Author Topic: Spanish Yak Fighters  (Read 1964 times)

Offline apophenia

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Spanish Yak Fighters
« on: March 06, 2020, 11:07:08 AM »
El Yac - The Yakovlev Fighter in Spanish Republican Service

The Yakovlev Yak-1 and later Yak-7B fighter replaced the aging Mikoyán y Gurévich MiG-3 'Mula' in Fuerzas Aéreas de la República Española (FARE) frontline units. [1] While the MiG-3s were interceptores pressed into service as tactical fighters, the Yak was a true aviación frontal. No-one was going to miss the Mikoyáns!

Although 'Oro de Moscú' paid for Soviet arms deliveries, Moscow was still in a position to direct the most up-to-date equipment towards those who political views were most simpatico. As a rule, new supplies flowed first towards communist-dominated units of the Frente Popular and the Brigadas Internacionales. The supply of Yakovlev fighters was no exception.

"Por cada rojo que máteis, un año menos de purgatorio"

The first Yakovlev Yak-7B fighters replaced Yak-1s assigned to the FARE's 1.ª escuadrilla de yacs. In support of the 6.ª Brigada Mixta under capitán de infantería Miguel Gallo Martínez,  1.ª esc took heavy loses in the fight for Málaga. When 'Málaga la Roja' fell, 1.ª esc pulled back to a temporary aeródromo near Almería. Although needing rest and refit, the Yak-7s were immediately thrown into countering the fascist air attacks of the infamous Desbandá.

When Málaga fell to fascist forces, civilians filled the roads to Almería. Behind them, were advancing troops of the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie. In front, the relative safety of Ejército Popular Republicano-controlled Almería. Not anticipated were savage attacks on fleeing civilians by fascist air and naval forces. While Túpolev bombers tried to drive off gunboats, the Yaks patrolled over the Málaga-to-Almería roads. In the end, some 3,000-5,000 Spanish civilians were killed in the Desbandá. That toll would have been even worse without the Yaks of 1.ª esc driving off aerial attackers.

¡Homenaje a las Brigadas Internacionales!

Top A Yakovlev Yak-7B fighter of 1.ª escuadrilla de yacs operating out of base temporal La Garrofa, just west of Almería. Caza '23' was flown by Ten 'Fernández García' (a pseudonym for Yugoslav volunteer pilot, Boško Petrović).

This Yak-7 wears the Spanish scheme applied by Soviet factories. The 6.ª Brigada Mixta fin markings were standard for 1.ª esc aircraft at this stage. Note that the standard FARE roundel has been applied to the fuselage but not to the wing undersides (a common omission). The closest thing to a personal mark is the white star outline applied to the red spinner. Although in rather good knick, this nearly-new Yak's tailwheel door is failing to close properly.

This aircraft was lost when a flight led by Ten 'García' bounced a formation of fascist He 270s Rayos during the Desbandá. Three of the five Heinkels were downed and the survivors broke for home. However, one of the doomed gunners got off a lucky shot. Numero 23 lost oil pressure and 'García' was forced to belly-land on the beach near El Campillo del Moro. There, he set fire to his former mount and joined the stream of refugees trudging towards Almería.

¡Por una humanidad libre! ¡¡Por la anarquía!!

FARE units supporting CNT militias tended to fend for themselves or wait for obsolete equipment. One such unit was the 43.ª escuadrilla de cazas based at Morella, Castellón. One of that last fighter units to operate I-16s, the 43.ª received most of its Yak-1s directly from the Depósitos de Reparación de Aviación. Although often remaining scruffy in appearance, such aircraft had been thoroughly  refurbished at los Depós. [2]

Bottom A Yakovlev Yak-1B of the 43.ª esc at aeródromo Morella. This aircraft is  'tres disparos', meaning that it was armed with three 12.7 mm Berezin machine guns. [3] It also has two common Spanish modifications - an enlarged ventral radiator and a cut-down rear decking. The lowered decking was meant to provide the better visibility of the Yak-7B (but it also increased drag).

A variety of markings are displayed. On the fin in a Frente Popular badge and, in white, 'A27'. The latter likely related to the aircraft's refurbishment. Also applied at the Depó would have been the unimaginative cowling slogan - ¡Victoria Antifascista!. Probably more indicative of the pilot's true feelings is the slogan '¡Joder a Todos!' daubed under the cockpit and above a pasted-on CNT-FAI leaflet. Note that the Depó has also applied the officially prescribed underwing FARE roundels.

[1] Actually, the first Yak-1Bs delivered also replaced Polikarpov I-16 tipo 10 'Moscas'.

[2] In Soviet sources, these modification are sometimes referred to as Yak-1 Isp (for ispanskiy or 'Spanish' in Russian).

[3] The supply of less common 20 mm ShVAK cannons was often redirected towards Yak-7s.
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Offline ysi_maniac

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Re: Spanish Yak Fighters
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2020, 12:10:31 PM »

btw: I have never seen that transparent rear canopy in Yak-1. I like it.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Spanish Yak Fighters
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2020, 02:16:34 AM »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Spanish Yak Fighters
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2020, 05:24:26 AM »
Cheers folks!

btw: I have never seen that transparent rear canopy in Yak-1. I like it.

That rear canopy is strictly what-if. I reckoned that the advantages of the cut-down rear decking of the Yak-7B would be obvious. But, during the Civil War, the Republicans wouldn't have been able to accurately duplicate the Soviet's moulded rear glazing. So, instead, they came up with a rear glazing that could be made simply by bending flat sheets of clear acrylic.

Originally, I was going to retain the Yak-1's original rear glazing and add the sloped portion behind it. That looked dreadful ... so it evolved into the fully-sloped variation shown here.

BTW: I forgot to mention that these sideviews began life as a Soviet Yak-7 profile by Claes Sundin (med ursäkt till Claes).
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Spanish Yak Fighters
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2020, 06:14:30 AM »
Those are great and look especially fetching in Republican colors!

Brian da Basher