Lavochkin La-5 and La-7
As the Soviet armies reeled back after the initial assault by Germany in the East during 1941, frantic demands were made for modern equipment to be supplied to the Soviet air force. In October 1941 Semyon Lavochkin started work on the Lavochkin LaG-5 fighter with 1194-kW (1,600-hp) M-82 radial, passing on almost immediately to a development, the La-5, with cutdown rear fuselage which gave improved visibility for the pilot. The prototype completed its acceptance trials in May 1942 and entered production two months later; by the end of the year no fewer than 1,182 examples had been completed. In March 1943 the next and principal version, the La-5FN, entered production, a total of 21,975 aircraft including the later La-7 being produced before the end of the war; the La-5FN featured the 1231-kW (1,650-hp) ASh-82FN engine, but its two 20-mm cannon were supplemented by four 8.2-cm (3.23-in) RS 82 rocket projectiles or two PTAB antitank weapons. A two-seat trainer version, the La-5UTI, was also produced.
Later aircraft were armed with two 23mm guns in place of the 20-mm weapons. In 1944 the La-7 appeared with an armament of three 20- or 23mm cannon, an uprated ASh-82FN engine and a top speed of 680 km/h (423 mph). The first large-scale use of the La-5 was during the fighting around Stalingrad in November 1942; it was essentially a low/medium-altitude fighter, and during the great armour battles at Kursk in July 1943 La-5s were employed in a tank-busting role, and after having discharged their hollowcharge missiles against ground targets they would climb to give fighter cover to the slower Ilyushin 11-2 support aircraft. The highest-scoring of all Allied fighter pilots of the war, Ivan Kozhedub, achieved all his 62 combat victories while flying La-5s, La-5FNs and La7s between 26 March 1943 and 19 April 1945.
Semyon Lavochkin's La-7 featured an uprated engine, giving it a top speed of 680 km/h (423 mph) and many minor improvements which made this aircraft one of the most effective of the war. Those made at the Moscow factory carried two cannon, whilst those built at Yaroslavl had three.
Type: single-seat fighter/fighterbomber
Powerplant: one 1231-kW (1,650-hp) ASh-82FN radial piston engine
Performance: maximum speed 647 km/h (402 mph) at 5000 m (16,405 ft); climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) in 5.0 minutes; service ceiling 11000 m (36,090 ft); range 765 km (475 miles)
Weights: empty 2605 kg (5,743 lb); normal take-off 3360 kg (7,408 lb)
Dimensions: span 9.80 m (32 ft 1.75 in); length 8.67 m (28 ft 5.3 in); height 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in); wing area 17.59 m2 (189.3 sq ft)
Armament: two nose-mounted 20-mm ShVAK cannon (on later aircraft 23-mm NS cannon), plus provision for four 8.2cm (3.23-in) RS-82 rockets or 150 kg (33 lib) of bombs