In February of 1945 Soviet leader Josef Stalin issued a directive for a single-seat fighter to be built around the captured German Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet engine for service with the Soviet Air Force. The charge fell to the Lavochkin concern which had delivered several piston-driven fighters during the war but - like many companies of the period - lacked the experience in the design, development and construction of all-metal, jet-powered types. Nevertheless, the challenge was laid and Lavochkin engineers could only try and meet the demand.
The adopted design featured a cockpit fitted well-forward of a relatively deep fuselage. The engine was mounted under the aircraft with aspiration through the cut-off nose - the air directed around the cockpit by a split-duct network. A stem emanating from the dorsal section of the fuselage made up the empennage to which a rounded vertical tail fin was fitted that featured mid-mounted horizontal planes. The wing mainplanes were shoulder-mounted, straight and fitted just ahead of midships. The undercarriage was of a tricycle arrangement and fully retractable, positioned along the fuselage (the first for a Soviet jet fighter). Proposed armament became 2 x 23mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 series cannons installed at the lower nose along the rim of the intake. The single-seat cockpit was under a framed canopy unit and armoring was used to help protect the pilot. In the Soviet inventory, the German Junkers Jumo 004B engine was copied as the "RD-10" and rated for 1,985 pounds of thrust output to be fed by way of five internal fuel stores.
Lavochkin unveiled a mockup in June of 1945 as the war in Europe had drawn to a close (May). Soviet authorities put in an order for five prototypes/pre-production models to which the first of these flew on September 11th, 1946. The delay between contract issuance and fly date was brought about by the inexperience of building all-metal aircraft at Lavochkin and the unreliable nature of the turbojet engine in play. However, this period allowed engineers to fine-tune the emerging design some prior to the first-flight date in 1946.
Sufficiently impressed, Soviet authorities wanted to showcase their new little fighter in the October Revolution parade of November1946 and ordered additional aircraft to bring the combined total to eight. By this time, the product was designated as "La-13" in order with previous Lavochkin offerings which included the post-war La-11 prop-powered monoplane fighter. With the flyby plans in place all fell to naught when bad weather excluded the new aircraft from impressing onlookers.
Again, this work was not lost for additional limitations were uncovered in the design allowing engineers a period to rectify them prior to more formal testing. At least five of the existing stock were modified to a new standard but engine reliability continued to plague the program. The La-150M mark was born from a one-off prototype heavily modified at the Lavochkin plant through downturned wingtips on the mainplanes (done to combat heavy dihedral effect occurring at the wings), revised wing elements (including a detaching feature to facilitate transport), improved cockpit comfort, an ejection seat and cockpit armoring. Despite these qualities being added the aircraft's performance sank in response which negated modifying any other of the original prototypes in similar fashion.
A new turbojet model of the RD-10 was introduced to the product line in mid-1947 which produced the "La-150F" prototype designation. This engine offered an increase in base power with afterburner capability but it was not enough to save the program for oscillation issues and other limitations continued to restrict handling and performance. By this time, the product had been surpassed by other competing types which left the La-150 to be cancelled.
The La-152 became a related, though highly modified, off-shoot of the La-150 program. Four of this model were produced but this line, too, fell by the wayside amidst the glut of competing Soviet designs.
The La-150 was known in the West, particularly by the United States military, under the designation of "Type 3". The La-152 would followed as the "Type 4".
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
30.9 ft (9.42 m)
26.9 ft (8.20 m)
8.5 ft (2.60 m)
4,751 lb (2,155 kg)
6,614 lb (3,000 kg)
+1,863 lb (+845 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Lavochkin La-150 production variant)
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