10 Facts About The Yak-15 – The First Soviet jet fighter

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First built by the Yakovlev Design Bureau during the mid-1940s, the Yak-15 is the first jet combat aircraft that was adopted by the USSR Air Force.

Its history is a striking example of the era of the birth of jet aviation, demonstrating the time of learning about little-known technology, encountering endless difficulties, and just basically trying to understand what a jet plane is supposed to look like. 

Here are the 10 interesting facts about the Yak-15, the first Soviet jet fighter: 

1. It was USSR’s First Jet Fighter

The Yak-15 was the first jet fighter adopted for service by the USSR Air Force, and it also became the symbol of the first steps toward a jet future. 

2. Its inception began in April 1945

During this time, Yakovlev OKB, one of the finest aircraft manufacturers in Russia, was tasked to build a single-seat fighter aircraft by the Council of People’s Commissars. 

3. Problems were encountered in its engines

During this time, there was no Russian engine for the plane, and Yakovlev was told to use the German Jumo 004 engine instead. 

However, the company took up the challenge and took the Yak-3 piston engine fighter, and then reversed engineered the plane to mount the jet engine. The engine was then mounted under the forward fuselage, with the exit of the exhaust in the middle of the fuselage. 

4. The Yak-15 had a rival, the MiG-9

The story goes that a coin toss happened to determine which plane should fly first on April 24th, 1946, and the MiG team won the toss. Both planes flew the same day, but the Yak-15 took off a couple of minutes after the MiG-9. Although the MiG-9 had an excellent design, it also suffered serious design flaws. 

5. It proved to be an incredibly agile fighter

In December 194, the Yak-15 was finally ordered into production. It proved to be an incredibly agile fighter and was used in several informal aerobic display teams in the late 1940s. 

6. It is one of the smallest jet fighters ever produced

The plane had a wingspan of 30 feet and 2 inches. It also had a length of 28 feet, 6 inches, and a maximum loaded weight of 5,800 pounds. 

7. It was used as a handy transition trainer for first-generation Soviet jet pilots

The Yak-15 allowed them to learn the fundamentals of flying a jet plane in an aircraft that retained the great handling characteristic of the Yak-3. 

8. 280 examples of the plane were produced

Similarly, there was also a two-seat conversion trainer variant that was developed which was designated the Yak-21. 

9. Only one Yak-15 survives today

The plane can be seen on display at the Vadim Zadorozhny Museum of Technology in Moscow.  

10. It created a new era for the Soviet Union

The Yak-15 helped bring in a new era for the Soviet Union. It became the country’s first successful jet fighter, proving to its aircraft design that jet aircraft could actually work. 

While it had issues like piston engine origin and awkward ground handling, it was an important step for the Soviets who seemed to lag behind their Western counterparts.