Aircraft reviews are back with five new aircraft for me to cover with patch 3.001’s release. For this first, post 3.001 review, I decided that I would pick an aircraft that may not have been on everyone’s radar – the Yak-7B. Is it any good or does its awkward looks translate into awkward performance?
Trainer turned combat aircraft
The original I-26 design by Alexander Yakovlev spawned two aircraft. The Yak-1 was the original intent for a new generation fighter to compete with the latest types being developed in the late 1930s in other parts of Europe. Almost simultaneously, the Yak-7 was developed to complement the fighter as an advanced trainer. The Yak-7 would have many of the same traits as the fighter but with more robust construction and room for both student and instructor.
The necessities of war demanded that the Yak-7 production line would be converted quickly into producing a second series of Yak fighter. The Yak-7 was praised for its robust and simple construction and ease of handling that helped make it an effective fighter – ideal for a desperate airforce looking for as many fighters to throw into battle as possible. Late models were given a bubble canopy and this formed the foundation of the excellent Yak-9 fighter series that fought to the end of the war.
Many confuse the Yak-7B in IL-2: Battle of Kuban as being the fighter from early 1942 that went on to fight over Stalingrad. That, however, would be wrong. The Yak-7B Series 36 is very much a 1943 fighter and represents the last of the Yak-7 series off of the production line before the bubble canopy was introduced.
The Yak-7B Series 36 is significantly refined from earlier iterations with a faster top speed, lower weight, and more powerful engines. So, how does it compare with the competition?
Performance numbers come from the IL-2 forums with tables provided by 1CGS for each of their aircraft. These numbers are a summary. For the full details visit the IL-2 forums.
Yak-7B Series 36
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 155..172 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 139..154 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in flight configuration: 165..175 km/h
- Indicated stall speed in takeoff/landing configuration: 154..167 km/h
The Yak-7B has a far lower stall speed than its closest competitor in the Bf109G-4.
Yak-7B Series 36
- Climb rate at sea level: 16.9 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 14.3 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 8.6 m/s
- Climb rate at sea level: 20.1 m/s
- Climb rate at 3000 m: 18.9 m/s
- Climb rate at 6000 m: 15.4 m/s
There’s no comparison for the Yak-7B as it’s easily out-climbed by the Bf109G-4 at all altitudes. It’s closest at sea level and drops off steeply at all other altitudes. At 6000 meters the Bf109 is climbing more quickly than the Yak-7B is at 3000 meters if that is any indication.
Yak-7B Series 36
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 526 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 565 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 4000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 586 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Emergency: 540 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Combat: 517 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Combat: 564 km/h
- Maximum true air speed at 7000 m, engine mode – Combat: 640 km/h
In speed things get pretty interesting for the Yak-7B versus Bf109 match-up. The Yak-7B’s nominal engine mode means that it can run at full throttle (depending on heat) all the time while the Bf109s different modes give advantages and disadvantages. Here the Yak-7B is 10km/h faster than the 109G-4 in Nominal versus Combat modes at low altitudes while the Bf109G-4 can briefly sprint to 20km/h faster while running on Emergency mode (available for 1-minute). At 2000 meters the Yak-7B is at a dead heat with the Bf109G-4 while at higher altitudes the Bf109 pulls ahead dramatically.
Yak-7B Series 36
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 19..20 s, at 310 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 24..25 s, at 310 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at sea level: 21.2 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
- Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 27.2 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
The Yak-7B bests the Bf109G-4 at all heights when it comes to a maximum performance turn. The Yak-7B is a full 3 seconds faster at a slightly higher speed. Yak pilots should aim to keep their speed slightly higher versus the 109 to maintain their best turn rate and pull an easy lead on Messerschmidt pilots.
Yak-7B in combat
The Yak-7B has been a surprise hit with the IL-2 community in the days following its release. The Yak-7B has few weaknesses with its climb rate being slower than fellow Yak-1B Series 127 stablemate as well as most of its opponents. What it looses in climb it makes up for in ease of handling with an excellent turn (although it can depart into a spin if left seriously unchecked), stable handling, easy gunnery, and effective firepower. I haven’t proven this with extensive testing but the Yak-7B does feel like it has a pretty decent zoom climb too.
The twin 12.7mm Berezin UBS machine guns in the nose complimented by the very familiar ShVAK 20mm cannon make for a concentration of firepower that few aircraft can withstand for long. The extra machine gun over the Yak-1B Series 127 makes a surprising difference.
High speed turns are slightly more difficult here than in the Yak-1 and Yak-1B while slow speed ones are easy to hold on to. Controls tend to stiffen the faster you go and the Yak-7B prefers to fly in the middle zone around 300-400kph indicated.
Roll rate is pretty average and a quick rolling aircraft like the La-5 or FW190 will put it to shame.
Overall, the Yak-7B is simple to fly, easy to handle, and has relatively good viewing angles with a small blind spot in the dead six region. Its a bigger blind-spot than the bubble canopied Yak-1B but smaller than the Yak-1 Series 69. It’s the ideal aircraft for a new pilot just getting into the flight sim arena with far fewer quirks than the P-39 and requiring less engine management than the Spitfire Vb.
This fighter is a well balanced workhorse of the Kuban battle possessing none of the flashy looks but all of the power and utility it needs to fight the air battles of 1943.
- Competitive top speed and ease of handling
- Concentrated firepower shreds fighters and bombers alike
- Good visibility out of the canopy
- Easy engine management
- Climb rate is poorer than other Yak fighters available and easily bested by the Bf109
- Ammo supply is somewhat limited