|This page is about the Soviet fighter Yak-3. For other versions, see Yak-3 (Family).|
The Yak-3 is a rank III Soviet fighter with a battle rating of 4.0 (AB), 4.3 (RB), and 4.7 (SB). It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27.
One of the finest Soviet fighters of World War II, the Yak-3 is a derivative of the Yak-1 with a revised airframe. The oil cooler formerly located under the nose has been split into one intake per wing root to reduce drag, and the airframe has smaller dimensions overall. While it uses the same VK-105PF engine as the Yak-1B, the Yak-3's lighter weight gives it an excellent power-to-weight ratio and wonderful handling. Weighing in at only 2.7 tons, it is actually lighter than the later models of the A6M Zero. Like previous Yaks, the Yak-3 is fast at low altitudes, can outturn the majority of its opponents, and can accelerate quickly. It is great fun to fly and will serve Soviet pilots well in anti-fighter duties. Those who enjoy the Yak-3 can try the foldered Yak-3P, which has three cannons, and the succeeding Yak-9U, which trades some agility for improved speed and medium altitude performance.
As mentioned earlier, the Yak-3 retains the typical Yakovlev traits of great speed and climb at low altitude, good manoeuvrability, and poor high altitude performance. The sea level speed is about 550 km/h and is on par with the La-5FN. Few enemy fighters can match its speed below 2,000 m, even those with significantly higher top speeds. The turning ability is excellent and pretty close to the Spitfire Mk Vb. The roll rate is good at low to medium speeds. Vertical, horizontal, and manoeuvring energy retention are all good to very good. The high power-to-weight helps when performing spiral climbs or vertical loops. Overall, the Yak-3 likes to generate and retain energy, which means that continuous turnfights and vertical loops are easy for it to sustain and it can escape from engagements by holding onto dive speed if necessary.
The Yak-3 performs best in terms of speed and climb under 3,000 m and acceptably at around 4,000 m, but any altitude above that is not recommended. High speed characteristics are still poor: the wings have a low rip speed of about 685 km/h and the aircraft experiences strong compression in the roll and elevator above 600 km/h. Roll compression in particular becomes noticeable at above ~500 km/h IAS. Avoid steep or extended dives and do not dogfight at high speeds. For best manoeuvring performance, try to stay around 400 km/h IAS.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 4,100 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 380||< 420||< 490||> 340|
Survivability and armour
- 8.5 mm steel in pilot's seat
- 64 mm bulletproof glass behind the pilot's head
- 10 mm steel above the pilot's head
Unlike the Yak-1B or Yak-9T, the Yak-3 does not have bulletproof glass on the windshield. The resulting one-piece windscreen does offer a nice and clear view though. Avoid engaging enemies in head-ons; even if the pilot survives, the in-line engine cannot take much punishment.
The overall durability of the plane is poor, as can be expected for such a light aircraft. Large fuel tanks are located in the center sections of the wings and easily set alight by any incoming bullets. The airframe itself is easily torn apart by heavy machine guns and cannons. Use the Yak-3's manoeuvrability and speed to avoid getting hit in the first place.
Modifications and economy
The Yak-3 is armed with:
- 1 x 20 mm ShVAK cannon, nose-mounted (120 rpg)
- 2 x 12.7 mm Berezin UB machine guns, nose-mounted (150 rpg = 300 total)
The Yak-3 retains the standard 120 round prop-mounted ShVAK cannon used by most Yak fighters. It is a rather weak weapon by itself due to the low explosive content of its rounds, and will acquit itself poorly against more heavily armoured opponents like the Fw 190 series. Its main advantages are a high rate of fire and accuracy. The best belts to use are Armoured Targets or Default, as the AP-I rounds deal more consistent damage despite not having HE filler. The FI-T rounds offer some explosive damage are useful against very fragile aircraft like most Japanese fighters. Belts containing HEF rounds should be avoided, as they have less explosive content than the FI-T rounds and will often spark without dealing damage.
The Yak-3 features two 12.7 mm Berezin UB heavy machine guns. Most of the previous Yaks like the Yak-9T got by with just one, but having two like the Yak-7B does is very helpful. When loaded with the Air targets belt, they are better at starting fires than almost any other machine gun in the game. The Ground targets belt is nice too, as its cermet core rounds can rip through enemy aircraft, knocking out engines and pilots. Do watch the ammunition, as each machine gun only has 150 rounds instead of the 200 rounds provided for the standard single machine gun. They will run out of ammo at about the same time as the ShVAK if fired together.
The guns are best used at closer distances, where a concentrated burst can set your target on fire. If that happens, break off and enjoy the show. The Yak-3 does not have enough burst mass or explosive power to disassemble targets like US or German fighters can, so don't waste your ammunition. For this reason, be careful about attacking twin-engined fighters or especially bombers. Go for the engines (or fuel tanks, if you know where they are located) and quickly break off.
Gun convergence is not really a problem since all of these weapons are clustered tightly in the nose. Set it to a relatively high distance like 600 m or turn it off entirely.
Usage in battles
Typical Yakovlev strategies can be applied to the Yak-3. At the start of the match, climb and try to gain some altitude, perhaps to at least 3000-4000 meters. Some players may stay at tree-top level, but having altitude gives more room and energy to manoeuvre and escape. If using MEC, turn up the prop pitch to around 80-90% and open the radiators slightly; this will give maximum propeller thrust while keeping the engine nice and cool. If not using MEC, leave the throttle at around 90%. The Yak-3 does not have WEP in Realistic Battles.
As you get closer to the front lines, examine what the enemy team is doing. If there are enemies like Bf 109s looming at high altitudes, avoid approaching them directly. Ideally, they will dive on teammates first. If they get greedy and start dogfighting, you can pounce on them and take them out. If they start diving on you, turn towards teammates and enter a shallow dive. If their energy state is not much higher than yours, they may not have enough dive speed to catch you, and the Yak-3's low altitude speed can be put to good use in bleeding their energy. If they continue to chase you futilely after their energy has been bled, you can nose up and climb a bit before circling around and starting a dogfight.
When attacking opponents below you, approach in a shallow dive and try making a quick pass at them. Do not let your speed get fast enough to rip your wings or compress severely, but try to bring in some extra energy. If they dodge and the attack misses, extend and/or zoom back up. If the target is less agile and no other enemies are close enough to jump in, you can loop over and start to dogfight them. With an energy advantage and excellent agility, the only thing you have to worry about is your aim and ammo supply. If there are multiple opponents nearby or the target is more manoeuvrable than you, consider disengaging and sticking to these mild boom-and-zoom attacks.
It's important to practice forcing overshoots since the Yak-3 will often be unable to start engagements on its terms. An enemy that is pursuing a shallow dive but has enough speed to catch you can be countered by rolling gently side-to-side as they get closer to lull them into committing, then making a sharp turn just as they enter firing range. They will likely not be able to follow and will shoot right past; fire a few rounds in their direction and see if this prompts them to start evasive manoeuvres, which bleeds their energy, or start dogfighting, which will probably end in your favour. If they escape, disengage and recover your energy, waiting for the next opportunity. Working with teammates really helps since an enemy zoom climbing away from a failed attack can be picked off by friendlies prowling at higher altitudes.
Rolling scissors can be performed against opponents with poor roll rates, and can lead to an overshoot and reversal if performed correctly. Try using some elevator if necessary; certain aircraft like the Bf 109 have a hard time rolling and pulling up at the same time. P-63s and Fw 190s might be able to match you in scissors, but these opponents have bad low-speed handling and are easily dealt with by turnfighting.
If you are trying to outrun an opponent with the Yak-3's low altitude speed, the easiest way to dodge fire while preserving speed is to make gentle up and down movements. Keep in mind that although the Yak-3 much faster than comparable Spitfires and Zeroes, they may still be able to catch you if you make wild manoeuvres. Keep your distance, maintain some altitude to convert into speed in case they dive on you, and pick your fights wisely.
Don't go after bombers and attackers unless there's nothing else to do or they happen to present a very easy target. The Yak-3 has very little protection, so defensive armaments can destroy or severely damage it, and sturdy planes can use up a lot of ammo. Try to approach from safe angles, knock out gunners, and then surgically set them on fire.
Overall, the Yak-3 can be considered a "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none" aircraft. It will readily fulfil any fighter role a pilot will put it in, however, it won't excel in any – the American and German aircraft will still be better at energy fighting and executing Boom & Zoom tactics, while the British and the Japanese planes will still have an edge in manoeuvrability. Yet, the Yak-3 is a very potent machine which, with a skilled pilot behind the controls, is an opponent that you don't want to underestimate.
Yak fighters are typically not known for ground attack capabilities, Yak-9T aside, and the Yak-3 cannot do much to vehicles on the ground. It cannot carry any external ordnance, not even small bombs. The ShVAK and Berezin UBs can deal with light targets like armoured cars and might be able to penetrate tank roof armour if approaching from near-vertical angles, but the limited ammunition supply discourages this use. Instead, use the Yak-3 to swat enemy fighters and attackers from the skies. It is perfectly at home in the hectic, low-altitude environment of Ground RB battles, where its excellent agility is put to good use and the high altitude advantages of its rivals are irrelevant.
Bring out the Yak-3 if enemy fighters are in the air or will be soon. Climb a bit after spawning in and examine the sky for enemies. Attackers and fighters that are busy engaging ground targets are the easiest prey for the Yak-3. Avoid head-ons and defensive gunners, mind your ammo, and enjoy your superior performance. If nobody is around, climb off to the side and keep an eye on the enemy air spawn. A good Yak-3 pilot can be a terror for enemy CAS.
Manual Engine Control
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
Pros and cons
- Very manoeuvrable
- Excellent roll rate
- High acceleration and good top speed, especially at low altitudes
- Excellent energy retention, good for energy fighting
- Dual Berezin UB machine guns with upgraded belts are capable of doing good damage
- Much faster than previous Yaks
- Armament has low burst mass
- Poor high-altitude performance
- The engine still suffers from overheating if MEC is not used
- Low wing rip speed
- Flammable, and has a hard time putting fires out
- Suffers from compression at high speed
The idea to produce a new fighter for the Red Army Air Force went as far back as 1941. It was then that the Yakovlev Design Bureau presented the I-30 prototype, intended as an alternative to the earlier Yak-1 design. However, the German invasion of the USSR, as well as aluminium shortages, meant that the project had to be put on hold. Yakovlev resumed the development in 1943 while working on an upgraded version of the Yak-1 fighter. This time, it was decided that a new aircraft should be produced to completely replace the Yak-1 and Yak-7 models. The new machine was dubbed as the Yak-3 and entered service with the Red Army Air Force in 1944.
The new fighter quickly became very popular with Soviet pilots. They highly praised its solid armament of two Berezin UBS 12.7 mm machine guns and one ShVAK 20 mm cannon as well as ease of piloting and superb low-altitude performance. Marcel Albert, the top scoring French ace of World War II, cited the Yak-3 as one of the best fighters of the war, along with the P-51 Mustang and the Supermarine Spitfire. After the war, the Yak-3 was also used by the Air Forces of Socialist Yugoslavia and Poland.
The Yak-3P was produced from April 1945 until mid-1946, armed with 3 × 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannon with 120 rounds for the middle cannon and 130 rpg for the side weapons. The three-cannon armament with full ammunition load was actually 11 kg (24 lb) lighter than that of a standard Yak-3, and the one-second burst mass of 3.52 kg (7.74 lb) was greater than that of most contemporary fighters. Starting in August 1945, all Yak-3 were produced in the Yak-3P configuration with a total of 596 built.
The Yak-3 was a Soviet single-engine fighter of the WWII era. It was the first combat aircraft designed by Alexander Yakovlev's construction bureau. The Yak-3 was a further modification of the Yak-1, produced in 1944 and 1945, with a total of 4,848 built, and considered one of the best fighters of the war. In February 1943, a new Yak-1M variant was completed. It was a further development of the Yak-1, differing from it mainly in lower weight and smaller wing span.
By September 1943, yet another improved variant was ready, designated Yak-1M Dubler, on which the canvas skin on the tail section was replaced with 2 mm plywood, and oil and water radiators were improved. The Dubler also had a new mastless antenna, a ring sight instead of a reflector sight, improved armour and a new propeller. Test pilots were impressed by the new prototype. Their report stated in part: "Yak-1M possessed excellent horizontal, and especially vertical, maneuverability. Top speed greatly improved compared to earlier serial-production Yaks. Despite the improved performance, the aircraft remains easy to fly and does not require extensive pilot training". Therefore, the new modification went into production, receiving a new designation, Yak-3.
One of the most memorable air battles for the Yak-3 took place on 16th July 1944, when the plane showed it could confidently engage superior enemy forces. On that day, 10 Yak-3s met 8 Bf 109s and 4 Fw 190s, with the battle eventually growing to 18 Soviet and 24 German planes. In the end, 15 German planes were shot down, for the loss of a single Yak-3.
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- [Aircraft Profile] Yak-3
- Official data sheet - more details about the performance
- [News] Wings of Victory: Yak-3
- [Wikipedia] Yakovlev Yak-3
- [Air Vectors] Yak Piston Fighters - Yak-3
|A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau (Яковлев Опытное конструкторское бюро)|
|Yak-1||Yak-1 · Yak-1B|
|Yak-3||Yak-3 · Yak-3 (VK-107) · Yak-3P · Yak-3T · Yak-3U|
|Yak-9||Yak-9 · Yak-9B · Yak-9K · Golovachev's Yak-9M · Yak-9P · Yak-9T · Yak-9U · Yak-9UT|
|Yak-15||Yak-15P · Yak-15|
|Yak-38||Yak-38 · Yak-38M|
|Foreign use||▄Yak-3 · Challe's ▄Yak-9T|
|I-15||I-15 WR · I-15 M-22 · I-15 M-25 · I-15bis|
|I-153||I-153 M-62 · Zhukovsky's I-153-M62 · I-153P|
|I-16||I-16 type 5 · I-16 type 10 · I-16 type 18 · I-16 type 24 · I-16 type 27 · I-16 type 28 · I-180S|
|I-185||I-185 (M-71) · I-185 (M-82)|
|MiG-3||MiG-3-15 · MiG-3-15 (BK) · MiG-3-34|
|LaGG||I-301 · LaGG-3-4 · LaGG-3-8 · LaGG-3-11 · LaGG-3-23 · LaGG-3-34 · LaGG-3-35 · LaGG-3-66|
|La||La-5 · La-5F · La-5FN · La-7 · Dolgushin's La-7 · La-7B-20 · La-9 · La-11|
|Yak-1/7||Yak-1 · Yak-1B · Yak-7B|
|Yak-3||Yak-3 · Yak-3P · Yak-3T · Yak-3U · Yak-3 (VK-107)|
|Yak-9||Yak-9 · Yak-9B · Golovachev's Yak-9M · Yak-9T · Yak-9K · Yak-9U · Yak-9UT · Yak-9P|
|Other countries||▂P-40E-1 · ▂P-47D-27 · ▂Hurricane Mk IIB · ▂Fw 190 D-9 · ▂Spitfire Mk IXc|
|P-39||▂P-39K-1 · ▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0 · ▂P-39Q-15|
|P-63||▂P-63A-5 · ▂P-63A-10 · ▂P-63C-5|