Lavochkin LaGG-3

It is incredible that 6,528 Lavochkin LaGG-3 fighters were built in the Soviet Union between 1941 and late 1943, because the aeroplane was dreadful. First flown in December 1940, and hastily rushed into
production, it was derived From Semyon Lavochkin’s slightly earlier LaGG-3. It had a wooden, semi-monocoque fuselage skinned with glued layers of birch veneer and plywood, as were its wings and tail surfaces. A composite phenol-impregnated wood was used for the
main spars and local reinforcement.
The LaGG-1 exhibited 115 faults and defects during official tests, and although some were rectified, many more were carried over into the LaGG-3, and even got worse.
The aircraft became substantially heavier and its performance deteriorated. It had poor manoeuvrability and a nasty tendency to go
into an often-fatal spin. The engine overheated, the radiators and hydraulics leaked, linkages in the control system failed, and the undercarriage tended to collapse, Although some improvements were carried out, Soviet pilots dubbed the aircraft the “Mortician’s Friend”. Yet despite this, in early May 1942 a third of all the fighters in Soviet service were LaGG-3s. Lavochkin eventually solved some of the worst performance defects by replacing the in-line engine with a radial powerplant, creating the considerably more effective La-5.

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