Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute
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TsAGI centenary in the history: the Yakovlev Yak-1

28 January 2019

The World War II Soviet fighter aircraft Yak-1 took its first flight in January 13, 1940. Military pilots loved this aircraft, because it was simple to operate and easy to maintain. The Yak-1 pilots included the world’s only female aces from the all-female 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment. They shoot down 38 German planes in 125 air battles.

The Yak-1 is the first combat aircraft, developed by the A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau, which was best known for building light sports aircraft. The Yak-1 was developed on the basis of the sporting aircraft Ya-7 at plant No. 115 and was originally called the I-26. Developing the aircraft, the designers tried to use common materials, achieving the highest lightness and sustainability. The fuselage consisted of welded chromansil pipes, the aircraft covering was duralumin and the low-set wings were made of wood and plywood. The VK-105 P engine had a capacity of 1050 HP; it enabled to get the speed of 587 km/h. It was decided to launch the aircraft serial production before the end of the official tests as the Second World War swept Europe. In the end, the “teething problems” of the aircraft, known as the Yak-1, were fixed in its operation. In particular, the oil cooler and the landing gears needed to be renewed. The landing gears ran hot at braked landing. The aircraft armament needed to be improved as well.

The Zhukovsky Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) contributed to the making of this fighter and its successors from the Yak-series. TsAGI wind tunnels tests were run to increase the aircraft flight speed. In particular, K.A. Ushakov with participation of S. l. Zack and J. G. Limonad were engaged in the engines cooling; under the leadership of D.V Khalezov there were conducted works on the aerodynamics improvement of the propellers. The speed increase was provided by the cracks sealing and individual jet exhaust pipes for each cylinder.

TsAGI was engaged in creating a filter that prevented the dust intrusion into the engine, as the military fighter aircraft often flew up from the dusty airfields. G.N. Abramovich, Doctor of Engineers Science, one of the leading TsAGI specialists wrote about the Yak-1 in his memories: “We made an offer to replace a part of the wing’s surface by filter gauze. At takeoff, a special deflecting gate closed the normal entrance to the tube and opened the way for the air to go through the filtering element. And this filter type justified itself!”

425 Yak-1 fighters had been produced by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, and then over eight thousand of its modifications. Such maneuverability could not reach the German Bf-109. The Yak-1 fought known pilots: triple Hero of the Soviet Union, Marshal of the Air Force Aleksandr Pokryshkin, twice hero of the Soviet Union, Amet-Khan Sultan, hero of the Soviet Union Alexey Maresyev, Air Chief Marshal of Aviation of the USSR, twice hero of the Soviet Union Aleksandr Koldunov, Air Marshal, twice hero of the Soviet Union Yevgeny Savitsky and others. The Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment entered in the war with this fighter. Production of the Yak-1 was completed in 1944, but it was engaged in aircraft operations till the end of the Great Patriotic War.

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