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.
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