Reviewing the Yak-1B Series 127

The Yak-1B Series 127 is an excellent addition to the IL-2 aircraft lineup adding a top tier Russian fighter that can compete with the best of the German fighter force – at low and medium altitudes. This aircraft was added in the IL-2 version 1.005 patch and is available only to players who purchase it as a Collector Plane through the IL-2 store.

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I’m intending to write my own thoughts about each of the new aircraft that are being added to our hangars over the coming year as the 1CGS team works on IL-2: Battle of Kuban. These reviews will be highly subjective based on my own thoughts and feelings flying the aircraft so, as always, take them with a grain of salt.

Raw performance

The Yak-1B feels fast and agile and is every bit the equal of the Yak-1 Series 69 that came with IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad. For an overview of the differences between the two aircraft, read my post on Comparing the Yak.

All around visibility

The view out the front is very good in the Yak-1B, however, it is a slight downgrade from the excellent and nearly unobstructed view that the Yak-1 Series 69 has. Simplified framing and an armored glass piece protecting the pilot from direct hits on the cockpit have benefits in construction time and pilot protection but they come at the expense of one of the best forward views in the IL-2 series.

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Though the view is slightly reduced it is not a major detriment to gunnery and when you’re fighting an aircraft equipped with a gunner you may appreciate that armored glass piece.

The real difference between these aircraft is when you look out the back. The Yak-1B Series 127’s bubble cockpit and glass armor plate gives the rearward view a near unobstructed view directly behind the aircraft.

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When an enemy fighter is sneaking up behind you there is only one fighter you would want to be in. The Yak-1B. The Yak-1 has a serious blind spot that is big enough to hide an enemy fighter until he is right behind you. Though the Yak-1 is not worse than other aircraft like the LaGG-3 and early model La-5 Series 8, the Yak-1B is a significant upgrade.

Revised firepower

Though the Yak-1B stays focused on air combat, it does get an upgrade over the earlier model that we have. Replacing two ShKAS light machine guns for a single Berezin 12.7mm heavy machine gun is a major upgrade. The two guns in close proximity along the centerline and combined with the excellent agility of the aircraft makes this a deadly close in fighter ideal for dogfighting with Bf109s and MC.202s.

If there is an Achilles heel here, its the duration of fire. The duration still feels short and you have to use the machine gun and cannon sparingly. When firing at full guns the 20mm runs out first followed very shortly after that with the heavy machine gun.

Choose your shots and use them to cut enemy fighters to pieces.

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Bombers are more of an issue as the low ammunition duration means that you can probably bag only a single bomber or perhaps two before your guns run dry. Marksmen will get more out of the short duration with the heavy concentrated hit from the two guns firing at nearly the same spot but its still an issue compared to a gunpod equipped Bf109 that can fire for many more seconds after.

Handling feels familiar

Flying the Yak-1B is like flying the Yak-1 and that includes the engine management. If you can fly the earlier model then you can jump in and understand the nuances of this new version very quickly.

The Yak-1B handles even more confidently than the Yak-1 does. Maneuvers require less effort and the aircraft more readily points its nose where you want it to go. Though you can get into trouble with this aircraft, its handling is generally benign enough that you can escape from most stalls without too much loss of altitude.

Its a fully aerobatic fighter able to execute rolls and loops without any issue. The LaGG-3 and La-5 feel sluggish in turns and violent maneuvers but the Yak-1B feels light on its feet.

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The biggest downside of the Yak-1B is its slower roll rate. Though it feels slightly quicker than the Series 69, the Series 127 isn’t really that much faster and its easily out rolled by the FW190, LaGG-3, and La-5. Liberal use of rudder is required to get it to roll quickly enough to follow in rapid maneuvering.

Turn rate is its strongest attribute and when kept to medium speeds around 300 kph IAS, the fighter handles turns faster than nearly anything else out there. Cutting corners off of a Bf109 at this speed is certainly possible though its slow speed stall maneuvering is lower than that of the 109 in my estimation.

Confidence inspiring

If the real Yak-1B was anything like the one we have in IL-2 now, there is a pretty good reason why it was the favourite of Russian aces such as Boris Nikolaevich Eryomin, Lilya Vladimirovna Litvyak, and Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kozlov. The aircraft inspires confidence.

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Here are just a few traits that we can associate with the Yak-1B: ease of handling, rapid acceleration, excellent turn rate, and a great 360 degree view.

All of these combine together to make for an excellent frontline fighter able to compete with the best of the Bf109 series on near equal terms. Like most Russian fighters, the Yak-1B falters at higher altitudes above 6000 meters where the Bf109 reigns supreme. Below that altitude regime, the Yak-1B can fight a Bf109 on even turns and with some superiority in some areas.

In many ways, the Yak-1B Series 127 is the first aircraft in the IL-2: Battle of Kuban planeset. Though a Collector Plane, the place that this aircraft fits in best is in the Kuban battle and its going to be competitive with everything in that set while putting the screws to the Bf109F-4 and G-2 available at Stalingrad. How it compares to the Yak-7B coming in Battle of Kuban remains to be seen and the subject of a future aircraft review!

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Overall report

Pros

  • A fast and agile dogfighter
  • Great all around visibility

Cons

  • Ammunition runs out quickly
  • Lacks the punch to deal with bombers
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