Lavochkin La-11 (Fang) - Soviet Union, 1947
Detailing the development and operational history of the Lavochkin La-11 (Fang) Long-Range Escort Fighter.
Entry last updated on 7/14/2014; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Lavochkin La-11 was a further development of the successful La-9 series, but destined as a long-range fighter escort.
The Lavochkin La-11 was designed from the successful Lavochkin La-9 series of piston engine fighters with the difference being that the La-11 was to be a long-range bomber escort. The system was under development in the closing years of World War 2 but was not made ready for service until 1947. In effect, the Lavochkin La-11 became one of the last dedicated piston engine fighters to be produced for the Soviet Air Force and played upon the strengths of the preceding design quite well, though it arrived at a time when the jet age was becoming all the technological rage.
Design of the La-11 followed suit with the preceding La-9 series featuring a stout engine housing with large propeller hub, low monoplane wing assembly and mid-set framed cockpit offering up a decent view with traditional blind spots. Armament consisted of a battery of 3 x 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 series cannons which were more than capable of engaging enemy aircraft. Power was derived from a single Shvetsov ASh-82FNV radial piston engine producing some 1,870 horsepower and helping the La-11 achieve speeds nearing 420 miles per hour.
The prototype La-11 appeared in two forms as the La-123 and the La-134D. The former was based highly on the La-9 but sported just three cannons as its offensive armament. The latter was an improved La-123 prototype sporting an increased fuel capacity and underwing fuel drop tanks. As the development of the type evolved more and more options related to long-range sorties were introduced to make the pilot's job more comfortable. These options included a more cushioned seat, built-in urine waste facilities, arm and head rests. Communications and navigation equipment were also brought up to modern speed.
At the conclusion of development, it was found that the La-11 was quite a heavier aircraft from the original La-9. This limited the aircrafts combat capabilities above 23,000 feet but still played upon the long-range performance inherent in the new design. Despite this shortcoming, the La-11 was a good performer especially well into missions when fuel consumption would naturally lighten the La-11's load.
Lavochkin La-11's were featured in the years leading up and into the Korean War. During this time, the La-11 was credited with several American kills of note including that of a 10-man Privateer type aircraft. Its long range was duly noted though the La-11's limited combat ceiling and slow rate of climb did little against the high-flying Boeing B-29 Superfortresses dotting the skies in the conflict. In any case, the La-11 represented a changing time but it still remained a capable aircraft designed to a specific role and carried out its functions appropriately. Total production numbered some 1,182 examples and the aircraft was also fielded by China and North Korea.