By Milos Vestsik
MBI Publishing House, ©2000
The La-7 is arguably the best fighter of the Second World War, but so little is known about it, mainly because of its nationality. Developed from the successful La-5FN (which in turn was developed from the LaGG-3), the La-7 enjoyed some outstanding success on the battlefield, easily more than a match for both the Fw190 and Bf109.
This latest title from MBI does an excellent job of detailing this plane, with an airframe history section, a unit history section, line drawings, color profiles, and photos of both operational La-7s and restored museum examples. The color profiles are well done and do a fairly decent job of showing off the colors of the La-7. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe every profiled plane is also covered elsewhere in the book with at least one photo. The line drawings are well done and are probably the most accurate La-7 drawings currently available.
The histories are the only odd part in this book. The operational history is an astounding bit of research, covering all the Soviet units that flew the La-7 and some of their many successes. My only complaint about this part is that, after reading through it, I ascertained that the La-7 shot down hundreds and hundreds of Fw190s & Bf109s, but only lost one La-7. After talking to a local VVS expert, though, perhaps this isn't as bad as I initially thought, as he gives numbers in the order of around 3100 victories for around 115 combat losses in the La-7. Clearly this plane performed very well to have its losses limited to such a low number.
With this well-researched operational history in this book, it is odd that the airframe history included many myths and misconceptions that have been around for years. Considering how much work had to have gone into researching the operational history, it is too bad that this section doesn't match up. If you want a very accurate accounting of the development of the La-7, I'd suggest picking up "Soviet Combat Aircraft, Vol.1" by Gordon and Khazanov. Their accounting is much better than what is in this title.
That said, I still highly recommend this book to any World War Two aviation enthusiast, mainly for the operational history. After reading book after book on how the Germans fought and flew during WW2, it is very refreshing to see a detailed and accurate accounting of some of the best VVS pilots flying the best fighter of the war. From a modeling point of view this book gives plenty of interesting schemes for your La-7 kit, which Gavia is announcing a new-tool 1/48 rendition on the last page of this book. All around this is well worth the price.