Hobby Boss Aircraft 1/48 YAK-38/38M Forger A 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 a 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.