1:72 Yakovlev Yak-138 (Whif/Kitbashing) - WiP
The kit and its assembly:
Sixth contribution to the “Soviet” Group Build at whatifmodelers.com in early 2017, on pretty short notice since the GB had been coming to its end. This totally fictional aircraft was inspired CG illustrations that had been roaming the WWW for some time: a hybrid between a Yak-38 (mostly the tail section), mated with an AV-8B Harrier II (cockpit, wings, landing gear). This did not look bad at all, yet a bit weird, with lift engines added in front of the fin. Certainly not conformal with a good CG balance – but I liked the idea of a single-engine Forger. And actually, OKB Yakovlev had been considering this.
So, the basic idea was a Harrier/Yak-38 kitbash. But the more I thought about the concept, the more additional donor parts came into play. One major addition was the nose section from a MiG-27 – with its slanted nose it would offer the pilot an excellent field of view, and the aircraft would, as a front line attack plane like the Harrier, not carry a radar, so the Flogger’s nose shape was perfect.
Therefore, initial ingredients for the Yak-138 were:
- Rear fuselage, wings and tail from a Tsukuda Hobby/Kangnam/Revell Yak-38
- Mid-fuselage with air intakes and front vectoring nozzles from a Matchbox Sea Harrier
- Cockpit from an Academy MiG-27
Work started with the MiG-27 cockpit, which was more or less taken OOB (except for side consoles in the cockpit and different seat), and the Yak-38 the tail section, built in parallel. To my surprise the Forger fuselage was easier to combine with the Harrier than expected, even though the position of the right cuts took multiple measurements until I came up with a proper solution. Since the Harrier is overall shorter than the Yak-38, the latter’s fuselage had to be shortened. I retained the tail cone, the Forger’s vectoring nozzles and the landing gear wells – and a 2cm plug was taken out between them. Instead of the Harrier’s tandem landing gear arrangement with outriggers under the outer wings, this one was to receive a conventional landing gear for optional C/STOL operations with a higher ordnance load, so that the Yak-38 parts were a welcome basis. Once the fuselage’s underside was more or less complete, the upper rest of the Yak-38 fuselage could be cut to size and integrated into the lower half and the Harrier parts.
After the rear end was settled, the MiG-27 cockpit could be mounted to the front end, which was slightly shortened by 2-3mm (since the Flogger’s is markedly longer than the short Harrier nose). In order to change the overall look of the aircraft, I eventually dropped the Harrier intakes and decided to use the Flogger’s boxy air intakes instead. These are considerably smaller than the gaping Harrier holes, and blending the conflicting shapes into each other for a more or less consistent look took several PSR turns. But it worked, better than expected, and it changes the aircraft’s look effectively, so that almost anything Harrier-esque was gone.
Once the fuselage was completed, I realized that I could not use the Yak-38 wings anymore. They are already pretty small, but with the more voluminous Harrier and Flogger parts added to the aircraft, they’d just be too small!
What to do...? I checked the donor bank and – in order to add even more individual flavor – used a pair of double delta wings from a PM Model Su-15! But only the core of them was left after considerable modifications: The inner delta wing sections were cut off, as well as the tip sections and parts of the trailing edge (for a planform similar to the Yak-38’s wings). On the underside, the landing gear openings were filled up and wing tips from the Yak-38, with puffer jet nozzles, transplanted. The inner leading edges had to be re-sculpted, too. The Su-15 wing fences were kept - a welcome, very Soviet design detail.
A lot of work, but I think it paid out because of the individual shape and look of these “new” wings?
As a consequence of the new, bigger wings, the little Yak-38 stabilizers could not be used anymore, either. In order to keep the square wing shape, I used modified stabilizers from an Intech F-16C/D – their trailing edges were clipped, but the bigger span retained. Together with the characteristic OOB Yak-38 fin they work well, and all of the aerodynamic surfaces IMHO blend well into the overall design of the aircraft.
After the hull was complete, work on smaller things could start. Under the fuselage, a GSh-23-2 pod from a MiG-21 was added, as well as pylons from the Tsukuda Yak-38 under the wings and a donor part from the scrap box in ventral position.
The landing gear is a mix, too: the main struts come from the Yak-38, the balloon wheels from the Matchbox Harrier. The front landing gear comes from the Academy MiG-27, including the wheels with mudguards. It was just mounted in a fashion that it now retracts forward.
The Harrier vectoring nozzles were modified, too, the exhaust “grills” replaced by square, simple ducts, scratched from styrene profile and putty. Care was taken that the nozzles would remain moveable in the fuselage flanks – for later hover pictures. The Yak-38’s nozzles were retained, but since they can OOB only be mounted in a single, fixed position, I added a simple pin to each nozzle, together with two holes in the hull, so that positions can now be switched between hover and level flight.
All around the hull, finally some small details like pitots, blade antennae and air scoops were finally added, and the ordnance consists of a pair of R-60 AAMs on a scratched twin launch rail, a guidance pod on the other side plus a pair of Kh-23 (AS-7 Kerry) guided missiles – the latter come from the Yak-38 kit, but their tail sections were modified in order to come closer to reality.