YAK- 9 –
16,769 (includes 800 postwar)
When talking about Russian aircraft production during WW II, we have to totally cleanse our minds of images
we usually label “aircraft production.” Forget
modern (for the time) assembly lines with dozens
of young men and women working in their shirt
sleeves in a comfortable work environment.
Russia had to rescue its aircraft-manufacturing
community by moving it over the mountains, out
of range of the Germans. That was no small feat,
often resulting in extremely crude buildings—
sometimes without heat—and always with
minimal living conditions. Even more amazing
is the fantastic numbers of aircraft the Russians
turned out, the Yakolev series of fighters being
only one example. To say the Yak- 9 is number
six in our list ignores the fact that the - 9 is only
a refinement of the -1, - 3, etc. All Yak fighters
had steel tubing fuselages (painted with brushes
for the most part), covered with plywood and
later Bakelite (an early plastic). Eventually, some
of the last models had aluminum wings, but the
design was still basic Yak. The total number of
Yaks built is something over 36,000, which is,
again, amazing considering the conditions!
The war was right in Russia’s front yard;
consequently the population suffered more
than any other people of WW II. More civilians
in Russia died of starvation (six to seven million)
than Germans died in combat (four to five
million). The Soviet Union lost 14 percent of its
population, with some member states, like the
Ukraine, losing 25 percent. Still, they fought
on and airplanes kept pouring out of their
embattled factories. On top of that, the Yaks
were very highly regarded by the Luftwaffe.
They were good airplanes.
The entire line of Yakolev
fighters was well respected.
More than 30,000 were
produced, with the Yak- 9
being the most numerous.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia