SkyMax Models SM2001 Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN Fighter - Ivan Kozhedub, 240th IAP, April 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"I requested a transfer to the front more than once. But the front required well-trained fliers. While training them for future battles, I was also training myself. At the same time, it felt good to hear of their exploits at the front. In late 1942, I was sent to learn to fly a new plane, the Lavochkin LaG-5. After March 1943, I was finally in active service."
- Ivan Kozhedub, recalling his first exploits as a combat pilot on the Eastern Front
The Lavochkin La-5 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the LaGG-3 and was one of the Soviet Air Force's most capable types of warplane.
The La-5's heritage began even before the outbreak of war, with the LaGG-1, a promising yet underpowered aircraft – turning a full circle, for example, took 20 seconds. The LaGG-3 was a modification of that design that attempted to correct this by both lightening the airframe and fitting a more powerful engine. Nevertheless, this was not enough, and the lack of power remained a significant problem.
In early 1942, two of the LaGG-1 and -3's designers, Semyon Lavochkin and Vladimir Gorbunov, attempted to correct this deficiency by experimentally fitting a LaGG-3 with the more powerful Shvetsov ASh-82 radial engine. Since the LaGG-3 was powered by an inline engine, they accomplished this by grafting on the nose section of a Sukhoi Su-2 (which used this engine). By now, the shortcomings of the LaGG-3 had caused Lavochkin to fall out of Stalin's favour, and factories previously assigned to LaGG-3 construction had been turned over to building the rival Yakovlev Yak-1 and Yak-7. The design work required to adapt the LaGG-3 to the new engine and still maintain the aircraft's balance was undertaken by Lavochkin in a small hut beside an airfield over the winter of 1941-1942, all completely unofficially.
When the prototype took flight in March, the result was extremely pleasing - the fighter finally had a powerplant that allowed it to perform as well in the air as it had been supposed to on paper. After flying, the LaG-5 (the change in name reflecting that one of the original LaGG designers was no longer with the programme), Air Force test pilots declared it superior to the Yak-7, and intensive flight tests began in April. After only a few weeks, the design was modified further, cutting down the rear fuselage to give the pilot better visibility.
By July, Stalin ordered maximum-rate production of the aircraft, now simply known as the La-5 and the conversion of any incomplete LaGG-3 airframes to the new configuration. While still inferior to the best German fighters at high altitudes, the La-5 proved to be every bit their match closer to the ground. With most of the air combat over the Eastern Front taking place at altitudes of under 5,000 m (16,400 ft), the La-5 was very much in its element. Its rate of roll was excellent.
Further refinement of the aircraft involved a fuel-injected engine, further lightening of the aircraft, and fixed slats to improve all-round performance. This was designated the La-5FN and would become the definitive version of the aircraft. A full circle turn took 18-19 seconds - a beautiful dogfighter. Altogether, 9,920 La-5s of all variants were built, including a number of dedicated trainer versions, designated La-5UTI. Further refinements of the aircraft would lead to the Lavochkin La-7 with a reputation for the aileron turn. Some had three new B-20 cannon in the cowl with a salvo of 3.4 kg per second weight of fire.
Whenever a low flying attacker couldn't be intercepted even by the new Yak-9U, the La-7 would be utilized. The leading Soviet ace of World War II, Ivan Kozhedub (62 kills), flew this fighter when he shot down an Me 262 jet.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN fighter that was piloted by Ivan Kozhedub, who was attached to the 240th IAP during April 1944.
Wingspan: 5 inches
Length: 5 inches
Release Date: March 2009
Historical Account: "Ace of Aces" - General Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub was a Soviet military aviator of Ukrainian descent. He was made a Hero of the Soviet Union on three occasions (February 4th, 1944, August 19th, 1944 and August 18th, 1945).
He was born in the village of Obrazheyevka in Ukrainian SSR, the youngest of five children. After achieving excellent results at the Chuhuiv military aviation school, he stayed on as an instructor and trained many young Soviet pilots. Feeling his talents would be better used in combat, he requested a transfer to an active service unit, and by March 1943, he was on the front lines flying the Lavochkin La-5. During World War II, he served as a fighter pilot from March 1943 onwards on several fronts (Voronezh Front, Steppe Front, 2nd Ukrainian Front, 1st Belorussian Front) and at different ranks, starting from Senior airman (flying the Lavochkin La-5) up to the deputy commander of the air regiment. He is regarded as the best Soviet flying ace of the war, and is mostly associated with flying the Lavochkin La-7. He holds the record for confirmed air combat victories amongst all Allied pilots (effectively the Allied "Ace of Aces") during WWII. He was also notorious among Soviet Air Force pilots for losing a record number of his wingmen during his combat missions. He is also reputed to have the unusual ability to shoot targets at very oblique angles.
In April 1951, he was the commander of the 324th Fighter Air Division, dispatched to China to take part in the Korean War on the North Korean side. But he was not allowed to participate in combat missions.
Kozhedub recorded 330 combat missions, 120 aerial engagements, and 62 enemy aircraft shot down, including one Me 262 Jet fighter. His first kill was a German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber on July 6th, 1943. Kozhedub was awarded the Order of Lenin twice, seven Orders of the Red Banner, Order of Alexander Nevsky, two Orders of the Red Star, Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and numerous other medals.