Yak-38 Forger A (Mid-Production) Cockpit

Published: January 21st, 2013     
Parts Package
Parts Package
Reviewed by: Charles Landrum - IPMS# 26328
Scale: 1/48
Price: $21.50
Product / Stock #: 4550
Product provided by: Aires Hobby Models

The Yak-38 Forger was considered by many to be the Soviet Harrier. Like in the West, Soviet aircraft design bureaus were fascinated by the potential of VSTOL aircraft and undertook their own developmental efforts. The Forger was borne out of a requirement for a VSTOL fighter for the Soviet Navy to take to sea on the Kiev Class ships. The Kiev Class was technically not an aircraft carrier, but instead described as a heavy anti-submarine cruiser and, later, a tactical aircraft-carrying cruiser. The Forger was used both for air defense and in a short-range anti-ship role. Unlike the Harrier, the Forger did not survive the Cold War. The plane was functionally obsolescent and work was well underway on its replacement, the Yak-141 Freestyle, when the collapse of the Soviet Union heralded the retirement of the Kiev Class and the need for a VSTOL fighter.

For those of us who model Soviet Naval Aviation, a 1/48 Forger kit by Hobby Boss was a welcome surprise. Overall, it is a nice kit, accurate in shape and details. There have been a flurry of aftermarket sets that make small improvements on the kit, but the most significant aftermarket set is this Aires cockpit set. The cockpit is okay but a bit Spartan, and really needs extra detail and a better seat. Aires delivers that detail. Aires calls this a mid-production cockpit and based on the few good references available of the cockpit, I would agree. The ejection seat is a modified K-36, installed later in the life of the aircraft. The instrument panel is an earlier panel, but has small details that can be added as an option to make it a later version. It is not a late model panel. Since the kit is a later model Yak-38M with the air fences, the cockpit is appropriate. A late production IP would have been a nice addition.

Typical of Aires, it is a multi-media set with resin and photo etch. The resin is cast in Aires typical durable gray resin. The only casting flaws I found were a couple of raised bubbles attached to two knobs on the left side of the cockpit tub. Also, the ejection seat rails at the back of the tub are very thin. One rail in my set was damaged. Fortunately the piece was in the package and I glued it back in place; I also used CA to strengthen the rails. The tub is one piece with separate side walls. The instrument panel and HUD are built up from resin and PE, as is the ejection seat. The details matched the photos and references I have.

This cockpit was an easy installation, nearly a drop-in fit. I prepped the model by removing the raised detail indicated in the instruction. I used a Dremel to grind away the detail and smoothed the area with a model knife. With that done, I installed the nose wheel well into the right nose so that I could gauge the fit of the tub. A dry fit revealed that the tub required no trimming, and a good fit under the side walls. Having had to do significant shaping of other Aires tubs to get them to fit, this was a welcome change. I glued the sidewalls in place, the contour of the top edge of the kit being a good locating guide fore and aft. I then glued the tub in position placing a spacer between it and the nose wheel well to ensure proper alignment. The nose halves fit together without issue. I painted the tub Model Master Flint Gray, which seemed to be a good match to the pictures I have seen of the cockpit. After a dark gray wash, I painted the knobs and other details.

The seat was a small project in and of itself; it was the slowest part of the build-up. The resin went together quickly and is quite nice, far more detailed than the plastic kit seat, even before the harnesses were added. I quick dry fit revealed that the seat slides between the rails and fits into the tub without modification. Aires provides you a quite complex build-up of photo-etch to replicate the complex harness. You need good magnification, fine tweezers, and some finesse to get the harnesses in place. I found it best to anchor one end of the harness with CA before bending it to conform to the shape of the seat. It takes a while to get there, but the results are quite convincing. I added the reminder of the details before painting the entire seat black. I drybrushed the details with dark gray. Once dry, I painted the harnesses light ghost gray and picked out the other colors on the seat. A flat coat of Testor's Dullcoat knocked down any gloss and helped blend the colors.

The other assembly requiring build-up is the HUD and IP assembly. I started by adding the resin base for the IP so that I could dry fit the assembly to ensure a proper fit. Even though the back of the panel is notched, I needed to do some filing to ensure it would slide into position from above. With that done, I added the PE details to the HUD before painting it flat black. On the Yak-38, the IP is grey with the instrument bezels black. So I painted the IP flint grey and then used a toothpick to add the colored details. The IP sandwiches a photo-negative to replicate the instruments. I found the negative a bit murky in detail. To make the instruments brighter, I painted the IP base flat white. I then assembled the sandwich with CA. I did the same for the lower IP.

I then put everything together, adding the IP, the control column, the throttle, and the gun camera. After a coat of Dullcoat in the tub, I installed the seat using a paint brush handle to achieve a press fit (although I did install it with CA). There are some other details that are prepped but I did not yet add to the windscreen and canopy. I also did not add the HUD glass. All of those details will be added when I install the windscreen and canopy.

All in all, this Aires set is a significant enhancement to the Hobby Boss Yak-38 Forger. It is one of the easiest cockpits to install and provides good details for an open canopy. You should have experience working with PE before tackling the complex harness build-up and installation. Highly recommended.

I'd like to thank Aires Hobby Models for providing this set for review and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.

  • Components
  • PE fret
    PE fret
  • Sidewall preparation
    Sidewall preparation
  • Tub comparison
    Tub comparison
  • Seat comparison
    Seat comparison
  • Completed seat 1
    Completed seat 1
  • Completed seat 2
    Completed seat 2
  • Tub installed
    Tub installed
  • Completed tub 1
    Completed tub 1
  • Completed tub 2
    Completed tub 2
  • Instrument panel
    Instrument panel
  • Completed cockpit 1
    Completed cockpit 1
  • Completed cockpit 2
    Completed cockpit 2
  • Completed cockpit 3
    Completed cockpit 3
  • Completed cockpit 4
    Completed cockpit 4

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