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This contest is fueled by the following news: The construction of fighter aircraft Yak-1M was completed in February 1943. It was modernization of Yak-1, from which it differs mainly by less weight & lesser wing area. Flight parameters of the aircraft improved a lot with maximum speed at an altitude of 4430m increasing upto 633 km/hr, time to climb upto 5000m during takeoff weight of 2655 kg was reduced to 4.1 min., Improvised version of Yak-1M "Doublure" was prepared in September 1943. Fabric covering the rear portion of fuselage was replaced with plywood with 2mm thickness, water and oil cooling systems were modified, antenna without mast was used, right type eyepiece with aim was replaced with collimator type, improved armouring and placed new propeller were done in the new aircraft.
Test pilots were pleased with new fighter aircraft. In their comments, the test pilots stated that Yak-1M has excellent horizontal & especially vertical manoeuvrability. Maximum velocity has increased significantly when compared to regular Yak fighter aircrafts. Due to availability of high flying parameters, aircraft remained to be simple in piloting & does not require strict training for test pilots.
Test pilot Major General & Aviation Hero of Soviet Union, Peter M. Stefanovsky wrote: By considering the excellent aircraft flight data, good weaponry and more convenience for pilots, it is advisable to recommend to start serial production of this aircraft as a replacement of Yak-1 and Yak-7 as early as possible & it is necessary to leave only Yak - 9 for further installation of M-107A engines on them.
So, the next fighter aircraft got a start in life & with a new name - Yak - 3. First serial production aircrafts were dispatched to 91st Fighter Aviation Regiment 2nd Air Force, which in June 1944 took part in offensive operations in Lvov. Over 40% of pilots were young pilots who never took part in battles. However, within one and half month, the pilots successfully completed 430 assault mission sorties, carried out five air group battles, destroying 23 enemy aircrafts. Russian air force lost just two Yak-3 aircrafts. Conclusion of the pilots was unequivocal: "At altitudes of over 5000m ( air combat did not take place over 5000m ) Yak-3 was superior to Me-109 & FW-190. Yak-3 is easily catches up enemy fighters during vertical ascending & descending manoeuvres".
Pilots of 16 July 1944 battle specially remembered the aircraft & it was proved during the battle that Yak-3 can successfully combat with numerous superior enemy aircrafts. War began with induction of 10 Yak - 3 fighter aircrafts against 8 Me-109 & 4 FB-190 aircrafts and the numbers were increased from both sides with 18 from our side against 24 enemy aircrafts. At the end of the war, 15 enemy aircrafts were destroyed whereas only one Yak- 3 was lost from our side.
First two hundred Yak-3 aircrafts were equipped with gun SHVAK & one synchronous UB machine gun & later on a second synchronous UB machine gun was fitted in the aircraft. Pilots observed a single shortcoming of the aircraft: low fuel stock, which made the free combating ineffective due to small duration of combat sorties. Therefore, Yak-3 were used mainly for calling ground stations. Another drawback is weak fitment of upper covering of wing. Even cases have been registered when the covering came off during the dive of aircraft with full velocity. However, despite such damages, fighter aircrafts made normal landing. Knowing the dangerous feature of the aircraft, pilots tried not to exit onto extreme modes, which decreased the causalities and easy manoeuvrable Yak - 3 quickly became popular.
Excellent flight data of the aircrafts & numerous enemy planes, destroyed by this aircraft in wars & high emotional lift, which is characteristic for final phase of war contributed to the fact that, Yak-3 became symbol of harbinger of victory for Soviet fighter in minds of many Yak - 3 pilots.
Undoubtedly, Yak-3 was one of our most modernized fighter aircrafts during Great Patriotic War. Design of fighter aircraft was simple & tubular steel truss was rational to base of fuselage. With ain to reduce the weight of truss, fuselage was made with engine mounting. In the remaining framework of fuselage as well as its theoretical contours did not differ from Yak-1, Yak-7 and Yak-9. In nose part, covering of fuselage was made from easily removable duralumin hoods, tail part was sheathed with plywood. Wing of Yak-3 is non-detachable two-spar wing. Profile of wing - standard Yak type Clark YH with relative thickness of 14% at root & 7% at wing end. For comparison, Yak-1, Yak-7 & Yak-9 have 15% at root & 8% at wing end. Wing had metal framework - spars, ribs & plywood sheathing. Like on Yak-9, covering was glued to special plywood strips, fastened to metal framework using rivets. Combat use experience showed that such joint is not strong enough.