26 December 1948

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The Lavochkin La-176 (NPO Lavochkin)

26 December 1948: Test pilot Ivan Evgrafovich Federov (Ива́н Евгра́фович Фёдоров ) became the first pilot in the Soviet Union to exceed Mach 1 when he flew the Lavochkin La-176 in a dive from 9,050 meters (29,692 feet) to 6,000 meters (19,685 feet).

It was first thought that the La-176’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned, but during subsequent testing conducted the first week of January 1949, Federov repeated the dive and six times reached Mach 1.02.

The La-176 was destroyed when its canopy failed during supersonic flight. Test pilot I.V. Sokolovsky was killed.

Lavochkin La-176
Lavochkin La-176

The La-176 was a single-seat, single-engine fighter, derived from the earlier La-168. The leading edge of its wings and tail surfaces were swept at 45°. The fighter was 36 feet (10.973 meters) long with a wingspan of 28 feet, 2 inches (8.585 meters). It had an empty weight of 3,111 kilograms (6,858.6 pounds)  and loaded weight of 4,631 kilograms (10,210 pounds).

The La-176 was powered by a Klimov VK-1 centrifugal-flow turbojet, developed from the Rolls-Royce Nene. The British engines were reverse-engineered by Vladimir Yakovlevich Klimov and manufactured at Factory No. 45 in Moscow as the Klimov VK-1. The VK-1 used a single-stage centrifugal-flow compressor, 9 combustion chambers and a single-stage axial-flow turbine. It produced a maximum 26.5 kilonewtons of thrust (5,957 pounds of thrust). The VK-1 was 2.600 meters (8 feet, 6.4 inches) long, 1.300 meters (4 feet, 3.2 inches) in diameter, and weighed 872 kilograms (1,922 pounds).

The swept-wing jet had a maximum speed of 648 miles per hour (1,042.85 kilometers per hour) and a range of 621 miles (999.4 kilometers).

Armament consisted of one Nudelman N-37 30 mm cannon and two Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23 mm cannon.

Lavochkin La-176
Lavochkin La-176

Colonel Ivan Evgrafovich Federov (23 February 1914–12 February 2011) was a Soviet Air Force fighter pilot who fought in the Spanish civil war (where he was known as Diablo Rojo, the Red Devil), the Russo-Finish War, World War II, China and Korea. He may have shot down as many as 135 enemy airplanes. He was personally awarded the Iron Cross by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany, in 1941. His Soviet Awards include Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin, Order of Alexander Nevsky, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Patriotic War 1st Degree, Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Degree, and Order of the Red Star.

Colonel Ivan Yegrafovich Federov, Soviet Air Force.
Colonel Ivan Yegrafovich Federov, Soviet Air Force. Hero of the Soviet Union.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 thoughts on “26 December 1948

  1. Uhm, Bryan, i stumbled across mr Federov a couple of years ago, so i did some research on him.
    There is no mention on him for having an iron cross awarded to him at all, nevermind by Hitler himself…

    Hitler personally NEVER issued “simple” EK II (Iron Cross 2nd class), only much higher classes (Ritterkreuz et al).

    Also in the first half of 1941 he was definitely in east russia and china (there are official documents to that, because earlier than me someone digged a bit deeper into mr Federovs claims), and he only came back to the western part of russia in 1942, long after operation barbarossa had started.

    Then 135 claims is totally off the scale (Kozhedub had “only” ~60!), a mere 11 were attested.
    He even was publicly (!) lambasted by former fellow pilots (Mikoyan and Shcherbakov eg) for his extreme overclaiming!

    He was known for being quite a boastful man all of his life (and a heavy drinker, too), so he might have achieved the first russian supersonic flight in a dive, but other than that i take anything else with more than one grain of salt. 😉

  2. Interesting design on this LA-176 with the horizontal stabilizer/elevator located in proximity with the rudder. The rudder must have very limited throw.

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