Yak-9 and Yak-9T Collector Plane review

I’ve been flying the Yak-9 and Yak-9T quite a bit over the last few days since their release and I’m now at a sufficient level of time in each of them to give you my overall impressions of the two newest Collector Planes in the IL-2 series. How do they perform? How do they compare to the other Yak’s in the series? Are they worth buying? I will try and answer all of these questions!

A brief history of how the Yak-9 fits in with the rest of the series

To understand what the Yak-9 is, we need to go back to the original Yak prototype and the divergence in designs that lead up to the Yak-9.

In March of 1940, Yakovlev submitted a follow-up prototype design called the UTI-26. This aircraft, while similar in appearance to the I-26 (Yak-1) prototype, was structurally strengthened in a number of different places and a seat and cockpit position was placed further aft to allow for the instructor and student pilot. Testing showed that although the newly named Yak-7 was heavier than the Yak-1, it was just as fast and nearly as maneuverable and its robust design made it well suited to the sometimes rough conditions in the field. The decision was made to produce both fighters at different factories.

The Yak-7 would see many refinements as the war raged on. A more powerful M-105PF engine, lightened, and added firepower were introduced in a variety of different configurations. Efforts were also made to lighten it leading the Yak-7 on a similar design path as the Yak-1. The Yak-7D added range while the Yak-7DI saw further strengthening and lightening thanks to improved access to duraluminum. The Yak-7DI was the prototype for the renamed Yak-9 which also had the cut down rear fuselage, bubble canopy, an updated wing design, and the removal of a Berezin UBS 12.7mm in the nose. The new Yak-9 would be superficially similar in design to the Yak-1B (which was similarly armed and equipped with bubble canopy).

The added strength and robust design of the Yak-9 series allowed for greater experimentation in armament types and the Yak-9T soon became a popular frontline fighter. The cockpit was moved aft 40cm enabling the installation of the Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 cannon. This 37×198 mm cannon fired AP and HE shells at 880-900 m/s and with a 240-260 round per minute fire rate. Exceptional for a large cannon and it gave the Yak-9 added punch with the ability to destroy most aircraft with only a few hits. It also made it capable of sinking small ships and punching through tank armor on some tanks.

The Yak-9 would see its ultimate WWII form take shape later on with the Yak-9M which further refined the Yak-9T design and then the Yak-9U. Initial Yak-9U’s were fitted with the M-105PF and M-105PF2 but the ultimate version which saw service during the Battle of Berlin saw the M-107 engine added in bringing a tremendous boost in horsepower and performance. The final variants also saw brief service during the Korean War.

How do they fly in IL-2: Great Battles?

In single player, Yak-9’s are often flying in mixed groups with other Yak series fighters

I’ve made a special point to fly the Yak-1 Series 69, Yak-1B Series 127, Yak-7B Series 36, and the new Yak-9 Series 1 and Yak-9T Series one fighters over the last several days to compare all of them. Similar to other prolific fighter lines in the IL-2: Great Battles Series such as the Fw190 or Bf109, each Yak fighter represents a particular stage of the WWII conflict and bring with each of them a unique but familiar flying experience.

The advantage of becoming an regular flyer of a series like the Yak is that you can count on being proficient in most respects in each of the aircraft. Flying the Yak-9 in the sim is very similar to flying other Yak fighters with the Yak-7B being logically the most similar feeling of the five Yak’s now available.

The Yak-9 and Yak-9T seem to fly almost the same with very little difference between the two although there are the odd times where the Yak-9T does feel ever so slightly heavier. Some may say that all of these Yak fighters fly the same which I would disagree with. There are subtle differences between each and they can make the difference.

While the Yak-1B Series 127 feels light and snappy, the Yak-9 feels a bit heavier yet also more confident. An experienced pilot can probably wring a little more from the Yak-1B but the Yak-9 rewards the slightly less experienced pilot with confident and predictable handling that is a little less raw than the Yak-1B. The Yak-9 can still use the rudder to kick the aircraft into rolling rapidly but it’s less sharp than with the Yak-1B so other evasive tactics are often a better choice – such as a tight turn which is the Yak-9’s specialty.

The Yak-9 and Yak-9T also have a marked advantage in dive speed compared to earlier versions. Although the controls do get heavy as the speed increases, both fighters can push on over 700 km/h without serious structural issue. Something the lighter Yak-1B Series 127 and Yak-7 Series 36 cannot do. In practical combat situations this offers a marked advantage when fighting higher speed German fighters as their common tactic of diving away is slightly less successful here and an unwary German pilot may become over confident.

The firepower of the NS-37

Flying the two fighters back to back is a very familiar experience. There’s very little difference in handling between the two with roll rate, turn time, speed and climb all being essentially the same. While the Yak-9 is the historical choice for Battle of Kuban single player scenarios (the Yak-9T was active but not present in the battle), it’s the Yak-9T that I would probably choose most times for one simple reason: firepower!

Sometimes only a single 37mm cannon shell is all it takes!

The NS-37 cannon in the nose of the Yak-9T is a flexible and adaptable weapon that can be used for ground attack and anti-shipping but it’s also a superb anti-aircraft weapon with equal uses against bombers and fighters. When attacking aircraft I do recommend that you choose an all HE loadout as the AP rounds are less useful here. I also recommend choosing your shots carefully as the 30 round loadout can run down quickly – fortunately the Yak-9T has an optional ammo counter.

Where you hit on the enemy aircraft also matters. A wing shot or wing root is your best bet to cause maximum damage from the HE blast. A shot to the tail seems less effective.

All of what I wrote above comes with a caveat – in some online battles with lag and packet loss can cause an issue which has sometimes been called ‘dusting’ in the first person shooter crowd. That is… weapons that appear to hit and cause a puff of smoke (or dust) but don’t actually get counted towards damaging the target. This can lead to inconsistent hits from the 37mm in that environment. In single player I have no problem crippling or destroying fighters in one or two hits of the 37mm.

Available modifications

An old style ring and bead gunsight is the default, a reflection is available

There are a few modifications available on both aircraft. Both Yak-9 and Yak-9T come default with a ring and bead gunsight – something of an anachronism in 1943 but also an interesting historical consideration as the more expensive reflector gunsights were sometimes not available.

Optional landing light and radio navigation systems are available with minimal performance degradation when using each. The Yak-9T also comes uniquely equipped with an ammo counter – the first I believe to be available in a Russian aircraft in the Great Battles Series.

Neither aircraft are equipped with any optional rockets or bombs. This is a historical consideration as the Yak-9 series was never equipped with either. It’s role as a pure fighter (with limited strafing capabilities) was embraced almost completely with the Yak-9 being used in service of escorting and defending the IL-2’s which were obviously the more capable attack platform.

The mirror takes up a lot of space but it does give you an even better view of your six.

Visuals

The Yak-9 has arrived into the IL-2 series at a unique point coming together with a subtle yet dramatic update to the visual fidelity of the series. Deferred shading has been added to the series and that together with some of the best art direction that we’ve seen from the team yet has combined to put together a very visually compelling aircraft both inside and out.

The cockpit is beautifully detailed with lots of texture detailing. The knobs and dials reflect the sky and sun thanks to the new lighting upgrade but here it looks better than any of the other Yak’s we’ve seen. Although IL-2 still uses lower resolution textures compared to other sims at this point, it seems to me that the IL-2 art team has wrung out every last pixel here to make for a great looking cockpit.

The exterior is the same with great detailing in all areas. Both types come with almost a dozen historical skins each with some great variations on both the standard green and grey camouflage schemes that were in use at the time.

It is easy for me to report that the Yak-9 and Yak-9T are the best looking Yak’s, inside and out, in the IL-2: Great Battles Series to date.

Even the single machine gun and cannon combo of the Yak-9 can cause a lot of damage if well aimed.

Yak series performance comparisons

Dive speed limit

Yak-1 Series 69

  • Dive speed limit: 720 km/h

Yak-1B Series 127

  • Dive speed limit: 720 km/h

Yak-7B Series 36

  • Dive speed limit: 740 km/h

Yak-9 Series 1

  • Dive speed limit: 750 km/h

Yak-9T Series 1

  • Dive speed limit: 750 km/h

The Yak-9 series have the best dive limits of the entire Yak line-up in IL-2: Great Battles to date. While the Yak-1 series reach their limit at 720 km/h, the Yak-9 series goes further to 750 km/h and this small difference in speed can mean the difference between pursuing a diving Bf109 and having a structural breakup. Just be-ware of the sluggish controls at high speeds.

Maximum true airspeed

Yak-1 Series 69

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2550 RPM: 514 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 549 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 4000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 582 km/h

Yak-1B Series 127

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2550 RPM: 530 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 2000 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 567 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 4500 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 600 km/h

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

Yak-9 Series 1

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2550 RPM: 537 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 529 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 1700 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 563 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3800 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 594 km/h

Yak-9T Series 1

  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2550 RPM: 535 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at sea level, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 529 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 1850 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 560 km/h
  • Maximum true air speed at 3800 m, engine mode – Nominal, 2700 RPM: 593 km/h

The Yak-1B Series 127 retains the speed crown in this comparison of maximum true air speeds for the Yak series. Unsurprisingly, aircraft with similar aerodynamic characteristics powered by the same engine has lead to similar top speed results. While there are differences between the Yak-1B, Yak-7B, Yak-9 and Yak-9T, the reality is that each of them is very close to each other with the Yak-1B and Yak-9 being exceptionally close.

Service ceiling and climb rate

Yak-1 Series 69

  • Service ceiling: 10200 m
  • Climb rate at sea level: 16.9 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 15.0 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 9.4 m/s

Yak-1B Series 127

  • Service ceiling: 10600 m
  • Climb rate at sea level: 17.0 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 15.0 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 9.5 m/s

Yak-7B Series 36

  • Service ceiling: 10660 m
  • 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

Yak-9 Series 1

  • Service ceiling: 10500 m
  • Climb rate at sea level: 18.5 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 15.8 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 9.0 m/s

Yak-9T Series 1

  • Service ceiling: 10250 m
  • Climb rate at sea level: 16.5 m/s
  • Climb rate at 3000 m: 13.5 m/s
  • Climb rate at 6000 m: 7.5 m/s

In the climb rate contest, it’s the Yak-1B Series 127 that once again retains the performance crown although not at all altitudes. The Yak-9 comes out ahead around 3000 meters before dropping back to second at 6000 meters. Once again, the comparison is that the Yak-9 and Yak-1B are very similar aircraft in performance.

While the Yak-9T suffers little performance degradation in other categories, it’s added weight does prove to be a factor in climb rate with its performance falling down to similar levels as the Yak-1 Series 69. This is still not bad on average.

Maximum performance turn

Yak-1 Series 69

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 19.2 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 24.6 s, at 270 km/h IAS.

Yak-1B Series 127

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 19.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 24.1 s, at 270 km/h IAS.

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.

Yak-9 Series 1

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 17.5 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 22.5 s, at 285 km/h IAS.

Yak-9T Series 1

  • Maximum performance turn at sea level: 19.0 s, at 270 km/h IAS.
  • Maximum performance turn at 3000 m: 25.5 s, at 285 km/h IAS.

It is with some surprise that I report that the numbers for maximum performance turn favour the Yak-9 over all of the other Yak fighters. Even with the added weight, the Yak-9T falls to second place over other Yak fighters at sea level. The results are similar at 3000 meters.

Regardless of which Yak fighter you’re flying, the Yak’s retain an excellent maximum performance turn rate that makes them so dangerous against Bf109s and other fighters while flying at medium speeds. The Yak series does suffer when fighting at stall speeds so its best to keep your speed around the recommended 270 km/h IAS or perhaps a bit higher as tight turns do ultimately lead to speed loss.

Forward firing armament

Yak-1 Series 69

  • 20mm gun “SsVAK”, 120 rounds, 800 rounds per minute, nose-mounted
  • 2 x 7.62mm machine gun “ShKAS”, 750 rounds, 1800 rounds per minute, synchronized

Yak-1B Series 127

  • 20mm gun “SsVAK”, 140 rounds, 800 rounds per minute, nose-mounted
  • 12.7mm machine gun “UB”, 220 rounds, 1000 rounds per minute, synchronized

Yak-7B Series 36

  • 20mm gun “SsVAK”, 120 rounds, 800 rounds per minute, nose-mounted
  • 2 x 12.7 mm machine gun “UBS”, 400 rounds, 900 rounds per minute, synchronized

Yak-9 Series 1

  • 20mm gun “SsVAK”, 120 rounds, 800 rounds per minute, nose-mounted
  • 12.7mm machine gun “UB”, 200 rounds, 1000 rounds per minute, synchronized

Yak-9T Series 1

  • 37mm gun “NS-37”, 30 rounds, 250 rounds per minute, nose-mounted
  • 12.7mm machine gun “UB”, 200 rounds, 1000 rounds per minute, synchronized

Up until the Yak-9T, most of the Yak series have a similar armament profile with a single ShVAK (labeled SsVAK in 1CGS documentation) in the nose cannon position and a small complement of machine guns. The Yak-7B is unique in that it packs a pair of heavy UBS 12.7mm machine guns while the other Yak fighters have either a single UBS 12.7mm or the lighter ShKAS 7.62mm.

The Yak-9T breaks the mold a bit with the NS-37mm cannon which offers the greatest weight of fire of any of the Yak fighters.

Should you buy the Yak-9 and some final thoughts

A mixed flight of Yak-9T’s and Yak-7B’s in a career mission.

A lot of people have asked since the news that 1CGS was making the Yak-9 and Yak-9T what the point of another couple of Yak fighters was. Some may still ask that question again when looking at the performance numbers above. To some extent, I understand the reaction, and if I were interested in the aircraft on a purely performance/capability level you might look at the Yak-9 and see that it’s very similar to a half dozen other fighters in the series (more than just the Yaks).

Adding the Yak-9 and Yak-9T into IL-2: Great Battles goes beyond just performance. As a historical aircraft simulation I’m also interested in having aircraft that were present in a variety of battles or that had a historical impact. The Yak-9 series on the whole was one of the most produced in the Yak series with 16,769 built between 1942 and 1947 and during the later part of the Kuban battle and through the Battle of Kursk, it was the Yak-9 that was the fighter that carried the day. It’s an iconic addition to the aircraft set and one that fans of the eastern front have requested more than a few times.

For me, the performance numbers don’t matter as much as the experience of taking this aircraft into the air and then into battle. There are subtle differences and I will fly and approach the Yak-9 slightly differently than the other Yak fighters. Combine all of that with the unique 37mm cannon on the Yak-9T and you have an aircraft that offers at least a few unique features over other versions of the fighter. Does that capability and historical connection make it a great buy? That’s up to you.

As a fan of the Yak fighters I knew I was going to be buying these Collector Planes no matter what (even if I wasn’t writing about them for Stormbirds) in a similar fashion to the way that fans of the Bf109 series have snapped up the Bf109G-6. If uniqueness is the thing you’re looking for, the Yak-9T might be the right one of the two to buy. If you want the experience of flying them both into battle the way I do… then you know what to do!

A Stuka melts under a barrage of 37mm rounds.

It is of course always your choice as a consumer to buy and enjoy the products you think you’ll enjoy. I’m here to do what I can to provide you with as much insight into your own purchase decisions as I can but that choice is ultimately up to you.

At the end of the day, the Yak-9 and Yak-9T are quality additions to the IL-2 series with a good list of historical skins, modifications, and performance figures and capabilities that put this aircraft in the upper tier of eastern front air battles. These two aircraft hardly break new ground but they are great additions to help fill in a few gaps in available aircraft and a solid buy for fans of aircraft flying and fighting on the eastern front.

The Yak-9 Series 1 and Yak-9T Series 1 are both available as ‘Collector Planes’ (sold separately of any Premium bundle) on Steam or the IL-2 webstore or for $19.99 USD.

Screenshots

Who doesn’t love a few dozen screenshots? Here are a mix of new shots I just captured along with some from earlier in the week. Enjoy!

Other Yak-9 reactions

Don’t just take my word for it. Other members of the IL-2 community have posted their reactions to the Yak-9 series being added to the IL-2: Great Battles Series. From this thread on the IL-2: Great Battles General Discussion forum to the following videos that you might find useful to watch. Enjoy!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Doctor Drago says:

    Completely agree that it deserves to be included, it’s such an important aircraft! Of the 36,000-plus total Yak family airframes built, almost half were Yak-9 variants. So it would be an understatement to say it’s significant statistically, to say nothing of it’s many other qualities.

    And even though it’s not particularly likely in the foreseeable future, I would love to see the series rounded out with the ultimate Yak-3 one day…a boy can dream.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      The Yak-3 is definitely still on the dream wish list. I know some would be disappointed but IF 1CGS, post Battle of Normandy, decided to go for Battle of Berlin or some other late war eastern front scenario, I’d be totally happy with that as we’d potentially be able to get the Yak-3 and Yak-9U.

      Would be a fitting way to tell the story of the series from beginning to end nearly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Raptorattacker says:

        I’ve got to agree. The 3’s for me!!

        Like

      2. Raptorattacker says:

        Can you IMAGINE?? The 3T??? Makes me shiver does that…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ShamrockOneFive says:

        A prototype Yak-3T was actually constructed but there were several problems and it was abandoned. It had two BS-20 cannons plus a NS-37. One heck of a punch!

        Like

      4. bodenplatte1360 says:

        Battle of Berlin is just what I was thinking!

        Would love to see something like this:

        Germany: Fw 190 A-9, Bf 109 G-10
        USSR: Yak 3, La-7
        Collector planes: Yak 9U and Ta 152 H

        Liked by 2 people

      5. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Not forgetting a late model IL-2 or IL-10, Tu-2S, and well I’m at a bit of a loss for the German side’s ground attack. I would assume the A-9 could be turned into a F-9.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Simfan says:

    I also got both of these Yak-9 variants !
    Oyster_KAI has improved both cockpits and I am now even more pleased with these new assets.
    Thank you SHAMROCKONFIVE for the review of these iconic warbirds (where else could we get these in-depth reviews !?)
    BTW in your Podcast you and Jason discussed how we, as a community and in fact ‘fanboys’, can support the further development of the series and I fully agree with what Jason asks of us to do … to buy everything as soon as we can to allow them to make our ‘dreams come true’.
    Personally bought everything IL-2 (as well as a.o. most of DCS World modules) because as a collector and for this hobby I still think getting this is real cheap compared to the satisfaction we get from it each and every day.
    BTW Jason is also right about your blog … if only magazines would hire your services to beter promote our niche hobby ! 🙂
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Raptorattacker says:

    I’d say that was fairly fair review of the new Yaks Shamrock, so fair play!! For me, a necessity both for FUN and SKINNING and luckily some very kind individual got me the 9T as a hanks for doing some Mission skins for them so I’m a happy bunny!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Look forward to seeing some of your skinning creations for the Yak-9 series!

      Like

  4. Raptorattacker says:

    … and that should of course read, “thanks” as a pose to, “hanks”!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. CanadaOne says:

    Excellent article. I bought the 9T and I’m enjoying it as a 500kph sniper rifle for A2G. I wouldn’t say it’s a great plane, but definitely a good plane. And like all BOX planes, it’s gorgeous. Definitely needs some weathered skins.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Simfan says:

    “Definitely needs some weathered skins.”
    Don’t think we will have to wait a long time !
    The very talented people in the IL-2 community have expressed great interest in ICDPs efforts to get started on those !
    I too await those nice custom and historical skins we always get from them !

    Like

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