Aviation of Word War II
LaGG-3. Combat Use.
The first military unit to start mastering the new LaGG-3 fighters was the 24th IAP, which was part of the 6th Air Defense IAK, in March 1941. It was his pilots who participated in the May Day parade in Moscow. By the beginning of the war, this unit was already fully equipped with equipment, but had not yet reached a state of combat readiness.
On June 22, over a hundred LaGG-3s were read in combat regiments. Most of them, 75 aircraft, were concentrated in the air defense of Moscow. It so happened that at the time of the German attack, all LaGG-3s were far from the state border, and the regiments armed with them did not participate in the battles until the end of July and therefore did not suffer losses.
In the Leningrad Military District, by June 22, there were 15 LaGG-3s, for which the flight crew of the 44th IAP was retrained. Apparently, these were machines manufactured by plant No. 23, which previously produced light aircraft. The transition to the production of a more complex LaGG-3 could not but affect the quality of equipment, and after the outbreak of war, the situation was aggravated by the fact that acceptance tests began to be carried out according to a reduced program.
It must be said that other regiments made justified complaints to the industry, and the first batch of machines from plant No. 21 turned out to be actually rejected. The aircraft's engines overheated, radiators and hydraulic systems leaked, wing flap thrusters broke, the landing gear did not retract or extend. As a result, a number of fighter defects had to be eliminated on their own. The deflectors were removed from the motors, changing their temperature regime, and the damping of the radiators was improved. On these issues, recommendations were issued to manufacturers, which after a while had a positive effect on the quality of products.
The baptism of fire LaGG-3 took place on July 13 on the outskirts of Moscow. On that day, pilot A.V. Bondarenko from the 24th IAP destroyed a German bomber Do 17 near Dorogobuzh (Smolensk region).
Most of the regiments were re-equipped with LaGG-3 already during the fighting. At the end of July 1941, pilots of the 17th IAP transferred from the I-16 to new aircraft. From the next month, they began to cover the crossings across the Dnieper in the Kremenchug region on them.
Naval aviation before the war did not have time to receive LaGG-3. Only in August 1941 was the 62nd IAP of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force formed, staffed mainly by instructors and graduate cadets of the Yeisk Aviation School (commander - Colonel I.V. Sharapov). The 62nd IAP included one LaGG-3 squadron, which since September participated in defensive battles in the Crimea.
The first air battles revealed both the advantages and disadvantages of this machine. Of course, with all the desire, it is impossible even to bring it closer to the best fighters of the Second World War. But it cannot be denied that the shortcomings of the aircraft itself were often aggravated by the illiterate operation of its flight and technical staff. Often there were cases of fighting with an open lantern, the dampers of water and oil coolers were incorrectly adjusted. To get rid of oil splashing of the visor due to poor sealing of the toe of the engine shaft, home-made shields were placed behind the cooker. All this created additional aerodynamic drag, which significantly reduced the capabilities of the fighter.
At the end of July 1941, a commission of the NKAP, which included S.N. Shishkin, N.N. Polikarpov, A.N. Zhuravchenko and M.V. Keldysh. She was interested in the results of the combat use of new technology. There are records of conversations between members of the commission with pilots - Captain Kurochkin, lieutenants Korotkevich and Fedyurin, political instructor Maltsev, who have already been in battles. In the final document, this was summarized as follows:
"The general characteristics of the LaGG-3 aircraft are positive. It was noted that the LaGG-3 overtakes the German Messerschmitt 109 fighter; this was especially emphasized for flights near the ground, where the LaGG, according to the pilots, "easily overtakes the Messerschmitt." The Germans, according to Captain Kurochkin, gave the name to the vehicle "Black Death".
There was a good "fire" of the aircraft. According to the pilots, the armament works satisfactorily. Captain Kurochkin and lieutenants Fedyurin and Korotkevich, who had to participate mainly in air battles with bombers, consider it desirable to replace the two ShKASs on the plane with an extra (one more - ed.) BS, with an increase in the number of rounds for BS ...
As the negative properties of the aircraft, a slight stall into a spin was indicated when the handle was pulled sharply towards oneself, in any flight modes. All the pilots of the unit, with whose representatives the conversation was conducted, fell into a tailspin in air battles. For example, tov. Korotkevich pursued the Ju 88 bomber, going under its tail. With an energetic turn of the fighter up to fire at the enemy, the LAGG-3 aircraft fell into a tailspin, and the enemy, taking advantage of this, left. The same case took place with Lieutenant Fedyurin.
In a dogfight with a fighter on a merry-go-round, according to Kurochkin, pulling the handle to make a tighter turn would lead to a spin.
Pilot Maltsev said that in a battle with fighters, he wanted to turn around sharper to go under the tail, and made a barrel at a speed of 450 km / h. In his opinion, it is impossible to take the handle sharply again even at such a speed.
The downed "Junker 88" descended, pursued by "LaGG" and was "driven into the ground". After that, having a height of about 100 m, the LaGG aircraft, when trying to abruptly exit the dive, fell into a tailspin and crashed.
The pilots noted the particular danger of a slight stall into a tailspin, since air battles often develop near the ground and, although the aircraft easily gets out of a spin, it does not always have enough height.
According to the pilots, the Germans in recent days have noticed the predisposition of the LaGG aircraft to stall into a tailspin and began to use a vertical maneuver with upward drift during the battle. This maneuver "Messerschmitt" performs reliably, due to the presence of slats, while for "LaGG" this maneuver threatens to fall into a tailspin."
In the autumn of 1941, LaGG-3 entered the battle near Moscow. By the beginning of the German air raids on the capital, these machines were available only in the 24th and 233rd IAP. The first regiment, stationed at the airfields of Inyutino and Spas-Lykshino, was fully equipped with them, but not all pilots fully mastered the new fighters. The second had one LaGG-3 squadron, the other two flew I-16s and MiG-3s. As of July 31, both regiments could field 37 LaGG-3 fighters ready for battle. Subsequently, the number of these vehicles in the Moscow direction has increased significantly; 162, 168, 193, 431st and 129th (later 5th Guards) IAP acted on them. One squadron of fighters was located in the 3rd detachment, where LaGG-3s provided cover for Pe-2 reconnaissance aircraft when flying behind enemy lines.
LaGG-3 was seriously inferior in terms of its flight data to enemy fighters, and yet our air fighters managed to win many victories on them. For example, the pilot of the 178th IAP GA. Grigoriev destroyed 15 enemy planes in the Moscow sky.
In the autumn of 1941, the regiments were re-equipped with LaGG-3 one after another. In September, the 149th IAP appeared on the Southern Front, flying both these machines and the MiG-3. Back in August, the 8th IAP, which had suffered heavy losses, was withdrawn from the front. In the 11th zap in Rostov-on-Don, he was re-equipped with Taganrog-made fighters, and two months later he was sent back to the front line as part of the 74th Iad. The 92nd IAP was re-equipped in Gorky in November; at the beginning of 1942, he again entered the battle on the Volkhov front. Around the same time, the 69th IAP moved from I-16 to LaGG-3, in which one of the most productive fighter pilots of the Great Patriotic War, A.V. Alelyuhin, who won 40 personal victories and 17 in the group.
On December 5, 1941, 263 LaGG-3s belonging to the Air Force and Air Defense Fighter Aviation were at the front, and another 23 were located in the fleet. Due to the reduction in production caused by the evacuation of many factories to the east, this aircraft briefly became the most common new generation fighter in our aviation. So, on the Kalinin front in January 1942, the LaGG-3 turned out to be the most massive type. In fact, there were few of them there, only 23 pieces.
LaGG-3 was used to combat both air and ground targets. Powerful armament allowed them to operate effectively against bombers and transport aircraft. On March 21, 1942, during the battle near Rzhev, five of our fighters destroyed five of the 30 German aircraft without suffering losses. Lower speed and worse rate of climb hindered our pilots in battles with enemy fighters, but a skilled pilot could not only defend, but also attack them. Significant firepower allowed the LaGG-3 to destroy enemy aircraft, despite their rather strong armor.
Despite all its disadvantages, in the hands of an experienced and enterprising pilot, he was a fairly strong weapon for N.F. Isaenko, who served in the 267th IAP and became a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1942, recalled:
"The main disadvantages of this fighter were poor visibility of the rear hemisphere and weak armor protection. The LaGG-3 was somewhat inferior to the Messer in speed, and therefore in vertical maneuver. a reason to call the fighter a "ram with caviar", and an exorbitantly large tail wheel... The pilots, who poorly mastered the fighter, did not skimp on ridicule in his address, peremptorily asserted that the LaGG-3 was unable to withstand enemy fighters ... In fact, "LaGG" in addition to shortcomings, there were significant advantages: the vehicle was equipped with an exceptionally reliable engine, the fighter was easier to control than, say, the MiG-3, it perfectly performed complex aerobatic maneuvers ... "
Vehicles equipped with missile weapons were used against both ground and air targets. So, in one of the battles, Lieutenant F.D. Mezhuev managed to shoot down a fighter with two RS-82s, which he mistook for He 113 (apparently, it was a Bf 109F). When attacking equipment on the ground, the aircraft operated from a gentle dive, descending from 1900 - 2000 m to 100 - 200 m.
An example of the high effectiveness of the combat use of the LaGG-3 was the actions of the 523rd IAP, formed in the autumn of 1941 in the Gorky region. He began his combat path under the command of Captain S.A. Danilovich on the Leningrad front. From October 3 to December 26, 1941, the pilots of the 523rd, covering their troops and storming enemy positions, made 554 sorties and conducted 16 air battles, destroying 8 enemy aircraft. At the same time, they themselves lost four fighters and two pilots. As the commander of the 54th Army, General I.I. Fedyuninsky, thanks to the actions of aviation, the enemy was stopped on the outskirts of Volkhovstroy, pressed to the ground, and then thrown back. On June 20, 1942, the 523rd IAP (after being reorganized, it had a two-squadron structure) under the command of Major A.E. Golubova arrived on the Western Front and became part of the 234th IAD of the 1st Air Army. It was placed at the Rysnya airfield in the Smolensk region. The fight began on July 1. In the air there were continuous battles with superior enemy forces. Each pilot had to make up to six sorties a day, and squadron commanders - up to ten. At the same time, pilots learned to bomb from a dive. Those who already knew how to use such effective tactics in practice. July 1, 1942 SI pilots. Kharchenko (group commander), A.A. Labutin, D.K. Semenchuk, L.I. Korzhikov and I.T. Kapilevich was the first in the regiment to perform combat dive bombing. A trainload of military equipment at the Zikeevo railway station was hit.
In those days, our troops conducted offensive operations. From July 31, the regiment operated in the Rzhevsky direction of the Kalinin Front, based at the Mikulino Gorodishe airfield. All daylight hours, the pilots covered them from the air, escorted attack aircraft, flew reconnaissance, bombed and fired at the enemy. Until August 23, they flew 702 times on combat missions and in 103 air battles they destroyed 34 enemy aircraft, losing 23 LaGG-3s and 10 pilots. Despite the deteriorating performance and constant complaints from the flight crew (the abbreviation "LaGG" was often deciphered by front-line pilots with bitter irony as "lacquered guaranteed coffin"), LaGG-3 continued to be built. Their number at the front was constantly increasing and on May 1, 1942 reached 544 vehicles (approximately 20 regiments in the states of that time).
I must say that there were certain reasons for this. In battles, the wooden LaGG-3 often demonstrated exceptional strength and survivability. This is evidenced by the incident that happened to the pilot D.V. Simonov. On August 12, 1942, his fighter was hit by anti-aircraft artillery fire; the oil, hydraulic and fuel systems were damaged, a huge hole gaped in the fuselage, almost half of the left plane was missing. Nevertheless, Simonov landed at his airfield, although later the aircraft needed repairs in the factory. Pilot S.F. Kyrchanov from the 252nd IAP rammed a German Bf 109 fighter. The all-metal "German" collapsed from the impact, and the wooden Soviet plane landed safely.
A number of regiments successfully fought on the LaGG-3. Significant success was achieved by the 131st IAP. In June 1942, a couple led by the commander of this regiment, Major V.I. Davidkov fought with four Bf.109s. As a result, the commander shot down one German aircraft, and three others withdrew from the battle. On September 27 of the same year, junior lieutenant K.A. Novichkov rammed an enemy reconnaissance FW 189, while managing to safely bring his damaged vehicle to the airfield and land it.
LaGG-3 fighters also distinguished themselves in the battles for the Crimea and the Caucasus. Here are just a few examples. At the end of July 1942, Senior Sergeant P.K. Babailov from the 790th IAP went to repel an attack on an airfield in the Grozny region. It was his first combat sortie. In an air battle, he shot down a Bf 109, and then, having used up ammunition, chopped off the tail of another enemy aircraft with a propeller. A skilled pilot flew to the airfield and landed. During the night, technicians repaired the damaged propeller and engine hood. The next day, Babailov, on a repaired car, again participated in an air battle, scoring a third victory. Later, already being a flight commander, Lieutenant Babailov rammed the enemy for the second time on LaGG-3. It happened on November 21, 1943 over the Kerch Peninsula near the village of Sultanovka. On that day, a brave pilot destroyed the vertical tail of a Ju 88 bomber with a propeller blow and returned safely in his damaged machine.
In the middle of 1942, the number of LaGG-3 and Yak-1 at the front was approximately the same. At the same time, the rearmament of the regiments that previously flew the I-16 and MiG-3 continued.
In October 1942, pilots of the 166th IAP, commanded by Major S.S. Rimsha, received lightweight LaGG-3s in Tbilisi. This regiment then participated in the battles as part of the 166th division. In the same month, they began to master new fighters in the 3rd Guards. IAP of the Air Force of the Baltic Fleet. The 267th IAP began retraining on the LaGG-3 in November 1942. On March 3, 1943, the regiment received an order to relocate to the Krasnodar-Central airfield, and a week later it opened a battle account. On that day, the 2nd Squadron, a group of eight fighters under the command of Captain Cherkashin, flew out to escort a dozen Il-2s from the 503rd Cap, which stormed the eastern outskirts of the village of Abinskaya. When our planes approached the target, two pairs of Bf 109s, which broke through the upper tier of cover, tried to attack the attack aircraft. Cherkashin, being above the enemy, developed a high speed, attacked and shot down the second pair of the enemy while climbing. After that, the enemy immediately left the battle.
But the skill of the pilots could not fully compensate for the LaGG-3's lag in flight data from the Luftwaffe fighters. The aircraft also had other shortcomings. The machine was more difficult to pilot than the Yak-1 and Yak-7, which had a strong effect in units where there were many young, hastily trained pilots. The pursuit of the fulfillment and overfulfillment of the plan in conditions when many low-skilled women and adolescents worked at the factories had a negative effect on the quality of equipment. As a result, a high accident rate was recorded. According to the Air Force, from June to October 1942, 18 accidents occurred in a non-combat situation, and in six cases there was a destruction of the wings, and in eight cases, a two-arm flap control lever; let's add here six breakdowns, one forced landing and 77 downtime of military vehicles due to a malfunction of the material part.
From the second half of 1942, the number of these aircraft in service began to gradually decline. On November 19, there were only 277 vehicles on the front line, almost half as many as there were in the summer. But the presence of these machines in air defense and naval aviation has increased. For example, in November 1943, the LaGG-3 received the 35th IAP, which covered the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus.
Of the four fighter regiments of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force, active in 1943, two (9th and 25th) were armed with LaGG-3. The 25th IAP was considered one of the best. During the second half of the year, its pilots conducted 89 air battles, shooting down 73 enemy aircraft (including 56 fighters). The regiment itself during this time lost 24 vehicles.
As of July 1, 1943, there were 251 LaGG-3s at the front. They operated mainly in the south. On December 4, 1943, six LaGG-3s from the 790th IAP under the command of Senior Lieutenant Burak, covering Eltigen, met 25 Ju 87 bombers, accompanied by four Bf 109s. randomly dump your cargo. In this battle, senior lieutenants Burak and Salnikov won one victory each.
In some regiments, they tried to compensate for the shortcomings of the LaGG-3 by improving the tactics of their use. So, in the 4th Air Army they practiced their interaction with other types of fighters. LaGG-3 loitered at altitudes up to 3000 m, and higher were more maneuverable "air cobras". The latter tied the enemy fighters in battle, giving the LaGG-3 the opportunity to fight enemy bombers.
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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
IAK - Istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy korpus - Fighter Aviation Corps
NKAP - Narodnyy komissariat aviatsionnoy proomyshlennosti - People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry
RS-82 - reaktivnyy snaryad - Jet projectile
A flight of K-37 (Gu-37) aircraft with a Sh-37 cannon was first used in battles in the Moscow direction in October 1941 as part of the 43rd air division. Then the powerful armament of these machines could not be fully used due to numerous design and manufacturing defects in the gun mount. Nevertheless, the designer of the gun, Shpitalny, considered that the use of the new weapon was successful, and reported to Stalin about the destruction of five medium tanks. However, he did not say that in the same month the link actually ceased to exist - all of his fighters were put out of action.
More advanced LaGG-3s with 37-mm Sh-37 cannons, produced by factory No. 21 in 1941 - 1942, entered the 42nd IAP of Lieutenant Colonel F.I. Shinkarenko (since October 9, 1942, this regiment became the 133rd Guards), who in March 1942 began their military trials on the Bryansk Front.
"The first battle test," Shinkarenko recalled, "was not planned. When we were just getting ready to start combat work, several fascist bombers appeared over the airfield.
Two flights of "LaGGs" shot down three enemy planes from cannons in an air battle. The pilots ... spoke enthusiastically about the cannon, the shells of which left large holes in the planes and fuselage of enemy bombers. However, despite training, some pilots used up all their cartridges in the first attack. It also turned out that when firing from a cannon in long bursts, the LaGG lost speed. We noticed this before when we trained in shooting at ground targets, but in combat it manifested itself especially clearly.
The enemy, having learned about the appearance of such powerful weapons at the front, literally began to hunt for the regiment's aircraft. As a result, the test had to be interrupted. In May, the 42nd IAP was sent to the Western Front, subordinating the 202nd IAD to Colonel B.I. Jansen. Almost after every sortie, the pilots reported downed German planes. According to Shinkarenko, the squadron commander Captain M. Gorbanev was the first in the regiment to shoot down the He 111 bomber, and he opened fire from a distance of 400 m - this is almost twice as much as was previously practiced in battles for reliable destruction of air targets. It is known that only in August 1942, 45 enemy aircraft were shot down in air battles from 37-mm cannons. In addition to the 42nd IAP, LaGG-3 with 37-mm guns, the 188th IAP of Lieutenant Colonel G.I. Cherepanov.
Military tests of fighters with NS-37 guns took place from April 21 to June 7, 1943 on the Kalinin Front as part of the 1st Air Army. Although their results were considered successful, apart from a small batch of vehicles sent there, this gun was not installed on serial LaGG-3s. Later, the NS-37 began to be mounted on Yak-9T fighters and Il-2 attack aircraft.
At the End of the War
In ever-decreasing numbers, LaGG-3s were in service with the Air Force, Air Defense and Naval Aviation until the end of World War II. In particular, they took part in the liberation of the Crimea. On January 10, 1944, five LaGG-3s from the 790th IAP, Lieutenant Colonel I.G. The Queen intercepted 12 Ju 87 dive bombers in the Tarkhan region (Kerch Peninsula), accompanied by a pair of Bf 109s. In the battle, the Germans lost three Ju 87s and both fighters. The 88th, 159th, 863rd and 979th IAP armed with LaGG-3 were also involved in operations in the Crimea.
The Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet on January 1, 1945 included the 7th and 62nd IAP and the 2nd training regiment. None of them was fully equipped with LaGG-3, but in total there were 46 vehicles of this type.
Many LaGG-3s were kept in air defense regiments. For example, the entire 229th IAD flew on them. In the Moscow region, from the middle of 1943, LaGG-3 began to be replaced by La-5. In particular, only one old fighter remained in the 178th IAP by the end of November. In total, during the war, the LaGG-3, which was part of the air defense fighter aircraft, destroyed 315 enemy aircraft.
These machines also had a chance to participate in the war against Japan. On August 9, 1945, the Pacific Fleet Air Force had 172 aircraft of this type - almost a third of all available fighters. Basically, their actions were limited to covering attack aircraft, as was the case, for example, on August 9 and 10, 1945. LaGG-3 from the 38th IAP in those days covered the Il-2 of the 37th cap attacking the port of Yuki. But there were cases when the pilots on the LaGG-3 themselves carried out bombing and assault strikes. For example, on the afternoon of August 11, under the cover of Yak-9 and La-7 fighters, they raided the port of Esutora in South Sakhalin. Shortly after the end of the war, the reduction of the armed forces began. On March 22, 1946, the Council of Ministers decided to write off a large number of worn out and obsolete aircraft. These included 187 LaGG-3s. The last fighters of this type, apparently, were taken out of service by the beginning of 1947.
LaGG-3 was never exported. However, in 1941 - 1942. the Germans managed to capture a number of vehicles of this type in various conditions. There is no data on their use in the Luftwaffe, but it is known that in 1942 three of them were sold by Germany to their Finnish allies. These aircraft were operated in 1943 - 1944. LeLv 32 squadron and were used by the Finns in Karelia as close scouts. There is a known case of the battle of the Finnish LaGG-3 with exactly the same Soviet machine. Long maneuvering did not bring victory to any of them. After the failure of the gun, the Finnish pilot left the battle.
In 1945, all three LaGG-3s were transferred to the HLeLv 11 squadron. They flew there until the end of the year, after which they were decommissioned.
In the spring of 1942, one fighter was hijacked from Transbaikalia to Manchuria, then controlled by the Japanese. The plane made an emergency landing on the field with the landing gear retracted. After the repair, the Japanese decided to test the LaGG-3. Flights began on 29 September. The main characteristics of the machine were determined and training battles were fought with Japanese fighters. The further fate of this aircraft is unknown.