Yak-3 (Як-3) fighter family, A.S.Yakovlev

General Information
Type Yak-3 (Як-3)
Function Fighter
Year 1943 - 1946
Crew 1
Type VK-105PF (ASh-82FN) (VK-107A) (VK-108) (RD-1)
Takeoff 1210 to 1850 hp
at 0m 1210 to 1570 hp
at altitude (*) 1180 to 1670 hp
Size (m)
Length 8.17 to 8.55
Wingspan 9.2 to 9.8
Wing area (m2) 14.85 to 15.35
Weights (kg) and loads
Empty 2105 to 2411
Loaded 2616 to 3059
Speed (km/h)
at 0m 522 to 732
at altitude (*) 632 to 782
Landing 137 to 150
Turn time 17 to 21 sec
Roll (m [sec])
Takeoff 250 to 470
Landing 430 to 610
Range (km)
Practical 585 to 1060
Flight Endurance hmin
Ceiling (m)
Practical 10050 to 13000
Climb (min)
5000m 3.5 to 5.7
Payload (kg)
Fuel 266 to 450
Gun Type (1) 20, 23 or 37mm
Position Through the hub
Ammo 25 to 120
Gun Type (1 or 2) 12.3 or 20mm
Position Engine cowling
Ammo 200 to 300
Salvo (kg/sec) 1.83 to 5.76
(*) depending on the engine type and aircraft modification

Yak-3's ready for takeoff
(Gordon) courtesy of Thomas Heinz

The Yak-3 became the last and the brightest of the Yak family. Experience of two combat years was concentrated in this fighter design, and it became de-facto a new aircraft. All best modification of the Yak-1 and Yak-9 found their way to the Yak-3, and many of Yak-3 novelties were introduced into latest variants of the Yak-9.

Unlike earlier Yakovlev's fighters which were a multi-role designs, Yak-3 had only two combat assignments - fighter and high-altitude interceptors. Changes touched mostly the wing (smaller span and area). Oil cooler and water radiator were redesigned, airdynamics was improved substantially. New lighter aircraft cannons provided Yak-3 with firepower seen before only on much heavier machines. 3-piece canopy and cut-down upper fuselage gave pilot an excellent view. As production progressed, more and more wooden parts were replaced by metal. Latest variants had no wooden parts, while early batches construction was similar to the Yak-1.

81k b/w Yak-3 built on savings of farmer Ferapont Golovatyj and presented to Major B.Eremin
(Gordon) courtesy of Thomas Heinz

Yak-3 was built in 18 modifications:
- airframe - 4
- engine - 8
- armament - 6

  1944 1945 1946 Total
N°292 Saratov 1682 1918 240 3840
N°31 Tbilisi 498 462 48 1008
Total 2180 2380 288 4848

Yak-3 production variants had unmatched maneuverability, and was superior to all enemy fighters below 5000m. In handling it was even better than Spitfire marks available in the USSR, despite higher stalling speed. All this came with certain price: cockpit equipment was Spartan (though adequate), even fuel gauges were located on the upper wing surface under glass covers.

44k b/w Yak-3 of Normandie-Niemen
(Gordon) courtesy of Thomas Heinz

In November 1942 French fighter detachment "Normandy-Niemen" was established. Pilots were presented with choice of any available aircraft type available (Soviet, British or American). Starting with Yak-1, they later received new Yak-3's. After the and of WW-II, 40 of those aircraft were flown to France. There they served without an accident in a combat unit and later in the pilot schools until 1956.

Not all went as planned with new fighter. All efforts to install VK-107 engine (as was originally intended) failed due to airframe restrictions. Gained experience allowed to fit same powerplant to larger Yak-9.

44k b/w Yak-3 under restoration
Paul Nann

Recently Yak-3 is in small series production with Allison engine, available as a flying collectible. Some airframes were recovered from wartime (and post-war) wreck sites and restored to flying conditions with same engine.

Predecessors Experimental Series Following designs

Yak-1M M-105PF N°1

Yak-3PD VK-105PD

Yak-3PV VK-105PV

Yak-3 VK-105PF

Yak-U (Yak-11) trainer

Yak-1M M-105PF Dubler

Yak-3T VK-105PF

VK-105PF + RD-1

Yak-3P VK-105PF


Yak-3 VK-107A mixed construction

Yak-3 VK-107A metal wing

Yak-3 VK-107A all-metal

Yak-3 VK-108

  1. Истребители Второй мировой войны 1939-1945. - Вып. 1. - М.: АВИАМ, 1994. - С. 60-61.
  2. Косминков К.Ю. Истребитель Як-3 - мечта пилота. // Авиационное обозрение. - Вып. 5, 6.
  3. Косминков К.Ю., Гринюк Д.В. Самолёты сталинских соколов. - СПб.: "Аэромузей", 1992. - С. 37.
  4. Лагутин О.В. Самолёт на столе. - 2-е изд., испр. и доп. - Киев: "АэроХобби", 1997. - С. 123-124.
  5. Никольский М. Истребитель Як-1,7,9,3 / Bf.109. // Авиация и космонавтика. - 1999. - №5-6.
  6. Шавров В.Б. История конструкций самолётов в СССР. 1938-1950 гг. - 3-е изд., испр. - М.: Машиностроение, 1994. - С. 207-212.
  7. Stepanets. Yak Fighters in WWII
  8. Russian aircraft since 1940, pp.430-433
  9. В.Швабедиссен. Русские ВВС глазами командования Люфтваффе, Нью-Йорк, Арно-пресс,1960.
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  • Modified January 04, 2002 Back to
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