Aviation of WWII
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Long-Range Fighter



In order to improve the range of the La-9 to protect Tu-4 bombers during their missions a new long-range prototype was built. Initially named Aircraft "134" or La-9M the fighter made its maiden flight in May 1947. It was armed with three NS-23 guns. A few days later the second prototype — the "134D" was completed. The fuel capacity was increased from 825 to 1,100 liters. This required the introduction of a strengthened undercarriage with high-pressure tires. The fighter was named La-11 and serial production soon began.

One of the most interesting chapters in the career of the La-11 was the so-called Northern Expedition. In 1948 the decision was made to establish an air force base near the North Pole. This was the only place to base Tu-4 Bulls so they could reach their targets deep in USA territory. Lavochkin fighters were intended to provide an air defense as well as to prevent American aircraft activity in this region. The support was provided by Li-2s of the 650th Transport Regiment, C-47s of the 1st Transport Regiment, and llyushin ll-12s of the 708th Transport Regiment. A Tupolev Tu-6 (the reconnaissance version of the Tu-2) would be employed as a pathfinder/leader aircraft. On 7 May 1948 one Tu-6 and three La-1 Is landed at the ice airstrip near the North Pole and the next day they flew several training missions from the unusual base. Several such expeditions were carried out by the fighters of the 1st Fighter Division and 53rd Fighter Regiment.

The combat career of the La-11 began on 8 April 1950, when a flight of the 30th Guard Fighter Regiment intercepted and shot down a USAF RB-44 reconnaissance aircraft near Libava. The same year another American spy plane — the P-2V Neptune — fell victim to the La-11 lethal cannons. In summer 1950 some 60 La-1 Is of the 351 Night Fighter Regiment were delivered to China and took part in Chinese Civill war. On 2 April 1951 flight commander Guzhov and his wing man shot down two Cuomintang F-51 fighters. On 13 June 1951 the regiment was moved to Anshan and started operations against American bombers in North Korea. Soon Lt. Kurganov scored his first victory having destroyed a B-26 Invader. At the beginning of 1952 the regiment included two squadrons — one equipped with MiG-15s and another with La-1 Is. The United Air Army (Korean and Chinese pilots) also received a number of La-9 and La-11 fighters. The Lavochkin La-9 and La-11 became the last generation of Soviet piston fighters — the jet age had begun.

WW 2 Soviet Fighters
La-7 La-9 La-11
Crew One One One
Year of issue 1944 1946 1947
Length 8.60 m (28 ft 2 in) 8.63 m (28 ft 4 in) 8.62 m (28 ft 3 in)
Wing span 9.80 m (32 ft 1 in) 9.80 m (32 ft 2 in) 9.80 m (32 ft 2 in)
Wing area 17.5 m² (188 ft²) 17.6 m² (189 ft²) 17.6 m² (189 ft²)
Height 2.540 m (8 ft 4 in) 3.56 m (11 ft 8 in) 3.47 m (11 ft 5 in)
Empty weight 2,638 kg (5,803 lb) 2,638 kg (5,816 lb) 2,770 kg (6,107 lb)
Loaded weight 3,265 kg (7,183 lb) 3,425 kg (7,551 lb) 3,730 kg (8,223 lb)
Maximum takeoff weight 3,400 kg (7,480 lb) 3,676 kg (8,104 lb) 3,996 kg (8,810 lb)
Engine ASh-82FN ASh-82FN ASh-82FN
Power 1,380 kW (1,850 hp) 1,380 kW (1,850 hp) 1,380 kW (1,850 hp)
Maximum speed at sea level 579/613* 640 562
at altitude 661 km/h (470 mph) 690 km/h (430 mph) 674 km/h (420 mph)
m (ft) 6000 m (19,685 ft) 6250 m (20,505 ft) 6200 m (20,341 ft)
Time to 5,000 m (16,404 ft), min 5.25/4.6* 4.7 6.6
Time of turn, sec 19 20-21 24-25
Rate of climb 18.3 m/s (3,608 ft/min) 17.7 m/s (3,489 ft/min) 758 m/min (2,486 ft/min)
Wing loading 38 lb/ft² (187 kg/m²) 195 kg/m² (40 lb/ft²) 212 kg/m² (44 lb/ft²)
Power/mass 0.42 kW/kg (0.25 hp/lb) 0.40 kW/kg (0.25 hp/lb) 0.37 kW/kg (0.23 hp/lb)
Service ceiling 10,450 (34,284 ft) 10,800 m (35,424 ft) 10,250 m (33,620 ft)
Range 570 km (354 mi) 1,735 km (1,082 mi) 2,235 km (1,393 mi)
Cannon 2хShVAK or 3xBB-20 4xNS-23, 75 rounds/gun 3xNS-23 75 rounds/gun

* Forcing of the engine during 10 minutes.

Photo Description

La-11 with non-resettable fuel tanks on the wing tips

La-11 464-th separate Red Banner reconnaissance air Regiment

La-11 in the exhibition of Chinese Aviation Museum. Photo by Jurgenson


  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "La-9, La-11 Fighters" /M-Hobby #11/