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Yakovlev Yak-1b

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Model review

Modelsvit 1/48 Yak-1b (4801)

Box cover and painting guide

This Yak-1b model in 1/48 scale is the first release of the Ukrainian company Modelsvit. The kit comprises seven sprues which are moulded in quite hard light gray styrene and one clear sprue for the clear parts. There is also vinyl wheels on the kit (also styrene wheels are included). Cockpit canopy is moulded in one piece. Surface detailing is very fine engraved panel lines with tiny rivets and it is almoust unevitable that you buff part of them out during sanding process. Also fabric covered surfaces are neatly done and they look very realistic. There are lot of small parts that are to be installed to the cockpit and I think the cockpit is the most challensing part of the whole kit. So be warned not to glue the parts together before you are absolutely sure that they fit right to their places. Kits instructions could have been better, especially I had difficulties when assembling the cockpit.

The kit is typical limited-run kit without any alignment taps. Casting conduits are thick and there is much cleaning in every part as one can expect. There is no part numbering on the sprues. Kits fuselage halfs and wings fitted almost perfectly to the plan drawings as you can see from the photos below. The Yak-1b was continually developed during its production process. There are all necessary parts for earlier or later model of the plane on the kit. The kit contains two spinners, one for the initial production plane and the other for the late production plane. Later spinner model started from the 110. production series. I compared Modelsvits and Zvezdas (Accurate Miniatures) propellers to the plan drawings on the Yakovlev Yak-1 Vol. II book and found that Modelsvits propeller is nearer of the VISh-105V propeller which was used on the later production planes and Zvezdas propeller is nearer of the VISh-61P propeller which was used on the early production planes.

The most noticeable flaws of the Zvezda (Accurate Miniatures) kit are the too broad cockpit canopy and windscreen and the supercharger air intake at the root of the left wing which is wrong type. Machine gun flame tubes through on the left side of the upper cowling is curved insted of straight. You can build better and more accurate model out of the box from the Modelsvit kit, though it is not the easiest model to build. Almost every part needs cleaning and lot of putty. Modelsvit instructions advises that the kit is only for "experienced modellers", I think it means cold-blooded guy with good nerves and not to forget the good old modelling skills.

The kit includes painting guide and decals for four planes.

31. GIAP major Boris Nikolaevich Eryomin December 1942 Stalingrad. White winter scheme.
31. GIAP major Boris Nikolaevich Eryomin August 1943. Green, black and light blue.
2. GIAP capt. V. Pokrovskiy 1943 Northern Fleet? Light gray, light blue and dark grey tail.
427. IAP capt. Chuvilev August 1943 Kharkov, Osnova. Green, black and light blue with red nose.

Building the model

My model depicts a plane with a serial number 47143. That means it is the 47th plane of the 143th series. The plane was later series production and it had many differencies on many small details compared to the Modelsvit kit. Luckily there are additional parts in the kit for the late production planes though someting small has to be make by yourshelf. I started the building from wings. In my copy the left underwing was a little warped. I bended it straight after heating it under hot water. When I testfitted wing halfs together I noticed that trailing edges of the wings were far too thick. I sanded down inside of the trailing edges until they were in compliance with the scale. Trailing edges of elevators are also too thick and they had to be sanded down too. Landing gear wells are quite good and doesn't need much correction. I only added some tubings of 0,2 mm lead wire and made from a scratch one missing arc from styrene sheet to both wheel wells. The plane I was building didn't have landing light on it's left wing neither navigation light plexi covers on tip of it's wings so they had to be removed.

At the fuselage I started by sanding the fuselage halfs glueing surfaces. Apparently I sanded too eagerly because when I test fitted the fuselage halfs together I noticed that I had sanded too much from the contact surfaces. Luckily I noticed my mistake on time and I could glue thin styrene strips to the contact surfaces before gluing the fuselage halfs together so the fuselage became back to proper width again. I started building the cockpit by gluing tubular frames to fuselage sides. To the cockpit I added cablings made of thin copper wire. To the cockpit I also added tubings which went by the cockpit sides to the radiator (photos below). Those two tubings were made of thicker lead wire. Pilot's seat is in too high position. I lowered it by gluing the seat to the lower part of the back rest's foot. To the joint I glued a reinforcement of a styrene sheet. To the upper side of the back rest a rectangle shaped hole is needed for the seat belts. From the Eduard's PE sheet I used instrument panel. Also some fortuitous parts were used from the sheet. Most of the cockpit's parts are nevertheless the kit's parts. Good photos of building the cockpit can be found in Massimo Tessitori's site (look sources below).

Before gluing fuselage halfs together it is worth to glue the tail wheel in it's place. Mounting of the tail wheel is badly planned and it is good to reinforce it by gluing a styrene sheet inside the fuselage. When the cockpit was ready I glued the fuselage halfs together without any problems, thanks to testfittings. Next to come was gluing the wings to the fuselage. Be precise when aligning fuselage to wing join because it is hard to fix if misaligned what happened to me. I reinforced elevator to fuselage join with brass rods because there is no alignment plugs in the kit.

When airframe was put together I noticed that there was a need for putty here and there. Putty was mainly needed on the nose and on the wing to fuselage join. Panel line scriping and making new rivets to those areas took some extra work too. I added under the rear fuselage longitudinal frames which dissapeared when I sanded the fuselage. I made the frames of narrow strips of Tamiya masking tape. After fixing the strips I painted several leyers of enamel paint over the trips. Between the paint layers I sanded the gaps with sandpaper. From the left aileron I removed internal trim flap and added new protrusive trim flaps to both ailerons. I also added a new scratch built instrument panel covering between the wind shield and instrument panel. Kit's part is too high and it does not extend from side to side. Oil cooler's hatch is 2 mm too short compared to the scale drawings. I changed it with Zvezda's (Accurate Miniatures) kit part what was almost perfect as such.

Assembling the landing gear accurately to it's right position is quite challenging. It's good to have precise scale drawings for this stage. Lower wheel well doors which covers the wheels looks to be too broad compared to photographs. From the rear end of the wheel well doors I sanded off about 1 mm.

Extra parts used on the model:

Eduard's PE instrument panel and seat belts. Quickboost's resin exhausts, Eduard's PE oleo strut scissor links and Armory's resin wheels.

Faults and shortcomings that I corrected on my model, "work in progres" photos can be found farther down.

- Landing light on the left wing has to be removed
- Navigation light's plexi covers on tip of the wings has to be removed
- New small navigation lights to the tip of the wings has to be added
- New ground adjustable protrusive aileron trims has to be installed to both ailerons (from 124. series)
- Later type spinner (from 110. series). Included in the kit.
- Later type landing gear legs (from 49. series). Included in the kit.
- Later type round supercharger's air intake on the left wing's root (from 106. series). Included in the kit.
- Older type control stick with round grip. (Used before 157. series). Included in the kit.
- Under the rear fuselage I added five longitudinal frames which dissapeared during my sanding process
- Pilot's seat is too high and it has to be lowered
- Missing machine gun's flame tube has to be added
- Instrument panel covering between the wind shield and instrument panel has to be added.
- Oil cooler's hatch is 2 mm too short. It has to be lenghtened or changed.
- On the right side of the nose under the exhaust tubes there is a fairing which is too big and has to be modified
- Wheel coverings are about 1 mm too broad, they have to reduce in width from the rear

Paintings and markings

My model depicts Yak-1b "Red 47" of the 3. GIAP, KBF in Lavansaari in August 1943. Pilot of the plane was Junior Lieutenant N.P. Savkin. Good photos of the plane can be found from the books Red Stars and Yakovlev Yak-1 Vol. II and here. Paintwork of the plane was in good condition and looked quite flawless at the time the photos were taken. The plane was painted with green/ black/ light blue scheme and the paints used were AMT-4, AMT-6 and AMT-7. Camouflage colors of the Yak-1b shifted to the two greys AMT-11, AMT-12 and lightblue AMT-7 scheme from 20.7.1943 onwards (148. series). AKAN paints I used on my model are commonly known to be in the "darker side" of palette so I lightened them a little with AKAN's white.

For the first time I used FOXBOT's decals which was a new brand for me. The sheet I used was Yak-1b 48-001. The decals were thin and they settled down well with MicroSet. The reason why I bought that sheet was that it included right sized and right colored (red) fuselage numbers for my model. I compared Foxbot's, Modelsvit's and Zvezda's Yak-1b decal sheets national insignia colors against each others and against Akan's A II KR. Red insignia paint color which should be the exact color for insignias and markings. Zvezda's and Modelsvit's red is too bright and deep red but the best match was the Foxbot's decals red color.

Paints used:

The first figure which indicates sheen level of a color on FS number is dropped off. Ak=Akan, X=XtraColor, LC=LifeColor, HU=Humbrol, R=Revell, WEM=White Ensign Models, Mr Hobby=Mr Hobby Aqueous, Tam=Tamiya. (Between brackets alternative paints).

AMT-4 Green Protective (olive green) FS - 24102 Akan 73001 Upper sides camouflage
AMT-6 Black (faded) FS - 7038 Akan 73043 Upper sides camouflage
AMT-7 Blue (light bluegrey) FS - 5190 Akan 73002 Lower sides comouflage
A-14 Steel/Grey (faded) FS - 6187 Akan 73040 Cockpit
White FS - Revell 5 Spinner and rudder
Black (NATO Black) FS - Tamiya XF-69 Propeller blades, tires


Not the easiest kit to build but instead the best kit when building Yak-1b model in 1/48 scale.

Photos from different stages of the work

Hold mouse cursor over a thumbnail for a while before clicking

Nikolay Pavlovich Savkin

Lieutenant N.P. Savkin's name is written incorrectly L.P. Savkin in many sources. Propably it is a typo as there was junior lieutenant Nikolay Pavlovich Savkin in 3.GIAP personnel. He dissapeared on 15 August 1943 when he got lost in fog and made forced landing on Finnish soil. After hiding two weeks he was captured. According to the source he perished in prisoner of war camp.

SOTAVANGIT JA INTERNOIDUT (Prisoner of war and interned), National Archive's article book, Lars Westerlund (editor). The book includes own part for flying personel which is written by Carl-Fredrik Geust. In APPENDIX 2 there is a list of flying personel who were in prisoner of war camp in Finland during the Contunation war.

Prisoner number 97 was sergeant Nikolaj Pavlovitsh Savkin, 3.GIAP. Forced landing in Antrea on 15 August 1943 with Yak-1. Restored to Soviet Union on 30 October 1944. Savkins rank was incorrectly recorded as sergeant in the POW document.

Prisoner number 98 was lieutenant Valentin Dimitrijevitsh Lazarevitsh, 3.GIAP. He also had made forced landing in Antrea on 15 August 1943 with Yak-1. He was restored to Soviet Union on 21 October 1944.

This source tells that Savkin vanished together with Lazarevitsh after they had got lost in fog on 15 August 1943. As mentioned above they made forced landing in Antrea on Finnish soil and were captured. According to the source Savkin would have been perished as a pow which is not true according to the National Archive's article book. After Lazarevitsh returned to Soviet Union he was arrested and sent to NKVD's special camp for one month for examinations. According to the source rank of both pilot's was junior lieutenant.


In 1939 Stalin asked young Yakovlev to design a new high-performance fighter, which has to be ready within a few months. Yakovlev put his design bureau to work around the clock on the new fighter, which was designated I-26 (where "I" stood for "Istrebitel", or "fighter"). The I-26 would be powered by new Klimov M-105 engine, which was a Russian version of the French Hispano-Suiza HS-12Y engine. Yakovlev was given top priority for resources by Stalin's orders to get the new plane in serial production as soon as possible. Russia was clearly headed for war with Germany and experiences from the Spanish Civil War clearly showed, that the Red Air Force (VVS) didn't have a fighter capable of taking on the new Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Serial production started before the design was completely ready and many improvements and modifications were under construction on the drawing boards. The test pilots found the I-26 to have exellent handling characteristics and being extremely agile, but it was seriously underpowered. The first pre-production I-26 fighters, which had a fixed armanent of one ShVAK 20 mm cannon and two ShKAS 7.62 machine guns, were passed on to a field evaluation unit. The feedback from the evaluation unit was very negative. The aircraft was underpowered, underarmed and dangerously unreliable. The confidence to the plane was very poor, but the Soviet Union had to have new fighters immediately, so the new aircraft went into production anyway. Yakovlev and his team worked hard on fixing the problems. By the end of 1940 the type was redesignated Yak-1 under Stalin's orders. By the time of the German invasion on 22 June 1941, almost 400 Yak-1s had been delivered. Despite the deficiencies of the Yak-1, it was still beter than the old Polikarpov fighters, but it remained inferior to the Bf-109.

Development of the Yak-1 didn't stop, on June 1941 an improved lightweight Yak-1 took to the air. It had an improved Klimov M-105PF engine, which offered 1210 hp at take-off and was substantially lighter. This increased performance considerably, offering a maximum speed of about 585 km/h. The two 7.62 mm machine guns were replaced by a single 12.7 mm Berezin gun. The new Yak-1 had exellent maneuverability which was superior to that off the Messerschmitts or Focke-Wulf 190s. It was also durable and could operate under austere field conditions. By early 1942, the Yak-1 was the best-liked of all the new Soviet fighters.

By the fall of 1942 the new Yak-1b entered in service. It incorporated many improvements, the most significant was a three-piece all-round vision canopy. Other main improvements were multi-channel radio which were provided more or less as standard and a clear armour plate some 75 millimeters thick behind the pilot's head and shoulders. The aircraft could also be fitted with with a camera for battlefield reconnaissance and the tailwheel was made retractable. Production of the Yak-1 series was phased out in the fall of 1943. By that time, some 8721 planes had been built. The Yak-1b remained in front-line service until the end of the war. One of the well known Yak-1 pilot was a Russian woman Lidija Litvjak, she was flight commander of an otherwise male air regiment. She scored 12 kills before her death on 1 September 1943, at the age of 21.

The Yak-1 was taken out of production to make way for a improved variant, the Yak-3. Confusingly, however, there were two essentially different aircraft with the designation Yak-3. The original Yak-3 (I-30) which was powered by Klimov M-105P engine generally resembled the Yak-1, but it was of all-metal construction. Armament was increased, in addition to one 20 mm ShVAK cannon firing through the prop spinner and twin 7.62 mm ShKAS mg in the nose the Yak-3 had one ShVAK cannon in each wing. The increase in weight over the Yak-1 due to all-metal construction and the heavy armament, while still using the same engine, meant that the performance of the new fighter was unacceptable and the first Yak-3 was abandoned in the late fall of 1941. The Soviets recycled the name and the second Yak-3 was not really a new aircraft but a continued evolution of the Yak-1. The powerplant was intended to be the new Klimov M-107 engine, offering 1500 hp, but due to its devepment problems the Klimov M-105PF was retained.

The most significant changes were a shorter wing span, a new canopy with better all-round visibility, and a modified oil cooler scheme. Early production Yak-3's had the same armament as the Yak-1b but most production would have two 12.7 mm guns in the nose with a single 20 mm ShVAK cannon firing through the propeller hub. Flight tests began in early 1943 and the performance of the Yak-3 proved even more impressive than had been anticipated. The new fighter was capable of 680 km/h at 3700 meters altitude and it had marvelous maneuverability at low altitude. The Yak-3 went to operational service in June 1943 and confronted first time the Luftwaffe fighters during Operation Citadel, the tremendous battle for the Kursk salient. VVS pilots were extremely enthusiastic about the type, for the first time they had better fighter than the opponent could put against them. However various teething problems, particularly weak landing gear, kept the Yak-3 out of full production for another year.

A small nymber of Yak-3Us were built, delivering began in the late fall of 1944. Originally the Yak-3U was designed to be all metal construction, but the great majority that rolled out from production lines were mixed construction. It was powered by Klimov M-107 offering 1650 hp. The Yak-3U had an airframe similar to that of the current Yak-3 with minor modifications needed for the uprated Klimov engine. Yak-3 was one of the smallest and lightest major combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war. It's high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance. Luftwaffe gave a warning to it's fighter units in Eastern Front "not to attack against the new Yak-fighters that lacks the cooler under it's nose!" The last Yak-3s were built in 1946. 4848 were built in all.

The Yak-1 and Yak-3 variants represented one branch of the evolution of the Yakovlev piston fighters, known as the "lightweight" fighters. Another branch of "heavy" fighters evolved in parallel, beginning with the Yak-7. The Yak-7 was actually designed as advanced trainer to familiarize pilots with a fast and "hot" aircraft before they went on to fly the single-seaters. It was also intended for liason and fast transport duties. The trainer was a modification of a pre-series I-26 with a second cocpit and dual controls added. Other main changes were wider wing which was relocated backwards 100 mm while the radiator under the fuselage was moved forward. Other modifications were a taller vertical stabilizer and fixed undercarriage, armament was redused to a single 20-millimeter canon firing through the propeller spinner. The prototype of the UTI-26 first flew on 4 July 1940 and it actually demonstrated better handling characteristics than the I-26. The two-seat UTI-26 was different enough from the I-26 to make production of the two types on the same production line impractical. For this reason, and then the pressure of the German invasion, the Yakovlev bureau proposed that the trainer version be modified into a single-seat fighter with the same general configuration. This would allow trainers and fighters to be built on the same production line.

In the single-seat fighter configuration, the aircraft was fitted with retractable landing gear, and the instructor's seat in the back was removed and replaced with a 100 liter removeable fuel tank, giving the fighter an extended range of 820 kilometers. With the fuel tank taken out, the fighter could be used for courier or transport duties. The fighter was designated Yak-7A. It was fitted with two Berezin UB 12,7 millimeter machine guns and one 20 millimeter ShVAK cannon. It could also carry six RS-82 rockets or two 100 kilogram FAB bombs. The first Yak-7A fighters reached the front-line units in late 1941. Pilots appreciated the heavier armament and found the aircraft to have good handling characteristics. Many of the initial production patch were still two-seat trainers build under the designation Yak-7V ("Vyvozoni", or "familiarization"). The fixed undercarriage of the two-seaters could be fitted with skis for winter operations. However, by early 1942 production Yak-7Vs were being delivered with retractable landing gear. Some were used for combat reconnaissance by the simple measure of giving the back-seater a camera and telling him to take pictures. Later on, the trainer configuration would be modified as specific high-speed courier by removal of the rear seat of controls, and would be designed Yak-7K ("Kuryerski" or "courier").

Nonetheless, the bulk of Yak-7 production was of single-seat fighters, particularly of the Yak-7B that began rolling out of the factories in early 1942. The main differences of the Yak-7B were shorter wings, carriage of an RSI-4 radio, and a number of aerodynamic modifications. By the summer of 1942, the Yak-7B was also being produced with the improved M-105PF engine. The increased availability of aviation metals presently allowed the Yak engineers to replace the wooden wing spars of the Yak-7B with metal H-section spars, allowing a modest increase in fuel tank capacity. The result was the Yak-7D ("Dal'ny", or "endurance"), and it began trials in July 1942. The Yakovlev group then addressed concerns raised by front-line pilots, who didn't like the poor rear vision and the non-jettisonable canopy. The result was the Yak-7DI (for "Dal'ny Istrebitel", or "long-range fighter"), with a new three-piece canopy. Relatively few of the Yak-7Ds and Yak-7DIs were built, however, as production was to quickly move on to the next series of Yak fighters. A total of 6399 Yak-7s of all types were built before production ended in early 1943, with more than 5000 of this total being Yak-7Bs.

The lessons learned in the Yak-1, Yak-3, and Yak-7 were finally put to use in the most potent, and most heavily produced, of the Yak prop fighter family, the Yak-9. The Yak-9 was conceived as a natural progression from the late model Yak-7 fighters, with initial production in the fall of 1942 incorporating a number of changes, while remaining largely similar to its predecessor. As with other Yak fighters however, changes continued from that point. While early Yak-9 production featured the same wing as the Yak-7B, increased shipments of aviation-grade steel from the United States meant that the Yakovlev OKB could consider the use of more metal in the construction of their fighters, and Yak engineers accordingly designed an all-metal wing for the aircraft. The metal wing had a slightly shorter span than that of the Yak-7B, and allowed accommodation of additional fuel tanks, increasing total fuel capacity to 477 liters, giving the aircraft a good range of 950 kilometers. Other incremental changes included a larger vertical tail surface and a retractable tailwheel with twin doors. The 8 millimeter armour plate behind the seat was replaced by a 75 millimeter flat glass shield to provide better visibility. The changes resulted in an aircraft substantially lighter than the Yak-7. The new Yak-9 variant reached full production in late 1942 and early 1943. Early production Yak-9s had reduced armament, one 20 millimeter ShVAK cannon and a single 12,7 millimeter Berezin machine gun. Combat pilots complained bitterly about the skimpy armament, and the second 12,7 millimeter machine gun was restored. The fully armed aircraft was designated the Yak-9M. The Red Air Force (VVS) needed a fighter with longer range and which could operate far behind the enemy lines. The Yak-9D was developed based on the Yak-7DIs four-tank wing. The fuel capacity was increased to 650 litres, the range increased to 1400 kilometers. The plane has also increased oil capacity. Serial production started in March 1943.

The armament of one 20 millimeter cannon and one 12,7 millimeter machine gun was insufficient under the standards of 1943, especially when fighting bombers getting more and more armor and defensive arms. The works on installation of Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 37 millimeter cannon on Yak-9 frame begun in January 1943. Increased weight of the armament and strong recoil have required serious alterations in the fuselage design. The cabin was moved back 400 millimeters, but 160 millimeters of the muzzle protruded from the spinner. Ammo capacity comprised 30 - 32 rounds and the projectile could penetrate 48 millimeters of armour. The machine gun was mainly used to aiming the canon. The plane was designated as Yak-9T "Tyazhelowooruzheny" (Heavily Armed) and it went into combat in early summer of 1943. The handling and flight characteristics of the new aircraft little changed in comparison to lightly armed Yaks, with only vertical maneuverability decreased. As against other Yak-9 versions, Yak-9T had only two fuel tanks for 440 litres.

While some sources claim that the Yak-9T was designed as a close-support aircraft, it seems more plausible that the fit of the NS-37 cannon was mainly to correct the inadequate firepower that had dogged the Yak-series fighters, and the Yak-9T was primarily used for air combat. Only one shell from its 37 millimeters cannon could destroy an enemy fighter. The light Yak frame appeared insufficiently steady for such powerful gun. After 2-3 shots it dropped the aiming line and lowered a nose, therefore only a good air gunner could successfully use the type. Yak-9T remained in production till the end of the war. At the end of 1943 the attempt was undertaken to equip Yak-9 with even more powerful weapon, 45 millimeters NS-P-45 cannon with 15 rounds of ammunition. New type was developed on a Yak-9T basis, and has received a designation of Yak-9K. 53 machines were manufactured which were tested in field for two months in the autumn 1944 and winter 1945. 51 air combats resulted in 12 enemy fighters downed at loss of one Yak-9K. But unreliable cannon prevented its mass production.

The large variety of models required some unification to be undertaken, which resulted in appearance in May 1944 of Yak-9M model, which allowed manufacturing Yak-9T and Yak-9D around the same fuselage. It differed from standard Yak-9D by the cabin moved 400 mm aft, like on Yak-9T. Besides, the work on elimination of constructive and manufacture defects of the previous models noticed in service was carried out on Yak-9M. The standard armament consisted now two 12,7 mm machine guns and one 20 mm cannon. When even longer range fighter than Yak-9D was needed Yakovlev OKB designed the Yak-9DD (DD or "Daldego Deysvija", "Long Range"). Two more fuselage tanks was fitted resulting in a fuel capacity of 880 litres and a range of 2200 kilometers. Yak-9DD had 110 kilometres longer range than the famous long range fighter P-51D Mustang with its external drop tanks ! Very interesting was also Yak-9B fighter-bomber, it could take four 100 kg bombs immediately behind the pilots seat in four pipe-type bomb bays. Yak-9R was a reconnaissance version and Yak-9PD was a high-altitude interceptor.

In 1944 Yakovlev's design bureau developed a new modification of Yak-9, the Yak9U (U or "Uluchshenny", "Improved"). It was a new aircraft, very close in arrangements to Yak-3. The initial production of the Yak-9U used the M-105PF engine until the bugs were worked out of the 1650 horsepower M-107 engine. The Yak-9U featured a number of aerodynamic improvements, such as moving the oil cooler from the nose to the left wing and placing the cocpit even farther back. A new propeller was also fitted. Armament was a 20 millimeter or 23 millimeter cannon firing through the prop spinner, and two 12,7 millimeter machine guns. The Yak-9U was a highly effective and extremely maneuverable fighter, with a speed of 713 km/h at an altitude of 5600 meters. Increased availability of aviation-grade metals late in the war allowed the Yak-9U to receive an all-metal wing and metal skinning overall. This variant was known as the Yak-9UT, though it saw little combat as Nazi Germany was collapsing by the time it reached front-line service in early 1945.

The last version of the Yak piston fighters was the Yak-9P, which was introduced into service in 1946. The Yak-9P featured improved instrumentation, such as radio compass, and could carry two 100 kilogram bombs, one under each wing. It had improved armament with one or two fuselage mounted 20 millimeter cannon synchronized to fire through the propeller arc, in addition to the usual cannon mounted in the propeller boss. It saw first action in North Korean hands in 1950. During the early parts of the Korean war, North Korean Yak-9Ps came head-to-head with American F-51D Mustangs and F-82G Twin Mustangs. The Yak-9P seems to have come off the worse in these encounters, though apparently because of the limited North Korean pilot training rather than any great inferiority of the aircraft. The US captured and evaluated a Yak-9P, and pilot reports found it was an extremely capable aircraft, though its manufacturing and finish quality were crude by Western standards. The Yak-9P was supplied to many Soviet satellite air forces in the early postwar period. A total of 16769 Yak-9 fighters were built in all by the time production ceased in 1947. The total number of all Yak fighter variants was 36737.

Finnish front

At the Finnish front the new Yak fighters showed themselfs for the first time at the end of 1942. Ilmari Juutilainen claimed a victory over a Spitfire that he had downed 22. of March 1942 (SIHL 1/1997). It was commonly known that the Soviet Union used Lend Lease fighters such as the Spitfire. But after the war when the Soviet archives had opened the downed plane was identified as Yak-7, which was totally unknown type for the Finns at the time. Finnish pilots claimed victories over Yak-1s and Yak-7s seldomly during 1943, but in 1944 Yak-9 was the most common version of the Yak fighters in use in the Finnish front. The Finns considered Yak fighters quite fast and modern planes.

Yak-1b technical data

Engine Klimov M-105PF 1180 hp
Dimensions Lenght 8,48 m; wingspan 10,00 m; wing area 17,15 m2
Weights Empty weight 2310 kg; max. takeoff 2885 kg
Performance 532 km/h sea level; 596 km/h 4250 m; 360 degrees in 19 sec./1000m
Armament 1x20mm ShVAK cannon (135 rounds); 1x12,7 mm Berezin UBS mg (220 rounds)
Production 8721 (all Yak-1 variants)


Yakovlev Yak-1 Vol. I and II, Sergei Koutnetsov, Alexander Rusetski by KAGERO
Jak-7 ja Jak-9, Robert Bock (Monografie Lotnicze)
Yak Fighters, Greg Goebel
Sovietwarplanes pages, Massimo Tessitori
IL-2 Sturmovik forum

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