The La-7 was a single-engined single-seat Soviet monoplane fighter aircraft. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5FN. The La-7 was developed by the Lavochkin Design Bureau. It was the further evolution of the famous La-5F embedding recommendations of the Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics.
The La-7 had an improved external and internal aerodynamics and was lighter due to introduction of metal wing spars. Compared with the La-5FN, the new fighter had significant advantages in speed, rate of climb, service ceiling and armament. In addition to reduced weight and changed shape of the aircraft, the cooling and sealing losses of the power plant were reduced as well.
It is considered that the La-7 had superiority in its fighting qualities over the last piston-engined fighters of Germany, England and the USA at low and medium altitudes. It had an increased survivability, simplicity and accessibility in control.
The armament initially was the same as that of La-5. In 1945, the La-7 got more powerful armament of three 20 mm Berezin UB-20 cannons with ammunition of 135 shells per barrel.
The prototype aircraft underwent factory tests in January 1944 (Flight Research Institute’s test pilot G.M. Shiyanov). In May, the first production La-7 aircraft left the workshops of factories. The combat use of the La-7 began in June 1944. This plane became the favorite weapon of aces of the guards fighter regiments. In battles, the La-7 showed significant superiority over German fighters.
Many Soviet aces flew the La-7, including I.N. Kozhedub. The renowned pilot flying this plane won 17 victories and shot down the German Messerschmitt-262 jet plane. Three times Hero of the Soviet Union A.I. Pokryshkin spoke very well about the new aircraft. This fighter possessed excellent maneuverability, high speed and powerful weapons, which perfectly matched Pokryshkin’s formula: "Speed - maneuver - fire."
5905 airplanes were produced over the 1945 to1945 period. In total, for the period until the end of 1946, 6209 La-7 fighters were produced. U-UAP (formerly Plant No. 99) manufactured fighters since 1944.
S.A. Lavochkin Design Bureau was awarded the Order of Lenin for creation of the front-line fighters in 1944, many designers were awarded orders and medals. S.A. Lavochkin was awarded the Stalin Prize for the third time in January 1946 for development of La-7.