Credit: Eric Bannwarth

The flying program

Registration: F-AZZK

Base: Antwerp

Owner: Rick van der Graaf

Created in 1943, the Yak-3 entered service in 1944.

Although powered by the same engine as the Yak-9, it was lighter, smaller, easier to fly and to take in hands even for beginners. It excelled in close combat, especially at an altitude of less than 12500 feet. In June 1944, an air battle between 18 Yak-3 and 24 German planes resulted in a 15-1 score in favour of the Russians!

In December 1944, the famous Normandie-Niemen regiment was reequipped with Yak-3: They owed them their last 99 victories (out of 273). Stalin offered each pilot of the "Neu-Neu" the Yak-3 he personally used, in appreciation of the services rendered. Their return took place on 20 June 1945 and 38 copies were obtained by France.

Since 1991, the Yakovlev factory had built new Yak-3 based on the original planes. It is also with one of these modern Yak-3U PW that the world record speed for a piston plane of less than 3000 kg was established on October 10, 2011 in the USA, reaching the speed of 655 km/h on a course of 3 km.

Piloted by Rick van der Graaf, its owner, this Yak-3 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2000.