History: When the German Army
swept into Russia in June, 1941, Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering assured the generals that
Germany would destroy Russias air defense capability. They very nearly succeeded.
Caught by surprise, Russias air force was decimated on the ground and in the air.
Moving his design and manufacturing facilities east of the Ural Mountains, Alexander
Yakovlevs design bureau began production of the Yak-9 in 1942, with delivery of the
light, versatile craft to fighter regiments by October of that year. Eventually, a record
16,769 Yak-9s of all models would be built.
The single engine Yak-9 operated with a wide variety of
armament for use in anti-tank, light bomber and long-range escort roles, first seeing
combat during the Battle of Stalingrad. The standard version, the Yak-9M,
had 20mm cannon and two 12.7mm machine guns. As one German survivor of the air battles
over Russia stated, "The Yak was no match for the ME-109 but there were always so
they swarmed like bees whenever we showed up." As the war progressed more
advanced models made their debut:
Yak-9DD -- With enlarged fuel
tanks, this model had an ultra long range of 1,367 miles. It was used to escort American
bombers on raids against Romanian oil fields.
Yak-9B -- Using an internal bay
behind the cockpit, this bomber version could carry four 220 lb. bombs or containers with
light anti-personnel armament.
Yak-9R -- A special
photo-reconnaissance variant fitted with specialized camera gear.
Yak-9PD -- To deal with high
altitude German reconnaissance aircraft, this model was fitted with a two-stage,
gear-driven supercharger and single 20mm cannon.
Production ceased in 1947, but not before a number of
communist-bloc countries took delivery of later models. There are several static
Yak-9s in private hands today, and beginning in 1996, several airworthy
Russian-built replicas have been built.
Nicknames: Frank (NATO code name); Yastrebok
("Little Hawk"); Ostronosyi ("Sharp Nose" -- Generic name for
all inline-engine powered Yak fighters).
Engine: One1,650-hp Klimov VK-107A V-12 piston engine
Weight: Empty 5,988 lbs., Max
Takeoff 6,830 lbs.
Wing Span: 32ft. 0.75in.
Length: 28ft. 0.5in.
Height: 9ft. 8.5in.
Range: 541 miles
engine-mounted 20-mm MP-20 cannon;
(0.5-inch) UBS machine guns;
bombs on underwing racks
Number Built: 16,769
Number Still Airworthy: At least 4.
AviaScan Group -- Aircraft recovery in
northern Russia, including Yak-9s.
Yakovlev's Piston-Engine Fighters
by Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Khazanov
Paperback, 144 pages
Published 2002 by Aerofax Midland Publ. Ltd.
An authoritative monograph describes the entire line of Yak piston fighters, from
the Yak-1 through the Yak-9.
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