The Lavochkin La-5 Lavochka

U.S.S.R.
U.S.S.R.

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

In August 1941 the Soviet governemnt ordered the change to radial engines, because up to then most designs were based upon Vee engines. It was feared that the number of airframes would grossly exceed the number of available engines. All three major design bureaus (Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov, Mikoyan-Gurevich, and Yakovlev) were building around the same engine. New or adapted designs would have to use the M-82 radial, which was recently qualified for flight, and offered a good power/weight ratio, and had a reasonably small diameter (resulting in less drag).
In the meantime Gudkov had left the LGG design bureau, and submitted his own desing, the Gu-82. This aircraft was based on the LaGG-3 airframe, coupled with the M-82 radial. However, it was inadequate in performance, because it wasn't optimised for drag or engine output.
The Lavochkin team also based their new design on the LaGG-3, and together with Shvetsov they put in a maximum effort to solve a number of forthcoming problems. Some of these include the increased weight of the engine by 530 lb (240 kg), the balancing problems because all the weight would be in the nose (but it would be shorter), the increased frontal area (drag), and a lower thrustline. All problems were solved with a nice tight-fitting cowling with the turbo charger inlet on the upper lip of the cowling, and the oil cooler under the cowling in line with the wings. Exhaust was fed to two collectors, and the radial had controllable radial vanes for cooling air.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Lavochkin La-5, early model
Lavochkin La-5, early model

Lavochkin La-5, later model (see cockpit canopy)
Lavochkin La-5, later model (see cockpit canopy)

 

Technical data on the Lavochkin La-5
Powerplant 1 × Shvetsov M-82A radial, rated at 1480 hp (1103.32 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
Length 28 ft 7 inch Height 8 ft 4 inch
Empty weight 5743 lb Operational weight 7198 lb max
Wing Span 32 ft 1.75 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.46
Wing Area 189.34 sq ft Service ceiling 31495 ft
Maximum speed 375 mph at 21325 ft Cruising speed 349 mph at 16405 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 16,405 ft in 6 min 12 sec Range 407 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 102 Imp gal (122 US gal) Fuel capacity external Up to 44 Imp gal (52 US gal) in two 22 Imp gal (26 US gal) drop tanks
Machine guns -Cannons 2 × 20 mm ShVAK fixed forward-firing in the upper nose, 200 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 1,102 lb, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 551 lb each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 551 lb FAB-250 bombs Torpedoes/rockets 6 or 8 × 3.2 inch RS-82 Air-to-surface rockets (in stead of bombs)
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) March 1942 Operational Service September 1942 - Late 1940's
Manufacturer Lavochkin and Gorbunov Design Bureau Number produced About 9.920 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 8.71 m Height 2.54 m
Empty weight 2605 kg Operational weight 3265 kg max
Wing Span 9.8 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.46
Wing Area 17.59 m² Service ceiling 9600 m
Maximum speed 603 km/h at 6500 m Cruising speed 562 km/h at 5000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 5.000 m in 6 min 12 sec Range 655 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 464 liters Fuel capacity external Up to 200 liters in two 100 liters drop tanks
Machine guns -Cannons 2 × 20 mm ShVAK fixed forward-firing in the upper nose, 200 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 500 kg, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 250 kg each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 250 kg FAB-250 bombs Torpedoes/rockets 6 or 8 × 82 mm RS-82 Air-to-surface rockets (in stead of bombs)

Technical data on the Lavochkin La-5FN
Powerplant 1 × Shvetsov ASh-82FN radial, rated at 1850 hp (1379.16 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
Length 28 ft 5.33 inch Height 8 ft 4 inch
Empty weight 6173 lb Operational weight 7407 lb typical
Wing Span 32 ft 1.75 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.46
Wing Area 189.34 sq ft Service ceiling 36090 ft
Maximum speed 403 mph at 21325 ft Cruising speed 349 mph at 16405 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 16,405 ft in 5 min 0 sec Range 475 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 102 Imp gal (122 US gal) Fuel capacity external Up to 44 Imp gal (52 US gal) in two 22 Imp gal (26 US gal) drop tanks
Machine guns -Cannons 2 × 20 mm ShVAK fixed forward-firing in the upper nose, 200 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 1,102 lb, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 551 lb each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 551 lb FAB-250 bombs Torpedoes/rockets 6 or 8 × 3.2 inch RS-82 Air-to-surface rockets (in stead of bombs)
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) March 1942 Operational Service September 1942 - Late 1940's
Manufacturer Lavochkin and Gorbunov Design Bureau Number produced About 9.920 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 8.67 m Height 2.54 m
Empty weight 2800 kg Operational weight 3360 kg typical
Wing Span 9.8 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.46
Wing Area 17.59 m² Service ceiling 11000 m
Maximum speed 649 km/h at 6500 m Cruising speed 562 km/h at 5000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 5.000 m in 5 min 0 sec Range 764 km max
Fuel capacity internal 464 liters Fuel capacity external Up to 200 liters in two 100 liters drop tanks
Machine guns -Cannons 2 × 20 mm ShVAK fixed forward-firing in the upper nose, 200 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 500 kg, carried on two underwing hardpoints, rated at 250 kg each. General disposables load consisted of 2 × 250 kg FAB-250 bombs Torpedoes/rockets 6 or 8 × 82 mm RS-82 Air-to-surface rockets (in stead of bombs)

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Lavochkin La-5  Lavochka
Lavochkin LaG-5 Prototype of the La-5. These aircraft were powered bu 1 × Shvetsov M-82 radials, rated at 1,330 hp (992 kW).
Number built: unknown amount of prototypes
Lavochkin La-5 First production version. The prototypes had been gradually but effectively improved on their handling characteristics, resulting in an excellent fighter. This version was actually improved several times. It was powered by 1 × Shvetsov M-82A, rated at 1,480 hp (1103 kW).
Number built: unknown out of a total of about 9.920
Lavochkin La-5F Based on the La-5, but powered by 1 × Shvetsov M-82F radial, rated at 1,650 hp (1.230 kW). During the production run the Shvetson M-82 was renamed Ash-82. Fuel tanks were also changed, and had the same capacity, but saved some 353 lb (160 kg) in weight. This in turn increased the range slightly. Later models had a cut-down rear fuselage and a revised, more glazed cockpit canopy which enabled an all-round vision.
Number built: unknown out of a total of about 9.920
Lavochkin La-5FN This version was the definitive variant of the La-5, and was powered by 1 × Ash-82FN radial, which was fitted with a fuel injection system that prevented starvation in a negative-G maneuver. This version was standard fitted with the all-round cockpit cani\opy. See details above. Other aircraft were fitted wit a fixed tailwheel for simplified construction. Yet others were armed by 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Beresin UBS guns in stead of the 20 mm cannon set to reduce weight, and thus boost performance. It is unknown to me whether or not it was successful, but I don't think it made a big difference.
Number built: unknown out of a total of about 9.920
Lavochkin La-5UTI This version was a two-seat tandem version, used as a conversion trainer. The cockpit was slightly lengthened to the rear, and it was armed with 1 × 20 mm ShVAK cannon only. It was produced only in small numbers.
Number built: unknown out of a total of about 9.920
Lavochkin La-5FN Type 41 From May 1944 up this version was produced. It had some of the wood construction of the wings replaced by metal construction, saving some 379 lb (172 kg) of weight. This meant that fuel capacity could be increased to 123 Imp gal (148 US gal, 560 liters)
Number built: unknown out of a total of about 9.920

Remarks:

The Lavochka entered service during the Battle of Stalingrad, and was an unpleasant surprise to the German Luftwaffe. Although not outclassing the Germ,an warplanes, it certainly was on equal terms with them, making it ever more hard to gain or maintain air superiority for the Germans. Later models (La-5FN) were almost equal to the Messerschmitt Bf 109G versions.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 2/9/01