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Yakovlev Yak-1 (Krasavyets)

Soviet Union (1940)
Picture of Yakovlev Yak-1 (Krasavyets) Single-Seat Fighter Aircraft

The Yakovlev Yak-1 - and its related Yak-3, Yak-7 and Yak-9 brethren - are an oft-forgotten breed when comparing the best piston-engined fighters of World War 2, surpassing some 36,000 aircraft built in all.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Yakovlev Yak-1 (Krasavyets) Single-Seat Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/4/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Often overshadowed by its contemporaries in the West (to include the Supermarine Spitfire, North American P-51 Mustang, Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190) the early production Yakovlev fighter aircraft were some of the best piston-engined fighters fielded during World War 2. When production of all the major Yak fighter marks were combined (Yak-1, Yak-3, Yak-7 and Yak-9) these early Yakovlev creations easily became the most produced fighter aircraft line of the entire war numbering some 37,000 total aircraft. The type initially appeared as the Alexander Yakovlev-inspired Ya-26 prototype design and evolved into the I-26 production form before being redesignated as "Yak-1".

For a brief window into history, the Germans and Soviets maintained an uneasy truce during the formative years of World War 2. Both divided the spoils that was Poland and the each were allowed to commit to other conquering ventures without worry of the other. However, all this changed when Hitler enacted Operation Barbarossa and formally invaded the Soviet Union. Initially, German progress was powerful but stretched supply lines and the Soviet winter brought the Soviets time to regroup. Enough cannot be said about the subsequent Soviet response initially beginning with only a thin line of ill-equipped soldiers, tanks and airmen to stem the tide. Yakovlev set about to produce what would become one of three notable fighter designs that would inevitably bring the Soviet Air Force into the realm of respectability. These three would then be often referred to as the first true "modern" aircraft designs of the Soviet air arm, consisting of the Yak-1, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 and the Lavochkin LaGG-3. All would dutifully serve their roles as the Soviet Union pummeled the Germans back into Berlin.

The Yak-1 originated as a design of the Yakovlev bureau, destined to fulfill a 1938 Soviet government requirement for a fighter platform constructed mostly of wood for ease of maintenance, repair and - perhaps most importantly - mass production. The initial design was known as the "Ya-26 Krasavec" and flew for the first time in March of 1939. Upon acceptance of the design into serial production with the Soviet Air Force, the aircraft was afforded the designation of "I-26". Once production had begun, however, the aircraft was redesignated to the more common "Yak-1" naming convention. The acceptance of the Yak-1 would spawn several other successful Yakovlev designs and place the bureau in the elite class of Soviet aircraft design for decades to follow. In any case, the Yak-1 finally put the Soviet Air Force on par with competing German designs of the time (namely the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters) and opened the door to improved designs and, thusly, much improved aerial combat tactics that went beyond what the biplanes of the old Russian Empire once offered.

At first glance, the outwardly design of the Yak-1 "Krasavyets" (this name meaning "Little Beauty") proved very utilitarian featuring a basic yet slender fuselage, mid-set canopy and a low-cut vertical tail surface. Though the initial Yak-1 would feature a "razorback" fuselage spine (blocking views to the critical "six"), the upcoming Yak-1b sported an unobstructed bubble-type design. Construction consisted of a combination of plywood covered over in fabric that made the Yak-1 both easy to produce in large numbers and generally easier to maintain. Additionally, such a structure could withstand greater damage from enemy guns. Power was derived from a single Klimov-brand engine fitted to the front of the design and developing some 1,100 horsepower or more depending on the production model. The Yak-1 proved a highly capable performer that quickly endeared herself to her new generation of Soviet pilots. Initial production totals in 1940 were slow to mount though the German invasion of 1941 put the program into high gear of what would become one of the most celebrated Soviet piston-engine designs of the war.

The Yak-1 appeared in an improved form designated as the Yak-1b. Improvements included revised armor protection, a retractable tail wheel, bubble canopy upgraded engines and weapons. Two examples of the experimental Yak-1M existed and these were given more powerful engines, smaller-area wings and other improvements to help refine the mark. Total production of the Yak-1 exceeded some 8,700 examples. The I-28 prototype was intended as a Yak-5 interceptor but never produced - instead the improvements went into the upcoming Yak-7 and Yak-9 fighter models.

The Yak-3 appeared as a "lighter" version of the Yak-1 in an effort to help increase performance, first flying in late 1943. The Yak-7 followed thereafter and began life as a trainer with excellent performance enough to warrant 5,000 fighters being built. This design eventually culminated with the excellent Yak-9 "Frank", itself a further development of a Yak-7 experiment. This particular model would itself spawn a plethora of battlefield-necessary designs including a dedicated tank-buster, fighter-bomber and several long-range fighter escort mounts. In all, the Yakovlev designs would prove to be some of the most instrumental and best-performing fighters of the entire war and Luftwaffe pilots themselves would later attest to these excellent flying machines available to Soviet airmen.

As an aside, the Yak-1 was known to serve within the Soviet all-female Soviet air unit (the 586 IAP) that would go on to produce two of the world's only female air aces - Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budanova - each collecting 12 and 11 air victories respectively. Soviet women played a crucial role in the forging of the new Soviet military. The Yak-1 was fielded y the Free French forces, Poland and Yugoslavia. For the latter, the Yak-1 served until 1950.

Any available statistics for the Yakovlev Yak-1 (Krasavyets) Single-Seat Fighter Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (368mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Yakovlev Yak-1B (Krasavyets)'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 Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
8700
8700


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: Soviet Union
Year: 1940
Type: Single-Seat Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Yakovlev - Soviet Union
Production: 8,700
Global Operators:
France (Free French); Poland; Soviet Union
Historical 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 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 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
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Yakovlev Yak-1B (Krasavyets) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
27.89 ft


Meters
8.5 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
32.81 ft


Meters
10 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
8.66 ft


Meters
2.64 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
5,278 lb


Kilograms
2,394 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
6,356 lb


Kilograms
2,883 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Klimov M-105P V12 liquid-cooled inline engine developing 1,180 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
368 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
592 kph


Knots
320 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
435 mi


Kilometers
700 km


Nautical Miles
378 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
34,465 ft


Meters
10,505 m


Miles
6.53 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
3,038 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
926 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

STANDARD:
1 x 20mm ShVAK cannon in propeller hub
1 x 12.7mm Berezin UBS machine gun OR 2 x 7.62mm machine guns in forward fuselage.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 441lb of external stores including both bombs and rockets.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Ya-26 "Krasavec" - First Model Design by Alexander Yakovlev to the 1938 fighter requirement.
• I-26 - Initial Production Model Designation; lated redesignated to the Yak-1.
• Yak-1 - Initial Production Model Designation
• Yak-1b - "Improved" Yak-1 featuring improved armor protection, retractable tail wheel, improved engine, improved weapons system and bubble-type canopy; 4,188 examples produced.
• Yak-1M - Two examples produced; uprated engine, smaller wings and improvements initiated throughout.
• I-28 - Prototype Yak-5 High-Altitude Interceptor; design used in Yak-7 and Yak-9.
• I-30 - Prototype with improvements to design and construction throughout.
• Yak-3 - Lightened Version of the base Yak-1.
• Yak-7 - Fighter Variant; based on two-seat trainer; 5,000 examples produced.
• Yak-9 - Definitive Variant based on developmental Yak-7 frame; constructed with light alloy wing spars; 16,769 examples produced.
• Yak-9M - Base Fighter Variant
• Yak-9D - Long Range Model
• Yak-9DD - Very Long Range Model
• Yak-9U - All Metal Production Model
• Yak-9P - Fitted with cannon armament.