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The Yakovlev Yak-3 is a World War II single-seat, single-engine Soviet fighter aircraft designed by OKB Yakovlev. During the Battle of Stalingrad the German Luftwaffe used the new Bf 109 G and Fw 190 A-4 for the first time. Yakovlev therefore began designing an improved Yak series at the end of 1942. Chief designer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev recalled in his memoires that he was determined to create the perfect fighter aircraft. During the war, however, it was impossible to switch production, and so the original Yak-1M was overhauled. Yakovlev designed a lighter version with a similar wing but with a smaller surface area, and the water and oil radiators were moved to the wing roots (i.e. placed in the interior).

From summer 1944 the Yak-3, at 2,650 kg, was the lightest fighter to appear in the European theatre of war. Its main task was liaison with ground troops. It also protected other ground attack aircraft against enemy fighters and was operated as a bomber and interceptor. It was so feared that at the end of 1944 the German Luftwaffe issued an order to avoid combat below 5,000 metres with “Yakovlev fighters lacking an oil cooler intake beneath the nose”.

Production came to an end in 1946, by which time over 4,800 had been built. But the Yak-3 was given a second chance: in 1991 the “Museum of Flying” in California asked Yakovlev to produce a new series of Yak-3s to be built at Orenburg, Russia, using the plans and tools of the original. The only difference was that they were powered by American Allison engines.

AIRPOWER16 will feature a Yak-3 with an Allison engine as part of the Static Display. 

© Michal Krechowski
© Reto Schneeberger

Facts & Figures

Manufacturer OKB Yakovlev
Registration number DFYGJ
Length 8.5 m
Wingspan 9.2 m
Height 2.4 m
Max. takeoff weight 2,700 kg
Empty weight 2,100 kg
Service ceiling 9,144 m / 30,000 ft
Range 602 km / 325 nmi
Maximum speed 704 km/h / 380 KIAS
Powerplant 1 × Allison V1710
Power 1 x 1,400 hp
Crew 1
Display Static