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Yakovlev Yak-50

Basic Trainer / Aerobatic Lightweight Aircraft


The Yakovlev Yak-50 series of basic trainers were produced for over a decade and ultimately numbered 314 total aircraft completed.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Yakovlev Yak-50 Basic Trainer / Aerobatic Lightweight Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/2/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Aerobatic-minded, high-performance trainers have long been a stable of professional military air services and a favorite at civilian air shows. During the latter half of the Cold War (1947-1991), the Soviet Air Force adopted a new single-seat, single-engine aerobatic basic trainer in the Yakovlev "Yak-50". Production of the type spanned from 1975 to 1986 and ended with 314 units completed. The series went on to serve the air services of Lithuania and Ukraine as well as the reborn Russian Air Force following the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991.

The Yak-50 series was developed from the existing Yak-18 (NATO codename of "Max") which appeared in the immediate post-World War 2 world during 1946 (and is detailed elsewhere on this site). This two-seat, single-engine platform was widely exported to Soviet allies for its time in the air with local license production also had in neighboring nations such as China (where it became the "Nanchang CJ-5").

Externally, the aircraft carried a long, slim, aerodynamically-refined fuselage with the engine neatly cowled in the nose section and used to drive a two-bladed propeller unit at the extreme front. The cockpit was placed directly at midships and was given all of the basic instrumentation expected of a trainer in a neat arrangement with prominent dials, gauges and appropriate labeling. Vision was good considering the cockpit's placement at the middle of the design as light framing was used. The canopy was set on rails to roll backwards along the frame for entry/exit. The mainplanes were of a straight monoplane form with clipped tips and they were seated ahead of midships for proper balance of the aircraft. The tail unit incorporated a traditional single-finned arrangement with low-set horizontal planes. All control surfaces were skinned in fabric as a weight-saving measure. The undercarriage, made retractable, utilized a basic "tail-dragger" support structure.

Dimensionally, the aircraft exhibited a running length of 25.6 feet with a wingspan of 31.1 feet and a height of 10.5 feet. Empty weight reached 1,655lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 2,005lb.

The typical engine fit became the Vedeneyev M-14P 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine outputting 360 horsepower though this could be substituted with the M-14PF or M-14R series models which offered an increased horsepower output of 400hp and 450hp, respectively. The added power output increased performance in turn. Performance specs included a top speed of 250 miles per hour (with a never-exceed-speed of 280mph). Range was out to 310 miles and the aircraft's service ceiling reached 13,125 feet. Rate-of-climb was rated at 3,145 feet-per-minute under full take-off power.

In practice, the Yak-50 trainers gave a good account of themselves for their robust airframes could be pushed to extreme limits and handling characteristics was judged to be excellent for the lightweight aircraft. Its design success was such that the series twice claimed the World Aerobatic Champion title. Soviet military models were quite excessively pushed to their limits to the point that mainplane spar failures became an issue - resulting in several directives aimed at strengthening these members for the remainder of the aircraft's service lives in the Soviet Air Force.

While out-of-service militarily worldwide today (2018), the aircraft can still be found in the hands of private flyers mainly in the West. The Yak-50 was eventually superseded by other, more modern, basic trainer forms in time such as the Yakovlev Yak-55 series of the 1980s.

The Yak-52 was a single-engine two-seat offshoot of the Yak-50 line. This version appeared in 1976 but was not formally introduced until 1979, becoming the standard Soviet Air Force primary trainer for several decades (its use continues today, 2018).


YEAR: 1975
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Yakovlev OKB - Soviet Union
LENGTH: 25.59 ft (7.8 m)
WIDTH: 31.17 ft (9.5 m)
HEIGHT: 10.50 ft (3.2 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 1,653 lb (750 kg)
MTOW: 2,006 lb (910 kg)
POWER: 1 x Vedeneyev M-14P/PF/R 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine developing between 270 and 450 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
SPEED: 249 mph (400 kph; 216 kts)
CEILING: 13,123 feet (4,000 m; 2.49 miles)
RANGE: 311 miles (500 km; 270 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 3,145 ft/min (959 m/min)
OPERATORS: Australia (private ownership); Canada (private ownership); Lithuania; Russia; Soviet Union; United States (private ownership)

Variants / Models

• Yak-50 - Base Series Designation

General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating
The MF Power Rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (249mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Yakovlev Yak-50's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (314)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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