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Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail)

Soviet Union (1949)
Picture of Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail) Jet-Powered Tactical Fighter / Interceptor

Aircraft like the Lavochkin La-15 Fantail formed the early-going for the growing Soviet jet program.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail) Jet-Powered Tactical Fighter / Interceptor.  Entry last updated on 7/15/2014. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

A series of Lavochkin jet-powered fighter prototypes preceded the La-15 (NATO reporting name of "Fantail") tactical fighter / interceptor. Work stemmed from a 1945 Soviet requirement that saw a line of aircraft evolve from the captured German Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet and straight main wings to a Rolls-Royce-based engine (copied under the Klimov brand label) and swept-back wings. A 1946 requirement then streamlined a proposal for an all-modern jet-powered fighter for the Soviet Air Force which incorporated a "T-style" tail configuration - a feature also pioneered by the Germans. The end result became the La-15 which was a further evolution of the one-off La-168 prototype first flying on April 22nd, 1948. The La-15 followed suit and took to the air on January 8th, 1948 to which its serial production form eventually served alongside the competing, and decidedly more famous, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter of which over 18,000 were eventually built. Comparatively, the La-15 proved a limited success, seeing just 235 produced as its power and performance proved rather underwhelming for the interceptor role. As such, the La-15 series was given up for good by 1953.

The external appearance of the La-15 was not unlike the form of the competing MiG-15. The nose was cut-off to provide the intake for the air-fed turbojet engine at fuselage center. The cockpit was situated over the duct work with a large clear canopy fitted overhead. This provided the pilot with exceptional views all about his aircraft and the canopy was further raised above the rear fuselage spine, adding additional viewing angled over the more vulnerable rear angle. The mainplanes were high-mounted on the fuselage sides and noted for their extensive sweepback. They each featured a pair of strakes to improve flight characteristics, this proving a physical quality added to many of the early Soviet jets including the MiG-15. A large vertical tail unit mounted the horizontal tailplanes high in a near "Tee" arrangement. The undercarriage was of a modern tricycle arrangement and wholly retractable to retain the aircraft's aerodynamic efficiency at speed.

The engine of choice became a Klimov RD-500 centrifugal compressor turbojet powerplant providing 3,500lbs of thrust. Maximum speed reached 626 miles per hour with a range out to 710 miles. The aircraft's service ceiling reached 44,300 feet and rate-of-climb was 6,240 feet per minute.

Armament centered around 3 x 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannons fitted under the nose. 100 rounds of ammunition was loaded per gun. There was no fighter-bomber capability in the La-15 series.

In practice, pilots liked their La-15s but the aircraft did not meet the performance required and production per unit proved complex. It was lighter than the competing MiG-15 but the MiG-15 bettered the Lavochkin aircraft on most all of the performance fronts. Additionally, it graduated to serve in a limited fighter-bomber role over the course of its career, leaving the La-15 to the pages of history. Variants of the La-15 proved few during its service life and production run. "Aircraft 174" was the first prototype and fitted with the Rolls-Royce Derwent turbojet engine. This example crashed during testing. "Aircraft 174D" served as the second prototype and benefitted from the failures of the first. It was accordingly revised into an improved form. "Aircraft 180" became the prototype basis for the two-seat trainer, eventually adopted as the "La-15UTI".

The La-15 fighter line was not exported outside of the Soviet Union.

Any available statistics for the Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail) Jet-Powered Tactical Fighter / Interceptor are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (626mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
235
235


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: Soviet Union
Year: 1949
Type: Jet-Powered Tactical Fighter / Interceptor
Manufacturer(s): Lavochkin - Soviet Union
Production: 235
Global Operators:
Soviet Union
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Lavochkin La-15 (Fantail) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
29.53 ft


Meters
9 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
27.49 ft


Meters
8.38 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.80 ft


Meters
3.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
12,522 lb


Kilograms
5,680 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
18,739 lb


Kilograms
8,500 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Klimov RD-500 turbojet engine developing 3,500lbs of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
626 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,007 kph


Knots
544 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
711 mi


Kilometers
1,145 km


Nautical Miles
618 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
44,291 ft


Meters
13,500 m


Miles
8.39 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
6,240 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
1,902 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
3 x 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannons under the nose.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• La-15 ("Fantail") - Base Series Designation
• Izdeliye 52 - Product Code
• Type 21 - USAF Reporting Name
• Aircraft 174 - Initial prototype with Rolls-Royce Derwent turbojet engine installed; lost in crash.
• Aircraft 174D - Second prototype; improvements based on Aircraft 174 model.
• Aircraft 180 - Proposed two-seat trainer; not adopted.