Schemes for the Lavochkin La-7
Three-Gun Model

With the release of Eduard's delightful new La-7 in 1:72 scale, the attention of many modelers has turned to this outstanding aircraft. Our attention, too, has been caught, and we would like to contribute to the excitement surrounding this new model kit.

The Eduard kit comes with sufficient parts to build the three-gun La-7 variant. However, no three-gun marking schemes exist on the current decal sheet (or, at least none that we have seen). We think that many modelers must be itching to complete one of these 'superlative' La-7s (I am!).

Therefore, here we present several three-gun schemes for La-7s of the GPW. Most of these should be new and will be unknown to our readers, and a few of these are as-yet unpublished material and shown here for the first time.
La-7 "White 62"
St.Lt. E. I. Kholzunov
ca. Spring 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-12/-7

"White 62" was the personal mount of Evgeniy Kholzunov during the spring of 1945. Kholzunov's original La-7 was lost to a landing mishap during the previous winter (caused, it was reported, by wing spar problems), but Kholzunov escaped unharmed. Evegeniy was the younger brother of the famous 32 GIAP (and 434 IAP before that) ace A.I. Kholzunov who wrote a glorious chapter over Stalingrad, and who tragically lost his life during the fighting over Kursk.

This aircraft wore what looks to have a been a very typical NKAP style camouflage scheme in the usual AMT lacquers. Everything about the finish is quite normal, in fact, and La-7 badges were worn both on the cowling and on the rudder. The numeral "62" looks to be a normal Gor'ki style font, and the national insignia were Victory type markings in the normal six positions. Twin diagonal stripes were seen frequently on La-7s of the 32 GIAP, and this machine was no exception to that observation.

"White 62" was a prototypical La-7 in many respects, and it's finish and colouration is quite classic.
La-7 "White 53"
Kpt. Loskov ?
156 IAP
ca. Spring 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-7

This aircraft has been previously identified with several pilots in the 156 IAP, and for years the citation has been given to Lt. Chemoyadin of that regiment. However, some new information unearthed by M. Momentov would suggest that "53" is the aircraft of Igor Loskov, a talented pilot who was subjected to disciplinary action by the regimental commander Dolgyushin during 1945, and who subsequently left the Air Force. Little is currently known of Loskov, except that he was regarded for excellent flying, a poor military attitude, and that he scored 12 confirmed victories during the Danzig Pocket fighting in 1945.

"White 53" is shown in a poor photograph within the TsAMO collection, but it looks to have been wearing a single-colour AMT-11 upper surface finish. The numeral style was somewhat unusual, and the machine looked to have been quite worn with use in the picture. The forward cowling and spinner looked to have been in red, and the national markings were of the white bordered variety. The La-7 badges were visible, as shown, in both usual locations.

A better picture of this machine is supposed to reside within the reorganized modern collection at the RGVA, and attempts are currently underway to recover this photograph.
La-7 "White 11"
pilot u/k
September 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-12/-7

La-7 "White 11" was active with the Pacific Fleet forces during the Manchurian Campaign of 1945. The aircraft served with the 17 IAP, and was shown in three pictures within the collection of the Vladivostock Victory Museum. Item 192-3a showed a close-up of the aircraft's pilot, but alas his name is not known, and there was no caption available for this view.

"White 11" was finished in a typical NKAP type scheme in AMT-11/-12/-7, but with the 'older' lower colour demarcation style (where blue colour is seen on the bottom of the rudder). The aircraft's appearance suggests some refinishing. The fin and rudder had been given some delightful trim in white, bordered with thin red stripes. The cowling's port panel seems to have been the subject of severe repainting, and this not in a particularly careful manner. The La-7 badges have been obscured in both places as a result of this work, and the numeral is quite strange looking and does not seem to suggest the original application appearance at the factory. White border national markings were worn in six positions, and the spinner's colour is a matter of speculation. I have chosen here to show AMT-11, but really it is an open question; white, yellow, polished metal, and other options have been mooted.
La-7 "White 22"
Mayor D. M. Sharov
ca. Spring 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-12/-7

One of the first photographs one might see upon entering the main hall at the Park Pobedi exhibit from the GMA collection was this photograph of "White 22" on the left wall (forth from top). The picture was lovingly kept in a brass 'naval motif' type frame, which apparently was stolen (!) during 1990. Hero of the Soviet Union Sharov was a deputy to regimental commander Golubev, and by 1945 had assumed many administrative duties. He completed the War with 14+3 confirmed victories and was killed in a tragic crash in 1952.

"22" is fascinating in its own way, and also in what it might possibly tell us about Golubev's "33" [see below]. A number of three-gun La-7s were photographed in the 4 GIAP, and of these several show a dark outline trim colour to the numeral on the fuselage. I, myself, have drawn this before in various dark-ish blue colours, but a better view of "33" had convinced me that black is a more likely option. The camouflage was shown well in this photo, and is clearly one of the 'central disc' schemes from Zavod 381. The rest of the finish is very typical, and Victory type national markings were worn.

Sharov's La-7 wore a small Guard's emblem on the port cowling below the La-7 badge. The spinner looked to have been painted white, as was rather typical in the 4 GIAP KBF. The aircraft was not particularly worn, and exhibited no other unusual features.
La-7 "White 33"
Podpolk. V. F. Golubev
ca. Spring 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-12/-7

Hero of the Soviet Union Vasiliy F. Golubev was one of the outstanding figures of Soviet Naval aviation during the Great Patriotic War. His leadership and flying acumen were legendary, and rightly so. Golubev's personal score remains one of the most serious problems in current VVS research, and for various reasons his final tally is a source of impenetrable confusion. The best estimates to-date for Golubev's score are for 51 total claims, with the mix of personal and shared victories being variously distributed according to the researcher of record (i.e. 16+35; 31+20; 39+12). Golubev mentions, himself, in his book "Krilya Krepnut v Boyu" some shared claims during 1945 (presumably in this aircraft), but none of these are recognized in any Navy documents relating to him; his last official claim was accepted on 28 June 1944. Seemingly, Golubev's exact score will remain a mystery for years to come.

Perhaps fittingly, Golubev's La-7 is also a mystery. The aircraft is known, really, only from one small photograph of Golubev (with the machine just behind). Versions of this picture exist in several collections; the example in the TsDAK is particularly bad. However, author Vestsik has released a much better view of this classic shot, and some new details can be seen here.

First, allow me express my appreciation for how hard it is to work from such a limited photograph. However, with respect to the colour profile appearing in the MBI book, we can see that the details just do not match the appearance of the aircraft in the photo; one just cannot agree, here. I must also caution that my own profile is exceedingly speculative, even if it does agree with the tiny area visible in the picture.

In the first case, the dark/light colour demarcation agrees only with one camouflage application--the Zavod 381 scheme--and looks to have been reversed in the colour profile which has attempted to show a sort-of NKAP application. The former is certainly correct; it is also interesting that Sharov's three-gun La-7 is wearing the same scheme. I agree with the MBI artist that the border of the numeral is probably black; this seems logically consistent with the appearance. Unless a better view is available (and I have never heard of such), the white flash on the fin/rudder must be pure speculation. "White 22" wears no such feature, but such was occasionally seen in the 4 GIAP. Similarly, the presence of the La-7 badges, the tail star, and all other markings are matters of educated guesswork minus better information. A white spinner seems likely, but again one cannot be certain. As well, might there have been a small Guard's emblem, as on "22"? All very interesting questions.
Of course, the central issue here is, 'what is the tactical number of this machine'? The idea has always been that is must be "33", like so many of Golubev's aircraft. Well, a more detail examination of this picture shows that this aircraft is certainly not "33". The number of 'kill stars' would suggest it is Golubev's, perhaps. But, the second numeral is rounded at the top, like a "0" or "9" or such. And is the first number a "3"? Perhaps, but maybe also a "7". The answer is not known. Here I have drawn the machine as "70", but it could be many other possibilities, as well.  
La-7 "White 70"
pilot u/k
ca. Spring 1945
Camouflage Colors: AMT-11/-12/-7

La-7 "White 70" was photographed in service with the hard worked 2 GIAP during the vicious fighting around Berlin during the spring of 1945. This photograph was present [when I saw it, anyway] in the small reception office at the GMA, just next to the desk with the Guestbook. The museum staff stated that the pictures in this office were occasionally displayed in the main hall; probably rotating with other pictures (there were many; I suspect they all would not fit one the wall at once). The photo was mounted in a thick frame which had written on the back in pencil, "2 GIAP -- Berlin  IV-45", and a code "013".

"70" looks to have been another example of the Zavod 381 'central round' scheme. The application of the colours was quite classic, but some oddities could be seen on the finish. In the first case, the cowl bands on the upper surface (and not the lower) camouflage looked to have been painted over; a very strange practice for the 1945 time-frame. As well, no La-7 badge could be seen on the cowl; perhaps it was repainted at some time? An La-7 badge was present on the rudder, but no national marking was seen on the fin; again, most odd. The numeral "70" looked to have been very nicely trimmed in thin red, as seen at the factory quite often, and here there is no reason to suspect any painting outside of the time of manufacture.

An inscription was seen to port in white, this stating "Donskoy Pioner". Many of the 2 GIAP's La-7s were indeed dedication machines; one eskadrilya (2nd) was marked entirely with "Mongol'skiy Arat". The 'kill' markings on the fuselage looked to have been variously coloured; any meaning for this practice is certainly unknown. The spinner was well visible in the view, and looked to have been painted white with a red tip.

"White 70" was quite worn and dirty in the GMA photograph, as one might expect given the 2 GIAP's actions at this time. Sadly, no information is available on the pilot of this interesting La-7.