In 1938 a requirement was issued for a single engine front fighter for the UV-VS. The Ya-22, designed by Aleksandr Sergeievich Yakovlev, was selected. For his work on the Yak-1, Yakovlev received the Order of Lenin, 100,000 rubles, and an automobile.
The Yakovlev Yak-1 was to be designed so that as much cheap materials could be used as possible.
During the initial trials the Yak-1 showed great potential and was rushed into production even before the trials were completed.
The Yak-1 had a structure of metal and wood, with wood providing the cover.
The cockpit hood of the Yak-1M was jettisonable and gave the pilot excellent views. There was a 1/3" / 9 mm sheet of armor behind the pilot.
Modifications during production for the Yak-1 included more pointed wing tips.
The Yak-1M had an all metal wing that were replaceable in the field quite easily. There were oil coolers in the wing roots.
The Yak-1M's tail had a elevator mass balance added that lighted the amount of force that was needed to move them. The skin was 1/8" / 2 mm of plywood.
The Yak-1's tail wheel didn't retract. Eventually a retractable tailwheel was installed in the Yak-1.
The tail wheel of the Yak-1M retracted.
The M-105PF engine was installed to reduce weight to help increase performance. The rear fuselage was reduced to allow for an all-around canopy.