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Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3

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Old January 15th 20, 04:37 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
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Default Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3


The Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War
II. It was a refinement of the earlier LaGG-1 and was one of the most modern
aircraft available to the Soviet Air Force at the time of Germany's invasion in
1941. Despite its wooden construction, it was overweight and underpowered, at
one stage 12 LaGG-3s were being completed daily and 6,528 had been built when
factory 31 in Tbilisi switched to Yak-3 production in 1944.

The prototype of the LaGG-3 was called the I-301 and was designed by Semyon A.
Lavochkin, Vladimir P. Gorbunov and Mikhail I. Gudkov. The prototype was later
renamed the LaGG-1 and production aircraft were called the LaGG-3. The prototype
was designed and produced by the GAZ-301 factory in Khimki to the North West of
Moscow. The design was approved for production in January of 1940 and the
prototype's name I-301 stood for Istrebitel or "destroyer" and the number
signified the design bureau. The I-301 was a single-seat, low-wing monoplane,
with a semi-monocoque fuselage, and skinned with birch veneer and plywood.

The I-301 airframe was partially made of delta wood (a resin-wood multi-ply
veneer composed of very thin, 0.35 to 0.55 mm, birch or pine wood veneer and
VIAM-B-3 a phenol-formaldehyde resin, baked at high temperature and pressure)
used for the crucial parts. An unpleasant surprise encountered during the
production of the prototype was the adhesive used in the delta wood caused skin
irritation and safety procedures needed to be devised for workers. This novel
construction material had tensile strength comparable to that of non-hardened
aluminum alloys and only 30% lower than that of precipitation hardened D-1A
grade duralumin. It was also incombustible and completely invulnerable to rot,
with service life measured in decades in adverse conditions. The full wooden
wing (with plywood surfaces) was analogous to that of the Yak-1. The only
difference was that the LaGG's wings were built from two spars. The fuselage was
of similar construction to the MiG-1.

The I-301 was armed with one axial mounted MP-6 23 mm autocannon designed by Ya
Taubin which fired through a hollow propeller shaft in the "vee" between the
engine cylinders and two synchronized 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Berezin UBS machine guns
in the cowl. The MP-6 had 81 rounds of ammunition while the Berezin UBS had 230
rounds per gun. The MP-6 was abandoned after the prototype due to excessive
recoil forces that damaged engine fittings. The I-301 used a Klimov M-105P
engine of 780 kW (1,050 hp) a licensed derivative of the Hispano-Suiza HS 12Y
with a two-speed two-stage supercharger. At 2,968 kg (6,543 lb) it was heavier
than its competitors the Yak-1 and Mig-1 which meant its ceiling of 9,800 m
(32,000 ft) was less than both. The I-301 took to the air for the first time on
30 March 1940 and by 12 June 1940 the manufacturer's tests were completed. The
test pilot A Nikashin reported that the fit and finish of the prototype was very
good, it handled well, was maneuverable and could be mastered by pilots of
average ability.

On 14 June 1940 state acceptance trials began and it reached 510 km/h (320 mph)
at sea level, 584 km/h (363 mph) at 4,700 m (15,400 ft), and climbed to 5,000 m
(16,400 ft) in 5.85 minutes. Later the I-301 reached 604 km/h (375 mph) at 4,950
m (16,250 ft) with its radiator doors shut making it the fastest M-105P powered
aircraft. The I-301 had a fuel capacity of 340 L (90 US gal) carried in three
self-sealing fuel tanks between the wing spars in the wing's center-section
giving it a range of 600 km (373 mi). During testing the state specification was
increased to a maximum range of 1,000 km (620 mi) and fuel capacity was
increased to 450 L (119 US gal). Aircraft with this fuel capacity were
designated as LaGG-3's while the prototype was re-designated as the LaGG-1. The
test flights revealed 114 faults that needed to be fixed but the project was
given high priority so most of these faults were to be addressed in production


21 (Gorky), 31 (Taganrog/Tbilisi), 23/153 (Leningrad/Novosibirsk)

V. P. Gorbunov

First flight
28 March 1940

early 1941


Primary user
Soviet Union


Number built


Lavochkin La-5
Lavochkin La-7

In combat, the main advantage of the LaGG-3 was the strength of its airframe and
the fact that it did not easily catch fire, despite the extensive use of wood.
However, the laminated wooden panels did tend to shatter when hit by high
explosive rounds and Soviet pilots nicknamed the plane Lakirovanny
Garantirovanny Grob, or "guaranteed varnished coffin".

On the whole, pilots disliked the type. Pilot Viktor M. Sinaisky recalled:

It was an unpleasant customer! Preparing the LaGG-3 for flight demanded more
time in comparison with other planes. All cylinders were supposed to be
synchronized: God forbid you should change the gas distribution! We were
strictly forbidden to touch the engine! ... [T]here were constant problems with
[the] water-cooled engines in winter.... [T]here was no anti-freeze liquid [and
y]ou couldn't keep the engine running all night long, so you had to pour hot
water into the cooling system ... in the morning. ... [P]ilots didn't like
flying the LaGG-3 – a heavy beast with a weak ... engine... [T]hey got used to
it ... [but] we had higher losses on LaGG-3 than on I-16s.

Later in 1941, the LaGG-3 appeared with an internally balanced rudder,
retractable ski landing gear for the winter, retractable tailwheel and plumbed
for drop tanks. The result was still not good enough. Even with the lighter
airframe and revised supercharged engine, the LaGG-3 was underpowered. However,
despite its limitations, some Soviet pilots managed to reach the status of ace
flying the LaGG-3. G. I. Grigor'yev, from 178th IAP, was credited of at least 11
air victories plus two shared. But pictures of his LaGG-3 "Yellow 6", in
November–December 1941, show 15 "stars", so his score was probably higher.
Experiments with fitting a Shvetsov M-82 radial engine to the LaGG-3 airframe
finally solved the power problem and led to the Lavochkin La-5 and La-7.

Specifications LaGG-3 (data for 66th Series LaGG-3)

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 8.81 m (28 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 9.8 m (32 ft 2 in)
Height: 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in)
Wing area: 17.4 m2 (187 sq ft)
Empty weight: 2,205 kg (4,861 lb)
Gross weight: 2,620 kg (5,776 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 3,190 kg (7,033 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Klimov M-105PF V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, 924 kW (1,239
Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed propeller

Maximum speed: 589 km/h (366 mph, 318 kn)
Range: 1,000 km (620 mi, 540 nmi)
Service ceiling: 9,700 m (31,800 ft)
Rate of climb: 14.9 m/s (2,930 ft/min)
Wing loading: 150 kg/m2 (31 lb/sq ft)
Power/mass: 0.350 kW/kg (0.213 hp/lb)

1 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Berezin BS machine gun
1 × 20 mm ShVAK cannon

External stores:
2 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs or
2 × 83 L (22 gal) drop tanks or
6 × RS-82 or RS-132 rockets



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