When the German Army swept into Russia in June, 1941, Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering assured the generals that Germany would destroy Russiaâ€™s air defense capability. They very nearly succeeded. Caught by surprise, Russiaâ€™s air force was decimated on the ground and in the air. Moving his design and manufacturing facilities east of the Ural Mountains, Alexander Yakovlevâ€˜s design bureau began production of the Yak-9 in 1942, with delivery of the light, versatile craft to fighter regiments by October of that year. Eventually, a record 16,769 Yak-9â€™s of all models would be built.