LAGG-3 Fighter Aircraft Technical Specifications :
- Crew – 1 person
- Engine – M-105PF
- Power – 1210 hp
- Wingspan-9.81 m
- The wing area is 17.62 sq. m
- Empty aircraft weight-2620 kg
- Maximum take-off weight-2990 kg
- Full load weight-670 kg
- Maximum speed at altitude / near the ground – 592/474 km / h
- Practical ceiling – 9500 m
- Maximum range-650 km
- Armament: 1×20 mm SHVAK cannon and 1×7. 62 mm SHKAS machine gun.
LAGG-3 Fighter Aircraft Details
In the late 1930s, on the eve of the Second World War in the Soviet Union, young talented design cadres were attracted to the creation of new-generation fighter aircraft, which had to solve the most difficult task: not only to give the Red Army aircraft with the highest flight and combat characteristics, but also to do it in the shortest possible time. In the autumn of 1938, S. A. Lavochkin and M. I. Gudkov, employees of the Main Directorate of the Aviation Industry (GUAP) of the USSR People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry, headed by the head of the Technical Department V. P. The Gorbunovs proposed to the People’s Commissar of the aviation Industry M. M. Kaganovich the idea of building a fighter jet from delta wood. This fundamentally new material, which was plasticized wood, was developed by the inventor L. I. Ryzhkov. Its manufacturing technology was similar to other wood plastics: bakelite, balinite and others, which were actively used in the Soviet Union at that time. All of them had about twice the volume mass of ordinary wood, as well as significantly greater strength.
In such power elements as wing spar shelves, fuselage spars, etc., delta wood promised advantages over plain wood. In addition, the difficulties of obtaining high-quality wood in large quantities were constantly increasing, and delta wood was also a promising material in terms of saving aluminum, which was scarce at that time. A thorough study of the new material led to the conclusion that it can be used in the manufacture of fighter aircraft. This group quickly completed the pre-sketch project of the I-22 fighter, which was approved by the People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry. Soon Gorbunov, Lavochkin and Gudkov were appointed heads of the Experimental Design Bureau OKB-301 (in the village of Kuntsevo, Moscow region), which had just been formed on their initiative.
Already in March 1939, a decree was issued ordering OKB-301 to develop and build a fighter with the M-105 engine. S. A. Lavochkin was appointed responsible designer. In just one year, by the spring of 1940, the I-301 fighter (later designated LaGG-1) was built with an M-105P engine (without a compressor), armed with one 23 mm Taubin cannon (the barrel of which was passed through the hollow axis of the engine gearbox), and two 12.7 mm synchronous BS machine guns located above the engine. The first flight on it was performed by a test pilot of the Air Force Research Institute A. I. Nikashin. On June 14, 1940, the aircraft was handed over to state tests, where the I-301 showed very good results: the maximum speed was up to 605 km / h at an altitude of 5000 m; the time to climb this altitude was only 5.8 minutes, and 8000 m – in 12.7 minutes. But a number of changes had to be made to the design of the aircraft. One of them was related to the need to increase the flight range to 1000 km. Additional cantilever tanks installed in the wing solved this problem. After improvements to the identified shortcomings, factory tests of the I-301 continued, and at the end of the year, a second copy of the I-301 with an engine equipped with two turbochargers was put to the test. Based on the results of its tests, on December 9, 1940, in accordance with a government decree, it was decided to organize mass production of the I – 301 aircraft, renamed LaGG-1, at three aircraft factories at once: M. I. Gudkov headed production in Moscow, S. A. Lavochkin-in Gorky, and V. P. Gorbunov – in Tbilisi. The final state tests in January 1941 were already carried out by the serial machine manufactured by plant No. 21, which received the new designation “LaGG-3”. It was a free-standing low-wing aircraft with a trapezoidal wing, smooth contours and a retractable landing gear with a tail wheel; it was unique among the fighters of its time in that it had an all-wood structure, with the exception of the steering surfaces, which had a metal frame and canvas skin. The fuselage, tail, and wings were all made of wood. To protect the pilot, the seat was made with a 10-mm armor plate.
LaGG-3 became one of the first Soviet fighters of the new pre-war generation, but its introduction into mass production did not go as smoothly as planned, since the aircraft and its drawings were still quite “raw”, not finalized for serial production. Serial production of the LaGG-3 fighter, which began in January 1941, took place in very difficult conditions, when many components were missing, and therefore the various series of machines differed significantly from each other. The all-wood design, increased weapon power and increased fuel supply worsened the fighter’s flight data (rate of climb, vertical maneuver, take-off and landing characteristics). In the desire of the military to achieve greater combat efficiency, the car was overloaded, which led to an actual decrease in combat capability, while the quality of construction of serial vehicles was noticeably lower than that of experimental vehicles, which was expressed in increased resistance and weight gain. The designers did everything possible to preserve the flight data of their fighter, but it was impossible to overcome numerous shortcomings, since the LaGG-3 aircraft remained too heavy for the M-105 engine. The weight of production aircraft, after eliminating some of the defects and installing a number of units, increased by about 70 kg, and the outer surfaces of the fuselage and wings no longer had a thorough finish. Flight performance has significantly deteriorated, and the speed has decreased to 549-554 km / h without bombs and NURS; the range of flight has also fallen. In the future, this aircraft revealed some more shortcomings: not quite enough visibility, a tendency to break into a tailspin, etc. But all this, in general, was somehow eliminated and did not affect the continuation of mass production of LaGG-3. By June 22, 1941, Russian aircraft manufacturers managed to produce 322 LaGG-3 aircraft.
LaGG-3 became in the first period of the Great Patriotic War one of the main front-line fighters of the Red Army Air Force. In large quantities, the LaGG-3 aircraft began to arrive at the front from the end of the summer of 1941. They were also in service with the air defense of the fronts, the Air Forces of the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets.
The first air battles showed that LaGG-3 aircraft have both positive and negative qualities. The first included: long range, powerful weapons and, most importantly, high survivability. There is a well-known case when the pilot A. Grinchik had to fight with several enemy fighters. His LaGG-3 was damaged, but the enemy also suffered losses – one Messerschmitt he managed to shoot down, the other knocked out-left the battle. But the enemy, who still had the advantage in numbers, pressed on. On the LaGG-3, the engine stopped, broken by a direct hit of a projectile. But the plane was still in the air. Moreover, when one of the German fighters jumped out in front of the nose of our plane, Grinchik managed to take aim, and from his turn another Messerschmitt exploded in the air. In the hands of experienced pilots, the LaGG-3 became a formidable weapon. Thus, the pilot of the 178th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Air Defense, Hero of the Soviet Union G. Grigoriev, who defended the sky of Moscow, won 17 victories in 17 air battles. It was on LaGG-3 that the famous Soviet aces N. Skomorokhov; V. Popkov; S. Lugansky; V. Zaitsev; P. Golovachev, who later became twice Heroes of the Soviet Union, opened their combat account.
During the production process, the LaGG-3 fighter was constantly improved, the composition of its armament changed, if on the pre-war series of aircraft it consisted of five machine guns: three 12.7-mm large-caliber BS and two 7.62-mm rapid-fire SHKAS, then from the second half of 1941, instead of the central machine gun, they began to install a 20-mm SHVAK gun and three machine guns-one BS and 2 SHKAS. In addition, 6 – 8 RS-82 rockets or two aerial bombs could be suspended under the wing. Such weapons were not found on any new Soviet serial fighter aircraft. In addition, serial versions of the LaGG-3 were also produced, armed with 37-mm Shpitalny Sh-37 (1942) and Nudelman NS-37 (1943) aircraft guns. Senior Lieutenant Pereskokov, from the 42nd Fighter Aviation Regiment, who piloted a LaGG-3 aircraft with a Sh-37 gun during military tests, performed several flights on it, and one of them was very successful, when he managed to shoot down two German Messerschmitt Bf110 fighters – using up only 12 shots.
And yet, for Soviet pilots who had undergone accelerated training, the LaGG-3 fighter was difficult to pilot. A lot of complaints were caused by its stability in flight. In addition, the LaGG-3 was significantly inferior in basic performance to the new German Messerschmitt BF109F and BF109G fighters that appeared at the front. Therefore, the production of LaGG-3 was gradually reduced, leaving its production at only plant No. 31. Here, under the leadership of V. P. Gorbunov in 1942-1943, the LaGG-3 was upgraded, and a more powerful M-105PF engine was installed on it; the design was made easier (the flight weight was reduced to 2,865 kg); part of the armament was removed (only one 20-mm SHVAK gun remained, the barrel of which passed through the hollow gearbox shaft, and one 12.7-mm UBS machine gun); fuel supply was reduced and aerodynamics was improved; weight balancers of the steering wheel and slats were introduced. As a result of this modernization, according to basic flight data, the LaGG-3 almost equaled the Yak-1 (considered at that time one of the best) and successfully continued to participate in combat operations.
Production of LaGG-3 at plant No. 31 in Tbilisi continued until the beginning of 1944. If we compare the mass of the LaGG-3 fighter with the mass of the Yak-1, Yak-7 and Yak-9 fighters, we can see that with the same engine, size, and armament of the LaGG-3 (as well as a number of foreign fighters) it was 250-300 kg heavier, which is explained by the greater weight of the wooden structure (regardless of its design) of the fuselage compared to the mixed fuselage design of Yakovlev aircraft. In addition, the overall mass culture in LaGG and La aircraft was lower than in Yak aircraft, where it was brought to perfection. However, the survivability of the LaGG-3 (and then La-5) aircraft was exceptionally high. So, at the end of July 1942, Senior Sergeant P. K. Babaylov from the 790th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 219th Mixed Aviation Division (4th Air Army, Southern Front) flew LaGG-3 aircraft to repel a raid by enemy aircraft on an airfield near the city of Grozny. In a dogfight, he shot down an enemy Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter, while using up all the ammunition, he cut off the tail of another Bf109 with an air propeller, and managed to land his damaged plane at his airfield. During the night, technicians repaired the damaged LaGG-3 (the screw was bent and the engine hood was damaged). The next day, P. K. Babaylov again participated in an air battle on it and won his third victory, and on November 21, 1943, Lieutenant P. K. Babaylov, being already a flight commander of the same regiment, rammed an enemy bomber in an air battle over the Kerch Peninsula near the village of Sultanovka on a LaGG-3 fighter with a propeller strike on the keel.schik Junkers Ju 88, and he was able to land on the damaged aircraft. The LaGG-3 fighter participated in combat operations on the Soviet-German front until the end of the Second World War and made a significant contribution to the Victory cause, and in August 1945 took an active part in combat operations in the Far East during the Soviet-Japanese War.
In total, 6528 LaGG – 3 aircraft were built at the plants of the USSR People’s Commissariat of Aviation Industry No. 21 named after S. Ordzhonikidze (Gorky), No. 23 (Leningrad), No. 31 named after G. Dimitrov (Tbilisi) and No. 153 named after V. P. Chkalov (Novosibirsk) during mass production from 1941 to 1944.
The Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War presents a model of the LaGG-3 fighter aircraft (tail number 43), which was part of the 9th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force, which was flown by Senior Lieutenant Shchipov in 1943. The mock-up of the aircraft was built by Tushinsky Machine-Building Plant together with Avion LLP in 1995.