Lavochkin La-7 History

The Lavochkin La-7 was an improved variant of the preceding La-5 form. It incorporated a new Shvetsov engine, uprated to increased the mount's maximum speed though, on the whole, it remained largely the same aircraft with a new designation. Other subtle changes were incorporated based on combat actions with the La-7 and first flight of a modified prototype was in February of 1944. Service entry then followed rather quickly in September of 1944. The La-7 led a relatively short operational service life though, being retired during 1950 - the jet age now taking hold. Production of La-7 fighters numbered 5,753 units.

As completed, the La-7 sported similar lines to the original La-5. The cockpit was heavily framed and situated at amidships. The mainplanes were set under and ahead of the cockpit floor. The engine was shrouded over in a rounded cowling with a large spinner capping the three-bladed propeller unit. The tail was tapered and formed the curved vertical fin which mounted mid-set tailplanes on either side. The fuselage spine was only slightly raised to degrade vision to the rear but required for the internal volume it allowed engineers. The undercarriage remained a tail-dragger arrangement with two main legs and a tailwheel - all retractable.

Power was through a single Shvetsov ASh-82FN 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine of 1,650 horsepower. This drove a three-bladed VISh-105V-4 series propeller blade assembly at front. Maximum speed reached 411 miles per hour of late-war models and ranges out to 415 miles. Service ceiling was 34,300 feet and rate-of-climb a strong 3,095 feet-per-minute.

Standard armament began as 2 x 20mm ShVAK cannons with 200 rounds afforded each gun. This could be substituted with 3 x 20mm Berezin B-20 series cannons with 100 rounds per gun. As with the La-5 before it, the La-7 retained performance qualities in the low-to-medium altitude range which meant it a stable platform for the fighter-bomber role as well as a fighter. For this role, the La-7 could also be outfitted with air-to-surface rockets and up to 440lbs of conventional drop ordnance.

Beyond the Soviet Air Force, the La-7 was only utilized by the Czechoslovakian Air Force.

The only definitive production variant became the La-7UTI which served as a trainer model. This incorporated a second seat for the instructor at the expense of internal volume. 584 of the type were produced into 1947. Other one-off variants included the La-7TK used in testing a turbosupercharger development and the La-7R to test a rocket motor propulsion system. The La-7PVRD was similar in scope and used in testing of a pair of ramjet installations under the wings. Another one-off model became the La-7/M-71 which fitted a Shvetsov M-71 engine during 1944.

Lavochkin La-7 Specification

BASICS

Year:
1944
Status:
Retired, Out-of-Service
Crew:
1

MANUFACTURING

[ 5,753 Units ]:
Lavochkin - Soviet Union

ROLES

- Fighter

- Ground Attack

- Close-Air Support (CAS)

DIMENSIONS

Length:

28.22 ft (8.6 m)

Width/Span:

32.15 ft (9.8 m)

Height:

8.33 ft (2.54 m)

WEIGHTS

Empty Weight:

5,512 lb (2,500 kg)

MTOW:

7,385 lb (3,350 kg)

(Diff: +1,874lb)

POWER

1 x Shvetsov ASh-82FN 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,650 horsepower.

PERFORMANCE

Maximum Speed:

411 mph (661 kph; 357 kts)

Service Ceiling:

34,285 feet (10,450 m; 6.49 miles)

Maximum Range:

413 miles (665 km; 359 nm)

Rate-of-Climb:

3,095 ft/min (943 m/min)

ARMAMENT

STANDARD:

2 x 20mm ShVAK cannons OR 3 x 20mm Berezin B-20 cannons.

OPTIONAL:

Up to 440lbs of external ordnance including rockets and conventional drop bombs.

VARIANTS

La-7 - Base Series Designation; definitive production form; improved La-5.

La-7UTI - Two-seat trainer; 584 exampes

La-7TK - Turbosupercharger testbed; single example.

La-7R - Rocket engine testbed; single example.

La-7PVRD - Ramjet engine testbed; single example.

La-7/M-71 - M-71 engine testbed; single example.

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