Yak-3 fighter. Developed in 1943. Single monoplane of mixed design with closed cockpit and retractable landing gear.

A crew – 1 person. Armament: a cannon (20 mm SHVAK), a machine gun (12.7 mm UB). The speed is 646 km / h. The practical ceiling is 10400 m. The power is 1240 hp.

Museum of the Victory, Moscow.

The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a single-engine, single-seat World War II Soviet fighter. Robust and easy to maintain, it was much liked by both pilots and ground crew. One of the smallest and lightest combat fighters fielded by any combatant during the war, its high power-to-weight ratio gave it excellent performance and it proved to be a formidable dogfighter.

The origins of the Yak-3 went back to 1941 when the I-30 prototype was offered along with the I-26 (Yak-1) as an alternative design. The I-30, powered by a Klimov M-105P engine, was of all-metal construction, using a wing with dihedral on the outer panels. Like the early Yak-1, it had a 20 mm (0.79 in) ShVAK cannon firing through the hollow-driveshaft nose spinner as a motornaya pushka (моторная пушка – Literally: ‘Motor Cannon’), twin 7.62 mm (0.300 in) synchronized ShKAS machine guns in cowling mounts and a ShVAK cannon in each wing.

During the Battle of Stalingrad, Luftwaffe fighters exhibited significant speed, climb rate, and armament advantages over those of the VVS. The Yak-1 then in service was understood to be in urgent need of a modernization were it to fight on equal footing against the latest models of German fighters, as well as better energy retention and higher firepower.

Then, in 1943, a group of designers headed by Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev designed the Yak-3, a further development of the proven Yak-1 aimed at improving survivability, flight characteristics and firepower, which required a lower weight, a higher-power engine and therefore, faster speed.

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