TYPE: Fighter aircraft
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only
POWER PLANT: One Shvetsov Ash-82FN radial engine with a two-stage supercharger and fuel injection, rated at 1,850 hp
PERFORMANCE: 428 mph
COMMENT: The Lavochkin La-9 was a Soviet fighter aircraft produced shortly after World War II. It was a piston engined aircraft produced at the start of the turbojet age.
The Lavochkin La-9 represents a further development of the Lavochlin 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 an 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 the La-130 was evenly matched with the La-7 but was inferior to the Yakovlev Yak-3 in horizontal flight. 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.
Like other aircraft designers at the time, Lavochkin was experimenting with using turbojet propulsion to augment performance of piston-engined fighters. One such attempt was Lavochkin La-130R with an RD-1Kh3 liquid-fuel rocket engine in addition to the Shvetsov Ash-82FN piston power plant. The project was cancelled in 1946 before the prototype could be assembled.
A more unusual approach was Lavochkin 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 (a German Argus As 014 engine which powered the Fieseler Fi 103, V-1 flying bomb, probably taken from surplus Luftwaffe stocks) under each wing. The 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.
One of the recommendations from the government testing of Lavochkin La-9 prototype was to further develop it into a long-range escort fighter, the Lavochkin La-11 (Ref.: 24).