YAK-38/Yak-38M Forger A
1:48 Hobby Boss
Dubbed the "Harrierski" by Western journalists, the Forger (NATO Reporting name) was the carrier borne development of the Yak-36, even though the two look almost nothing alike. It was the Soviet Navy's first operational Vertical Take off/Landing (VTOL) aircraft, and was designed exclusively for service on the huge Kiev class of carriers, first embarking in the summer of 1976.
Its service life was relatively short however, being withdrawn from carrier service in the mid 80s and transferred to land operations due to some long standing issues with humidity and its relatively short radius of operation. Final retirement was in 1991, with the majority of remaining airframes being transferred to storage, of which quite a few still remain as museum exhibits or memorials.
The Hobby Boss kit arrives in a small top opening box, with a painting of two Forgers hovering over a stretch of carrier deck in their standard blue/green finish. Inside are six sprues of parts in mid-grey styrene, and one of clear. Decals, painting guide and instructions finish the package, with all sprues being individually bagged and some parts wrapped in expanded styrene sheet for protection.
The aircraft looks like an unholy union between a Scimitar and Harrier, and is surprisingly long in the fuselage. The fuselage splits vertically, and the nose section forward of the intakes is separate, again split vertically. The cockpit is built up first from a reasonable number of parts, but because of its cramped nature, very little will be seen other than the ejection seat, which is built up from 9 parts and has moulded in seat belts. The cockpit an nosewheel bay are sandwiched into the nose section early in the build, but it should be possible to leave the nose gear off until later in the build, as it drops into a pair of holes in the roof of the bay.
The fuselage contains the forward lift fans, which are normally hidden beneath panels in forward flight in the same way as the new F-35 JSF works. These are provided as top and bottom inserts with the fans nicely depicted. The rear attitude jets are housed between two bulkheads in the rear of the fuselage and have location pegs for fully vertical or horizontal. If you were planning on building it in transitional flight, you'll need to knock off the tabs and glue it directly to the stringer between the bulkheads. The nozzles each build up from two halves, so careful alignment will be required, and a few ejector pin marks will need hiding if you plan on looking up the spout later on! Heat resistant panelling is added later in the build, which fits around the nozzles, hiding the bulkheads inside the fuselage.
The fuselage halves close up around the nose part, which is locked in place by a pair of lugs on the nose that fit into the fuselage. The intakes either side of the cockpit are added after installing the nose, and consist of the usual splitter plate and semi-circular intake mouth, which attach to flat spots on the nose, butt-fitting to the fuselage sides. There is no attempt at extending the intake trunking, so a coat of black at the rear of the intakes will hide this fact. Care in fitting the intakes should yield a neat joint, which runs along a major panel line on the airframe, so you might even get away without any further work.
The canopy is provided in two parts, and is on one of the foam wrapped sprues for obvious reasons. Once unwrapped, it is a delight to behold, having a very clear surface and a very subtle blown shape to the windscreen, accomplished by using slide moulding. Cleverly, the seam has been diverted around the flat front panel to avoid a horrendous sanding task, but the main canopy has no such luxury due to there being nowhere to divert to. A little sanding and re-polishing will be needed on the main canopy therefore. Those of you with a timid disposition can probably get away without doing this task though, as the seam really isn't that prominent compared to some.
The small clipped delta wings attach to large mating surfaces on the fuselage, but the more cautious might want to put a spar straight through the existing holes and strengthen the assembly. The wings can be cut along a panel line and depicted folded by utilising a set of end pieces depicting the folding mechanism, but they are so small (not even 6cm each!) that it's unlikely to be a necessity due to storage space. Clear wingtip lights are provided as well as puffer jets for each wingtip.
The vertical tail has a poseable rudder, but the elevators are moulded into the horizontal tail, which clips to the fuselage in the same way as the wings. A 2-part end cap finishes off the empennage nicely.
The gear legs are all nicely moulded with no flat-spots moulded into the tyres, leaving it down to the modeller to file a spot on each wheel if that is their taste. The main gear bays are fitted into the fuselage halves early on in the build and have nice surface detail moulded in, with the complex retraction mechanism taking up the bulk of the bay once installed. The forward doors are installed closed, covering up some nice detail, with the smaller doors hanging down while the landing gear is deployed. The nose gear bay is similarly furnished, although with all three doors left open. The front lift fans have a pair of doors each, which are moulded to be posed open, so posing them closed may prove fiddly.
Two small sprues of weapons are included with the kit, along with their pylons for mounting on the wings.
2 x UB-16 rocket pods
2 x UB-32M rocket pods
2 x UPK-23 gun pods with GSh-23L 23mm barrel depicted
2 x R-60 Aphid A2A missiles and adapter rails
Other missiles and bombs were carried by the Forger, but this selection is still more than adequate to load up your model to depict an operational airframe.
The decals are nicely printed, have good colour density and register, consisting mostly of stencilling in impenetrable (to this reviewer) Cyrillic. From the box you can build one of the following three schemes:
- Navy Blue upper surfaces with light green anti-corrosion undersurfaces - yellow 28 on each engine nacelle
- Sand, brown and forest green camouflage all over with yellow 53 on each engine nacelle
- Grey upper surfaces with medium grey (described as light in the instructions) lower anti-corrosion area, yellow 88 on each engine nacelle.
The location/theatre, date and ship aren't given in the marking guide, but are simply referred to as I, II and III.
This is a most welcome release in this scale, and the detail from the box is excellent throughout. Building it out of the box should result in a great looking replica of this unsual and relatively short lived example of Russian engineering, and would look splendid next to a Harrier in the same scale.
The inclusion of three very different schemes is a great idea, and the stencil decals should really bring the finished model to life, without being so numerous that you lose the will to live. The weapons provided with the kit are more than adequate to fill up the four weapons stations, so some can be donated to another build at some point. The increasing use of slide moulding to improve detail and provide shape is excellent news, and long may it continue.