1/72 Yakovlev Yak-38U "Forger B"

by Oliver Weston



Greetings Modellers and a Happy New year!

Right then here we have another rare kit for you a 1:72 Yak-38U two seater.  I picked up this kit on Ebay about 2 years ago (not a clue who made it).  Although at the time I thought it was a single seater, when it in fact it contained the options for both.  The seller described it as a "Soviet manufactured kit, that was a bit rough around the edges".  Now I have built some really poor kits in my time, you know the sort, tons of flash, loads of filler and the thing fits were it touches.  So imagine my horror when I open the jiffy bag and a series of discoloured/dirty lumps of plastic fell out along with hand drawn instructions and what a presume were the decals.  I am not kidding you when I say the moulded parts were surrounded by thick flash (in some place's as thick as the sprues themselves) and contained bits of metal, streaks of different coloured plastics and God knows what else!  To add insult to injury the kit was missing the canopy for the single seater!  Well totally disgusted with my purchase, and with a feeling that there was no way anyone could make a model out of that, it went back in its bag, and was slung at the bottom of my build pile.

And there it lay mocking me. But as time went on I realised that this has the possibility of being a really interesting kit, because how many manufactures out there do the single seater let alone the trainer! So just before Xmas I plucked up the courage to start it, and what a marathon it turned out to be! Pushing the boundaries of man and filler to the limits! I have never sanded anything as much as this kit, every part had to be cut out, filled and sanded (and no this was not a vac formed model before anyone ask's!). Nothing and I mean nothing fitted flush together! I did take some photos of the build (mainly because I thought no one would believe how poor it was) which I have lost, however I have taken a snap of the unused nose cone. Which compared to the rest of the kit wasn't to bad! After two weeks of sanding and shaping, it finally looked something like and the first coat of paint was hand brushed on. So imagine my horror when I caught my two year old son playing with several broken pieces of the assembled kit on the floor of my study. His big brother having kindly unlocked the door for him, DOH!

By this point in the proceedings I was on the verge of a nervous break down, and my British stiff upper lip was beginning to wobble. But after much stifled swearing, half a tube of filler and yet more wet and dry. The kit was returned to its original painted state.  I'm quite proud of the way it turned out considering I'm not a fantastic modeller and what I had to work with, the kit isn't very accurate. But hey, your lucky it even resembles the aircraft its supposed to be!

Click on images below to see larger images




Looking at the finished model there are a few glaring inaccuracies compared to the real aircraft. The fuselage on the real plane is extended rearwards to balance out the extra length of the twin cockpits, this is not catered for on the kit. Also the kit instructions place weapons pylons on the trainer but in real life they were never fitted (as far as I know). However I did find a very interesting illustration showing the two seat U model in Ukrainian markings with pylons. So I thought it would be fun to give my plane Ukrainian insignia! I believe they were only operated by the Russian Navy, any body out there know different I would be very interested to find out! Also the kit did not include any antenna, "oddrods" or external flight sensors, so I scratch built all of these from bits of old sprue and dress making pins to add a bit of realism!

I know I have spent nearly the entire article badmouthing this kit, but I did get allot of satisfaction out building it. I love unusual subjects (and Soviet cold war jets) and this really did fit the bill. I would love to know were this kit came from, so if anyone has any ideas I would like to hear from them.



Photos and text by Oliver Weston