The aircraft of today is the one from the World War II-era named Yakovlev Yak-9 which was the fighter of the Soviet Air Force. Yakovlev Yak-9 was a single-engine and a single-seat aircraft for multiple mission purposes that not only served for Soviets in World War II but after that in the Korean War as well. The Yakovlev Yak-9 is based on the robust design of its predecessor aircraft Yak-7B.
The Yakovlev Yak-9 made it to the operational service of the Soviet Air Forces back in December of 1942 at the Stalingrad Fort and was a key presence in the air superiority of Soviets over Luftwaffe aces that flew fighters like Messerschmitt Bf 109G and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters that took part during the Battle of Kursk back in summer of 1943.
The Yakovlev Yak-9 was a high maneuverable fighter aircraft at both the low and high altitudes while flying at its top speed. These were the reasons that made the Yakovlev Yak-9 be one of the most mass-produced fighters of the Soviet Union. The aircraft also went on to see the production of many of its variants for mission-specific needs. The aircraft served not only the Soviet Union but also many of the other world air forces. In its notable post World War II services, Yakovlev Yak-9 was used by the North Korean Air Force during the Korean War.
Origin & Development:-
The designer of the Yakovlev Yak-9 was a man named Alexander Sergeevich Yakovlev who designed the aircraft around the series of a powerful engine called Klimov Engine that would later prove to be the nucleus of the Yakovlev Yak-9. When the powerful engine and robust body of the Yakovlev Yak-9 were coupled with its 20mm cannons and 12.7mm heavy machine guns, the aircraft was enough of an adversary for the German fighters in delivering a heavy offensive punch.
The aircraft was highly maneuverable at high speeds during both the low and high altitude flights which allowed for the aircraft to be able to do almost anything in the skies. The airframe of the aircraft was not only robust but was also adaptable to a certain extent. Mainly this feature was sued to convert the airframe of Yakovlev Yak-9 to that of a night fighter and interceptor models as well as ones that were used for bomber escort and anti-tank aircraft variants.
The construction of the Yakovlev Yak-9 was carried out with the goal of making it much lighter as compared to the Yak-7 and the aircraft was finally ready for active combat service back in October 1942.
Powerplant & Performance:-
The earlier models of the Yakovlev Yak-9 were fitted with the Klimov M-105 PF V-12 liquid-cooled engine which developed a thrust of 1180 HP for a maximum speed of about 367 mph for a range of 845 miles.
Later its engine was replaced with the Klimov VK-107A V-23 Liquid-cooled engine which developed about 1650 HP for driving the aircraft’s 3-blade propeller to allow it to fly at a top speed of 434 mph for a maximum combat range of about 541 miles. The aircraft could fly at a ceiling service of about 40000 feet with the rate of the climb being 4920 ft/min.
The Yakovlev Yak-9 was fitted with the following standard armaments.
- A single 20mm ShVAK cannon which could fire through the propeller hub.
- A single 12.7mm USB machine gun
As for the additional munition carrying capabilities, they would wary on the specific model and are as follows.
- 4 of the FAB-50 bombs weighing 50kg each
- 2 Bombs, each weighing 220lbs
- A single 23mm VYa cannon
- A single 23mm NS-23 cannon
- A single 37mm NS-37 cannon
- A single 45mm NS-45 cannon
- 2 of the 20mm Berezin B-20 cannons
- 2 of the 12.7mm US machine guns instead of the single standard 12.7mm machine gun
Battle of Stalingrad:-
The Yakovlev Yak-9 entered the active service of the Soviet Air Forces back in October 1942 and was used during the Battle OF Stalingrad later in the very same year. The aircraft was fitted with armaments that were used for anti-tank missions and the long-range bomber escort missions. The aircraft proved to be a worthy adversary for the Bf 109 fighter of the Luftwaffe but was less armed than this fighter. Although the fighter was later armed heavily, this still did not lessen its superior maneuverability and allowed its pilots to be great at dogfighting.
During 1943, the Battle of Smolensk occurred and a Free French Unit named Normandie-Niemen was equipped with the Yakovlev Yak-9. In June of 1944, the Great Summer offensive was launched against Germany and the Yakovlev Yak-9s were the first to achieve air kills but also suffered their first massive loss.
One of the top aces of the Yakovlev Yak-9 fighters was a pilot named First Lieutenant A.I. Vybornov, who achieved 19 air kills as well as shared 9 with others. He went on to receive an award from the Soviet Union back in 1945; the Gold Star Medal of the Hero OF Soviet Union.
The nomenclature by which the Yakovlev Yak-9 was known by the NATO was its codename “Frank”. Although the production of the Yakovlev Yak-9 was wrapped up after a few years of World War II, they were still made available for North Korean during the Korean War.
Post World War II service:-
Back in 1949, the Soviet Union also prided some of the Soviet Bloc’s satellite states with many of the Yakovlev Yak-9P aircraft. They were provided for allowing them to rebuild their air forces during the blockade of West Berlin.
Total number of aircraft produced and other Operators:-
The mass production of the Yakovlev Yak-9 was started from October of 1942 till late 1948 and during that time period, nearly 16769 of the Yakovlev Yak-9 aircraft in all its variant forms were manufactured. This number makes the Yakovlev Yak-9 be one of the mass-produced fighter aircraft of the Soviet Union.
Other than its primary operator being Soviet Union Air Forces, the aircraft was also exported to the following nations.
- North Korea
The first one to retire the Yakovlev Yak-9 was the Soviet Union back in 1950 while the last ones to retire their fleet of Yakovlev Yak-9 were the following two in 1955.
- Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force
- Bulgaria Air Force