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La-5 (LaGG-5) front-line fighter (1942-44)

The La-5 was praised for its maneuverability and flexibility in operation, but also had some significant minuses. With a speed of less than 210 km/h, the aircraft often went into a tailspin. As pilot and writer Anatoly Markusha recalled, pilots suffered from African heat in the cockpit. (Nikolay Yakubovich. The Unknown Lavochkin. Moscow, 2012)

It was in a La-5 that the Allies best ace Ivan Kozhedub started his kill list of 62 shot-down enemy planes. On 6 July 1943, during the Battle of Kursk, he brought down a German Ju-87 bomber. If the first La-5 fighters were technically inferior to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the later modernized La-5FN surpassed its German counterparts, especially by rate of climb. If a Messer tried to get away from us upwards, we caught it. The more it climbed, the easier it was to catch. The Focker was heavier than the Messer, and we caught it even faster, pilot Dmitry Alekssev recalled.

It was not until the fall of 1942 that the Russians acquired a sufficient number of new types of planes to give the Germans a real fight. The temporary air superiority won in the defense of Leningrad and Moscow in the winter of 1941-42 owed more to the weather than to the quality of Russian aircraft or their pilots. Two new fighters came into the VVS inventory in time for the Battle of Stalingrad-the La-5 and the Yak-9. The La-5 was a radical adaptation of the LaGG-3, the new aircraft having an air-cooled radial engine in place of the LaGG-3s liquid-cooled power plant. The La-5 went into production in July 1942, and by the end of 1942 a total of 1,129 had been delivered.

A regiment of La-5, manned by factory pilots, was rushed into the Stalingrad battle where it performed astonishingly well. The plane was very maneuverable at low-to-medium altitudes, handled well, and was a pilots delight.

The new aircraft was born in a very difficult situation: the fighter LaGG-3 due to lack of efficacy were removed from production, the existence of the Lavochkin design bureau was in doubt. Designers perfectly understood the nature of the shortcomings of the LaGG-3 series and led design work on it a fundamental modification. It was necessary as soon as possible to radically improve the quality of flying fighter. In addition, the Lavochkin perfectly remember Stalin's words: "It is now in serial produciton, and therefore let us not offer reducing the release of military aircraft." It was necessary to ensure the continuity of the structure LaGG-3.

In December 1941 the factory #21 (Gorky) EDO SA Lavochkin started work on the creation of an experienced fighter with a motor M-82. The aircraft was created on the basis of the serial LaGG-3 and was converted into a new engine air-cooling design capacity of 1700 hp Shvetsov AD Due to significantly higher compared to the M-105P engine power of the M-82, the new fighter has acquired those qualities, so lacking LaGG-3. Significantly increased the speed and rate of climb, improved vertical maneuverability.

Flight tests in April-May 1942 proved the prospects of the aircraft. The prototype was put to the test March 21, 1942 Factory tests conducted by test pilot plant #21 Captain GA Mishchenko. State tests in April - early May 1942. showed prospects of the aircraft: its maximum speed was 600 km / h, the speed in combat altitude the aircraft exceeded the Messerschmitt-109 at 40-50 km / h. La-5 fighters (LaGG-5) was adopted May 19, 1942.

Due to the continuity of the structure (originally with minimum changes associated with the installation of a new engine) production of a new fighter La-5 factory #21 began in June 1942. In October 1942, the production of La-5 factories were connected number 99 Ulan-Ude and #381 Nizhny Tagil (with 1943. Transferred to Moscow). Small series (27) shares has been released by the #31. Armament - two synchronous cannon ShVAK (SP-20) and two lock RS-40 suspension 2 bombs of 25 to 100 kg. At the beginning of the series designated as LaGG-5, and since September 1942 - the La-5. Military trials of new fighters have been conducted in the West and the Stalingrad front in August and September 1942.

Since the early days of La-5 had proven itself in battle. Pilots liked the ease of control, maneuverability of the aircraft, a sufficiently high speed. Armament (guns ShVAK two caliber 20 mm) quite satisfied air fighters. The star-shaped air-cooled engine had greater vitality than the liquid-cooled engine, and is also a pilot for protection from enemy fire from the front hemisphere, although worsened ahead of the review.

La-5 quickly gained recognition. "Warning! The air of La-5!" - Sounded warnings German pilots in the air during the Battle of Stalingrad. After Stalingrad, the military turned to SA Lavochkin requesting further increase the range of La-5. Lavochkin refused - he remembered the sad lesson LaGG-3, when overloaded plane behaved in the air is much worse than the prototype.

A good example of the use of front-line La-5 is the experience of the 13 th and 437 th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 201st Air Division, which operated at Stalingrad. This experience is summarized PM Strikers in the book "On the main directions." There are cases when the air battles of La-5 received significant damage enemy cannon fire. Yet the plane safely landed at their airfield and soon they were reduced.

In 1943, at the La-5 fighting opened by IN Kozhedub. With great confidence in the this aircraft renowned speakers. They said that, coming to the airport, the pilot greeted his aircraft across the military uniform. Fighting in the La-5 and La-5FN, three times Hero of the Soviet Union IN Kozhedub shot down 45 enemy aircraft.

Fighter Regiments, equipped with La-5, fought at Kursk, in the Crimea, the Kuban. In April 1943, La-5 was in force in the Great Bow 32-1 Guards Fighter Regiment (commanded a regiment Vasily Stalin). In the spring of 1943 aircraft La-5 rearmed 159th Fighter Wing - the elite regiment of the Leningrad Front (commander of the regiment - famous Al Pokryshev PA).

At the creation of the La-5FN - the improved version of fighter La-5, the airplane designers realized all actions on improvement of aerodynamics, recommended TsAGI on the basis of extensive researches in wind tunnels, reduced a structure weight and put a new higher power motor M-82FN (since 1944, ASh-82FN).

The La-5FN, kept perfectly stable in a steep turn and had not only high speed and a rate of climb, but also extremely good manoeuvrable data. The La-5FN have got on front in the summer of 1943 and participated in battle on the Kursk arc. Air fights have shown the superiority of La-5FN over the best modifications of German fighters. On the fighting capacity of La-5FN in 1943 became the strongest fighter of air fight on the Soviet-German front. It is possible to note N.Kozheduba's who has gained on the La-5 of 45 victories the most productive Soviet expert.

In total, the fighters La-5 in different modifications were built in quantity 10003 during 1942-1944 by the time production ceased in late 1944.

Lavochkin had to eliminate "childhood diseases", which he basically managed to do. For the creation of aircraft La-5 in 1943, SA Lavochkin was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor and was awarded the Stalin Prize for the second time.

Total for 1942-1944 years were built nearly 10,000 aircraft La-5 of all modifications. German aircraft designers, however, didnt sit idly by. Their fighters became more advanced, and soon the Soviet Union realized that they needed something more powerful than the La-5FN. Thus was the legendary La-7 born.




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