Oxford AC034 Soviet Lavochkin La-7 Fighter - Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub, Deputy Commander of Soviet Air Forces, 240th IAP, March 1945 (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-7 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the last in a family of aircraft that had begun with the LaGG-1 in 1938. By 1943, the La-5 had become a mainstay of the Soviet Air Force, yet both its head designer, Semyon Lavochkin, as well as the engineers at TsAGI ("Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute") felt that it could be improved upon. The LaGG-1 had been designed at a time when it was felt necessary to conserve strategic materials such as aircraft alloys, and had a structure built almost entirely of wood. With Soviet strategists now confident that supplies of these alloys were unlikely to become a problem, Lavochkin began replacing large parts of the airframe (including the wing spars) with alloy components. Various other streamlining changes were made as well, increasing performance further. The prototype, internally designated La-120 by Lavochkin, flew in November, and was quickly put into production, entering service the following spring.
The La-7 earned itself a superb combat record by the end of the war, and was flown by the top two Soviet aces of the conflict. Turning a full circle took 19-21 seconds. The aircraft was also used as a testbed to explore advanced propulsion systems, including a tail-mounted liquid-fuelled rocket engine (La-7R), two under-wing pulsejets (La-7D), and two under-wing ramjets (La-7S). None of these variants proved worth pursuing, and turbojet technology quickly overtook them.
The La-7 was the only Soviet fighter to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me-262, on one occasion over Germany on February 15, 1945. Total production of the La-7 amounted to 5,753 aircraft, including a number of La-7UTI trainers. Those aircraft still in service after the end of the war were given the NATO reporting name Fin. The follow-up model, La-9 despite its outward similarity was a complete reworking of the design.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Soviet Lavochkin La-7 fighter that was attached to 240th IAP during 1944.
Release Date: February 2013
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.