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Semyon Lavochkin

Semyon Lavochkin

Semyon Lavochkin

The destiny of one of three fighters put into series-production in the Soviet Union before the Second World War was unusual. Vladimir Gorbunov was chief of one of the departments of the People's Commissariat of the Aircraft Industry and because of his position took part in many meetings and was well informed of the situation in the aircraft industry. His concept, forwarded in 1939, was an air-craft having an all-wood structure, realising the necessity of greatly increasing the output of combat fighters as soon as possible, rind the limitations that might be imposed on this process by the lack of aluminium. 'Even if only one small grove of trees is left in Russia.' thought Gorbunov, 'even then we shall be able to build fighters.'

The main contributor to the design study for the new aircraft was Semyon Lavochkin, who carried out the work under Gorbunov's direction. He had already qained extensive practical experience when working under of P Rishar, Vladimir Chizhevsky and Dmitry Grigorovich.

During the preparation of conceptual studies one more engineer from the department of the People's Commissariat of the Aircraft Industry, Mikhail Gudkov, joined in the research, thus creating a triumvirate of aircraft designers. In the spring of 1939 the group reported the results of their work to the then People's Commissar of the Aircraft Industry, M Kaganovich, who is often criticised, not without good reason, for making incompetent decisions. This time he very quickly realised the advantages of the design. After receiving his approval, Vladimir Gorbunov, Mikhail Gudkov and Semyon Lavochkin were appointed the heads of a newly established Opytno Konstmktorskoye Byuro (OKB - experimental design bureau) in May 1939.