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Comparison of La-7 and FW-190

La-7 FW 190 G3

The La-7 fighter became the highest achievement of the Soviet wartime design school. Aircraft designers were able to achieve the best possible results in the most difficult conditions by simple means and the most primitive construction materials. The aircraft were manufactured by factories, the technological level, as well as the qualifications of the workers, which could not be compared with Western factories. Given the specific conditions in which the La-7 was created, and the conditions in which the fighters were built, we can only admire the designers who managed to make this outstanding aircraft and take off their hats in front of them.

It is believed that the first Soviet fighter that surpassed German aircraft in its flight characteristics was the La-5FN. This is not entirely true. The conclusion about the superiority of the La-5FN over, for example, the Bf 109G, is made on the basis of the test results of the La-5FN standard and the captured Messerschmitt. Comparison of a reference fighter and an aircraft that managed to fight and partially exhausted its resource is incorrect. So, the same La-5FN captured as a trophy during trials in Rechlin showed a maximum speed of 50 km / h less than its prototype on trials at the LII*.

One of the significant drawbacks of the La-7 aircraft should be considered the absence of an automatic control unit for the operation of the propeller-engine group on the aircraft. It is not necessary to explain what a rapid change in the engine operating mode means in battle. The fact that on the FW-190 was controlled by the movement of one lever, on the La-7 required the manipulation of eight controls. It was possible to simplify the control of the propeller-motor group only by installing an 82-FN-VG regulator and an automatic thermostat ARTG-43 on the e-67 supercharger. The fighters began to receive this equipment only from the La-7, serial number 38101356, which passed flight tests from March 20 to April 8, 1945.

One of the most important factors that can influence the comparison results is the operating mode of the powerplant. The main flight characteristics of aircraft, such as speed, rate of climb and maneuverability, largely depend on it. The mode of operation of the engine was especially important for fighters. Piston aircraft engines during the Second World War in England and the United States, as a rule, had several operating modes: afterburner (including emergency, combat and takeoff modes), nominal, maximum, cruising, and others. The nomenclature of operating modes of German engines was usually somewhat different: takeoff afterburner (the permitted operating time was 1-3 minutes), sometimes there was a special mode for climb (usually 3 or 5 minutes), continuous operation mode (30 minutes), etc. The operating time of motors at high power modes was strictly regulated. So, for the most intense emergency regime, the time limit was usually from 1 to 5 minutes. The pilot could use this mode only in the most extreme, extreme cases. The operating time of motors in combat mode was usually limited to 5-15 minutes (usually 10-15 minutes). The combat mode acquired exceptional importance for fighters as the main mode of the engine's combat use, which determined the result of air combat. Unfortunately, the published data of British and American cars, the engines of which had the specified nomenclature of modes, often correspond not to combat, but to emergency, or, as they were also called, maximum modes. In the absence of direct documents, approximate data for combat modes can be obtained only by recalculation, for which the high-altitude characteristics of the motor are required. It can also be noted here that the Soviet serial engines did not have high-altitude afterburners, and all the flight characteristics of our aircraft correspond to the nominal operating mode. Only the M-82 and M-82FN (ASh-82FN) engines had a 10-minute takeoff afterburner, which increased the speed and climb rate of fighters at low altitudes.

The engines of the German FW 190A.D and Bf 109G fighters were sometimes equipped with a water-alcohol mixture (MW-50) injection system. thanks to which it was possible for a while to noticeably increase the boost and revolutions in excess of the standard values, and with them the engine power. It turned out to be a kind of combat or, as a rule, an emergency regime. Of course, this improved the basic flight characteristics of the aircraft, but at the same time the power plant became more complex and the weight increased. Such systems were not installed on all aircraft.

Summarizing everything that has been said above about the principles of comparing aircraft flight characteristics, we can summarize the following brief results.

Firstly, it is advisable to carry out the comparison for aircraft at the same stage of development, that is, the data of the experimental (or reference) specimens should be compared with the experimental ones, and the serial ones - with the serial ones (based on control tests).

Secondly, the flight characteristics of captured aircraft can be taken as a basis for comparative assessments only if you are confident in the normal operation of the materiel and the acceptable state of technology.

Thirdly, the comparison of the flight characteristics of military vehicles should be carried out for such operating modes of motors, which were widely used in the course of combat work. These are either combat or nominal modes.

Fulfillment of all these conditions will make it possible to draw comparative conclusions about the real ratio of flight data of the compared aircraft.

* LII - Letno-Issledovatel'skii Institut - Ministry of Aviation Industry Flight Research Institute

Flight Performance
FW-190D9 La-5FN La-7
Year of issue 1944 1943 1944
Length, m 10.20 8.67 8.67
Wing span, m 10.50 9.8 9.8
Wing area, m²   17.5 17.56
Weight, kg
Loaded weight 4,840 3,290 3,310
Engine BMW 801D-2 ASh-82FN ASh-82FN
Power, h.p. 1,776/2,100 1,850 1,850
Max speed, km/h over ground   551/583* 579/613*
at altitude 685 634 661
m 6,600 6,250 6,000
Time to climb 5 km, min   5.3/4.7* 5.25/4.6*
Время виража, сек   19-20 19
Service ceilling, m 12,000 10,000 10,450
Service range**, km 835 590 570
Cannons and Machine Guns 2×20, 2×13 2×ShVAK20 2×ShVAK20

* Using a 10 minute afterburner.
** At a speed of 90% of maximum.


  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "Planes of Stalin falcons" /Konstantin Kosminkov and Dmitriy Grinyuk/
  • " La-7 " /" War is in the air" No. 70, 2001 /
  • " How to Compare WWII Aircraft" /Kosminkov, " Ac " №2,3 1991 /
  • " Fighter Focke-Wulf FW-190" /Rusetsky /

July 5, 1943 The first day of the Battle of Kursk.
On the first day, Soviet aviation made 3,385 sorties. There were 4,526 recorded overflights of German aircraft. As you can see, the Germans used their aircraft more intensively, using large groups of fighters to destroy Soviet aircraft. So, on July 5, nine Pe-2s, accompanied by six La-5s, flew out to strike a congestion of manpower near Tomarovka. In the target area, the group was met by 20-30 Bf 109 and Fw 190 fighters. The first attack of the Germans was unsuccessful, which allowed the "pawns" to bomb out, but the Germans managed to pin down the escort fighters and make a second attack on the bombers. The formation of the nines collapsed, the wing units were cut off and shot down, the leading unit lost one plane, but was able to break away from the pursuit and return to its airfield. The Germans lost 5 aircraft in this battle.In total, on that day, Soviet pilots announced the destruction of 260 German aircraft in the air and another 60 on the ground. Own losses amounted to 176 aircraft. The Germans, however, admitted the loss of 26 aircraft and announced the destruction of 432 Soviet ones. The Focke-Wulfs had about 120 victories.

On July 12, when the German offensive had already been stopped and the Soviet counter-offensive began. The Germans fought fiercely, not forgiving tactical mistakes to Soviet pilots. August 5 12 La-5 from the 181 IAP under the command of the deputy. Squadron Commander Kirillov at an altitude of 3500 m covered our troops in the Kuleshovka, Orlovka, Gumzino, Tomarovka area, being in a "wedge" open along the front. When the pilots deviated into the depths of their territory, four Fw 190 fighters attacked the group from above from behind and shot down one La-5. The rest were pushed out of the patrol zone, after which Ju 87 bombed there without loss.

On the same day, 4 La-5s, covering their troops in the area of ​​Lyubosha, Zhuli, Krushinka, met 4 Fw 190s at an altitude of 3000 m and entered into battle with them. The flight commander, seeking to achieve a personal victory, was the first to attack the German fighters and shot down one Focke-Wulf. But the enemy managed to push back the covering pair and attack the leader with all his might. Both planes were shot down.

In another case, 4 La-5s from the 482 IAP, led by the squadron commander of the guard, Captain Molodchinin, covered their troops in the Moschenoye, Rogachevo, Klemenovo area. The group consisted of striking and covering units echeloned in height. At an altitude of 3500 m, the cover flight was attacked from above by a pair of Fw 190s.After two successive attacks, the flight order of the flight was disrupted, and one La-5 was shot down. At the same time, another pair of Fw 190s attacked the strike flight and also shot down one La-5. The group scattered and returned to the airfield one by one.

Fw 190A-4, presumably from JG 51. Non-standard camouflage with broken fields of dark green and green paint, typical of 51st and 54th squadrons on the Eastern Front, is visible. The cock and stripe on the fuselage are yellow.

In this battle, as in many others, there is an obvious difference in the tactics of German and Soviet pilots. The first task was to search for and destroy enemy aircraft. The Soviet pilot, tied to a certain area or to a group of covered aircraft, was forced to conduct defensive battles, initially giving the initiative to the enemy.
Powerful weapons made the Fw 190 extremely dangerous not only for fighters, but also for twin-engine bombers and armored attack aircraft. Moreover, thanks to the reliable armor of the fighter, the German pilots could afford the most extraordinary tactics.

By May 1944, fighter units armed with Fw 190 remained only in the Air Fleet in the Baltic States - I and II./JG 54. In the summer of 1944, 4th and 5th squadrons of JG 54 under the command of Erich Rudorfer (222 victories) successfully operated on the Soviet-Finnish front in the Vyborg area. In the remaining sectors of the front, attack aircraft and bombers Fw 190F and G were now operating, They were in service with II / SG 2, I, II, III / SG 10, I, II / SG 77 (Luftflotte 4, Ukraine), I / SG 5 ( Luftflotte 5, Finland, Norway), II, III / SG 1 (Luftflotte 6, Belarus). Although the assault modification was weighed down by additional armor and was devoid of one pair of cannons, the attack aircraft could well be used as a fighter. Some pilots achieved quite impressive success in this role, although they preferred to attack Soviet bombers and attack aircraft, without contacting fighters, and used the tactics of free hunting for their actions.

A. Rusetsky