A student of Tupolev, he created the airplanes on which Chkalov and Maresyev performed their feats. The whole country was proud of the designer Semyon Lavochkin, not knowing that he was Shlema Magaziner from Petrovichi.
The aircraft designer Lavochkin is one of the most secret figures in the Soviet military-industrial complex. The beginning of his official biography, for example, looks like this: "Semyon Alekseevich Lavochkin was born on September 11, 1900 in Smolensk in the family of a teacher who taught at the city gymnasium until 1917". However, a different picture emerges from the fragmentary testimonies of fellow countrymen.
Before the revolution in the Smolensk region there was a thriving trading place Petrovichi - among other things, it is known for the fact that the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov was born there. A family of Magaziners lived in Petrovichi, who after the revolution became the Lavochkin family. One of the representatives of the family - Alter Lavochkin - was an extremely literate person, he spoke both Yiddish and Hebrew. In the community his name was Der Magid, that is, "preacher", and not because he was a teacher in the city gymnasium, but because he was a melamed. He and his wife Gita Savelyevna had three children: the eldest son was named Simon, or Shlomo, his brother was Yakov, and his sister was Khaya. Khaya got married and stayed to live in Petrovichi, nothing is known about the fate of Yakov, but Simon Alterovich became Semyon Alekseevich Lavochkin.
At the city school in the town of Roslavl, Semyon studied well, which allowed him - despite the 5% norm for Jews - to enter the Kursk gymnasium. He graduated with a gold medal in the turbulent year 1917. While serving in the Red Army during the Civil War, Lavochkin became interested in cars, helped mechanics from an armored car company to repair engines. Noticing the talent of the young man, the command at the end of 1920 gave him a referral to the Moscow Higher Technical School - today the Moscow State Technical University. Bauman.
During his studies, Lavochkin moonlighted as a draftsman in various design bureaus. During the NEP years, students were willingly hired for such work: they could be paid less. The young man also spent a lot of time in the aerodynamic laboratory of the Moscow Higher Technical School, which was headed by Andrei Tupolev. That is why Lavochkin completed his pre-diploma practice at the plant, where the first Soviet Tupolev bomber, the TB-1, was introduced into serial production. Then Semyon took up seaplanes, so beloved by his scientific mentor.
In the 1920s and 1930s, naval aviation was actively developing all over the world. To develop Soviet flying boats, French aviation engineers were invited to Moscow in 1928: one of them, Paul Hémé Richard, headed the design bureau of the experimental naval aircraft industry of the All-Union Aviation Association. Lavochkin got there - to head the section of aerodynamic calculations for new aircraft designs. He worked no worse than the French, but received ten times less.
In 1931, Richard left the USSR, leaving behind his employee Henri Laville. Lavochkin became his assistant. Together they developed the DI-4 all-metal two-seater fighter. The plane did not go into production, their division was disbanded, and all employees were transferred to the Central Design Bureau. There Lavochkin worked in the brigade of Vladimir Chizhevsky, which created the BOK-1 fighter plane. It was intended for flights at high altitudes, therefore it was also called "stratospheric".
In 1935, Semyon Lavochkin got the opportunity to make his first plane together with Sergei Lyushin. However, the LL fighter came out unsuccessful, the project was closed. But after the failure came good luck. Tupolev offered the former student an administrative job at the headquarters of the aviation industry of the People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry.And in May 1939, when Europe already smelled of an impending war, a Special Design Bureau-301 was created in the USSR with the task of developing a modern fighter aircraft as soon as possible. The Spanish Civil War showed that the existing Soviet fighters were not able to adequately withstand the newest German machines from Messerschmitt. The situation needed to be corrected.
A triumvirate worked on the project of the Soviet aircraft - the head of the OKB Vladimir Gorbunov and the chief aircraft designers for aircraft construction Mikhail Gudkov and Semyon Lavochkin. The latter proposed to make the aircraft not from aluminum, which the country then lacked, but from delta wood - wood veneer impregnated with resins. For a long time Comrade Stalin could not believe that wood, even if specially processed, did not burn. He was shown a sample of the material, and he kept trying to light it from the fire of his pipe. It didn't work out.
The plane, created by Lavochkin, Gorbunov and Gudkov, was named after the first letters of their names - LaGG-3. All three were awarded the Stalin Prize for 1940. For Lavochkin, this award was the first of four. The new aircraft took part in the May 1940 air parade, after which it was launched into mass production at all aircraft factories in the country. Lavochkin, on the other hand, took up the improvement of LaGG-3 and the development of new fighters - La-5, La-5FN, La-7.
The appearance at the front of the La-5 allowed the Soviet pilots to fight on equal terms with the Nazis. La-7 is considered by many experts to be the best fighter of the Second World War. On the La-5FN plane, the legendary Alexei Maresyev shot down seven enemy vehicles, who returned to duty after amputation of the legs. Three times Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Kozhedub, who destroyed 62 enemy aircraft during the war years, flew all his combat missions on La-5 and La-7 aircraft. Many other Soviet aces pilots received Hero Stars while flying on the La series aircraft.
In total, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, 22.5 thousand fighters designed by Lavochkin rolled off the conveyors of aviation plants. For outstanding services in the creation of aviation technology in wartime conditions, he was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. Later he will receive this title again - for his participation in the creation of the S-25 "Berkut" anti-aircraft missile system, designed to defend Moscow from possible attacks by enemy aircraft.
In general, almost every project that Lavochkin worked on was an attempt to open up new opportunities for military aviation. In 1947, under his leadership, the first Soviet jet fighter La-160, which reached the speed of sound, was created. Its long-range fighters La-11 proved to be excellent in the Korean War of the 1950s-53s. And his unmanned target aircraft La-17 was produced for almost 40 years - until 1993.
It was at the Lavochkin Design Bureau that the S-75 Dvina anti-aircraft missile system was created, which shot down on May 1, 1960 in the Sverdlovsk region an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft under the control of pilot Gary Powers. In the last years of his life, Lavochkin worked on the world's first supersonic two-stage intercontinental ground-based cruise missile "Tempest". The rocket was equipped with an astronavigation system and could carry an atomic bomb. In 1957, its tests began.
And in June 1960, Lavochkin went to Kazakhstan to test the new Dal air defense system at the Sary-Shagan training ground. He went there, not listening to the doctors, who warned that fever was contraindicated for him with a sick heart. After a successful day of testing on the night of June 8-9, Major General Lavochkin died of a heart attack. He was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow. At the end of the same year, by order of Khrushchev, the cruise missile project was closed, which was many years ahead of its time.