La-5 Fighter Plane Technical Specifications :
- Crew – 1 person
- Engine – M-82
- Power – 1700 hp
- Wingspan-9.6 m
- The wing area is 17.27 sq. m
- Empty aircraft weight-2605 kg
- Maximum take-off weight-3326 kg
- Maximum speed at altitude / near the ground – 613/555 km / h
- Practical ceiling – 9 500 m
- Maximum range-500 km
- Armament: 2×20 mm SHVAK cannon
- The maximum bomb load is 4 NURS RS-82 or 200 kg of aerial bombs.
La-5 Fighter Plane Details
When in the first months of the Great Patriotic War it was revealed that one of the best fighters of the Red Army LaGG-3 is significantly inferior in basic indicators to the new German Messerschmitt BF109F and BF109G, the reduction of its production began. In addition, with the beginning of the war, the technological advantages of the LaGG-3 aircraft turned into its serious shortcomings. The resins used to impregnate delta wood were imported, and it was difficult to bring them to a warring country. A return to ordinary wood would have made its construction heavier, and the VK-105P liquid-cooled engine power was no longer enough. Production of LaGG-3 aircraft could be completely stopped. Therefore, S. A. Lavochkin was forced to look for a radical solution to save his plane in order to improve its flight performance in a short time. The main means of improving the combat capability of a flight in an air battle could be to increase its power supply. Initially, the bet was made on the powerful Klimov M-107P engine, which passed bench tests,but it has not yet been finalized. Aircraft engine designer A.D. Shvetsov advised S. A. Lavochkin replaced the LaGG-3 inline water-cooled engine M-105P with a double-row star – shaped air-cooled engine ASH-82 (M-82), which had a significantly higher power of 1700 hp,and was also mass-produced. This engine appeared on the eve of the war, but the ASH-82 fighters were not put on – the well-established opinion about the star-shaped engine as a power plant with large transverse dimensions affected. Lavochkin gave instructions to design a new aircraft based on LaGG-3 for the new M-82 air-cooled engine with a large weight and midsection with minimal redesign of the aircraft structure. Only if this requirement was met, it was possible to transfer mass production from the LaGG-3 production to its improved modification without reducing the pace of work. However, the main problem was that the midsection of the M-82 was much larger than the midsection of the relatively narrow fuselage of the LaGG-3, and their coupling required taking measures, up to the design of a new fuselage. But the deputy Lavochkin SM Alekseyev found a simpler way out – by putting a second (non-power) skin on the sides of the fuselage in accordance with the diameter of the M-82. With this task, the designers and plant No. 21 coped successfully. A prototype of the LaGG-3 fighter with M-82, called “La-5”, was vigorously built. In April 1942, two copies of the La-5 were successfully tested. By the summer, the La-5 passed all the necessary tests, showing excellent flight data: the speed of the aircraft reached 580-600 km / h at an altitude of 5900-6400 m, and at the ground – 550 – 560 km/h (with forcing).
The design of the La-5 (similar to the LaGG-3) was a single-seat monoplane of wooden construction with a closed cabin and a retractable landing gear, but with minor changes, so it received a tail wheel that retracted into the fuselage. Since 1943, a new lantern with front and rear armored windows was installed on the aircraft, which provided an overview of the rear hemisphere (the fuselage gargrot was lowered). The design of the La-5 had great survivability in combat and almost did not contain scarce aircraft materials, except for delta wood, which was scarce due to the imported resins that were part of it. However, during the mass production of the La-5, the proportion of delta wood in the structure gradually decreased by replacing it with ordinary pine. From this, the wing spar shelves became thicker, but there was no big difference in mass due to the half-smaller volume mass of pine. In 1944, the wing spars became metal, and this issue was removed. The fuselage was a semi-monocoque glued out of birch veneer with a thickness of 1.15-0.75 mm in five to eight layers, which gave a wall thickness of 9.5-4.5 mm, with a decrease in thickness from nose to tail. To release the cooling air from under the engine hood, “cheeks” were made (instead of “skirts”) along the sides in the form of adjustable flaps, structurally simpler and no worse performing their purpose. If on the first series of La-5 there was a double fuselage skin behind the hood, then later the fuselage was redesigned in full accordance with the dimensions of the M-82 engine. Stabilizer – two-spar wooden with 3-mm plywood skin. Chassis release control is hydraulic. The pilot’s seat received a 10-mm armor plate. The armament of the La-5 consisted of two synchronous 20-mm SHVAK guns mounted above the engine.
In accordance with the decree of the State Defense Committee, the disrupted production of Lavochkin aircraft was restored, and in August of the same year, the first serial La-5 fighters rolled off the assembly line. For some time, LaGG-3 and La-5 were produced at plant No. 21 in parallel, but gradually all production was transferred to La-5. Already in the autumn of 1942, a number of fighter regiments were re-equipped with La-5 fighters. Soviet pilots appreciated not only its technical characteristics and powerful weapons. High horizontal flight speeds, rate of climb and acceleration combined with better vertical maneuverability than the LaGG-3 provided the La-5 with success in air battles.
The air-cooled engine, more reliable than the liquid-cooled engine, also had greater survivability in combat-bullet and shrapnel holes did not disable the cooling system and at the same time it was a kind of protection for the pilot from enemy fire from the front hemisphere. Using this property of the aircraft, the pilots who flew the La-5 boldly went into a frontal attack, imposing on the enemy a profitable battle tactic. For the first time, the La-5 fighter took part in combat operations during the Battle of Stalingrad, where it performed well. The experience of its combat use has shown that the La-5 has advantages over the German Messerschmitt Bf 109F and Focke-Wulf FW 190A aircraft in terms of its flight performance.
A unique air battle involving the La-5 took place on June 6, 1943, when Senior Lieutenant A. K. Horowitz of the 88th Fighter Aviation Regiment attacked a large group of German dive bombers.
9 Junkers Ju 87 bombers and forced the rest to retreat, dropping bombs past the target. But when he was attacked by four FW 190 fighters, he had already run out of ammunition, and our ace died heroically. On the La-5 plane in the same year, the famous Soviet ace pilot, three – time Hero of the Soviet Union I. N. Kozhedub opened his combat account, bringing the number of his victories to 45 (the remaining 17 victories were on another Lavochkin La – 7 fighter).
In the process of mass production, the aircraft was continuously upgraded, and already in March 1943, the Red Army Air Force began to receive an improved version of the La-5F with a boosted M-82F engine. Its power has not changed compared to the M-82, but thanks to the improvements made, its 10-minute afterburner mode has become nominal for the M-82F. Compared to the German Messerschmitt Bf 109F, the La-5F fighter has gained an advantage in speed and maneuverability. And soon, with the advent of the improved M-82FN engine with direct fuel injection into the cylinders (with a capacity of 1,850 hp), the Lavochkin Design Bureau develops a new version of the La-5.
On the recommendation of TsAGI, this modification of the La-5 improved the aerodynamics of the hood; replaced the wooden wing spars with metal ones; lightened the chassis; improved the thermal insulation of the cabin (before that, the cabin was hot because of the air coming from the engine); in addition, in addition to two 20-mm SHVAK or B-20 guns, it also received bomb racks for the external suspension of four RS-82 It was one of the most easily controlled fighters, perfectly kept in a deep bend and had not only high speed and rate of climb, but also exceptionally good maneuverability data. As a result of all the improvements, the La-5FN front-line fighter significantly surpassed the German BF109F and FW 190A fighters in speed at low and medium altitudes and in the characteristics of vertical and horizontal maneuvers.
At the factory tests in March 1943, the experienced La-5FN demonstrated very high flight data: showing a speed at altitude of 650 km/h, and at the ground – 598 km/h. Confirmation of the high qualities of this fighter was the military tests conducted in the spring on the Bryansk front, when Soviet pilots on 14 La-5FN aircraft conducted 25 air battles, shooting down 33 enemy aircraft, while losing only four of their own. The first serial La-5FN entered the front in the summer of 1943 and immediately took part in the Battle of Kursk. In terms of its combat capability, the La-5FN in 1943 became the strongest fighter on the Soviet-German front. In the summer of the same year, a two-seat training fighter La-5UTI, developed on the basis of the La-5F, appeared, armed with one SHVAK gun; without armored glass and radio equipment. At the end of 1943, the improved La-5FN fighter, designated “La-7”, took to the sky. Improved aircraft aerodynamics with the transfer and improvement of the aerodynamic shape of the radiator; the total weight of the structure was reduced by almost 100 kg, which made it possible to strengthen the aircraft’s armament by installing a third 20-mm SHVAK or B-20 gun. Launched into mass production, the La-7 in the last year of the war became one of the main front-line fighters and one of the best aircraft of the Second World War.
On Lavochkin’s La-5, La-5FN and La-7 aircraft, Heroes of the Soviet Union K. A. Evstigneev (56 victories), V. I. Popkov (42 victories), A.V. Alelyukhin (57 victories), N. M. Skomorokhov (46 victories), V. D. Lavrinenko (46 victories), Amed Khan Sultan (49 victories) and others successfully fought twice.
Serial production of La-5 fighter aircraft was carried out by the factories of the USSR People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry No. 21 named after S. Ordzhonikidze (Gorky); No. 31 named after G. Dimitrov (Tbilisi); No. 99 (Ulan-Ude); No. 381 (Nizhny Tagil). A total of 10,003 La-5 aircraft were manufactured in 4 modifications in 1942-1944. The total number of La-5 and La-7 fighters of all modifications built during the Great Patriotic War exceeded 21,000 copies.
The Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War exhibits a mock-up of the La-5 fighter aircraft (tail number 15), from the 4th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Air Force of the twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet, which belonged to the Hero of the Soviet Union G. D. Kostylev.During the Great Patriotic War, he made 418 sorties and shot down 12 enemy aircraft in 112 air battles personally, and 34-in a group. The mock-up of the aircraft was built by Tushinsky Machine-Building Plant together with Avion LLP in 1995.