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Yakovlev 1/7

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First of the modern Yak fighters, the Yak-1 came into service just in time to meet the German invasion in 1941. Agile and fast, the Yak was t he best of the new Soviet fighters and could equal a Bf 109 or Fw 190 in a dogfight, in addition to being a useful ground attacker. The Yak-7, originally designed as a trainer, was hastily converted for fighter duties. Both aircraft evolved into better designs, the later Yak-3 and Yak-9.

Yak began the project for a single-seat lightweight fighter before the war, and the prototype I-26 first flew in January 1940. Emphasis was on the use of cheap materials (using composite wooden skins and fabric covering) and integral armament, with a nose-mounted cannon. The aircraft showed immediate promise and was rushed into production even before trials were complete. By March 1942, the Yak-1 was being produced in a lightened form for increased agility.

The acute shortage of fighters meant that the trainer Yak-7 was converted to combat use, including artillery spotting and fighter duties. The aircraft was also fitted with rockets for ground attack and tank-busting and cameras for reconnaissance. The Yak-7R even mounted a rocket engine in the tail. Best of the Yak-1s was the Yak-1M, which was quickly redesignated the Yak-3. This aircraft gave its pilots a much improved field of vision and was one of the war's most agile fighters.

The early Yaks were a vital stopgap between obsolete designs like the I-16 and the excellent later Yaks and Lavochkin La-5s with which the Soviet Union won the air war on the Eastern Front.


Yakovlev 1/7

Best of the Yakovlev 1/7 Yakovlev 1/7 pilot Yakovlev 1/7 in mass production
Finest of the Yak-1s was the Yak-1M, which soon evolved into the Yak-3. Reduced weight helped give agility, although oil cooling was problematic. These pilot on the Kharkov front shot down 15 enemy aircraft in a week in May 1942. The Yaks gave the USSR air superiority after the appalling defeats inflicted in 1941. More than 8700 Yak-1s and 6300 Yak-7s were produced in total. Yaks were by far the most important fighters in the Soviet arsenal.

Yakovlev 1/7 (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Yakovlev
Maximum Speed 530 kmh (329 mph)
Maximum Range 700 km (435 mil)
Ceiling 9,000 meters (29,500 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

2,550 kg (5,610 lbs)
3,130 kg (6,886 lbs)
Wing Area

10.00 meters (32 ft 10 in)
8.48 meters (27 ft 9 in)
17.15 square meters (185 sq ft)
Engines One Klimov M-105 V-12 liquid-cooled engine which provides 782-kW (1,050 hp)
Armament One 20 mm (0.79 in) ShVAK cannon
One or two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) machine-guns
Six RS-82 rockets could be carry in wing racks

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