Aviation of World War II
In total, 459 "clean" Yak-9s were built by two Siberian factories. But the evacuation of aviation enterprises, and most importantly, the conscription of professional workers into the army, increased due to military failures at the beginning of the war, created problems with ensuring product quality. The appearance of the new Yakovlevsky fighter did not produce a special effect on the German air command, unlike, say, the La-5. The Germans simply did not notice the appearance of the new Yak, considering this modification to be some kind of, in their opinion, unremarkable Yak-7.
But the next modification - Yak-9T (tank) , built by the first large series, was destined for much greater fame and popularity! But first, a few words about another attempt to improve the basic fighter.
The first attempt in 1942 was the idea to install the M-106 engine on the Yak-9, which seemed more promising to aircraft builders, and at the same time to reduce the cross section of the radiators, i.e. reduce drag and improve aerodynamics as much as possible. The retractable tail wheel reappeared. This aircraft did not go into production due to the underdevelopment of the engine. The design bureau specialists did not manage to eliminate such problems as the release of oil through the breather, pressure surges in the gasoline system, which led from time to time to engine “flooding”.
In the winter of 1942-1943, when this peculiar fighter was being created, Stalin was waiting for the decisive summer campaign - the last attempt by the Germans to turn the tide of the war in the east using the latest and most powerful tanks "Tiger" and "Panther". Therefore, the idea was approved. The NS-37 A.E. cannon was chosen as the main weapon. Nudelman and A.S. Suranov with a length of 3400 mm and a weight of 150 kg. It was not a special aircraft gun, and some changes had to be made to the design. The nose of the fighter, as far as possible without a noticeable increase in weight, was strengthened. The cabin was moved back by 400 mm. The view of the lower part of the front hemisphere worsened, but the view of the rear hemisphere improved, which was especially important for a heavier aircraft. The visibility during taxiing has also deteriorated. The change in centering to a more rear was presented as a virtue, because, according to the developers, it made the aircraft more inert. But on the MiG-1 and MiG-3, rear centering was considered a disadvantage. At least, this is how A. Yakovlev writes in his book. Although by the time the Yak-9T was launched into the series, neither one nor the other was already produced.
At that time, according to the decision of the State Defense Committee (GKO) dated February 18, 1943, all aircraft had to be produced with a fuel reserve of 480 kg. This also applied to the Yak-9T. The reason for this decision was the significantly shorter time spent in the air by Soviet fighters than their opponents, as well as the urgent need to increase the range of the Yaks. Germany was out of breath. Stalin planned an offensive strategy for 1943, and without reliable air defense, the success of Soviet tank breakthroughs, which did not have serious anti-aircraft cover, became extremely problematic.
Installing the VISh-105SV propeller (diameter 3.0 m) with increased thrust was not enough. The Yak-9T had to be built with tanks for 33 kg of fuel and a design weight of 3025 kg. In those cases when this mass was observed in the series, the Yak-9T approached the Yak-9 in terms of its flight characteristics, yielding to it in vertical maneuver and significantly surpassing its main competitors Bf-109G2 and FW-190A, which appeared to that time on the Eastern Front, of course, if neither one nor the other had additional weapons.
The tank Yak-9T was built in January 1943, tests were completed at the Air Force Research Institute on March 4, 1943 (pilot V. Khomyakov). Serial production started by plant number 153 in March 1943, and completed in June 1945. A total of 2748 aircraft were produced. In the series, the fighter had an ammunition load of 30 rounds for the cannon and the usual 220 rounds for the machine gun. The cannon sleeve collector was located under the weapon, the reloading was pneumatic. The fire control of the gun and machine gun is separate from the electric air release buttons on the standard aircraft control stick.
The sight was simple, if not primitive, - a mechanical BB-1 (air sight) which consisted of a ring inside the cockpit and a front sight on the hood of a fighter. For firing at ground targets, marks were applied on the leading edge of the wing, allowing the aircraft to withstand a dive. The most advantageous were considered to be the distances of opening fire on point targets, fighter planes or tanks from 100 to 400 m (if the weapon is sighted very well), on bombers, as well as small watercraft up to 600 m (adjustment for clearly visible smoke and a bright pink track and trail). The stability of the fighter depended on the speed at the moment opening fire and queue length. However, a small ammunition load did not allow "scattering" volleys, especially since after the second, maximum third shot, it was necessary to "give a leg", i.e. turn, otherwise all the shells went past, and the plane turned sharply.
In the conclusion about the combat tests, it was noted: "It is advisable to equip units with flight personnel who are well-versed in aerial fire with Yak-9T aircraft." Combinations of 20 mm and 30 mm guns were produced by the German industry in the form of field installation kits. But, unlike the NS-37 cannon, their fire was much longer. The fact is that the Yak-9T could make only 1-2, maximum 3 aimed shots at the enemy. The probability of hitting a maneuvering fighter in combat was low. But if the pilot managed to hit the target, then the enemy aircraft was doomed in most cases from the rupture of even one projectile. Therefore, these aircraft were popular in combat units. Of all the single-engine Soviet fighters, they alone carried powerful weapons, having a chance to send a heavy or simply tenacious (like the FW-189) German vehicle to the ground with one successful salvo. For a maneuverable battle with the Bf109G, they were not very convenient. But the correct use of these machines, combined with the cover of lighter Yak-9D fighters, made it possible, as was the case during military trials from August 17 to September 18, 1943, to achieve obvious success. So, 12 Yak-9T with three Yak-9D in the 18th Guards IAP for 172 sorties with a total flying time of 151 hours 54 minutes. conducted 47 battles each, in which 9 were shot down and 2 enemy aircraft were shot down (FW-190 - four, Bf-109 - four, Ju-87 - two, FW-189 - one) with the loss of only three Yak-9T. This is an excellent indicator for the Yakovlev fighter, and for the fighters of the Red Army Air Force in general. However, one should not forget that during military tests, experienced pilots controlled the new equipment. And the difference between the fighters who were hastily prepared and had already fought more than once and had victories over a real enemy was especially noticeable precisely in 1942 and early 1943.
Yak's pilots received another important advantage with the adoption of the Yak-9T. From that moment on, Luftwaffe pilots became much more reluctant to go into frontal attacks, which gave rise to one of the Soviet post-war myths that the Germans were afraid of frontal attacks. The reason was simple and perfectly reasonable. The fact is that the approach time during a frontal attack with the Yak-9 or Yak-9T was almost the same, which means that the aiming time was the same. But if the ShVAK gun was ineffective in such a situation, then the NS-37 could destroy not only the Bf-109, but also the FW-190 with one hit. Namely, the pilots of the latter considered frontal attacks to be preferable before the appearance of the Yak-9T, since the Focke-Wulf air-cooled engine withstood bullet hits well, the aircraft and the pilot were well protected, and a salvo of two or four guns guaranteed ordinary Yaks a high probability of death. However, since it was very difficult to distinguish such Yaks in the air, the Germans usually evaded frontal attacks until almost the second half of 1944 - before the appearance of later versions of the FW-190, since they preferred to shoot down for sure, and the Messerschmitts began to avoid such a senseless attack altogether. in the opinion of the German pilots, the risk.
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IAP - Istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Fighter Aviation Regiment
GIAP - Gvardeyskiy istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment
GKO - Gosudarstvennyy komitet oborony - State Defense Committee