Aviation of World War II
This fighter was developed under the guidance of a triumvirate of designers: S.A. Lavochkin. V.P. Gorunova and M.I. Gudkov. Its prototype, called I-301, went to the test in March 1940, i.e. shortly after I-26 A.S. Yakovlev.
A distinctive feature of the design of the I-301 was the widespread use of such a then new material as delta wood (plasticized wood with great strength). Metal was used only where it was simply impossible to do without it (steel monoframe, engine hoods made of duralumin alloys). This approach to design was forced. The bottom line was that the possibilities of non-ferrous metallurgy did not keep pace with the sharply increased needs of aircraft construction in the pre-war years, the only way that allowed mass production of new combat aircraft under these conditions was to use wood. It was used to a greater or lesser extent in the design of other aircraft, in particular, the Yak-1 and MiG-3. and the I-301 most fully embodied the idea of an all-wood machine, which was considered its great advantage. Another distinguishing feature of the I-301 was an unusually powerful armament - a 23 mm cannon and two BS synchronous heavy machine guns, in addition to which two more ShKAS could be installed.
The I-301 passed the tests in general successfully. However, before the organization of mass production, an additional requirement was put forward to increase the flight range to 1000 km. The designers had to install additional tanks, although at that time it was already clear that with such a supply of fuel the aircraft would be too heavy.
The first production aircraft, which received the LaGG-3 brand, began to roll off the assembly line in 1941. Just like the Yak-1 and MiG-3, this fighter in the first period of the war became one of the main aircraft of the new generation of the Soviet Air Force.
The composition of the LaGG-3 armament changed during serial construction. In the most typical version for 1941, it consisted of a 20 mm cannon and synchronous machine guns - one BS and two ShKAS. In addition, 6-8 rockets can be placed under the wing. Unfortunately, during the development of the LaGG-3 in production and in the process of its refinement, it was not possible to maintain its high flight data. The speed has been greatly reduced.
The most successful LaGG-3 acted against enemy bombers, where its superiority in flight data and the power of weapons were of decisive importance. This aircraft was also good for performing assault missions. But still, the pilots on the LaGG-3 more often had to conduct air battles with enemy fighters. Here, LaGG's shortcomings, due to its too large weight, clearly manifested themselves. According to the main indicators, he was inferior to the Messerschmitt Bf-109E and Bf-109F.
By decision of the State Defense Committee at one of the most powerful aircraft factories that produced most of the LaGG-3. their production has been discontinued. Instead of LaGG, the production of Yak fighters was launched there, and LaGG-3 continued to be built at plant No. 31 in Tbilisi. There, under the leadership of V.P. Gorbunov in 1942-1943. work was carried out to improve the combat capability of the LaGG-3.
Attempts were made to put the M-106 and M-107 engines on the fighter, but they ended to no avail. Gorbunov made another attempt to improve the flight performance of the LaGG-3 by installing the M-105PT engine on the aircraft. The fighter, which received the designation "object 105" in October 1943, passed state tests. First of all, the drop-shaped shape of the cockpit lantern caught my eye. The armament of the aircraft consisted of a ShVAK cannon and a BS machine gun with an ammunition load of 160 and 200 rounds, respectively. The takeoff weight of the aircraft was 2818 kg, the maximum speed was 612 km/h.
In February 1944, the 105-2 aircraft appeared with the M-105PF-2 engine with a starting power of 1290 hp. and a working power of 1310 hp. at an altitude of 2000 m. The capacity of the fuel tanks was reduced from 405 to 377 liters, the ShVAK cannon was replaced by the VYa-23 cannon with 85 rounds of ammunition. The BS machine gun had 185 rounds of ammunition. The fighter passed state tests from May 10 to June 12, 1944. They ended negatively. The aircraft noted flaws in the design of the propeller group, weak armament and low flight parameters. The aircraft "105-2" was significantly inferior in terms of capabilities to the German fighters Bf-109G-6 and Fw-190D-9. As a result, the Air Force Research Institute recognized the further improvement of the LaGG-3 as unpromising and raised the issue of ending its serial production.
Total for 1941-1944. aircraft factories built 6528 LaGG-3 fighters.
* Forcing of the engine during 10 minutes.
** On speed making 90 % from maximal.
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LaGG-3 66 series
LaGG-3 66 series, 9th IAP of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force, Novorossiysk, spring 1944.
The latest, most advanced modification was the LaGG-3 of the 66th series, on which TsAGI recommendations in the field of airframe aerodynamics were implemented. Some changes were made to the design of the aircraft based on the developments of the Yakovlev Design Bureau for the Yak-1B aircraft. The scarce delta - wood, the supply of resin for its production ceased with the outbreak of war with Germany, was gradually replaced by ordinary pine, which has a much lower specific gravity. Measures were also introduced to reduce the takeoff weight of the aircraft, by facilitating and modernizing the equipment of the aircraft. The takeoff weight of the LaGG-3 of the 66th series decreased to 2990 kilograms (which was not much more than the "lightweight" LaGG-3 of 1942). The flight characteristics of the LaGG-3 aircraft of the 66th series (maximum speed - 591 kilometers per hour and rate of climb - 893 meters per minute) made it possible to fight on equal terms with the main German fighters of the Eastern Front Bf.109G-6 and Fw.190A-3. However, the LaGG-3 was still inferior to them in armament.
Aircraft of the 66th series were built in Tbilisi from the spring of 1943 to the middle of 1944. A total of 6528 LaGG-3 fighters of the 66th series were produced.
Fighters of the 66th series took part in the battle over the Kuban. Several regiments armed with LaGGs took part in the Kuban air battle, including the 88th IAP. One of the fighters of this unit with the inscription "Soviet Georgia" (in Georgian) on board landed by mistake at the airfield where the JG-52 staffs were based.
In naval aviation, LaGGs were used in the Baltic and the Black Sea. In the Baltic, they were in service with the 3rd Guards Regiment, the first naval aviation regiment, awarded the guards rank on January 18, 1942 (formerly the 5th IAP). The pilot of this regiment, I. Kaberov, shot down a SB on LaGG, captured by the Finns as a trophy. In the Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet, the 9th IAP was armed with LaGGs. The image of the aircraft of the pilot of this regiment, Yuri Shilov, with eight victory stars and a lion's muzzle on board the fuselage is widely known. On LaGGs, the 9th regiment flew off almost the entire war.
In general, the fairly widespread opinion about the LaGG as a fighter of the initial period of the war is fundamentally wrong. So in 1944, the Red Army Air Force included 594 LaGG-3s. Of course, LaGGs were no longer used "in the direction of the main strike", giving way to more advanced La-5 and La-7, Yak-9 and Yak-3. At the end of the war, LaGGs fought mainly in the Baltic and the Karelian Isthmus, where the main the enemy was the Finns, who had fighters far from the latest models. The fighters of the Air Force of the Baltic Fleet advanced farthest to the West: the LaGGs of the 3rd GIAP ended the war in Courland. By May 1945, there were practically no LaGGs left in the combat units. Even in the Far East, part of the regiments that were armed with LaGGs received new equipment, in particular, the 300th IAP, in which the future jet ace of the Korean War Yevgeny Pepelyaev served, was re-equipped from LaGG-3 to Yak-9.
The idea of installing a large-caliber gun on a fighter to fight enemy armored vehicles by the beginning of World War II was not new. However, the appearance in 1941 of the 37 mm Taubin and Shpitalny guns prompted the development of an anti-tank aircraft. Gudkov's ideas were supported by the leaders of the people's commissariat and the government, and on March 1 of the same year a corresponding resolution of the Defense Committee was issued.
People's Commissar Shakhurin then ordered to consider the possibility of placing a 37-mm gun on the Yak-1. In response, the director of plant No. 301 Eskin reported that the check carried out jointly with A.S. Yakovlev, showed the impossibility of installing a 37-mm gun on the Yak-1, since it required a change in the layout of the fighter's cockpit and lengthening of its nose.
When the design of the machine began, it turned out that the first gun was not linked to the M-105 engine and was not assembled in the LaGG-3. With the second, Sh-37 was easier, but it also allowed only a temporary mount, not designed for a large number of shots. And there is nothing to say about the ammunition, it was possible to shove only 21 rounds into the fighter instead of 50 on assignment. Even if we exclude the BS machine gun, the ammunition load did not exceed 30 rounds. But they saw no other way.
The first cannon fighter was converted from a machine of plant No. 23. By June 1941, 58 flights were completed on it, 54 of them with firing from a large-caliber gun. Until the end of 1941, Plant No. 21 built 20 LaGG-3s with , which received the designation K-37 and were intended for military trials. It seems that it was the K-37 link that was first used in battles in the Moscow direction in October 1941 as part of the 43rd air division.
At that time, the powerful armament of these machines could not be fully used due to numerous design and manufacturing defects in the artillery mount. Nevertheless, Shpitalny believed that the use of the new weapon was successful, and reported to Stalin about the destruction of five medium tanks, but kept silent that in the same month the fighter link ceased to exist.
The lack of a production base and the revealed design flaws of the Sh-37 gun did not allow Gudkov to continue working in this direction, although later the Lavochkin and Yakovlev design bureaus successfully installed large-caliber Nudelman guns on their aircraft.