Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Goudkov LaGG-3 list +
Lavochkin LaGG 3 white 31 cn 213191 with drop tanks Soviet Russia 1941-01
The LaGG-3 rapidly replaced the LaGG-1 although the new fighter was too heavy for its engine. In fact, Lavochkin Gorbunov and Goudkov had originally designed their prototype for the powerful Klimov M-106 engine. But it proved to be unreliable. So they were obliged to install the relatively weak Klimov M-105P. As a result, the LaGG was slow; its top speed was just 474 km/h, while its rate of climb at ground level was as slow as 8.5 meters/second. The LaGG-3 proved to be somewhat hard to control as it reacted sluggishly to stick forces. In particular, it was difficult to pull out of a dive, and if the joystick was pulled too hard, it tended to fall into a spin. As a consequence, sharp turns were difficult to perform. A more powerful engine was installed, but the improvement was little so, the only solution was to lighten the airframe. The LaGG team re-examined the design and pared down the structure as much as possible. Fixed slats were added to the wings to improve climb and manoeuvrability and further weight was saved by installing lighter armament. But the improvement was slight and without an alternative powerplant thus, when the LaGG-3 was first committed to combat in July 1941, it was completely outclassed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
Later in 1941, the LaGG-3 appeared with new armament options, an internally balanced rudder, retractable ski landing gear for the winter, retractable tailwheel and wing pipes for drop tanks. The result was still not good enough. Even with the lighter airframe and supercharged engine, the LaGG-3 was underpowered.
The LaGG-3 proved immensely unpopular with pilots. Some aircraft supplied to the front line were up to 40 km/h (25 mph) slower than they should have been and some were not airworthy. In combat, the LaGG-3's main advantage was its strong airframe. Although the laminated wood did not burn it shattered when hit by high explosive rounds.
This webpage was updated 27th September 2012
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