Design began at the end
of 1941 of an all new single seat fighter using the new VK-107 engine,
requiring the least possible drag, smallest dimensions and weight
consistent with a manoeuvrable and tough machine. Due to delays with
the VK-107 engine and pressure to build the maximum number of aircraft
already on the production lines, this new Yak-3 programme was shelved.
A Yak-3 of the Soviet Air Force
A new smaller wing was
developed, the oil cooler was replaced with small twin coolers in the
wing root, the rear fuselage deck was cut down and an clear view canopy
was used along with other changes was tested on a single Yak-1M in late
1942. This experimental aircraft proved very successful, and a single
prototype under the designation Yak-3 was ordered. This Yak-3 prototype
first flew in late 1943. Although evaluation aircraft flew in combat,
the first series Yak-3s did not enter operational service until July
1944, with the 91st IAP. Its of interest that all production Yak-3s
were given a thick coat of wax polish to improve streamlining.
The Yak-3 was found to
be an exceptional dogfighter at altitudes up to 13,125 ft (4000 m). Its
improved performance was remarkable, particularly as the initial
non-availability of the VK-107 engine forced reliance to be placed on
the VK-105PF-2 that had powered earlier Yaks. Built to a total of
4,848, the Yak-3 achieved fame and a very high score against German
aircraft in 1944-45. The Yak-3 equipped the famous Free French 'Normandie-Niemen'
unit which actually turned down the use of American P-39s and Soviet
Yak-9s in favour of the Yak-3. The Yak-3 achieved its peak of
perfection when the 1,700 hp (1268 kw) VK-107A engine became available
(although in limited numbers) in August 1944, which improved its
performance to 447 mph (720 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000 m).
On 14 July 1944 a group
of 18 Yak-3s ran into a flight of 30 Luftwaffe fighters. During the
course of the battle, 15 Luftwaffe aircraft were shot down with the
loss of only one Yak-3. This fighter eventually became so dangerous to
the Luftwaffe that in late 1944 they issued a directive to all
Luftwaffe pilots to avoid combat under 5000 m with any Yakovlev fighter
that lacked an oil cooler under the nose.
Cockpit of the Yak-3
About 100 Yak-3s with
the 1,700 hp (1268 kw) Klimov KV-107A engine. They began operational
service in early 1945.
aircraft with the Klimov VK-108 engine. This aircraft first flew on 19
December 1944 and demonstrated a maximum speed of 463 mph (745 km/h) at
19,685 ft (6000 m). It was this version that proved to be the fastest
of all Yak-3 variants.
An anti-tank version
built in small numbers with a 37 mm N-37 cannon and two 20 mm B-20S
A one off Yak-3 with a
57 mm OKB-16-57 cannon.
A small quantity of
aircraft built with three 20 mm B-20 cannon and two 12.7 mm (0.50 in)
UBS machine guns.
Yak-3RD (or Yak-3D)
An adaptation of series
aircraft which incorporated the Glushko RD-1 rocket unit in the tail of
A high altitude
Rebuilt aircraft with
the ASh-82FN radial engine and twin B-20 cannon. Despite the fact the
engine was heavier than the previous engines, this version actually
weighted less than the standard Yak-3. During a series of test flights
started on 12 May 1945, the aircraft achieve a maximum speed of 441 mph
(710 km/h) at 20,015 ft (6100 m).
A Yak-3 with the Klimov
VK-107A and a turbocharger tested in 1945.
Developed as a
conversion trainer in late 1945 with the ASh-21 radial engine.
Eventually became the Yak-11 trainer.
Seat Fighter / Interceptor
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakolev
1,300 hp (969 kw) Klimov VK-105PF-2 12-cylinder Vee engine.
Maximum speed 407 mph (655 km/h) at 10,170 ft (3100 m); service ceiling
35,105 ft (10700 m).
Range: 559 miles
(900 km) on internal fuel.
equipped 4,641 lbs (2105 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 5,864
lbs (2660 kg).
30 ft 1/4 in (9.20 m); length 27 ft 10 1/4 in (8.49 m); height 7 ft 11
1/4 in (2.42 m); wing area 159.53 sq ft
(14.83 sq m).
engine mounted 20 mm ShVAK cannon with 120 rounds and two synchronised
12.7 mm (0.50 in) UBS machine guns with 250 rounds each.
(initial production), Yak-3/VK-107A (about 100 aircraft built),
Yak-3/VK-108 (experimental with the VK-108 engine), Yak-3T (anti-tank
version with one 37 mm and two 20 mm cannon), Yak-3T-57 (anti-tank
version mounting a 57 mm cannon), Yak-3P, Yak-3RD or Yak-3D
(experimental), Yak-3V (high altitude), Yak-3PD (VK-106 engine), Yak-3U
(radial engine), Yak-3TK (VK-107A engine with turbocharger), Yak-3UTI
Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Free French Forces.