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Yakovlev Yak 26

The Yakovlev Yak-26, also known as the Yak-123 according to the OKB designation, was an advanced supersonic bomber aircraft developed in the Soviet Union.

It made its debut appearance at the prestigious Tushino air show on 24th June 1956.

However, despite its impressive performance and capabilities, the Yak-26 did not proceed to enter active service.

Designed by the renowned Yakovlev Design Bureau, the Yak-26 showcased the Soviet Union’s technological prowess in the field of aviation.

With its supersonic capabilities, this tactical bomber aircraft was intended to provide the Soviet military with a significant advantage in terms of speed and manoeuvrability.

Its appearance at the Tushino air show allowed experts and enthusiasts to witness firsthand the cutting-edge features and potential of this aircraft.

Despite the initial excitement surrounding the Yak-26, it did not progress beyond the prototype stage and was not adopted for operational use.

The reasons behind this decision remain unclear, but it is likely that various factors, such as budget constraints or the emergence of more advanced aircraft designs, played a role in the discontinuation of the Yak-26 project.

Nonetheless, the Yak-26’s brief appearance at the Tushino air show remains a testament to the Soviet Union’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of aviation technology during that era.

The Yak-123-1 prototype was created to be a supersonic aircraft, and it was developed from the subsonic Yak-25, in parallel with the Yak-27 aircraft family.

The primary objective of the Yak-123 was to operate at supersonic speeds.

Despite retaining the Yak-25’s layout, the Yak-123 had a more aerodynamic and elongated fuselage, featuring a glazed nose for a navigator-bombardier, which replaced the Yak-25’s radome.

The Yak-26 underwent several modifications, including the replacement of the Nudelman N-37 cannon with two NR-23 23 mm guns and the addition of an internal weapons bay capable of carrying up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of bombs, including the nuclear RDS-4 Tatyana.

The wings were also modified, and the engines were upgraded to the more powerful RD-9AK afterburning turbojets.

The Yak-26-3 prototype featured a tail barbette with two additional NR-23 guns, but this was ultimately removed after testing.

In addition to the internal weapons bay, the Yak-26 could also carry additional bombs on underwing pylons. The engines were later upgraded to the RD-9F.

Overall, these modifications significantly improved the Yak-26’s firepower and bombing capabilities.

The addition of the internal weapons bay and underwing pylons allowed for greater flexibility in mission planning, while the upgraded engines provided increased speed and manoeuvrability.

Despite the removal of the tail barbette, the Yak-26 remained a formidable aircraft and a key component of the Soviet Union’s military arsenal.

Despite the promising capabilities exhibited by these designs as a supersonic bomber, their lack of radar technology significantly restricted their practicality.

Moreover, they faced challenges related to inadequate stability at high speeds, making them susceptible to aileron reversals.

Consequently, these limitations prompted a revision of the design, leading to the development of the preproduction-series Yak-26.

Although the Yak-26 was showcased at the Tushino air show on 24 June 1956, its production was limited to just ten units, and it did not ultimately become operational.
17.16 m (56 ft 4 in)
10.96 m (35 ft 11 in)
Wing area
29 m2 (310 sq ft)
Gross weight
11,200 kg (24,692 lb)
2 × Tumansky RD-9F turbojet engines,
19.6 kN (4,400 lbf) thrust each
Maximum speed
1,200 km/h (750 mph, 650 kn)
2,200 km (1,400 mi, 1,200 nmi)
Service ceiling
16,000 m (52,000 ft)
Wing loading
386 kg/m2 (79 lb/sq ft)
4 x 23 mm Nudelman NR-23 cannon with 1,200 rounds
Bombs in internal bay
Underwing hardpoints
Tail barbette (limited to Yak-26-3 prototype)
Yakovlev Aircraft Since 1924 – Bill Gunston & Yefim Gordon.
OKB Yakovlev, A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft-Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov & Sergey Komissarov.
Soviet Aircrafts Illustrated-A.S.Yakovlev.
The History of Soviet Aircraft from 1918-Vaclav Nemecek.
Soviet AF Fighter Colours 1941-45-Erik Pilaeskii.
Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War, Vol 1, Single Engined Fighters-Yefim Gordon and Dmitri Khazanov.
Early Soviet Jet Fighters, The1940s and early 50s-Yefim Gordon.

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