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A LaGG-3 in Japan
Latest update on May 31, 2004
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During the spring of 1942, a Soviet pilot of a regiment based in Far East defected and made a wheels-up landing near Chiasmus, in  Manchukno (Manchuria); this was nominally an independent state, but in reality it was only a Japanese puppet. 
In fact, the aircraft was captured by Japaneses.
     
The Japaneses repaired the aircraft and started an evaluation flights cycle, whose supervisor was Major Yamamoto of the Army Test Center. These test were made from the Mutanchiang Air Base, in Manchuria. 
The Japanese test pilots were not satisfied with the LaGG-3's performances and flight characteristics; the difference in handling and wing load with A6M Zero and other typical Japanese fighters was enormous.

The aircraft was of 8th series, whose distinctive characteristics were:
 

  • it was the first version without two 7,62 mm ShKAS and the relative bulges; 
  • the armament consisted of one 12,7 mm syncronized UBS on the left side, and an VYa-23 23 mm gun firing through the spinner shaft (this was the weapon of the captured example); on most examples, the gun was a ShVAK 20 mm gun (the VYa-23 was recognizable for its slightly more protruding barrel);
  • the upper engine cowling panel was simplified in comparison with earlier types, and was similar to that of the series 11, but it had dzud locks (as on earlier types) instead of fast locks (typical of 11th series and later);
  • the lower cowling panel was with fast locks and identical to that of 11th series:
  • the antenna mast was of tall type, as both on 4th and 11th series;
  • the rudder had one balance weight, as on 4th and 11th series;
  • the tail wheel was fixed;
  • there were not slats;
  • the spinner was of early, sharp style.

Examining the photos of the captured aircraft, we see that:
 
  • the wingroot supercharger intakes were modified, probably because of use of non-original pieces during the repairs; their profile is different and longer than usual;
  • there are small recesses  in front of the supercharger air intakes  on the engine cowling sides;
  • the part of the landing gear door covering the main wheels was removed;
  • the pitot, larger than the original one, was of Japanese origin;
  • the propeller, having been repaired, was natural metal with a red stripe close the extremity, instead than black; this was a typical Japanese use;
  • this image looks to show a different shape of the fuselage camo bands near the cockpit, if compared with the first one; perhaps the aircraft was repainted in some way between two shots;
  • the camo shows three colors, of which the darkest was likely black painted by Japanese over the stars, codes and repainted areas; the medium color was probably Soviet faded black or dark green; the lighter upper color was obviously AII green, plus probably some undistinguishable Japanese repainting;
  • the darkest color covered the places previously occupied by red stars and, perhaps, by some number;
  • the hinomarus on the fuselage had a particularly wide white outline; 
  • the hinomarus under the wing surfaces were large and without any outline; 
  • the undersurfaces were AII light blue, perhaps with some repaintings with some Japanese light blue grey;
  • a yellow identification band was painted on the wing leading edge; this band looks interrupted, at least on the right side, by a dark stripe, probably in correspondance with the junction with the piece of the new air intake; the band doesn't appear on all photos.
This image shows not yellow bands, and creates some doubts because its camo scheme looks hard to be harmonized with other photos. 
The dark right wingroot and tail plan are probaby due to shadows.
A strange black repainting covers the right wing hinomaru; probably some damage on the wing was identified and repaired after hinomaru application; I suppose that the hinomaru was later restored.
The pitot probe isn't visible too.
A rough 5 looks visible on the rudder, but this doesn't appear on other images.
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