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Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)

The capabilities of the new Yakovlev Yak-3 came as a nasty shock to the German Luftwaffe over Soviet skies in World War 2.

 Entry last updated on 6/18/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Yakovlev Yak-3  
Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)
Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union) Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)Picture of Yakovlev Yak-3 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft (Soviet Union)

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 The system appeared in 1944 and, though it was eventually superceded by other more capably designs, many Yak-3 pilots still preferred these aircraft regardless.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.

Yakovlex Yak-3 Specifications

Service Year: 1944
Type: Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft
National Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer(s): Yakovlev - Soviet Union
Total Production: 4,848

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 27.85 feet (8.49 meters)
Overall Width: 30.18 feet (9.20 meters)
Overall Height: 7.94 feet (2.42 meters)

Weight (Empty): 4,641 lb (2,105 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 5,864 lb (2,660 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 1 x Klimov VK-105PF-2 piston engine developing 1,300 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 354 knots (407 mph; 655 kph)
Maximum Range: 486 nautical miles (559 miles; 900 km)
Service Ceiling: 35,105 feet (10,700 meters; 6.65 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 4,265 feet-per-minute (1,300 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

1 x 20mm ShVAK cannon firing through propeller hub.
2 x 12.7mm Berezin UBS machine guns synchronized in the upper nose fuselage.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

France; Poland; Yugoslavia; Soviet Union

Model Variants

Yak-3 - Base Production Series Designation
Yak-3 (VK-107A) - Fitted with Klimov VK-107A series engine of 1,650 horsepower; 2 x 20mm Berezin B-20 cannons.
Yak-3 (VK-108) - Based on the VK-107A model series; fitted with VK-108 series engine; 1 x 23mm Nudelmann-Suranov NS-23 cannon.
Yak-3K - "Tank Buster" Model; limited production; fitted with 1 x 45mm Nudelmann-Suranov NS-45 cannon.
Yak-3P - fitted with 3 x 20mm Berezin B-20 cannons.
Yak-3PD - Single Experimental High-Altitude Variant; fitted with Klimov VK-105PD engine; 1 x 23mm Nudelmann-Suranov NS-23 cannon.
Yak-3RD (Yak-3D) - Single Experimental Aircraft; fitted with Glushko RD-1 liquid-fuel rocket engine of 650lbf; 1 x 23mm Nudelmann-Suranov NS023 cannon.
Yak-3T - Single Prototype Example; "tank buster" model; fitted with 1 x 37mm Nudelmann type N-37 cannon and 2 x 20mm Berezin B-20S cannons.
Yak-3T-57 - Single Production Example; fitted with 57mm OKB-16-57 cannon; based on the Yak-3T model series.
Yak-3TK - fitted with exhaust turbocharger; powered by VK-107A series engine.
Yak-3U - Prototype Model; 2 x 20mm cannons; powered by Shvetsov ASh-82FN radial engine of 1,380 horsepower; increased wingspan.
Yak-3UTI - Two-Seat Conversion Trainer Model; fitted with Shvetsov ASh-21 radial piston engine; basis for Yak-11 series.

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