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Yak-15 / Yak-17 / Yak-23

In 1946, the first Soviet jet fighters had just been produced and appeared at the Tushino Air Show in August of that year. Stalin demonstrated his jets in the first post war Aviation Day flying display. Both the YAK and MiG aircraft were ready for the Tushino show on 19 August 1946. Both aircraft were supposedly demonstrated at the Tushino show on August 19, although only the MiG-9 was reported by USAF intelligence. The day after the air show, Stalin sent instructions that 10 to 15 of these new jets-the MiG-9 and the YAK-15 - were to be ready for the October Revolution Parade less than three months away. The airplanes were ready on time. Despite the obvious enormity of the task, 15 MiGs and 15 YAKs were ready by 7 November 1946. In spite of all the effort, the November parade was weathered in-the scheduled fly-by was grounded.

Yakovlev explained that the YAK-17, a refinement of the YAK-15, intentionally designed as a transition aircraft with the specific purpose of allaying fears of the new technology. "We made up our minds to create an aircraft in which only the engine would be new and everything else possible would remain the same as in a piston aircraft. The flier . . . would find himself in a familiar setting and not feel the difference between jet and piston aircraft." Despite its lack of performance, the YAK was a notable step forward. It made lesser demands of the airframe industry used to working in mixed wood and metal designs and the single-engine arrangement caused less demand on engine production. As later modified, it would provide training aircraft and early combat aircraft for the Soviets, the Chinese, and the East Europeans.

In spring 1947 the test pilot General P. Stefanovskii performed aerobatics for the first time in a Yak-15, and the pilot I. Polunin showed aerobatics publiclyinaYak-15 at theTushino display in 1947. Group aerobatics in jet aircraft were first displayed by five Yak-15s under the command of E. Savitskii, twice recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union, at the air display in 1948.

The Yak-15 and MiG-9 were obsolete before they flew. In March or April 1946, before the first jet flights, an air force requirement was probably incorporated in the Aviation Ministry Plan brought before Stalin on April 2, 1946. According to an account attributed to Gurevich, the specifications envisioned "aircraft to climb rapidly to a height of ten kilometers [38,000 ft.] and to maneuver quickly at that altitude at a good speed and with a heavy cannon . . . . We were to provide for only one pilot and to stay aloft for one hour. Otherwise we were not restricted in our design besides the usual strength requirements and the need for close attention to metal working."

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:25:23 ZULU