The Yakolev Yak-9 is a single-engine fighter aircraft that was used in World War II by the Soviet Air Force. It is the most mass-produced Soviet fighter aircraft of all time.
There were many variants of the Yak-9 fighter (including a ground-attack variant), with a total of two different wings, five different engines, six different fuel tank combinations, and seven armament configurations. All of them shared a lightweight duraluminum design, lowered rear fuselage decking and an all-around-vision canopy.Though not as well-armed, the Yak-9 had superiority in top speed over all other fighters in service on the Eastern front below 19,800 feet. They performed better in combat in numbers rather than one-on-one engagements. Nevertheless, the Luftwaffe considered the Yak-9 far more of a threat than prior Yaks, and at one point during the war, German pilots were instructed not to engage positively-identified Yak-9s.
However, their M-105/VK-107 engines were notoriously problematic, leading to power plant overheating, oil leaks, loss of pressure during climbs, spark plugs burning out, intense vibration, and an extremely short engine life (25 hours).
Despite these known problems, the Yak was ordered into mass production with 16,679 eventually being built.
The Yak-9 was mass produced in the Soviet Union from 1942 to 1948. It first saw combat in late 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad. Due to its speed and handling characteristics, it was able to outmatch the Bf-109 at low altitudes despite being less well armed.
Near the end of the war, on March 22 1945, the Yak-9 became the first Soviet aircraft to successfully shoot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.
In 1949, the Soviets provided their surplus Yak-9 aircraft to satellite states in the Soviet bloc. Later, some Yak-9s ended up in the hands of the North Korean Air Force and were used during the Korean War.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 8.55m
- Wingspan: 9.74m
- Height: 3m
- Powerplant: 1 x Klimov M-105 PF V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine
- Max speed: 591km/h
- Range: 1,360km
- Armament: 1 x 20mm ShVAK cannon + 1 x 12.7 mm Berezin gas-operated UBS machine gun