La-7. Tactical fighter from WW2 (1944). Flight range – 635 km, max. speed – 680 km/h

The Lavochkin La-7 (Russian: Лавочкин Ла-7) was a piston-engined single-seat Soviet fighter aircraft developed during World War II by the Lavochkin Design Bureau. 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. Its first flight was in early 1944 and it entered service with the Soviet Air Forces later in the year.

A small batch of La-7s was given to the Czechoslovak Air Force the following year, but it was otherwise not exported. Armed with two or three 20 mm (0.8 in) cannon, it had a top speed of 661 kilometers per hour (411 mph). The La-7 was felt by its pilots to be at least the equal of any German piston-engined fighter. It was phased out in 1947 by the Soviet Air Force, but served until 1950 with the Czechoslovak Air Force.

By 1943, the La-5 had become a mainstay of the Soviet Air Forces, yet both its head designer, Semyon Lavochkin, as well as the engineers at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (Russian: TsAGI), felt that it could be improved upon. TsAGI refined earlier studies of aerodynamic improvements to the La-5 airframe in mid-1943 and modified La-5FN c/n 39210206 to evaluate the changes. These included complete sealing of the engine cowling, rearrangement of the wing center section to accommodate the oil cooler and the relocation of the engine air intake from the top of the cowling to the bottom to improve the pilot’s view.

The aircraft was evaluated between December 1943 and February 1944 and proved to have exceptional performance. Using the same engine as the standard La-5FN c/n 39210206 had a top speed of 684 kilometers per hour (425 mph) at a height of 6,150 meters (20,180 ft), some 64 kilometers per hour (40 mph) faster than the production La-5FN. It took 5.2 minutes to climb to 5,000 meters (16,404 ft). It was faster at low to medium altitudes than the La-5 that used the more powerful prototype Shvetsov M-71 engine.

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