Ilustrator: Arkadiusz Wrobel
Based in Central Europe Kagero Publishing House is the biggest publisher and exporter of English-written publications about military history, release nearly 60 titles every year. Kagero was founded in 1995, and began by delivering military titles in Polish. Their success led Kagero to start releasing books in English in 1998. Authors from Poland, Canada, USA, Australia and Great Britain, who were invited to cooperation, gave a beginning to a new range of products, which have put them on a position of one of the most recognized publishers on the market. Kagero has released more than 550 publications. Kagero is managed by Damian Majsak and his wife Joanna.
Kagero’s Lavochkin La-7 is one of the latest in their Monographs series. This edition is in their standard 8.25” x 11.75” format softbound publication that is 80 pages (excluding covers). I counted 132 black and white photographs, 35 black and white drawings, and no color photographs. Arkadiusz Wrobel contributes the cover and 10 color side profiles. The cover features Major Amet Khan Sultan’s Lavochkin La-7 flaming a Messerschmitt Me 109. Major Amet Khan Sultan finished the war with 30 individual victories and 19 team victories. The yellow spinner signifies the 3rd Squadron of the 9th GIAP (Guard’s Fighter Regiment) who’s squadron emblem was ta black eagle with talons forward in a white circle.
Dariusz Paduch follows previous volumes (Lavochkin La-5, Volume 1; Kagero 3076) and (Lavochkin La-5, Volume 1I; Kagero 3086) as the Lavochkin La-7 was an enhancement of the La-5F and La-5FN airframes, referred to as “Pattern 1944”. As seen on Page 7, changes that can fairly easily be seen are the deletion of the air intakes from around the cowling that were moved to the wing root. Inner gear doors were also added to improve aerodynamics as the landing gear lower wheels / tires were left exposed under the wing. This LA-5 modification was impressive and gave the Russian Air Force a fighter that was on par with German fighters. Testing was quite substantial, and one can see at the bottom of the page a wind tunnel model of the La-7 in addition to two photographs of the “Pattern 1944” aircraft.
Essentially using the same engine that the La-5FN bore, a major issue was the lifespan of the Ash-82FN engine. Dust is well known as a contributor to wear and tear on engines and was considered a major factor for the La-7, The photograph at the bottom of Page 21 shows off one attempt to solve this issue with a Plant 21 air filter on the lower leading edge of the wing, just below the wing root intakes (closed in this photograph). While dust was certainly a contributing factor, more important factors was in the metallurgy of the piston sleeves, valves, and piston rings. Plant 21 later moved these air filters to the upper cowling which probably helped. Training continued to be a concern with the high powered LA-7 and a two-seat trainer was ordered. Never fully accepted by the VVS due to longitudinal issues, it nonetheless entered production. Page 35 has two photographs of a LA-7UTI, 452115421, which highlights the center of gravity change that trainees faced. This La-7 was converted by Plant 21 and became the first evaluation prototype for the La-7UTI.
The La-7 served as a testbed for many ideas, including rocket engines to boost the La-7’s speed. This is shown on Page 46 where the lower two photographs show the rocket engine installed without the cover fairings. The bottom photograph shows the rocket in action with the tail of the machine tied down with ropes. One of the problems the rocket engine faced was that the fuel was rather corrosive, especially to a wooden airframe. Nitric acid and sulfuric acid fumes somehow managed to find their way into the cockpit causing additional issues. Then there were the explosions. In the end, over two years of development was not able to solve the safety issues for the minimal acceleration provided and development ended in 1946. Dariusz Paduch devotes twelve-page to a brief technical description of the components of the La-7. An example of the drawings and photographs is shown on Page 61. Here one can easily see the details of the rudder, elevator, and main landing gear assemblies.
There are currently only two surviving LA-7 fighters out of some 5,753 built (plus 582 La-7UTI trainers). One can be found on static display in the Central Air Force Museum in Monino (Moscow) and a second on static display at the Kbely Aviation Museum in Prague. White 27 at Monino is famous for being flown by Ivan Kozhedub where he scored 17 air victories, including a Me 262. Kozhedub (64 victories total) flew it to Moscow in 1945 to receive medals for his service where White 27 was gifted to the Zhukovskiy Institute for display. Prague’s La-7 is currently marked as White 77. The sections include:
- Pattern 1944 [Page 07]
- Series Production
- La-7 of the Plant No. 381
- La-7 of the Plant No. 21 [Page 21]
- Series Production of the La-7 and La-7UTI [Table]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the La-7 with M-71 (Ash-71) Engine [Table]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the Lavochkin La-7 Manufactured at Plant No. 21 [Table]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the Lavochkin La-7 Manufactured at Plant No. 381 and No. 99 [Table]
- La-7 of the Plant No. 99
- Military Trials
- Lavochkin La-7UTI [Page 35]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the Lavochkin La-7UTI [Table]
- High Altitude La-7
- Airplanes “120”, “126”
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the Lavochkin La-7TK [Table]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the “126” (La-126) [Table]
- Lavochkin La-7R [Page 46]
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the Lavochkin La-7 Equipped with Rocket Accelerator [Table]
- Lavochkin La-7 with Jet and Pulse Accelerators
- Basic Tactical and Technical Data of the “164” (La-126 PVRD) [Table]
- Lavochkin La-7 Abroad
- Brief Description of the La-7 [Page 61]
- The Last Test of the La-7
- La-7 An Attempt at Evaluation
- Comparison of La-7 and Fw 190, Based on Trial Results Conducted at NII VVS [Table]
- Comparison of La-7 and Yak-9U Technical Data [Table]
- List of Abbreviations
- Color Side Profiles
I really enjoyed the author’s attempt to evaluate the La-7 against their primary opponents, the Fw 190A-8 and the Me 109G-6. Even though its somewhat an apples and oranges evaluation, the La-7 was faster horizontally, could out turn, and climb faster than both opponents, the Fw 190A-8 had to be hands down easier to fly, especially for rookies, as the La-7 lacked automatic engine controls. A Fw 190A-8 only had one lever to control the engine, where the La-7 pilot had to manage eight levers. The La-7 cockpit heat (~50C) was never really resolved, where it was not an issue in their opponents aircraft.
I consider the Kagero Monographs series an essential reference for model building. La-7s in the normal scales are widely available: Mark I Models in 1/144; KP, FROG, Hobby Boss, Novo, NovoExport, Chematic, Eduard, Eastern Express, Ark, Smer, MisterCraft, and Zvezda in 1/72; Academy, Hasegawa, CMK, Gavia, Eduard, and Fly in 1/48; and HpH in 1/32. There is even an ‘Egg’ offering from Tiger Model. You get period photographs and beautiful color illustrations. This being the eighty-eighth volume, they have managed to cover quite a few aircraft. If you have any of their previous books in the Monographs series, you know how great a value this book is. Highly Recommended!
My thanks to Casemate, Kagero, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.