Lavochkin La-7

The Lavochkin La-7 was a Soviet fighter developed during World War II. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the last in a family of aircraft that had begun with the LaGG-1 in 1938.

The 63rd Guard Fighter Aviation Corps began combat trials of the La-7 in mid-September 1944 in support of the 1st Baltic Front. Thirty aircraft were provided for the trials, which lasted one month. During this time the new fighters made 462 individual sorties and claimed 55 aerial victories while losing four aircraft in combat. Four other La-7s were lost to non-combat causes, mostly related to engine problems. A total of three pilots were killed during the trials to all causes.

One regimental commander, Colonel Ye. Gorbatyuk, a Hero of the Soviet Union, commented: "The La-7 exhibited unquestionable advantages over German aircraft in multiple air combats. In addition to fighter tasks, photo reconnaissance and bombing were undertaken with success. The aircraft surpasses the La-5FN in speed, manoeuverability, and, especially, in the landing characteristics. It requires changes in its armament, and urgent fixing of its engine." The twin ShVAK armament inherited from the La-5 was no longer powerful enough to bring down later, more heavily armored German fighters, especially the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, in a single burst, even when Soviet pilots opened fire at ranges of only 50–100 meters (160–330 ft).

The La-7 ended the superiority in vertical maneuverability that the Messerschmitt Bf 109G had previously enjoyed over other Soviet fighters. Furthermore, it was fast enough at low altitudes to catch, albeit with some difficulties, Focke Wulf Fw 190 fighter-bombers that attacked Soviet units on the frontlines and immediately headed for German-controlled airspace at full speed. The Yakovlev Yak-3 and the Yakovlev Yak-9U with the Klimov VK-107 engine lacked a large enough margin of speed to overtake the German raiders. Only 115 La-7s were lost in air combat, only half the number of Yak-3s.

Production of the La-7 amounted to 5,753 aircraft, plus 584 La-7UTI trainers. Those aircraft still in service after the end of the war were given the NATO reporting name Fin.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.8 m (32 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 17.59 m2 (189.3 sq ft)
  • Gross weight: 3,315 kg (7,308 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Shvetsov ASh-82FN 14-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial, 1,096 kW
  • Propellers: 3-bladed VISh-105V-4

  • Maximum speed: 661 km/h (411 mph; 357 kn) @ 6,000 meters (19,685 ft)
  • Range: 665 km (413 mi; 359 nmi) (1944 model)
  • Service ceiling: 10,450 m (34,285 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 5.3 minutes to 5,000 meters (16,404 ft)

  • 2 × 20 mm ShVAK cannons with 200 rounds per gun
  • 3 × 20 mm Berezin B-20 cannons with 100 rpg
  • 200 kg (440 lb) of bombs

** Lavochkin La-7 - Warbird Fare

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