Hobby Boss 1/48 Yak-38 Forger A

KIT #: 80362
PRICE: $40.99 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New Tool Kit


The Yakovlev Yak-38 (Russian: Як-38, NATO reporting name: Forger) was Soviet Naval Aviation's first and only operational VTOL strike fighter aircraft, in addition to being its first operational carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft. It was developed specifically for and served exclusively on the Kiev class aircraft carriers.

The first drawings showed a supersonic aircraft strongly resembling the Hawker P.1154 in study in the United Kingdom but with two R27-300 engines. Supersonic performances would have implied many difficulties of development, and it was decided to initially develop a relatively simple aircraft limited to Mach 0.95. Although the Yak-38 and Yak-38M were developed from the land-based Yakovlev Yak-36, the aircraft had almost nothing in common.

The prototype VM-01 was finished on 14 April 1970. Though outwardly similar to the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier, it followed a completely different configuration. Together with a vectorable thrust engine in the rear used during flight, two smaller, and less powerful, engines were housed in the front portion of the fuselage and used purely for take-off and landing. The aircraft used a similar layout to the German experimental VTOL strike fighter, the VFW VAK 191B, which began development in 1961, and the contemporary Dassault Mirage IIIV.

The Yak 36 was sent for tests in May and June 1970. Mikhail Deksbakh carried out the first flight of the VM-02 in conventional flight mode on 15 January 1971. The VM-03 made its first flight in short take-off mode on 25 May 1971. Sea trials aboard the aircraft carrier ("aviation cruiser") Kiev were observed in 1975. A total of 231 Yak-38 aircraft were produced, including 38 two-seat trainers (Yak-38U). These were based on the four Kievs.

The Yak-38 used a hands-free landing system. The aircraft could negotiate a telemetry/telecommand link with a computer system in the aircraft carrier which would allow it to be guided onto the deck with no interaction from the pilot.

Another advanced feature that Yak-38 possessed was an automatic ejection seat. When one of the take-off engines failed, once the aircraft rolled past 60 degrees the pilot was automatically ejected from the aircraft. The take-off engines did suffer some reliability problems while in service and this system saved the lives of a few Russian naval aviators.


There have been Yak-38 kits in both 1/100 and 1/72, but this is the first, to my knowledge, of one in 1/48 scale. Hobby Boss has done a superb job molding this one with their usual fine engraved detailing and well done rivet work. As modern jet aircraft go, this one does not look to be overly complex and offers a number of features.

The cockpit has a well done bang seat with belt detail molded in place. There is a decal to fit on the instrument panel, which is fine with most modelers. The kit has a separate nose section, perhaps a foretaste of an upcoming two seat version. Thanks to its long fuselage, no nose weight should be required. The nose gear well builds up from several pieces and fits under the cockpit tub. It looks as if the nose gear can be left out until later in the build after painting.

As with the Harrier, this one has variable exhaust vanes in the back. Unlike the Harrier, the aircraft uses lift engines in the front for vertical take off. There is a choice of upper engine doors; one with open vanes and the other closed. To help prevent FOD, there are two large strakes on either side of the engines. The kit also includes a separate canopy and windscreen, though there is no canopy actuating arm and it appears as if it is supposed to be built with it closed.

Another option is the ability to fold the wings. Like the earlier-reviewed Demon, the builder needs to cut apart the ends of the wings. There are rib inserts to take care of the opening, but I do not see any hinges to help keep the wings up in this position. In fact, the instructions show the entire build with the wings extended. There are four hardpoints on the Yak-38 and one is provided two different size rocket pods, a pair of gun pods and a pair of missiles to place on the pylons. Apparently one can put any one of these on any of the pylons

Markings are provided for three aircraft. As it quite common with Hobby Boss, no unit information is provided. One is the box art scheme of a medium blue over a greenish shade. A greys scheme of medium grey over a darker grey is the second scheme. The third option is a wraparound scheme of tan with large areas of green and brown. No underside view of this scheme is provided and looking at the upper and left side views, there are several disconnects as to how the scheme is done so you can pretty well wing it. The very large decal sheet is well printed and while the yellows still look a bit light to me, they will undoubtedly darken on application. A nicely done stencil suite is provided. Color information is with a variety of paint company options.


Another very nice and somewhat unexpected kit from Hobby Boss. They are certainly creating a number of interesting subjects and this just adds to them. A fine looking kit that will make for a most interesting model when completed.



September 2011 

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