Yakovlev is probably the world’s most
illustrious designer of aerobatic training and aerobatic competition aircraft
with a history going back to fantastic fighters, considered by many to be the
best fighters of the Second World War.
The first post-War light aircraft was the Yak-18
and this went through a number of variations in terms of single and two-seater
aircraft and many thousands of the latter were made.
The first serious single-seat aircraft was the
Yak-18P, which in turn led to the PM and the PS, each model having lighter
weight, more power and greater agility.
The 50 was the final iteration of these single
seater Yaks and was designed by Sergei Yakovlev, the son of Yakovlev himself,
and although a development of the Yak-18PS, was much lighter; had a totally
stressed skin monocoque fuselage and the then new 360hp M14P engine.
The aircraft was first flown in 1975, and after a
considerable amount of testing was put into larger scale production at Arsenyev
in the Russian Far East and deliveries began in early 1975. The Yak-50 was an
outstanding success, and at the 1976 World Aerobatic Championships, took first,
second and third in the men’s championships; first to fifth in the women’s
as well as taking overall men’s and women’s team prizes.
Unlike the Yak-52, the 50 was made in
relatively small numbers (312) until 1985, of which the vast majority were for
the Russian DOSAAF and exported were only eight to East Germany and six to
With the introduction of the Yak-55, Moscow
instructed all DOSAAF Clubs to scrap the 50s and return the logbooks to
Moscow. Most obeyed this edict,
with the result that we now estimate that there are about 66 Yak-50s left
in the world.
We are enthusiastic about all Russian aircraft and
of course all Yaks. However, we
imported the first two Yak-50s to the West some 14 years ago, and then operated
them as an aerobatic team sponsored by ‘Vladivar’ and genuinely feel that
they are one of the most desirable aircraft of all times. Although now outclassed by more modern aerobatic aircraft, by
virtue of its very light weight and high power, the 50 has a superb
performance and genuinely feels like flying a small fighter.
We feel its strengths are:
Fantastic straight line performance, particularly
in terms of rate of climb –with a 400hp PF engine; 3-blade propeller and
lightweight systems, a 50 will climb at 5000 feet per minute!
It of course has exceptional handling qualities.
It looks and sounds and indeed feels like a small
For its performance it is relatively economical.
With our modifications it has a surprising amount
of luggage space.
Probably most important, it is a totally
charismatic aircraft and one which we feel is significantly undervalued today
and which must represent one of the most ‘gilt-edged’ of aviation
In order to present a balanced picture, it is also
worth noting that:
The 50 has relatively short range – 500 kms, although we have made extra internal tanks of 45 litres and now offer long-range integral wing tanks which transform the aircraft by more than doubling the fuel capacity with an additional 150 litres.
It can be somewhat hot in summer, although it is
fine to fly the aircraft with the canopy partially open.
The Yak-50 was designed to be flown very hard (+9
and –7G) for a relatively short life and when looking at aircraft today it is
important to check that they have not been flown beyond these limits.
A point to note is that +9G was with the long-range fuel tank removed and
no smoke system, which many Western pilots fit.
With these full, the 50 rapidly becomes +6G aircraft.
The introduction of the Yak-50 coincided with a much more brutal way of competition flying with very high G. Certainly Yak-50s were then being flown at plus 11 G or more, which lead to four airframe failures. Yakovlev in consequence produced a series of airframe modifications, as the aircraft were required to fly harder than had originally been intended.
There are a total of eighty-five Service Bulletins for the Yak-50, although the majority of these are trivial such as manual changes etc. A number are however major structural ones including 53 / 61 / 79. It should be noted that 79 had a number of versions, the final one only coming out in 1986 at which stage most of Yak-50s were grounded with the introduction of the Yak-55.
We used to sell 50s that were totally zero-timed, and included zero-timed engine plus propeller; all Service Bulletins completed; new Ceconite; all wearing items replaced with new; new tyres brakes; flexible hoses; aileron bearings; Western altimeter etc etc, but there are virtually none left in the East! We therefore tend to sell aircraft we get back from previous customers.
can perform three modifications, which greatly improve the
aircraft. These are:
Putting in a new fuel filler at the top of the fuselage.
The problem with the 50 is that it has two tanks, the 55 litre
aerobatic tank and an 75 litre long-range tank, with, in normal specification, a
filler at the side of the fuselage.
The first three-quarters of the combined tanks fills quickly, but the
remaining volume becomes increasingly slow.
This is totally overcome by filling from the top of the fuselage.
Battery - Like all these Russian aircraft, the 50 not only has a 3kw generator, but also a very large battery, which is totally unnecessary. We replace this with a much smaller, high- performance, Western battery, which saves approximately 12kg of weight and a light-weight alternator which saves an additional 18kgs.
– We make a quite large luggage area in the fuselage, behind the pilot, with
access through the previous battery hatch.
This is a totally self-contained box and very effective.
In addition to this there is a fair amount of space in the rear canopy
– that is behind the pilot, where, for safety reasons, one should not put any
heavy items. On some aircraft we
have actually made an additional luggage box in this area.
We can now ‘tailor-make' an aircraft to suit almost any requirements based on our long experience in this field. Our options include:
The standard propeller is the Russian 2-blade V-530 propeller and significantly better performance can be obtained with German MT propeller; factory new MTV-9 250 3-blade propeller. The 50 has sufficient ground-clearance to accept the MTV-9 260 propeller, which gives yet further thrust. It does however mean that all landings and take-offs must be done in the 3-point attitude.
Installing integral 75 litre tanks in each wing (additional 150 litres). These are a totally separate ‘wet wing’ and as fuel is used up, fuel is then transferred into the main tanks. This system is elegant, simple and adds very little weight.
Rounded wing tips (with or without fittings for strobe/nav lights).
These were originally developed for the Russian Team Yak-50’s and greatly reduce aileron forces. However, cannot be combined with wing-tips.
Gills - Sukhoi type ‘iris’
The 50 has the standard Yakovlev system of individual veins controlling air into the engine. In hot climates and protracted climbs, these can be somewhat restrictive, and many people are opting to have the Sukhoi ‘Iris’ type gills, which allow more air into the engine.
We can also fit :
Oil drain system to prevent hydraulic lock
Lightweight air-charging hose
Portable air bottle
cockpit cover - wide
choice of colours.
Avionics - We can fit (within the limitations of the cockpits) any range of avionics, but as an example a Garmin 250XL GPS plus moving map plus COM together with Garmin transponder
Lighting - we can equip the aircraft for night flying with strobe lights plus navigation lights
Tools - we can supply factory tool roll to include all specialist tools but not standard spanners etc.
glass for canopy - a no cost option.
Click here for full list of Yak-50 Service Bulletins
Click here for link to Yak-50 Service Bulletins after crashes