Wings of the Red Star Volume II – Yak-38 Forger
This article is part of a series:
The Yak-38 Forger was the Soviet Union’s take on how a VTOL aircraft should operate. It was derived from the experimental Yak-36 which like the Harrier didn’t rely on supplimental lift engines. It used two Tumansky turbojets for lift and forward flight. This limited its lift capability to the two exhaust streams versus the Harrier’s four. The Yak-36 was stabilized by reaction control nozzles but the forward nozzle was located out on a boom in fron of the aircraft.
The production Yak-38 utilized two dedicated lift engines in the forward fuselage in addition to the normal flight engine which also had rotating nozzles for providing lift. Not the best solution for the utilization of space but it worked. This did reap a side benefit though. Since the Forger didn’t require the huge intakes the Harrier needed and the drag associated with them it could go supersonic (just) in level flight if carrying no stores. Not much use tactically, but it was probably a nice bragging right. Probably the neatest trick the Forger possesed was the system to automatically eject the pilot. If when the hover configuration if the aircraft pitched or rolled beyond preset limits the pilot would be ejected. The oddest thing given that the wingspan is close to the F-104 is that the Forger had folding wings. There is a nice video (in Russian) on the history is on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MGoUJQ2cVs
The kit by Hobby Boss is the first in 1/48 and it is quite nice. The fit of the parts is excellent and all the bits ‘n bobs seem to be included (Including one very important piece of equipment I see I left off!) when compared to the references in Yefim Gordon’s book on the subject. The color schemes provided are the blue one I’ve always known about and a grey one I wasn’t aware of. Care must be taken when attaching the stores. The rocket pods setup mounts the smaller pod inboard in order to clear the main gear. I initially made the mistake of mounting the larger one inboard because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.
For the blue and green I ended up using MM medium green FS34102 and Blue Angel Blue as these looked pretty close to my eye to how they looked in service. Hobby Boss also makes the two seat variant as well.
5 additional images. Click to enlarge.