Due to circumstances, Russia ended up fighting on the side of the Allies during the war, those circumstances being the massive German invasion of 1941 that crippled the nation almost instantly. But somehow, being the resourceful lot they are, the Russians rebounded and kicked the Germans all the way back to Berlin.
One of the tools that helped them do that was the Yakovlev YAK 3. The fighter aircraft, a lighter, smaller version of the YAK-9, had its first flight in 1943, at a time when the Russians were getting in full offensive mode after their stunning victory at Stalingrad, and quickly joined the fight against the Germans, scoring a number of impressive wins.
YAK-3s could achieve a maximum speed of 646 kph (401 mph) and a maximum altitude of 10,400 m (34,100 ft). They were armed with cannons and machine guns.
During the war close to 5,000 units of them were made, but it’s unclear how many of them survive to this day, The one you see here somehow made it’s way to American shores, and it now resides in sunny California. The plane is wrapped in the two-tone grey colors of the French Escadron de Chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen, whose members trained and eventually flew Yakovlevs into combat.
The operational history of this plane, of the 3M variety, is not known, but even so it is currently selling, and the asking price is $450,000.