MY FAVOURITE AEROPLANE IN 200 WORDS #28: Yakovlev Yak-1 by Anna Morózova

Yak-1

There have only ever been two female fighter aces: ‘Katya’ Budanova and Lydia Litvyak. These two Soviet air force pilots fought in World War II, battling Germany’s Luftwaffe over Stalingrad.

litvak2

Litvyak was a lover of flowers, and she painted a white lily on the side of her Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter, leading to her popular title- the ‘White Lily of Stalingrad’.  Her good friend and comrade, Budanova, was a cheerful, energetic woman. For a time they fought in an all-female fighter unit, an elite force equipped with the Yak-1. Another operator of the formidable Yak was the Normandie-Niemen, a Free French fighter squadron (later three), that fought on the Eastern Front with Soviet forces. An official statement from this ferocious unit to the female Soviet pilots read:  “If we could pick all the flowers of the earth and lay them at your feet, they would not suffice as recognition of your valour.”

The Yak-1 spawned the Yak-3, -7 and -9, and if they are counted together as one aircraft type (there is more similarity between a Yak-1 and 9, than there is between a Spitfire Mk. I and F Mk. 24), it is the most produced fighter in history (as noted by Bill Gunston), with over 37,000 built.

Anna Morózova is studying history in Russia

 

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One comment

  1. Thomas

    Let’s remember that the basic design of the Yak-3 was retained for Yakovlev’s first jet fighters, as well as for the Yak-11 trainer and its derivatives. It’s influence was enormous.

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