless. In end, nearly 5,000 of the type would roll off of Soviet assembly lines and onto war against the Luftwaffe.
In its most basic form, the Yak-3 was basically a lightened form of the preceding Yak-1, specifically the Yak-1M development. Though it maintained some of the same design elements, the Yak-3 was truly the better aircraft and first flew in 1943. The cockpit was mounted forward in the fuselage and provided the pilot a better view through its three piece bubble canopy. Wings were slightly forward of their original placement in the Yak-1 yet the Yak-3 maintained the signature air scoop underneath the fuselage characteristic of the series. Armament consisted of 1 single 20mm ShVAK type cannon firing through the propeller hub and an additional 2 x 12.7 Berezin UBS type heavy caliber machine guns in the upper fuselage sides over the engine. These machine guns were synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller.
In combat, the Yak-3 proved its worth almost immediately as it arrived. It maintained a stellar kill-to-loss ratio over Luftwaffe fighters and held the upper hand in most engagements thanks to its inherent capabilities and powerful armament. The addition of the Klimov VK-107 1,700 horsepower engines upped the ante even further as now the Yak-3 was capable of improved top speeds reaching 450 miles per hour. Even when compared against the agile Supermarine Spitfire, it is said that the Yak-3 would hold the advantage in a turning battle - such was the might of this Yakovlev design.