The Yak-52's design was based on the highly successful Yak-50 aerobatic aircraft and features a 360 hp Vedeneyev M14P radial engine and all metal design and construction. Originally designed for the Soviet DOSAAF system, which was essentially a hybrid of a civilian flying club and preparation for service in the reserves of the Soviet armed forced, the Yak-52 is designed to be reliable and rugged with excellent performance.
The aircraft uses a pneumatic system for actuation of the flaps, wheel brakes, and landing gear. In order to minimize damage if the aircraft were to land gear up, the landing gear is partially exposed even when retracted. Western pilots will occasionally take some time to adapt to the counter-clockwise rotation of the engine, and differential braking system used to steer the aircraft on the ground as the nosewheel is free castoring. Gauntlet's Yak-52 was built in 1993 by Aerostar in Romania.