Yakovlev Yak-3 in the service of the National Liberation Struggle
|Classic Fighters 2015 - Yakovlev Yak-3 ZK-YYY|
Fighter plane of Soviet origin, Yakovlev Yak-3, represented the top of the development of a light fighter plane of high performance and great maneuverability, created by designer Alexandar S. Yakovlev, whose essential slogan was "simplicity doesn’t mean backwardness”. The plane’s first flight was performed in October 1943. and series production started in March 1944. Combat baptism Jak-3 had on 16th July 1944, and it was the best Soviet fighter plane in the W.W. II. To May 1945 there were manufactured 4.560 planes, and until the end of 1946, when production ceased, 4.848 fighters Yak-3.
Comparing with aircraft of western origin, Jak-3’s structure was obsolete. The fuselage of truss type construction of welded steel tubes, covered by plywood, the wing also wooden, except a metal boom. But, it didn’t influence to its characteristics. For a full horizontal 360° turn plane needed only 18 seconds, and a Yak-3, equipped by a much stronger engine of 1.324 kW (1.800 hp), achieved a speed of 745 km/ph, thus became the fastest Soviet piston engine fighter.
The first three Jak-3s reached Yugoslav aviation late 1944, and still wearing markings of the Soviet Air Force, were used on the Srem Front, flown, mainly, by commanding officers of the 112th and 113th Fighter Regiments, Sava Poljanec and Miljenko Lipovšćak, To the end of 1945 there were received 68 planes more, a were utilized, in general, in the 11th Air Fighter Division, 116. Air Regiment, as well as in the 94th and 254th Fighter Regiments. After the W.W.II, when unsolved relations with neighbors, supported by the Western Allies, almost brought to an armed conflict, and provocation and violation of Yugoslav airspace became frequent, pilots Dragomir Zečević and Dragan Stanisavljević, flying Yak-3 planes, on 9th August 1945, shot down an American C-47, which penetrated deep into the Yugoslav airspace, without permission. Pilots Vladimir Vodopivec and Milorad Knežev shot down another C-47 on 19th August, while Željko Čermelj on 5th October forced a "went astray” English C-47 to land at Niš airfield.
|Yak-3 in The Belgrade Aviation Museum|
During 1953 all 15 remaining Yak-3s were handed over to so-called schooling regiments. They were removed from an inventory early 1957. The exposed sample, built in 1945, (the YAF serial 2252, c/n 8545), is the only preserved authentic Yak-3 in the world.