The Yak-9T in Aces High II
The Yak 9T is not a very common aircraft to see in the MA, it tends to be overshadowed by the Yak 9U though they share the same icon making identification very difficult for the enemy. There is some debate over the exact nature of the Yak 9T as references appear to conflict on the main purpose of the aircraft though I think it is now generally assumed that it was a fighter and not an attack aircraft. The Yak 9T does have a number of shortcomings though in the fighter role, something the Yak 9U is much better suited, although that doesn't mean the Yak 9T is useless my any stretch. If anything, the Yak 9T is a specialized aircraft that requires a skilled hand but that can be ruthlessly efficient when used properly.
The Yak-9T is reasonably quick at low altitudes, turning 327mph at sea-level, but this improves very quickly with only a little gain in altitude. At 6K it can turn a cruise speed of around 350mph. Most VVS aircraft were designed for low level combat and the 9T in particular is much better near the ground. Top speed is 368mph at 13.5K so there is little reason to climb any higher than that. Acceleration is not good, barely creeping into the middle 1/3 of aircraft and tied with some rather unspectacular performers in that sense. At high levels the acceleration is even worse. Climb rates are about average, 3,000ft/min up through 10K, giving a decent climb rate to reasonable altitude. Fuel duration is short, only 27 minutes with no option for external drop tanks though this doesn't tend to hamper operations all that much as the Yak 9T tends to operate fairly closely to base and not go on distant fighter sweeps.
Aces High II Performance Charts
The 9T's claim to fame is a 37mm spinner mounted cannon that can lay an ugly whooping on anyone who is hit by it. Most people assume that it was used for ground-attack but this appears to not be the case as the aircraft in general is not configured for that role. Instead, the idea was to mount such a large cannon that even a single hit from it would destroy a fighter and seriously damage a bomber. To accomplish this did require some compromise though and this is seen in the low rate of fire and small ammunition load for the big cannon (only 32 rounds). The ballistics are excellent though, especially and short to medium ranges, with the cannon having similar muzzle velocity to some of the best performing cannons in the game, totally opposite of the German 30mm cannons on the likes of the 109K4. The 37mm also has a reasonable anti-vehicle capability against lightly armoured opponents though against tanks it is not all that effective. Backing up the large cannon is a single 12.7mm machine gun mounted in the cowl with 230 rounds, enough to scare someone or damage them but not really granting any concentrated damage potential unless held on the target for a long time. A typical decision is to return-to-base as soon as the cannon is gone regardless of how much 12.7mm you have remaining. An unappreciated use of the 37mm is against bombers where only a couple of hits can yield disastrous results. Bombers, being larger and less maneuvering targets, allow long ranged shots sometimes in excess of D800 with generally gratifying results.
Maneuverability in the Yak9T is not good, it feels heavy and directionally unstable at some speeds, likely the result of such a large cannon mounted out front. The Yak9T seems to require an extra gentle hand on the stick in order to maintain good control though in high speed pursuits it is quite possible to stay stable. The 9T is actually lighter than the 9U on paper but the balance is very obviously not nearly as good. I wouldn't attempt to slow-turnfight much in a Yak9T as it feels heavy and takes a pretty gentle hand on the controls. In a dive the Yak9T is great though, retaining almost full control at speeds as high as 575mph. This certainly favours quick dives onto a unsuspecting target where you can fire your big cannon at very short ranges and then zoom back up to altitude. The first ping the enemy hears will also be his last.
Fighting in the Yak-9T
Often the Yak9T is used in the ground attack role against vehicles. This isn't a bad role for the plane although it isn't very heavily protected from ground fire and the cannon is marginally more effective against more lightly armoured vehicles than a few of .50's would be. Against heavier armour the 37mm tends to damage the vehicle but not kill it, at least out-right. I've tried shots from dead rear on units like the Panzer and it does appear to be able to kill them but only at ludicrously short ranges and flat angles. The short duration of ammunition tends to limit the amount of passes you can make on a target. Fortunately, the 37mm also means that you will typically be awarded the kill if someone else kills the vehicle with any other gun attack since the amount of total damage inflicted by your couple of 37mm hits will be enough to surpass some other attackers.
Against aircraft it is best to have an altitude advantage, dive in behind a target that is unaware of you, and then press home you attack from the low 6 position at very short range. Pop up behind the target and fire at a range where aiming is easy, D150 or closer. A single hit is most likely all you need and you don't necessarily need to plan on landing more than one hit. Even if the plane doesn't break up it is most likely in some way badly damaged and probably won't escape. Turning off tracers gives you a better chance of sneaking up and firing more rounds before you are detected. Don't fire the 12.7mm and give yourself away instead save that for snapshots or in self defence. Snapshots or crossing shots with the 37mm are virtually hopeless unless you are incredibly close. If you are lucky enough to find a single bomber, or maybe a formation of bombers, come in and open fire early. The 37mm cannon can maul medium bombers and serious damage large bombers with single hits before the bomber has much time to defend itself. A single pass by a Yak 9T can actually destroy an entire formation of bombers with a little luck.
The Yak9T has limited escape options although everyone will fear your nose so pointing it towards enemy planes is always a good start. I always trying and save at least five 37mm rounds to use for my escape for the purpose of firing 1 or 2 at an enemy who tries to engage from the front. Head-Ons are a mixed bag but typically if you are in a Yak9T you can accept them from a disadvantaged position (and some people use it as the only way they can hit something so press home offensive attacks in this fashion). The main problem with the HO is that you need to survive until very close before you can land your one killing hit and during that time there are too many planes who will punish the Yak9T to the point where you may not even get to fire. Again, don't fire the single 12.7mm, it will distract you with hits that mean little, you absolutely must land a 37mm hit as soon as possible.
Fighting against the Yak-9T
The Yak9T is really only dangerous in two situations, where it can setup behind you at close ranges, and where it can find you in a Head-On engagement. I'm not saying that other situations are not dangerous as a single hit from the 37mm is enough to destroy your aircraft, but there are very few people who can accurately use the weapon. You actual chances of catching a 37mm under hard manoeuvring are very low though it is dangerous to make that assumption.
Defensively, be alert for the Yak9T and try to identify it early. There are no distinguishing markings to the Yak9T from the much more dangerous 9U but sometimes the style of flying can immediately tell them apart. Where the 9U will typically shy away from Head-On engagements, or try and take shots at longer ranges with it's more flexible guns, the 9T will tend to try and get close and accept any HO type situation it can. You really shouldn't HO a Yak9U because of the proximity of it's cowl mounted weapons, but at least against the 9U you may survive. Against the 9T you are almost certain to die if the bogie has any skill in aiming.
The 32 rounds of ammunition is actually an exploitable weakness as the small ammunition load gives a very short combat persistence. Never risk flying straight and level though as the 37mm can reach out and blow you to pieces at very long range, it has very good ballistic properties. You can actually see the 37mm firings quite distinctly as the muzzle flash is very bright, far more so than the 20mm of average nose cannons. Jink around, rolling if you can to make aiming more difficult and just wait for him to run out of ammunition. Once his 37mm is dry he is going to have a tough time finishing you off with only a single 12.7mm. If you note the enemy is un-willing to take long ranged shots against you and waits until he is in close, then you may be in trouble as you likely have an experienced Yak 9T driver after you.
The Yak9T is not very fast and doesn't improve with altitude. They tend to hang out at mid to low altitudes so you can probably get the jump on them most of the time. Be careful not to overshoot one and end up at short range infront. Also, if you hear the tell-tale sounds of 12.7mm pings never dive immediately away since the chances are the large 37mm rounds are passing below you somewhere. If you were to roll inverted and dive you might fly right smack into the softball like 37mm shells.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations