Designed by a bureau headed by Se myon Lavochkin and including V. Gorbunov and M. Gudkov, the Lavochkin LaGG-3 stemmed from the LaGG-1, whose prototype (the 1-22) was first flown on 30 March 1940. These aircraft were unusual in retaining an all-wood structure; only the control surfaces (and later the landing flaps) were metal. This excellent little fighter was ordered into production in 1940 as the LaGG-1 with a 783-kW (1,050-hp) Klimov M-105 V-12 engine, but was too late to see service during the Winter War with Finland in 1939-40. With a top speed of 605 km/h (376 mph) and an armament of one 20-mm and two 12.7mm (0.5-in) guns, the LaGG-1 was certainly one of the world's best fighters early in 1941, but pilots complained of poor climb performance and heavy controls, and a new version, the LaGG3, was introduced by way of the 1-301 prototype after several hundred LaGG-Is had been delivered. At the time of the German attack two air regiments still flew the older aircraft, but within a year four regiments had received the LaGG-3, their task being to provide escort for the Ilyushin 11-2 close-support aircraft; they carried a variety of armament combinations, including wing attachments for six 8.2cm (3,23-in) rockets or light bombs.
The LaGG-3 featured a constantspeed propeller and improved rudder balancing, and was popular in service; it proved very robust and was capable of sustaining considerable battle damage. A better fighter was urgently needed, and the three designers each built new versions with the M-82 radial. In 1942 the liquid-cooled LaGG went out of production after about 6,528 had been built.
Specification Lavochkin LaGG-3
Type: single-seat fighter
Powerplant: one 925-kW (1,240-hp) M-105PF V-12 piston engine
Performance: maximum speed 575 km/h (357 mph) at 5000 m (16,405 ft); initial climb rate 900 m (2,950 ft) per minute; service ceiling 9700 m (31,825 ft); range 650 km (404 miles)
Weights: empty 2620 kg (5,776 lb); maximum take-off 3300 kg (7,275 lb)
Dimensions: span 9.80 m (32 ft 1.75 in); length 8.81 m (28 ft 11 in); height 2.70 m (8 ft 10 in); wing area 17.51 irf (188.5 sq ft)
Armament: one 20-mm ShVAK hubfiring cannon and two 12.7-mm (0.5-in) UBS machine-guns or two 7.62-mm (0.3-in) ShKAS machine-guns, plus provision for six underwing 8.2-cm (3.23-in) rockets or four 50-kg (110-lb) bombs