Lavochkin La-9 Video - Overview
First flight: 1946
Introduced: August 1946
Status: Out of service
Primary users: Soviet Air Force Romanian Air Force North Korea Air Force
Number built: 1,559
Variants: Lavochkin La-11
The Lavochkin La-9 (NATO reporting name Fritz) was an early post-World War II Soviet fighter aircraft.
La-9 represents further development of the Lavochkin La-126 prototype. The first prototype, designated La-130 was finished in 1946. Similarity to the famous Lavochkin La-7 was only superficial - the new fighter had all-metal construction and a laminar flow wing. Weight savings due to elimination of wood from the airframe allowed for greatly improved fuel capacity and four-cannon armament. Mock combat demonstrated that La-130 was evenly matched with La-7 but was inferior to Yakovlev Yak-3 in both horizontal and vertical planes. The new fighter, officially designated La-9, entered production in August 1946. A total of 1,559 aircraft were built by the end of production in 1948.
Only one La-9 remains in airworthy condition today, ZK-LIX (pictured above at Warbirds Over Wanaka) in Wanaka, New Zealand, having been restored by Pioneer Aero Restorations between 2001 and '03. A handful of others remain in museums in China, Korea and one in Romania.
Like other aircraft designers at the time, Lavochkin was experimenting with using jet engines to augment performance of piston-engined fighters. One such attempt was La-130R with an RD-1Kh3 liquid fuel rocket engine in addition to the Shvetsov ASh-82FN piston powerplant. The project was cancelled in 1946 before the prototype could be assembled. A more unusual approach was La-9RD which was tested in 1947-1948. It was a production La-9 with a reinforced airframe and armament reduced to two cannons, which carried a single RD-13 pulsejet (likely of the German V-1 flying bomb origin) under each wing. The 70 km/h (45 mph) increase in top speed came at the expense of tremendous noise and vibration. The engines were unreliable and worsened the handling. The project was abandoned although between 3 and 9 La-9RD were reported to perform at airshows, no doubt pleasing the crowds with the noise.
Other notable La-9 variants were:
La-9UTI - two-seat trainer version. Built at GAZ-99 in Ulan-Ude. Two versions exist: with 12.7 mm UBS machine gun and with one 23 mm NS-23 cannon.
La-132 (La-132) - prototype with upgraded Shvetsov M-93 engine. Projected top speed 740 km/h (460 mph) at 6,500 m (21,325 ft). Engine proved a failure and the single prototype was equipped with an experimental Shvetsov ASh-82M instead. The aircraft did not proceed to production.
La-9M (La-134) - long-range fighter prototype, see Lavochkin La-11
La-9RD - one La-9 was fitted with two underwing RD-13 auxiliary pulsejet engines.
La-138 - one La-9 was fitted with two underwing PVRD-450 auxiliary ramjet engines.
People's Republic of China
People's Liberation Army Air Force
North Korea Air Force
Romanian Air Force
Soviet Air Force
Length: 8.63 m (28 ft 4 in)
Wingspan: 9.80 m (32 ft 2 in)
Height: 3.56 m (11 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 17.6 m² (189 ft²)
Empty weight: 2,638 kg (5,816 lb)
Loaded weight: 3,425 kg (7,551 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 3,676 kg (8,104 lb)
Powerplant: 1x— Shvetsov ASh-82FN air-cooled radial engine with a two-stage supercharger and fuel injection, 1,380 kW (1,850 hp)
Maximum speed: 690 km/h (428 mph) at altitude
Range: 1,735 km (1,077 mi)
Service ceiling: 10,800 m (35,433 ft)
Rate of climb: 17.7 m/s (3,484 ft/min)
Wing loading: 195 kg/m² (40 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.40 kW/kg (0.25 hp/lb)
4 x— 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannons, 75 rpg
Hawker Sea Fury
North American P-51 Mustang
Gordon, Yefim. Lavochkin's Piston-Engined Fighters (Red Star Volume 10). Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-85780-151-2.
Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers) Ltd., 1961. ISBN 0-356-01447-9.
Kopenhagen, W (ed.), Das groxŸe Flugzeug-Typenbuch (in German). Transpress, 1987, ISBN 3-344-00162-0.