TechUkrainian Yak-52 takes out Russian Zala drone: A vintage clash in the sky

Ukrainian Yak‑52 takes out Russian Zala drone: A vintage clash in the sky

Yak-52 fights against a Russian drone
Yak-52 fights against a Russian drone
Images source: © X | @front_ukrainian
Norbert Garbarek

30 June 2024 09:46

Russians showed a photo depicting the interception of their Zala drone. The Ukrainians employed a Soviet-manufactured aircraft for this purpose, specifically the Yak-52. We recall the capabilities of both designs.

Although the photo shared on platform X by the profile @front_ukrainian may seem unique, it is, in fact, not the first incident where a Russian-made Yak-52 has engaged in an aerial confrontation with a Russian drone. At the end of April this year, similar material appeared online, featuring the Yak-52 used by the Ukrainians. In the photo, upon closer inspection, you can see stickers indicating that the aircraft has already destroyed at least 8 drones.

This time the photo comes from the camera it is mounted on the Zala drone, designed for surveillance or artillery fire control. In the 421 version, the Zala drone is powered by a single electric motor, allowing it to reach 150 km/h speeds. Its maximum range extends to about 14 kilometres, while the altitude at which it can operate and observe is approximately 3,600 metres.

Soviet Yak-52 in Ukrainian service

Compared to the aforementioned Russian drone, the Yak-52 seems to be a more fascinating design. It is a Soviet-manufactured trainer aircraft first flown in 1976. Initially, it served as a training aircraft for Soviet DOSAAF pilots, who trained as civilian or military pilots.

The Yak-52 is often used as an aerobatic aircraft due to its properties, including its ability to withstand g-forces of +7/-5 G and rotate at a speed of 180 degrees per second. The dry weight of the Yak-52, which is only 1,000 kg, is also crucial in terms of its aerobatic capabilities. Thanks to this, the aircraft, with a wingspan of about 9.3 metres and just under 7.8 metres in length, can accelerate to nearly 240 km/h. Its ceiling is 4,000 metres, and its range on a full tank reaches 500 kilometres.

It is also worth highlighting the relatively unique solution implemented by the Yakovlev design bureau in the Yak-52 aircraft. The pneumatic system starts the engine, controls the landing gear and brake, and operates all the control surfaces (including the rudder). The Yak-52's landing gear, although fully retractable, also leaves the wheels protruding from the fuselage. If the pneumatic system fails, this allows the aircraft to make an emergency landing.

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