With thanks to Will Greenwood for giving us the opportunity to see this classic aircraft, a favourite of both pilots and ground crew during WWII. A display that demonstrated both the agility of the aircraft and Wills' skills was reflected in the smiles on the faces of the spectators watching.
The first attempt to build a fighter called the Yak-3 was shelved in 1941 due to a lack of building materials and an unreliable engine. The second attempt used the Yak-1M, already in production, to maintain the high number of planes being built. The Yak-3 had a new, smaller wing and smaller dimensions then its predecessor. Its light weight gave the Yak-3 more agility.
The Yak-3 first flew in 1943 and was a further development of the YAK-1M airframe. The Yak-3 was considered the best of the low altitude (below 12,500 ft) fighters of WWII. Lighter and smaller than Yak-9 but powered by the same engine, Yak-3 was a very agile dogfighter and a forgiving, easy to handle aircraft loved by both rookie and veteran pilots. It first saw action in June 1943 and could out climb, out turn and out run the German Bf 109 and FW 190.
During the final two years of the Second World War, the Yak-3 proved itself a powerful dogfighter. Tough and agile below an altitude of 13,000 feet, the Yak-3 dominated the skies over the battlefields of the Eastern Front during the closing years of the war.
This unique Yak-3 is in the Normandie Niemen colours of Louis Delfino, who saw action on the Russian front during WW2, his squadron returned to France at the end of the war, landing at Paris on 20th June 1945.
(Photo courtesy of Brian Nicholas)