Archive digitization



Aviation and Diplomacy

Frank Piasecki

NATO 1949-2009 Projekt ekspozycji w Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie



Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70
e-mail: info@muzeumlotnictwa.pl

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region


Patronage

Kraków Airport







Aeroplane: Yakovlev Yak-23 (NATO: Flora)

Yakovlev Yak-23 (NATO: Flora)
USSR
fighter
1948



  • Technical data


Span 8.73 m (28 ft 7 in)
Length 8.16 m (26 ft 9 in)
Take-off weight 3,384 kg (7,460 lb)
Maximum speed 923 kph (498 kt, 574 mph)
Ceiling 14,800 m (48,500 ft)
Range 1330 km (826 mi, 718 NM)
Armament see text
Powerplant :
an RD-500 turbojet rated at 1,590 kG thrust
Virtual tour :

 

First jet fighter to become operational with Polish military aviation.

On 11th March 1947, the Soviet Board of Ministers took up a resolution, ordering work on a new front line fighter. As it was shown later, the best design was the swept wing Mig-15 of the Mikoyan & Guryevich Construction Bureau. In the Soviet Union in 1947, work on the new jet fighter was possible thanks to the access of buying the RR Nene and Derwent turbojet engines. It was a big opportunity for the Russians to approach the world of aviation forefront.

Alexander Yakolev also undertook the challenge. He held a negative opinion of swept wings, considering them to have an uncertain future in aerodynamics. He preferred to use straight wings and his team already experimented with the Yak-19. He hoped that a light airframe with laminar straight wings and a powerful engine would have a good effect. His opinions fell on fertile ground and in the case of the swept wing failure, the Soviet Union would remain without a modern fighter. A. Yakolev came up with the design of two straight wing, laminar aerofoil constructions. Officially, work on the pressurised cockpit on the Yak-25 was carried out, unofficially the work on the Yak-23 continued, featuring a "step" fuselage. Both aeroplanes used the Rolls-Royce Derwent V turbojet engine, which the Soviets built as the RD-500.

Eventually, the Yak-23 was chosen for subsequent development. The reason for this decision was the aeroplane's smaller mass and the opportunity to decrease it even further. This was achieved by removing the pressurised cockpit, limiting the armour and the self-sealing fuel tanks. The wing air brakes were also removed, which limited the aeroplane's combat manoeuvrability. The airframe's "step" configuration allowed the engine and nose to be placed close to the aeroplane's centre of gravity, decreasing the loss of air flow in the intakes and at the exhaust pipe. This allowed the engine to work efficiently and increase the aeroplane's dynamics. The use of the semi stressed fuselage was a significant technical advantage. The Yak-23 had a nose wheel undercarriage. It was armed with two 23 mm cannons buried in the fuselage. It could also carry two auxiliary fuel tanks on the wing tips. Provision for two bombs was also included.

The Yak-23 flew for the first time in July 1947 and in November of the same year the second test aeroplane took to the air. During tests, the low empennage endurance, weak wing skin riveting, low armament rigidity and inappropriate radio range were ascertained. The MiG-15 success and work on the Yak-25 made the fate of the Yak-23 uncertain. However, in 1948, the decision of starting work on the Yak-23 in Tbilisi was made. In 1948-1950, 310 aeroplanes were made. For this type of fighter, the operational combat altitude was up to 10000m. The MiG-15was supposed to operate at higher altitudes. In 1950, the Yak passed air force tests and pilots liked it. It featured good flight characteristics, fast climbing speed, could perform higher aerobatics and was capable of operating from unpaved airstrips. Thanks to very easy access to the engine etc, it was easy for ground service. The Yak-23 could be flown by average pilots, who could quickly overcome flying techniques. In 1950, work on the training version started, with three prototypes built, each with different cockpit layouts. None were produced though.

At the beginning of the 1950's, a decision was made to export the planes to Warsaw Pact countries. The aeroplane came to service in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania. Poland was the biggest operator, 90 aircraft being delivered in 1951. They remained in service until the mid 50's. Initially, Yak-17's and later, UTI MiG-15's were used to train Yak-23 pilots. The Yak-23 was the first turbojet fighter to enter service with the Polish Air Force. In Mielec, in 1950, production of the aeroplane was prepared. The fighter became the G-3 and documentation and assembly jacks were delivered from the Soviet Union. Preparations were halted by the permission of the MiG-15 production.

In November 1956, an international climbing speed record was achieved on the Yak-23, delivered from the air force to the Aviation Institute in Warsaw. The aircraft was flown by test pilot Andrzej Abłamowicz. This clearly revealed the aircraft's capabilities and it is often quoted by Russian aviation historians.

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