Today i wanted to make a topic about the Yakolev Yak 18 (Яковлев Як-18) , a russian plane that is very similar to the Cessna 172.
The Yakolev Yak 18 was designed because the famous fighter aircraft designer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev needed an aircraft that could replace the old Yakovlev Yak-5, so he built the Yak 18.
The Yak 18 was produced by the russian company Yakolev, that produced most of the fighters and training aircrafts in the USSR. The different variants got produced from 1947 - 1994, thats nearly half a century! Even though it got produced for such a long timespan, only 8000-9000 planes got built. The plane is comparable to the american Cessna 172, but the Yakolev has retractable gear and a much higher cruise speed. Modern models could fly 160kt in cruise. It needed more power to get off the ground because it is much heavier so the russian engineerers put very powerful engines in the plane (160hp-300hp). Most models of the Yakolev were considerd as high-performance. The airshow variants can even takeoff on 500 feet of runway. Many pepole also prefer the Yak 18 because it has a much better view and even a window in the roof like a fighter jet.
The different variants
The Yak 18 and the Yak 18U
The Yak 18 is the original model. The production started in 1947 and about 5680 planes of this types were built. It has a service ceiling of 13000ft and got a 162hp Schwezow M-11 engine which was designed in 1927. The plane can carry 1-2 pepole and is about 8m long.
The Yak 18A/Yak 20
The Yak 18A (also called Yak 20) is a version of the original Yak 18, but it got a 260hp engine and is a bit longer. The production started 1957 and about 950 models were built. It has an improved service ceiling of 16000ft and can also only carry 1-2 pepole.
The Yak 18P and the Yak 18PM
The Yak 18P was the first stunt plane in the Yak 18 series. It still got the 266hp motor from the Yak 18A, but the newer Yak 18PM got a 299hp motor and was able to reach a cruising speed of 143 kt. It was also used to train fighter pilots. There was also a taildragger version (called Yak 18PS) that had a fixed tail landing gear and a retractable main gear. Only 156 models were produced.
The Yak 18T
The Yak 18T is completely different that all other models. It featured a much larger cabin that had seats for 4 pepole and had retractable landing gear. The Yak 18T also used a yoke instead of a sidestick because it was primarily designed as a training aircraft for Aeroflot pilots. It could also fly IFR and was certified as a stunt plane. With the 299hp motor of the PM it could reach a cruising speed of 134kt, but because it had nearly double the weight of the C172 it has a similar bad climb performance. About 590 models were built.
There were many manufacturers (mainly in china) that had the license to build their own models, but there are so many companies that it would be useless to list them all. You can google them if you are interested.
How the Yak 18 is used
The Yak 18 was a very popular training aircraft in many countries in eastern europe and in Asia. Also the Yak 18PS was very popular for stunt pilots.
Many countries have used the Yak 18 as a training aircraft for fighter pilots. Even Yuri Gagarin has learned flying in a Yak 18. The Yak 18T was also a very popular spy plane, because it had large windows at the rear, could fit 2 passengers and was slow enough to be hard to shoot down from air and was fast enough to not get shot down from ground. It also had the advantage of being able to land on dirt strips. Even some european countries like Germany, Austria and Poland have used the Yakolev for training.
It also got used in the Korean war as a night bomber. With adding a bomb rack at the bottom of the aircraft the Yak 18 was a very dangerous ground attack aircraft. North Korea still owns some Yak 18s that could be used as bombers.
Today the Yak 18T is still in use in east Europe. It is still used as a training aircraft, but also as a small cargo aircraft and for inspecting pipelines.
I hope you enjoyed this topic about one of the most iconic aircraft in russian history!