Spitfire and p39 vs LaGG
Captain Sapozhnikov, a pilot of 57th GIAP, flew the Spitfire, and Captain Aleksandr Pokryshkin, commander of 1st Squadron, 16th GIAP, flew the Airacobra. A factory test pilot flew the LaGG. Here is how Pokryshkin describes this aerial combat in his memoirs:
'The conditions for the battle were complicated: our “enemies” were to fly toward Sapozhnikov and me on unknown azimuths. Thus, even before the start of the fight in high-speed turns, they had favorable positions. But the bosses had decided, and we did not argue with them. We had to find a way out in the course of the fight.
The leadership arrived. I flew in the first pair. I gained the established altitude and by rocking my wings gave the command to initiate the fight in horizontal maneuvers. I energetically put my aircraft into a turning climb and, allowing the LaGG to approach to a dangerous distance, executed a sudden roll with decrease in altitude. The LaGG-3 passed by above me and I immediately set up on his tail and got him in my sight. No matter what way the LaGG turned, I kept him in my sight. Several minutes went by and the result was obvious.
Then we examined how the LaGG would handle itself in vertical maneuvers. I threw my aircraft into a steep dive and, having gained velocity, departed into a zoom. At the apex I placed my airplane on its wing. The LaGG was making a combat turn below me. It was relatively easy for me to catch him in the tail and fix him in my sight, parrying all attempts of this ‘enemy’ to avoid my attack.
Sapozhnikov also won his fight in turning and climbing, but fought to a draw in vertical maneuvers. After coming out of a dive, the LaGG-3 stayed close to me in a high-speed pass over the airfield, but the Spitfire, which had weaker diving capabilities, fell significantly behind us.'