While the previous update, 5.106, was released just a few weeks ago, we are of course busy preparing for 5.107. It will bring further improvements to the career mode - new mission types will be available in more theaters of war, the amount of Luftwaffe presence in the Normandy and Rhineland missions will be reduced to better reflect the realities of the late war, and there will be other improvements. New aircraft will also be added to the sim - this time the Hanriot HD.1 and Nieuport 17 GBR (British) will be added to Flying Circus Vol.III Early Access, while the La-5F Series 38 will be released as a Collector Plane.
Their beta testing starts today, so the release should happen this month if there are no serious problems. We'll tell you about the new Circus planes in the next DD, and today we'd like to introduce a WWII plane for a change - the La-5F ser.38.
What makes it different from one of the first collector planes we ever released - the La-5 ser.8 and then the La-5FN?
The biggest visual change is the better-looking model, especially the cockpit - the first La-5 was released in our sim simultaneously with the Battle of Stalingrad module 10 years ago!
In terms of tactical characteristics, the La-5F was an evolutionary improvement of the La-5 on the way to the La-5FN. There weren't enough FN engines to power all the fighters produced until 1944, so the mass production of the La-5F was inevitable through 1943 with continued improvements here and there.
Gradually, the initial shock of the industry's evacuation to the East was overcome - while in 1942 many of the factories still had shortcomings, workers had to work in hastily built hangars that for a time didn't even have a roof, supply chains had to be rebuilt from scratch, and most resources were in short supply, the quality of production naturally took a back seat to quantity. As working conditions and resources improved, production standards gradually rose, resulting in, among other things, better aircraft: La-5s produced in summer-autumn 1943 became about 150 kg lighter.
The small design changes added up. For example, the elevator became slightly larger at the expense of the horizontal stabilizer surface. 3 fuel tanks were installed instead of 5 as on the FN - carrying less fuel (465 instead of 539 liters) was considered a good trade-off for saving the weight of the tanks and the fuel, as many pilots preferred to take less fuel anyway. While there weren't enough FN engines to go around, the M-82F engine became the norm. All this meant that the 1943 La-5F was a more dynamic aircraft than an early La-5.
The biggest improvement from the pilot's point of view was the new bubble top canopy with emergency jettison (even our La-5FN series didn't yet have emergency jettison). This eliminated one of their biggest fears, not being able to bail out of a burning aircraft, which caused many to fly with open cockpits, which severely limited the speed of their aircraft. Now they could put that fear to rest and enjoy the improved field of vision - the main reason why bubble top variants became the norm in all air forces later in the war, despite the increased drag they had compared to older canopy designs.
To sum up, the La-5F in the sim (work on the FM is not finished at the time of this writing) should be a bit more agile than the older La-5, turn a bit better than even the FN, offer a better field of view, and be slower than the FN in level flight and climb because of the more powerful engine of the latter. With a cockpit designed for today's standards, it will be a nice addition for the second half of the 1943 timeframe.