Recent Updates and Discoveries, 2020

Research is a frustrating business at times. Well, in fact most of the time! It is the nature of such work that new discoveries are made replacing the old, and long-held theories, however warmly regarded, die an ignominious death. Therefore, here are some of the more recent major changes to VVS aviation studies and research which over-turn previous work.

Popkov's "01"

For years and years I have maintained that HSU Popkov's rather famous La-5 "White 01" was an La-5F model. This was so because every analysis of the existing photograph [showing him by the cockpit] did not reveal any hint of the dural exhaust plate which is to be found on later -FN models. No plate, no -FN; ergo, an La-5F. I could not count the number of reproductions I have seen of this image over the years, and all of those were identical.

The original Popkov "01", as seen ubiquitously in print
The new image

However, a new version of this photograph has now emerged, and under contrast/level investigation it does seem to show the dreaded La-5FN exhaust plate [see arrow]. This new image is interesting, in that it suggests that the traditional picture has been 'cleaned up' quite a bit. In the course of that "image improvement" has this original detail been obliterated? It certainly would not be the first time-- many period images are (inadvertently) sabotaged in this way by amateur photo manipulation. Persons want to display a better image, and in the process destroy the evidence contained in the original.

Therefore, unless the new image is a fake-- and it would have to be a very good one in that case-- then we must now conclude that we are indeed looking at an La-5FN aircraft. But, that revelation throws up more questions than it answers. For example, what sort of -FN is this: an early model, a massovii, which factory built it? If we are to accurately model or draw this machine in profile we need to know these details; and we do not. Furthermore, what happened to this aircraft during the war? Why did Popkov receive another La-5FN, "White 75"? Was "01" scrapped, sent to a flight school, damaged?

"More Research Required".

Popkov's "White 01" depicted as an La-5FN massovii.

Rechkalov's Last P-39

Rechkalov's last wartime P-39, s/n 42547, is virtually always quoted as having been a -Q model. A lack of familiarity on my own part with USAAF aircraft and their serial numbers led me to fail to question this claim to the required degree. Those better in the know might have recognised that this serial cannot relate to a P-39Q, after all. However, that said a new and most excellent image has turned up of this machine, and now at last we can be confident of the various details in view.

The aircraft is, as can be seen now, a P-39N-2 model. With wing guns still installed, no less.

"White RGA", Rechkalov's last P-39N
** Rechkalov's P-39 Aircraft article **

Breakthrough on the Il-2

All researchers working on the Ilyushin Il-2 are aware of the difficulty in locating a copy of later versions of the Tekhnicheskoe Opisanie (Technical Manual). Curiously, most of the surviving versions are from 1941-43, thus showing the original straight wing. Well, with the greatest fortune the author has finally located this:

Inside we find a most critical chart, which is this one:

Seemingly innocuous enough, in fact this table gives the placement of the outer wing ribs precisely in relation to the Mean Aerodynamic Chord (MAC). That means that we may now-- for the first time-- accurately draw the shape of the so strelkoi ('arrow') wing once and for all. A great day in Il-2 research!

Yak-?? 930

This attractive Yak has been a matter of contention for years.

Many felt certain that this was a late Moscow built Yak-7B model, but most versions of the photograph depicting this example have the extreme left edge cropped-- thus hiding the wing tip. The upper cowling suffers from an unfortunate light glare, and so with these and other problems on the image, some contended that must be looking at a Yak-9.

However, a better example of the original photo has now been found and this includes the port wing tip. Today we can say without doubt that "930" is indeed a Yak-7B. Now if we could only work out the tactical number colour!  [A profile of this aircraft will appear in the Second Edition of Yakovlev Yak-7 In Profile & Scale].