6 Yak-9 – 16,769

(in­cludes 800 post­war)

Flight Journal - - THE MOST PRODUCED -

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 Com­mons)

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