Lavochkin La-5

Lavochkin La-5

infobox Aircraft
name = La-5
type = fighter
manufacturer = Lavochkin

caption =
designer = Semyon Lavochkin
first flight = March 1942
introduced = July 1942
retired =
status =
primary user = Soviet Air Force
more users =
produced =
number built = 9,920
unit cost =
variants with their own articles = Lavochkin La-7
The Lavochkin La-5 (Лавочкин Ла-5) was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the LaGG-3 and was one of the Soviet Air Force's most capable types of warplane.


The La-5's heritage began even before the outbreak of war, with the LaGG-1, a promising yet underpowered aircraft – turning a full circle, for example, took 20 seconds. The LaGG-3 was a modification of that design that attempted to correct this by both lightening the airframe and fitting a more powerful engine. Nevertheless, this was not enough, and the lack of power remained a significant problem.

In early 1942, two of the LaGG-1 and -3's designers, Semyon Lavochkin and Vladimir Gorbunov, attempted to correct this deficiency by experimentally fitting a LaGG-3 with the more powerful Shvetsov ASh-82 radial engine. Since the LaGG-3 was powered by an inline engine, they accomplished this by grafting on the nose section of a Sukhoi Su-2 (which used this engine). By now, the shortcomings of the LaGG-3 had caused Lavochkin to fall out of Stalin's favour, and factories previously assigned to LaGG-3 construction had been turned over to building the rival Yakovlev Yak-1 and Yak-7. The design work required to adapt the LaGG-3 to the new engine and still maintain the aircraft's balance was undertaken by Lavochkin in a small hut beside an airfield over the winter of 1941-1942, all completely unofficially.

When the prototype took flight in March, the result was extremely pleasing - the fighter finally had a powerplant that allowed it to perform as well in the air as it had been supposed to on paper. After flying, the LaG-5 (the change in name reflecting that one of the original LaGG designers was no longer with the programme), Air Force test pilots declared it superior to the Yak-7, and intensive flight tests began in April. After only a few weeks, the design was modified further, cutting down the rear fuselage to give the pilot better visibility.

By July, Stalin ordered maximum-rate production of the aircraft, now simply known as the La-5 and the conversion of any incomplete LaGG-3 airframes to the new configuration. While still inferior to the best German fighters at high altitudes, the La-5 proved to be every bit their match closer to the ground. With most of the air combat over the Eastern Front taking place at altitudes of under 5,000 m (16,400 ft), the La-5 was very much in its element. Its rate of roll was excellent.

Further refinement of the aircraft involved a fuel-injected engine, further lightening of the aircraft, and fixed slats to improve all-round performance. This was designated the La-5FN and would become the definitive version of the aircraft. A full circle turn took 18-19 seconds - a beautiful dogfighter. Altogether, 9,920 La-5s of all variants were built, including a number of dedicated trainer versions, designated La-5UTI. Further refinements of the aircraft would lead to the Lavochkin La-7 with a reputation for the aileron turn. Some had three new B-20 cannon in the cowl with a salvo of 3.4 kg per second weight of fire.

Whenever a low flying attacker couldn't be intercepted even by the new Yak-9U, the La-7 would be utilized.The leading Soviet ace of World War II, Ivan Kozhedub (62 kills), flew this fighter when he shot down an Me 262 jet.

A number of La-5s continued in the service of Eastern Bloc nations after the end of the war, including Czechoslovakia.

Flying the La-5

In the summer of 1943, a brand-new La-5 made a forced landing on a German airfield providing Luftwaffe with an opportunity to test-fly the newest Soviet fighter. Test pilot Hans-Werner Lerche wrote a detailed report of his experience cite journal|author=Котлобовский, А. (Kotlobovskiy, A.)|coauthors=Блащук, В. (Blaschuk, V.)|title=Ла-5ФБ с точки зрения люфтваффе (La-5FN from the viewpoint of Luftwaffe)|journal=АэроХобби (AeroHobby)|issue=1-1993] . He particularly noted that the La-5FN excelled at altitudes below 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) but suffered from short range and flight time of only 40 minutes at cruise engine power. All of the engine controls (throttle, mixture, propeller pitch, radiator and cowl flaps, and supercharger gearbox) had separate levers which served to distract the pilot during combat to make constant adjustments or risk suboptimal performance. For example, rapid acceleration required moving no less than six levers. In contrast, contemporary German aircraft had largely automatic engine controls with the pilot operating a single lever and electromechanical devices making the appropriate adjustments. Due to airflow limitations, the engine boost system ("Forsazh") could not be used above 2,000 meters (6,560 ft). Stability in all axes was generally good. The authority of the ailerons was deemed exceptional but the rudder was insufficiently powerful at lower speeds. At speeds in excess of 600 km/h (370 mph), the forces on control surfaces became excessive. Horizontal turn time at 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) and maximum engine power was 25 seconds.

In comparison with Luftwaffe fighters, the La-5FN was found to have a comparable top speed and acceleration at low altitude. It possessed a higher roll rate and a smaller turn radius than the Bf 109 and a better climb rate than the Fw 190A-8. Bf 109 utilizing MW 50 had superior performance at all altitudes, and Fw 190A-8 had better dive performance. Lerche's recommendations were to attempt to draw the La-5FN to higher altitudes, to escape attacks in a dive followed by a high-speed shallow climb, and to avoid prolonged turning engagements.


*Czechoslovakian Air Force;flag|Germany|Nazi
*Luftwaffe operated some captured aircraft.;USSR
*Soviet Air Force

pecifications (Lavochkin La-5FN)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
ref=Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War IIBridgman 1946, p. 195.]
crew=one pilot
length main=8.67 m
length alt=28 ft 5.33 in
span main=9.80 m
span alt=32 ft 1.75 in
height main=2.54 m
height alt=8 ft 4 in
area main=17.5 m²
area alt=188 ft²
empty weight main=2,605 kg
empty weight alt=5,743 lb
loaded weight main=3,265 kg
loaded weight alt=7,198 lb
max takeoff weight main=3,402 kg
max takeoff weight alt=7,500 lb
engine (prop)=Shvetsov ASh-82FN
type of prop=radial engine
number of props=1
power main=1,215 kW
power alt=1,630 hp
max speed main=648 km/h
max speed alt=403 mph
range main=765 km
range alt=475 miles
ceiling main=11,000 m
ceiling alt=36,100 ft
climb rate main=16.7 m/s
climb rate alt=3,280 ft/min
loading main=186 kg/m²
loading alt=38 lb/ft²
power/mass main=0.42 kW/kg
power/mass alt=0.26 hp/lb
* 2× 20 mm ShVAK cannon, 200 rounds per gun
* 2 bombs up to 100 kg each

ee also


* Lagg-1
* Lagg-3
* La-7

similar aircraft=
* Focke-Wulf Fw 190
* Kawasaki Ki-100
* P-51 Mustang
* Supermarine Spitfire
* Polikarpov I-185

LaGG-1 - LaGG-3 - La-5 - La-7 - La-9 - La-11

* List of military aircraft of the Soviet Union and the CIS
* List of fighter aircraft




* Abanshin, Michael E. and Nina Gut. "Fighting Lavochkin, Eagles of the East No.1". Lynnwood, WA: Aviation International, 1993. ISBN unknown.
* Bergström, Christer. Kursk - The Air Battle: July 1943. London: Chevron/Ian Allen, 2007. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
* Bridgman, Leonard (ed.). "The La-5". "Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II". London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
* Gordon, Yefim. "Lavochkin's Piston-Engined Fighters (Red Star Volume 10)". Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-85780-151-2.
* Gordon, Yefim and Dmitri Khazanov. "Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War, Volume One: Single-Engined Fighters". Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-85780-083-4.
* Green, William. "Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters". London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1961 (seventh impression 1973). ISBN 0-356-01447-9.
* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "WW2 Aircraft Fact Files: Soviet Air Force Fighters, Part 1". London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-354-01026-3.
* Liss, Witold. "The Lavochkin La 5 & 7 (Aircraft in Profile number 149)". Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967.
* Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. "LaGG Fighters in Action (Aircraft in Action Number 163)". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-89747-634-7.
* Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. "La 5/7 Fighters in Action (Aircraft in Action Number 169)". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-89747-392-2.
* Veštšík, Miloš and Jirí Vraný. "Lavočkin La-5" (in Czech/English). Prague, Czech Republic: MBI Books, 2006. ISBN 80-86524-10-8.

External links

* [ Lavochkin fighters from LaGG-1 to La-11]
* [ Features development, history, and some of the best color profiles of the La-5 available on the web.]
* [ Lavochkin La5 FN & La 7 A Design History]

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