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Weapons of World War Two

Lavochkin La 5 FN

Lavochkin La 5 FN

The history of aircraft projected by Engineer Semion Alekseievic Lavockin reflects, in a certain way, the evolution of the combat aircraft of the Soviet aviation during the Second World War. Circa 1939, Lavockin had started to study a new version of a fighter aircraft, destined to replace the old models in service. With the help of his two best assistants, Gorbunov and Gudkov, he soon elaborated an aircraft of modern and elongate line, still of wooden structure, but of discreet prestations. The aircraft, denominated LaGG 1, according to the initials of its inventors, soon entered production, but even before leaving the production lines several structural modifications were introduced, because of which it took the name LaGG 3.

When in the summer of 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet union, the LaGG constituted the backbone of the Russian fighters. It was, in fact, an aircraft of non negligible performance, albeit it could not be defined as a brilliant aircraft. Inferior to the German Me Bf 109, it was surpassed as well in some of its characteristics by other Soviet aircraft. Because of this it was necessary to improve the formula, even if this was not very easy, among other reasons because in Russia there were no engines adaptable to its fuselage of more power than the Klimov M 105 of 1100 horsepower installed in the LaGG 3.

It had to be resorted to a radial engine, the Svetsov M 82 of 1600 horsepower, which (so urgent was the necessity of an aircraft better than the LaGG 3) was installed hurriedly in that latter, originating a hybrid model, defined by many as LaGG 5 or La 3. As soon as possible, Lavockin added improvements to the fuselage, to the engine section and, above all, to the control surfaces. With this it had been born the La 5. Meanwhile the summer of 1942 had arrived; almost immediately the Svetsov M 82 would be replaced by the M 82 FN (Forsirovannji Neposredstvennim, this is, of direct injection), originating so the La 5 FN, which, exploiting the 1640 horsepower of the new engine, could easily reach 647 kilometers/hour versus the 560 of the LaGG 3.

The La 5 was a single-engined low-winged monoplane, built with wooden structure, until the entry into service, in the spring of 1943, of the La 5 FN, of mixed structure (wood and metal). The engine, the aforementioned Svetsov M 82 FN, was a radial one with 14 cylinders in double star. The armament comprised, in the version FN, two ShVAC 20-millimeter cannons, later replaced by two Nudelman-Suvorov of 23 millimeters, which fired through the propeller disc. Under the wings could be accommodated four RS 82 rockets or two anti-tank bombs PTAB. The aircraft was sufficiently robust and it was gifted, specially in the low areas, with such capacity of maneuvering, that frequently the German fighters, in the attempt to follow its maneuvers, ended crashing against the ground.

Later in 1944 would enter service the La 7, with more powerful engine and armament. With the La 9, which entered service in the late 1946, the aircraft passed from mixed construction to an entirely metallic one, with a further enhancement of the performance. And in 1947 would debut the La 11, of exceptional characteristics, which, with its participation in the Korean War, would close brilliantly the operative era of piston-engined fighters.

Lavochkin La 5 FN
Designer: Engineers Lavockin, Gorbunov and Gudkov (LaGG 3); Engineer Lavockin (La 5 FN and La 9)

First flight/Entry into service: 30 March 1940 (LaGG 3); spring 1943 (La 5 FN); August 1946 (La 9)

Wingspan: 9.80 meters (LaGG 3 and La 5 FN); 10.60 meters (La 9)

Wing area: 17.50 square meters (LaGG 3 and La 5 FN)

Length: 8.87 meters (LaGG 3); 8.50 meters (La 5 FN); 9.20 meters (La 9)

Height: 2.78 meters (LaGG 3); 2.54 meters (La 5 FN); 2.94 meters (La 9)

Full load/Empty weight: 3280/2620 kilograms (LaGG 3); 3360/2800 kilograms (La 5 FN)

Payload/Crew: 660 kilograms/1 (LaGG3); 560 kilograms/1 (La 5 FN)

Engine: Klimov M 105 P of 1100 horsepower (LaGG 3); Svetsov M 82 FN of 1640 horsepower (La 5 FN); Svetsov M 82 FNV of 1870 horsepower (La 9)

Time to reach 3000 meters of altitude: 5 minutes (LaGG 3)

Time to reach 5000 meters of altitude: 4 minutes 7 seconds (La 5 FN); 4 minutes 2 seconds (La 9)

Maximum speed: 560 kilometers/hour (LaGG 3); 647 kilometers/hour (La 5 FN); 690 kilometers/hour (La 9)

Service ceiling: 9000 meters (LaGG 3); 10000 meters (La 5 FN); 11000 meters (La 9)

Defensive armament: One 20-millimeter cannon and two 12.7-millimeter machine guns (a) (LaGG 3); two 20-millimeter cannons (La 5 FN); four 20-millimeter cannons (La 9)

Drop armament: Up to 300 kilograms of bombs or rockets (LaGG 3); up to 150 kilograms of bombs or rockets (LaGG 5 FN)

Operational range: 650 kilometers (LaGG 3); 700 kilometers (La 5 FN)

(a) Normal armament, replaceable by other four variants

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