The WW2 Aircraft that Totally Fooled the Luftwaffe
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When the Lavochkin La-5 fighter was first built and soared the skies in July 1943, German pilots condescendingly nicknamed it ‘Neue Rata,’ dismissing it as insignificant.
Within 24 hours, they were proven wrong. The Lavochkin La-5 fighter was a force to be reckoned with, swinging the air war in favor of the Red Air Force.
To avoid the fate of many European countries, the Soviets desperately needed to update their air fleet to challenge the Luftwaffe.
The Lavochkin La-5 was eventually developed, which is the refinement of the earlier LaGG-3 model, replacing its inline engine with a more potent Shvetsov ASh-82 radial engine.
The plane also had its cockpit in the middle. Its mid-positioning, along with a trimmed-down rear fuselage, influenced the plane’s center of gravity, aerodynamics, and pilot visibility.
A standout feature is the prominent propeller hub, which is an eye-catcher. However, the LaGG-3’s basic structure and layout remains unchanged.
The La-5 proved to be more than just an adequate aircraft, but also a highly versatile and powerful heavy hitter that could match many of the Luftwaffe’s fighters pound-for-pound.
Not Backing Down
It was at Kursk, which was the setting of history’s biggest tank battle, that the La-5, now more advanced and battle-hardened the ever, would gain its first major victory.
Early on, the Luftwaffe maintained air dominance. However, Soviet pilots, some flying La-5, started to shift the balance. Armed with twin 20mm ShVAK cannons in the engine cowling, it contested German air superiority as the battle started to unfold. The Germans quickly realized that the plane, when piloted by a skilled Soviet Airman was as much of a threat as other forces out there on the battlefield.
Soon, it became clear that the Soviet Union managed to build a plane that could match, and even exceed the capabilities of German fighters. When facing the German Luftwaffe, the La-5 proved as lethal as any other aircraft, allowing it to ultimately secure air superiority over the Eastern Front.
It symbolized the Soviet Union’s industrial and military resurgence in 1943 and ultimately propelled the Red Army to Berlin in 1945.