LaGG-1/3 - Poor Build Quality???

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Piper106, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

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    It is clear from reading the various texts about the WW2 Soviet Air Force that of the three major fighters, Yak, Mig, and LaGG that the LaGG-1 and LaGG-3 were the least liked. The LaGG-1 and LaGG-3 were significantly less successful during 1941/1942 in combat compared to the Yak-1 / Yak-7 fighters.

    When I looked at the 'book' numbers for the LaGG-1 and LaGG-3 compared to the Yak-1 and Yak-7 machines, there does not seem to be a significant shortfall in weight, speed, wing loading, or any other paper characteristic compared to the Yaks that would explain the LaGG machines lack of combat success.

    That makes me think the production versions of the LaGG figherts just were much more poorly built than the machines used for the state trials. Poor quality of the fit and finish on the production LaGGs reduced speed and increased weight compared to the carefully built prototypes.

    Is ther any documentation that supports or refutes my speculation????
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The books I have read suggest the LaGG's were not very maneuverable, relatively lightly armed, not very fast, and were, more importantly, flown by combat neophytes that had sub-standard pilot training, especially when it came to combat flying.

    The later Lavochkin La-5 / 7 were from part of the same design team and were outstanding in most respects. They ere fast. maneuverable, well armed, and could operate in conditions tghat grounded German and other Allied types.
     
  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There were only 100 LaGG-1 aircraft built.

    The LaGG-1 was under powered and had several problems that resulted in a poor opinion of the aircraft: short range, poor handling and occasional problems with it's wooden wings. It actually didn't lack for firepower.

    As far as the LaGG-3 is concerned, it was an improvement over the LaGG-1, but not by much. While the pilots found it to be troublesome to control and slow, it was a sturdy airframe and did allow several VVS pilots to become Aces.

    Once Lavochkin decided to use a radial instead of the Klimov, the airframe came alive...
     
  4. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Soviet manufacturers did not have lots of experience to build an aircraft like the LaGG resulting in many manufacturing problems and excessive overweight of the airframe due to using too thick layers of wood/glue.
    This was basically worked-out when the La-5 and the 30th series LaGG-3 appeared but improvements to reduce weight were still implemented by 1943.
    The LaGG was at some time that heavy they used desperate measure to reduce weight like reducing armor or fuel capacity.
    Armament was never considered a problem except in the early machines where the 7.62mm were considered inefficient and ballast to get rid of.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Most Soviet equipment, both civilian and military, had poor build quality. Why would LaGG be any different?
     
  6. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Lots of dead people would beg to differ. If they could of course.
     
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  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps we should take a closer look at how "poor build quality" seemed to perform under extreme conditions that hampered the operation of Axis and western Allied equipment...

    The Mosin-Nagant, the T-34, the YaK/MiG and Polikarpov all were looked down upon at one point or another for their "rough edges" by all except those on the receiving end.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    If I was on the receiving end of a beating with a cast iron hammer I might not look down on it either, doesn't mean it was much good as a hammer though.

    A lot of post Iron Curtain books tell stories of poor quality planes and equipment. Poor Quality does beat NO airplanes or equipment though.

    Russian equipment could vary a lot depending on which factory and when it was made.
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #9 GregP, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    But it WAS operating when our stuff wasn't, and after the initial culling of the obsolete planes, the Soviet Air Force shot down the Luftwaffe in droves ... with this suposed poor quality equipment.

    The T-34 tanks, of which it is said we (the Western Allies) would not have accepted any, was voted the best tank of WWII by all the history channel "experts." It had the ability to kill the German tanks with it combination of firepower, speed, and ability to run in conditions where the German tanks were stopped. It even killed them when the weather was GOOD.

    The AK-47 is a piece of junk. But it shoots evey time, even with a handfull of dirt in the mechanism. I have done that one personally and it functioned perfectly for another 150 shots. It was still going when I cleaned it anyway. There is ONE guy on the internet with over 15,000 rounds through an AK-47 that has been deliberately never cleaned ... and it still works.

    Wish we had them in Viet Nam!

    I bet our Pacific P-40 and P-39 drivers would have accepted La-5s and La-7's any day of the week. I KNOW the Sherman guys would have traded for a T-34 at the drop of a hat.
     
  10. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

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    #10 Piper106, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    I have read the same, that the LaGG were slow, slower than the comparable Yak fighters.
    Wikipedia on the other gives gives the top speed for the LaGG-3 as being 2 mph faster than the Yak-7A.

    That is the part that has comfused. The book numbers for the LaGG-1 and LaGG-3 are similar to the Yaks, yet the LaGGs are so poorly regarded compared to the Yaks. So I am back to my original comment, was it that the production LaGGs were built so much much worse than the prototype machines used to come up with the book numbers??
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The prototype LaGG-1 and LaGG-3 models were hand finished and optimized for performance figures.

    There was a large difference between those results and the subsequent production airframes' performance in the field.
     
  12. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

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    I have read the same things. The La-5 was remembered as having great maneuverablity, the LaGG-3 not so much. Yet both shared the same wing span and wing area plus a La-5 was 400 kilos heavier empty than a LaGG-3 in the same condition. More confusion on my part. I would have thought the extra weight of the La-5 without more wing area would have hurt maneuverablity.
     
  13. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

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    #13 Piper106, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    I don't doubt that all the Soviet prototypes exceeded the performance of the production models, but the fall off in performance in the production aircraft must have been extreme in the case of the LaGGs. Which gets me back to my original comment on the (lack of) build quality in the LaGGs.
     
  14. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    the late LaGG-3, 1943, were not bad planes take in the count the engine that they had, i've data for 5 different planes (serial range 6011-6631, plant 31) they got around 535 km/h S.L. and around 590 km/h at 3.5 km (best altitude), same data for a first serie plane are 500 and 545 km/h but their rated altitude was 4.9 km where got 575 km/h, the prototype get 515 km/h S.L. and 585 km/h at 4.7.
    comparating with Yak, prototype 490 km/h S.L., 590 km/h at 5. early production 475 km/h and 575 km/h; 43 production 525 km/h and 595 km/h rated altitude down to 4,1.
    I did some round
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The La-5 had a radial for power. Itr made good power and was located MUCH closer to the C.G. than the original Kilmov. By way of comparison, the LaGG-3 came in at 4851 pounds ampty and 5764 pounds normal load. It had 1260 HP on it's best day (4.57 pounds per HP) and climbed at 2926 feet per minuet.

    The La-5FN came in at 6221 pounds empty and 7238 loaded and had 1850 HP (3.91 pounds per HP). It could climb at 4331 feet per minute.

    The radial was fitted with a much better propeller and the engine was close to the C.G., making initiating a turn much easier.

    I do NOT know if the airfoil was the same for both planes, but I would suspect not. The planform might have been close and the wingspan identical, but that does not mean the aerodynamics were identical. I do not have enough data to make an intelligent analysis of the La-5 FN versus the LaGG-3.
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The La-5 and La-7 both had the LaGG-3's fuselage and an improved mainwing.

    It also had a radial engine that was nearly double the output of the earlier Klimov liquid-cooled inline
     
  17. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Its all about timing. Before May 41 Soviet equipment was as well built as most western equipment it might not have been as good in some areas but on balance it was fine. Its the later 1941 into 1943 build quality that gets the publicity but the Soviet philosophy was a badly finished in non essential areas but still workable piece of equipment was better than none.

    As GregP said about the AK47 it just works if you pick one up and examine it carefully you are left with the impression you could build a better gun with a benchvice, a hammer and a file. Yet all the parts that need to be quality like the barrel and feed mechanism are better than almost anything contemporary.

    Take tanks as an ex tanker we were often told that the Soviet T tanks were junk and when the US or the UK got its hands on say an ex Iraqi T72 tests showed it wasnt a match for anything in the west. Then the Iron Curtain came down the west got its hands on the proper T series not the junk export versions and there was some very nasty shocks. Whilst on a 1 to 1 basis we probably still had the better tank it was an awful lot closer than thought. I had left the service by then but friends can remember the mad rush to get reactive armour and new shells into tanks because tests showed the 125mm smoothbore could easily kill any western tank and the 105mm and 120mm western APDS rounds were right on the edge of not being good enough.

    Glib statements that everything Soviet was junk are stupid dont forget the Space Race the US might have got a man on the moon first but every other Space first has a red star on it.
     
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  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of the early Russian stuff had teething problems of one sort or another.

    The Mosin-Nagant had had 50 years to sort out any teething troubles and can be pretty much excluded from the discussion.

    Early T-34s had bad transmission or final drives among other things. The Lagg-3 was a multi-page saga of problems. It goes on.

    Nobody would really claim that a spear was equal to a Breech loading rifle but the spear won at the Battle of Isandlwana, you just had to use enough of them. Nobody got rid of their breech loading rifles and went back to the spear though.
     
  19. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    #19 Denniss, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
    May be nice initially but would fall apart after some weeks. Planes were not suited for hot/humid climates, airframes start to disintegrate. BTW in Vietnam almost every other assault gun would have been better than the M16 - the small caliber bullets were ill-suited for jungle warfare due to lack of penetrative power. Plus the reliability issues it suffered due to the conditions and lightweight built.

    Please also remember the LaGG series was an attempt to build an aircraft using mostly less strategic material (wood) but almost none of the workers in the production facilities was sufficiently experienced to build components with multiple-layered wood. This and some design issues caused an excessive overweight which they fought for most of 41 and far into 42. there were multiple other issue like bad surface finish, propeller and engine issues. Engine cooling was insufficient and the cooling system changes caused even more performance loss.
     
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  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Soviets/Russians had some very good designers and scientists. They were perfectly capable of coming up with ideas and theories as advanced as any other country. Where they fell down was in the ability to turn advanced ideas into mass produced hardware. Not enough middle managers or middle level engineers/technicians. There was no real reserve of 'commercial' industry work force to transfer over to military production.

    People have mentioned the Mosin-Nagant. The Factories had existed for years but if they needed to expand production by a large margin there was no "commercial" small arms factories to convert, there was no commercial small arms work force to transfer, there was no commercial small arms work force to even form a cadre from (older workers or unfit for military duty workers) to train unskilled women and teenagers.
    Same for many other industries.
    Trying to develop not only new designs but new ways to manufacture the basic structure at the same time means very few people really knew what they were doing. It is one thing to transfer sheet metal workers with years of experience to train new workers in a new factory. It is another when the wood gluing process used is only a few months old even in the first factory to use it.
    You also had political problems:
    "Yakovlev served under Joseph Stalin as a Vice-Minister of Aviation Industry between 1940–1946"
    which means he had a say in which types got produced and which did not and it is little surprise that he favored producing his own design/s over Lavochkin. Or which types might have got a bit of extra help/resources when faced with problems.

    Russians were very good at finishing only the surfaces that needed finishing and leaving others rough which leaves a crude appearance but they did have a problem with alloys, heat treating and such which did affect durability. They compensated in part by building large numbers of what they could build and accepting lower overhaul times or greater break downs. They weren't ignoring the problems but trying to cope short term while working on the manufacturing problems. (early Sabres certainly had nothing to brag about compared to Russian engines as far as overhaul life went).
     
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