Aviation of Word War II

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Stepan Mikoyan and Yak-1

1922 - 2017

Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan, Guard Captain

Guard captain. 12th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (318th Air Defense Fighter Air Division, 1st Air Defense Army, Central Air Defense Front), flight commander.

Being at the front of the Patriotic War from December 1941 to January 1942, and from September 1942, he flew fourteen sorties on the Yak-1 aircraft, with a total duration of 13 combat hours, of which: to cover his troops - 12, cover of the railway d. stations - 1, cover of the airfield - 1 sortie.


As soon as the war began, on June 23, we flew independently on the I-16.

In general, pilots at that time said that those who fly well on the I-16 can fly on all other aircraft. And I say so too. The I-16 was very strict in piloting. The control stick moved almost effortlessly. The movements were very short. In addition, the I-16 fell into a tailspin very easily. On many planes, there was a shaking before the stall into a spin, and it is possible to have time to stop the stall. And in the I-16, the occurrence of shaking coincided with entering a tailspin. True, it was easy to get out of the tailspin on it. Therefore, we were taught a corkscrew on it, so that we already knew what to do in this case. In general, on the I-16 in combat units, many crashed precisely because of a stall into a tailspin at low altitude.

This machine required delicate, precise piloting. And the plane was very difficult to land. If you leveled off on landing and created a three-point position at an altitude of more than 15 - 20 centimeters, he fell onto the wing. Moreover, it was very difficult for him to maintain the direction when he was already running after landing upon landing. If, literally a little bit, the nose of the plane moves along the horizon, it was immediately necessary to parry with a foot. And if he missed it a little, it will turn around, and when at high speed, it will turn over. Such reversals happened often, but I didn’t.


And this is how it happened that in Moscow we split up. The three of us with Timur Frunze and Volodya Yaroslavsky ended up in the 16th Fighter Regiment in Lyubertsy near Moscow. Only there they had time to appear when Vasily Stalin, who took care of us all the time, began to teach us how to fly on the new Yak-1 plane. In general, there were I-16s and MiG-3s in that regiment, there were no yaks, so he took us from the regiment to Moscow. I saw this plane for the first time even earlier, in August 1941. Then we were finishing the flight school, and Vasily Stalin, a former inspector of the air force, flew to us on it (Vasily was not yet the head of the inspection). We looked at these planes as a miracle of technology. We climbed, of course, into the cockpit. It was immediately apparent that the cockpit was much more cultured compared to the I-16. Devices are more accurate. Then it turned out that flying the Yak-1 was easier and more enjoyable than the I-16. The yak also had its drawbacks. Nevertheless, during the war, Yaki fighters were good aircraft. They were especially enjoyable to fly. And on landing, the plane was simple, did not turn around, and landed well.

The yak is even easier to land than La-5, which I flew after the war, when I was studying at the academy. On landing, Lavochkin strove to fall on its wing, it was difficult to maintain its direction on takeoff. He tried to turn around due to the reaction of the screw, so he had to keep his foot and lift his nose more smoothly. And on the "yak" it was easier, very calmly took off. Of course, they crashed on "yaks" too, but less than on many other planes.

The inspection included Yak-1 aircraft and a training version of the Yak-7V spark, and Vasily Stalin began to fly with us at the central airfield with us. After two flights on the Yak-7V, he independently released the Yak-1.

— Have there been any technical failures?

- Of course it happened. Once, just in Dvoevka, my propeller regulator failed, and it went into spinning. That is, there is a maximum allowable speed of 2700, and he went further. I remove the gas so that it does not spin, and then there is no thrust. So I hardly made it to the airfield.

Other little things happened at times. Once the oil was knocked out. Oil flooded me all over. My second brother, Alexei, who also ended up in our regiment, also had a breakdown. They were escorting the plane of some big general to Siauliai. And on landing at Alexei's left front wheel turned around. There is a pin that holds the wheel in position, and that pin has flown out. The wheel got stuck across, he skapotized, turned over on his back, ended up in the hospital, injured the bones of his face, slightly the spine. Then we even wanted to attract the technician, but we defended it.

And I also had a case where I was to blame myself. When I received the new yak that came from the factory, I decided to try if the compressor was working or not. And for this you need to close the tap and see if it pumps up. I blocked it. And then I forgot to open it. Accordingly, only the air that was in the system remained. And so, when I released the landing gear, the main struts came out (at that time, some yaks already had retractable wheels, and some did not), and the rear tail wheel did not come out. As a result, I sat on two front wheels and on the tail.

In Dvoevka, one day, while descending from a great height, I wanted to use a lever to switch the supercharger gear from second to first, but instead moved the lever of the stop valve, that is, the fuel supply compartment. The motor passed, and I began to plan for the airfield. Calculated the trajectory and sat down exactly at the landing "T".

- Did the yaks' engine control distract from piloting?

- No. It only required switching the speed of the supercharger. And there was a steering wheel for the propeller pitch regulator, but in an air battle the pilots keep everything up to the stop and do not engage in any engine control. The steering wheel was especially not used in battles. Propeller tightening is beneficial when flying en route. I used it on patrol. An engineer of the 32nd regiment once said at a gathering of pilots: “Mikoyan has the most fuel left. How he does it?" - "I tightened the screw."

- Did you fly the Yak-9U?

- Yes. It appeared, in my opinion, only in the 44th year. It had an M-107 engine. I flew on it as a ferryman. The engine was heating up badly while taxiing. This was his main flaw. The main thing was to have time to steer before the start and start taking off. If I didn't have time, and I had it once, I had to turn it off and sit, wait until it cools down. And when you start taking off, the speed is about 50 - 70 kilometers, it starts to cool down, the temperature is already dropping. And the speed of the aircraft was noticeably higher than on the conventional Yak-9. At the ground, I somehow accelerated it to 595 km / h.

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Soviet test pilot. Hero of the Soviet Union (1975). Lieutenant General of Aviation. Honored Test Pilot of the USSR. Candidate of Science (Engineering).


  • I fought in a fighter / Artem Drabkin /