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La-5FN. Combat Use.

They began to use the La-5FN in large quantities on the Kursk Bulge, where two new items prepared by the opponents for the summer battles of 1943 collided in the air - La-5FN and FW 190A. The appearance of La-5FN aircraft in front-line fighter regiments was an extremely unpleasant surprise for the pilots of the 4th and 6th Luftwaffe air fleets. Both Luftflottes provided air support for ground forces during the Wehrmacht's Operation Citadel.

Strictly speaking, the La-5 and FW-190A have repeatedly met in hot fights in the skies of Russia, but near Kursk a bet was made on them - fighters with air-cooled engines had to gain air supremacy. The battles showed that, despite all its many advantages, the Fokker is inferior to the Lavochkin as an air combat fighter. Soviet pilots have always noted that it is more difficult to fight with Messers than with the FW 190. The Germans themselves realized this. On the Eastern Front, until May 9, 1945, the Bf 109 remained the main fighter of the Jagdgeschwaders.

The rearmament of the regiments that were to fight near Kursk began in the spring. Not only new equipment came to the unit, but also young replenishment, and not only “yellow mouths”, but also experienced instructor pilots from aviation schools. Among the latter were I.N. Kozhedub and K.A. Evstigneev. Nevertheless, even among the instructors, the raid on the La-5, by the standards of the Luftwaffe, Royal Air Force or the US Air Force, was simply ridiculous. So Evstigneev, by the beginning of hostilities, flew on the Lavochkin for 19 hours and 29 minutes! The retraining of reinforcements for the new materiel of the 240th regiment took place in Ivanovo at the same airfield as the Normandy pilots. The French learned to fly the Yaks, but just then the commander of the Normandy, Louis Delfino, made one flight on the Lavochkin, after which he was indescribably delighted and asked to give the French La-5, and not the Yak-1. Instructor sergeants came to the 240th regiment in the autumn of 1942, but they received their baptism of fire only in March 1942, and the "universities" of the war were already taking place over the Kursk Bulge.

On the Kursk Bulge, among others, the 3rd GIAP, 88th GIAP, 31st IAP, 131st IAP (40th GIAP), 239th IAP, 254th IAP, 272nd IAP.


IAP - Istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Fighter Aviation Regiment

GIAP - Gvardeyskiy istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment

IAD - Itsrebitel'naya aviatsionnaya diviziya - Fighter Aviation Division

At the first stage of the Battle of Kursk, the Luftwaffe managed to gain air supremacy. To change the situation, the command of the Red Army Air Force hastily transferred additional aviation formations to the Kursk ledge, including the 201st IAD, whose regiments flew La-5. The pilots of the division distinguished themselves in battles, and on August 25, 1943, the 210th IAD was transformed into the 10th Guards (13th IAP, which was part of the division, became the 111th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment). During the Battle of Kursk, the legendary air battle between A. Gorovets and a group of “lappeters” took place - nine aircraft shot down in one battle! True, these victories have not been officially confirmed, but the fall of six Nazi aircraft (two Ju-87s, two Ju-88s and two FW 190s), shot down on La-5 by Senior Lieutenant I.G. Sklyarov from 177 GIAP on December 14 over the Dnieper in area of ​​Znamenka, ground troops recorded. Pilots flying on La-5FN northeast of Kursk shot down a pair of FW 190s on July 5, which were not the last pilots in the Reich - the commander of I / JG-54, Major Reichard Zeylero (102 victories) and Lieutenant Hugo Hunerfeld (28 victories).

Forty La-5FN fighters from the 32nd GIAP conducted 25 air battles in July-August 1943 and shot down 33 enemy aircraft, including 21 FW-190A and three Bf 109G.

Troop tests of the La-5FN took place on the Bryansk front in July-August 1943; on 14 fighters, the pilots shot down 33 fascist aircraft in 25 air battles (21 FW 190, 3 Bf 109G, 5 Ju 88, 1 Ju 87, 3 He 111), their own losses amounted to four Lavochkins.

The best ace of the Allies, Major Ivan Kozhedub near Kursk, won his first victory on La-5FN. During the fighting for the Dnieper crossings, Kozhedub shot down eleven German aircraft in ten days. He achieved even more impressive results in 1944 over Romania - eight shot down in one week. Kozhedub made at least 330 sorties, conducted 120 air battles and shot down 62 enemy aircraft. He was awarded the title of "Hero of the Soviet Union" three times; the first time, as a squadron commander with the rank of senior lieutenant, February 4, 1944 for 20 downed enemy aircraft. Then Kozhedub served in the 240th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the 5th Air Army. He received the second star by Decree of August 19, 1944 for 34 victories won in air battles, Kozhedub was then a captain and served in the 176th GIAP of the 16th air army. The third time the title of Hero of the Soviet Union Kozhedub was awarded on August 18, 1945 as a major, deputy commander of the 176th GIAP. In addition to Kozhedub, only one pilot received the Gold Star three times - Alexander Pokryshkin. Pokryshkin won most of his victories on the American R-39 Aircobra fighter received under Lend-Lease. After the end of the war, Kozhedub remained in the Air Force, in 1961 he became deputy commander of the Air Force of the Moscow Military District, in 1985, at the age of 65, Kozhedub received the rank of air marshal.

In the Baltic, the 4th GIAP of the Air Force of the Baltic Fleet fought on the La-5. I must say, he fought very successfully. On account of the guardsmen, many downed aces. On July 22, 1943, a pair of Baltic hunters lay in wait for the fact-finding removal of three IV / JG-54 units, as a result of the attack two Focke-Wulfs were shot down - one was piloted by the commander of the IV group, Hauptmann Erich Rudorfer, the second - by his slave sergeant Rudolf Tereke (27 victories). Rudorffer managed to jump out with a parachute and return to his own, Terek died. Rudorfer was shot down by the Baltics for the first, but not the last time: on July 19, his Fokker and the plane of the wingman were overtaken by La-5FN shells from the 3rd GIAP. Rudorffer was able to reach the Finnish coast on a damaged fighter, after which he jumped out with a parachute, but Lieutenant Helmut Grollmus (75 victories) died. The commander of the Green Heart Group I was less fortunate - Major Horst Adameit, who had 166 victories to his credit, was shot down once and for all! This was probably the work of the deputy commander of the 4th GIAP captain Tatarenko. Adamate was taken prisoner on August 7, and on August 2, the famous Baltic ace captain G. Kostylev from the 4th GIAP set fire to another FW 190 over the sea with a green heart on the fuselage. The Fokker pilot jumped out with a parachute and was picked up by a Soviet torpedo boat. It turned out that G. Kostylev shot down Lieutenant Gerber Broendle (58 victories). Kostylev himself made 400 sorties during the war, conducted 89 air battles and shot down 20 aircraft personally and 34 in a group. He flew LaGG-3, Hurricane, MiG-3, Yak-1, ended the war on La-5FN.

Bibliography

  • La-5. /Air War No. 69./