La-5 was created, because at the beginning of 1942 the overloaded airframe of LaGG-3 desperately needed more powerful engine. In the same time a powerful engine – ASh-82 – badly needed a suitable airframe (because of the delays or cancelations of other projects). Soviet Air Forces, in general, badly needed more modern fighters, because of heavy losses since the beginning of the war with Germany.

There was already a promising fighter, created for ASh-82 engine - Polikarpov's I-185. But there were no resources to open a massive production of another airplane. The real option was to modernize one of the designs actually produced.

It was a desperate step, under the time pressure, to fit the LaGG-3 fuselage, suited for the slim “V”-row engine, with the large, double row radial “monster”. Yakovlev already had tried it, but resigned. However, the engineers form Lavochkin bureau were more determined, and the LaGG-3 had more structural strength. Maybe, accidentally, the somewhat higher – comparing to Yak’s - undercarriage helped to reach the final goal: connect these two things into sturdy, simple, fighter plane. The new power gave it promising performance. In later versions it finally matched, and somewhat exceeded the German fighters at low-level altitudes.

More information about this design you can find, for example, on David Marsh site .

Here you can get complete model, presented on the pictures below.

Still pictures
This particular aircraft was one of the first La-5F, builded with new fuselage (enhanced rear visibility) most probably at the end of February or on March 1943. The inscription on its sides means, that it was one from the batch founded by the inhabitants of Gorky region (see the article by Massimo Tessitori ). It was used to October 1943 in 5th GIAP (Guardian Fighter Aviation Regiment) of the Soviet Air Force, on Eastern Ukraine. It was handed to an experienced and brave pilot - Ivan Sytov (Иван Сытов). He scored 26 personal victories and 4 in the group.
For the background, I have used a real photo form the area around Dniepr river, where this La-5F was used. Unfortunately, this photo has rather low resolution, and does not look good on a bigger picture (1240x1024). Anyway, if you are interesting in details, here it is. This and the next pictures were produced with internal renderer of Blender 2.45. In Blender 2.46 the particle system, used to model the grass, has been improved. If you try to render the same scene with the model, downloaded from this site, you will have similar picture, but with realistic grass!

Another view of the same airplane, at the same place - a corner of a grass airfield.
I have some doubts about the bicycles, because they were relatively rare in the pre-war Soviet Union. (Most of its soldiers could not ride a bike). But I have found some real photos of an airfield, circa '1944, with a motorcycle. So, finally, I have decided to not remove these bicycles from this picture. They add some kind of "human reality" to this rural landscape.

Here you can find the exact image (1240x1024). It is also too detailed for such background, and can be interested mainly for the enthusiasts, who are much more interesting in the cockpit, than in the general impression.
Below you can see some shots of the cockpit:

Looks a little bit unreal, like the screeen from a flight simulator, isn't it?


Looks a little bit unreal, like the screeen from a flight simulator, isn't it?

Never mind the unrealistic resolution of the background grass picture! Can you see the cockpit details? Notice the oxygen and the air bottles, connected to the fuselage, behind the seat.
The most difficult part in the cockpit was the radio equipment behind the pilot's seat. Why? Because there are no photos of this element, at all! Fortunately, at the end, I have obtained some support from Miroslav Bily (the editor of MBI's La-5 monography), and found a short war movie (on You Tube) about La-5. There was a two - second sequence with this equipment.
Finally - airborne!

Animations
Click on this picture, there is a 20 seconds of simple animation (size: 6 MB)!