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Yakovlev Yak-3

Specifications:
  • Length: 27.85 ft (8.49 m)
  • Width: 30.18 ft (9.2 m)
  • Height: 7.94 ft (2.42 m)
  • Weight (Empty): 4,641 lb (2,105 kg)
  • Weight (MTOW): 5,864 lb (2,660 kg)
  • Power: 1 x Klimov VK-107 piston engine developing 1,700 horsepower.
  • Speed: 407 mph (655 kph; 354 kts)
  • Ceiling: 35,105 feet (10,700 m; 6.65 miles)
  • Range: 559 miles (900 km; 486 nm)
  • Rate-of-Climb: 4,265 ft/min (1,300 m/min)

The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a single-engine single-seat World War II Soviet front line fighter aircraft. Robust and easy to maintain, it was much liked by pilots and ground crew alike. It was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war. Its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance. It proved a formidable dogfighter. Marcel Albert, World War II French ace, who flew the Yak-3 in USSR with the Normandie-Niémen Group, considered it a superior aircraft when compared to the P-51D Mustang and the Supermarine Spitfire. Before the end of the war it was flown by Polish Air Forces (of the Polish People’s Army formed in USSR) and after the war ended, it was flown by the Yugoslav Air Forces.

Lighter and smaller than Yak-9 but powered by the same engine, the Yak-3 was a forgiving, easy-to-handle aircraft loved by both novice and experienced pilots and ground crew as well. It was robust, easy to maintain, and a highly successful dog-fighter. It was used mostly as a tactical fighter, flying low over battlefields and engaging in dogfights below 4 km (13,000 ft).

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.