Yakovlev Yak 3 – A Great Soviet Interceptor

The Yak 3 was a highly maneuverable, low-altitude fighter-interceptor. All German pilots were taught to fear the Yakovlev 3 because it could outturn, out-climb and out-accelerate both the Messeschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulfe 190s at the low altitudes at which it tended to operate.

Most air battles on the Eastern front were fought at low altitude. The Yak 3 was designed as an air-superiority plane for this specific level of the battlefield. It was meant to intercept Junkers Ju 88s and other ground attack planes and their escorts. Speed was always a requirement so the Yak 1M airframe was changed to fit the powerful VK 107 engine. The cowling was lightened and streamlined and the chin-mounted oil cooler was switched to two, more aerodynamic intakes at the base of each wing. The wings were shortened as well and the weapon loadout was lessened to save even more weight. When the VK 107 proved not to be available in proper quantities, the VK 105PF was substituted.

The Yak 3 was a deadly weapon when skilled hands held the stick. In one engagement on July 14, 1944, eight Yak 3s squared off against 60 German aircraft. Without sustaining a loss the Yak 3 formation brought down three Ju 88s and four Me 109s.

4,848 Yak 3s were built. The plane served until 1946.

Yakovlev Yak 3


Type Fighter
Power Plant 1 x 1,300-horsepower VK 105PF liquid cooled in-line engine
Max speed: 655 Km/h (407 mph)
Ceiling: 10,700 m (35,105 ft.)
Range: 900 km (559 mi.)
Weight (empty): 2,105 kg (4,641 lb.)
Weight (loaded): 2,660 kg (5,864 lb.)
Wingspan: 9.17 m (30 ft. 2 in)
Length: 8.48 m (27 ft. 10 in)
Height: 2.41 m (7 ft. 11 in)
Armament: 2 x 7.62mm machine guns; 2 x 30mm cannons; 1,321 pounds of bombs or rockets
Service 1944 – 1946