Current Project 1
Yak 3 ZK-VVS
This aeroplane was built in Russia during the 1990’s as a joint American/Russian project to return the legendary Yak-3 to the skies. In the late 1990’s this aircraft was involved in a take-off accident at the Reno air races. Written off, it was acquired by other interests before being sold to its current New Zealand owner.
Fuselage work centred around converting the existing fuselage to a 2-seat configuration with all work being carried out in accordance with a certified structural engineer’s calculations. Once this ground-breaking work was completed the fuselage was able to be mated to the wing and fit out of the numerous previously completed components begun. An owner sourced Allison V1710 engine was then fitted and a cropped DC-3 prop was brought up to spec by SAFE Air Ltd.
Currently this aircraft is being painted and will then only require final systems testing and avionics wiring before engine runs. Concurrently, cowlings and fairings and a spinner are being manufactured.
A selection of photos from throughout VVS's rebuild....
September / October 2011 updates
With the setbacks referred to in August’s “News Update” dealt with we were able to progress to the stage where we could run the engine. We were keen to get this done as soon as possible because time was marching on and we did not know if the oil cooler and locally built coolant radiator were going to be up to the task. Additionally, all of the pneumatic and electrical systems needed to be tested under ‘live’ conditions.
It was with reserved excitement on October 7th that the team readied ZK-VVS for her initial runs. After hot oil priming and re-installation of the spark plugs, Jay climbed in and attempted his first Allison start. Initially all did not bode well with the external battery cart failing to supply power (later traced to a dodgy Russian relay) and then the internal batteries being a bit more discharged than anyone realised.
As can be seen from the accompanying photos ground power was ‘lashed up’ and after a good prime she burst into life on the first attempt. There is little more to say as over the next few days we did a number of runs and tested the various systems. To our great relief we found that everything worked as we had hoped – to be honest, all systems exceeded our wildest expectations and left us very little in the way of rectification…. A couple of oil and coolant weeps was about it!
That all engine and avionic systems performed flawlessly on the first attempt is testament to the skill and attention to detail of all the tradesmen involved. This attention to detail could not be achieved without the continued understanding of the owners as there is nothing worse than having to go back and redo expensive and time consuming work when not done properly in the first place.
Work now focuses on completing the cowlings and canopies, these being the last two major jobs. The canopies in particular have been a painstaking task as they have all been completely redesigned to allow for the fitment of the 2nd seat. Additionally they have been raised 10cm to give more head room. As there are no drawings or spare parts, everything has had to be built “in mid-air”… not the easiest task. Even getting them to slide nicely has been a challenge.
At the same time there are a myriad of little painstaking tasks to complete, all of which delay the completion of the project. Check out the links to the first engine runs below plus a taste of what’s to come!