La-5 Fighter Aircraft
La-5 is a Soviet single-engined fighter aircraft developed by OKB-21 (Design Bureau of Aviation Factory No.21) under the guidance of S.A. Lavochkin in Gorky (at the present time Nizhny Novgorod) in 1942. The aircraft was realized as a single-seated monoplane of all-wood structure with retractable undercarriage and closed cabin. Initially it was named as LaGG-5.
First La-5 aircraft started arriving to fighting air force units in the second half of 1942. Pilots soon appreciated new airplane and technics were satisfied with elimination of water cooling system that cased many disadvantages in the field environment. Transition training of flight staff was conducted both in reserved fighter air regiments and in battlefield conditions.
U-UAP, JSC produced La-5 since 1942. It was the first airplane that the plant was producing applying complete production cycle. It was a hard task but factory team after all successfully met the challenge.
La-5 passed its trial by fire on August 14, 1942 as a part of the 49th Fighter Aviation Red Army Regiment and 234th Fighter Aviation Division of the 1st Air Fleet Army near Ulyanovsk - Sukhinichi - Kozelsk. From 14 to 24 of August, 1942 the pilots of the regiment on 19 planes (then under the brand name LaG-5) made 180 combat missions, having flied 130 hours. In 27 air battles the pilots of the regiment shot down 16 enemy planes.
Since 20th August, 1942 it appeared near Stalingrad as part of the 240th Fighter Aviation Regiment. The regiment started fighting on 20th of August, 1942 and by August 29, 1942 had made 109 combat missions, conducted 58 air battles, shot down 10 planes, however, it itself was defeated - only a few pilots remained in service, lost 7 planes.
The remains of the regiment were relocated to the rear airfield, and then taken to the reserve at all. Despite the fact that due to the lack of sufficient number of experienced pilots the losses were big, La-5 immediately approved itself well. For the German pilots the appearance of the new aircraft was a very unpleasant surprise. After the Battle of Stalingrad, La-5 ceased to be a surprise for the Germans, the aircraft of this type began to appear in all parts of the Soviet-German front.
La-5 took part in the battles from the end of 1942 up to the summer of 1943, after that they were replaced by more advanced versions of La-5F, La-5FN and later La-7. Although some of the La-5 fought in 1944.
La-5 was most widely used during the Battle of Kursk. It was here (at the airport of Urazovo),where the famous Soviet ace Ivan Kozhedub opened his combat account on La-5. During the fortieth combat flight on July 6, 1943, Kozhedub shot down his first German aircraft, bomber Junkers U-87.
By the end of the Battle of Kursk Kozhedub won nine air victories and was awarded the Order of the Red Combat Banner. The famous Soviet pilot Aleksey Maresiev also flew on the La-5 plane. Even having lost his legs and in spite of that managed to return to the combat aviation on the prostheses.
In addition, La-5FN, which was opposed by the German FW 190A fighter, began to be used on the Kursk Bulge. Strictly speaking, the La-5 and FW-190A have already met many times in battles, but at Kursk they were betting on them mainly – fighters with air-cooled engines had to win over in the air.
The fights showed that despite all its many advantages, the "Fokker" as an air fighter is inferior to "Lavochkin" one. Soviet pilots have always pointed out that it is harder to fight with Messers than with the FW-190. The Germans also realized it. On the Eastern Front until May 9, 1945, the main fighter was Messerschmitt Bf.109.