Yakovlev Yak-15 by Czech Model
Kit No. 4804
Decals: Three versions – All Soviet Air Force
Comments: Engraved panel lines; resin cockpit, jet intake fan and exhaust nozzle; boxed in wheel wells; vacuform canopy with one spare
During the final weeks of Nazi Germany’s collapse leading to its surrender in May 1945, and in the weeks following, both the Soviet Union and the Western Allies came across captured data as well as finished and unfinished aircraft signalling German progress in turbojet engine technology. As the war ground down, nations on both sides of what would later become the Iron Curtain mounted feverish efforts to seize as much advanced military and scientific hardware and research material as they could. Details of German advances in aviation were a key part of those efforts.
During this time, large stores of aerospace data and complete jet engines were seized by Allied troops and intelligence units traveling with them, in abandoned German production facilities. Much of this technology was transported back to the Soviet Union for testing, evaluation, and ultimately, reverse-engineering to provide Russia a jump start in entering the jet age. Britain, France and the United States were busily engaged in the same activity.
The Soviets and the Western Allies had to varying degrees achieved their own indigenous jet engine programs during the war, with the British getting ahead of the curve by war’s end in introducing the Gloster Meteor into service. When Germany surrendered, the British were the only Western ally to have a jet fighter in service in response to the Messerschmitt Me 262 (the Americans had put the Lockheed P-80 into production by 1944, but teething problems prevented it from entering front-line service until after the war), although the 262 remained the superior aircraft, and the two never met in combat.
Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin encouraged the use of captured German technology to facilitate introduction of new Soviet jet-powered fighters until proven homegrown technology could become available in quantity. In February 1945, the Yakovlev Design Bureau began work to create a jet fighter by installing a Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet (the Me 262 powerplant, now produced in Russia by Tumansky and designated RD-10) into a modified Yak-3 airframe.
In the revised design, the Yak-3’s piston engine was discarded and its nose featured a gaping air intake required to aspirate the RD-10 turbojet, with the exhaust ducting out below the center fuselage. To speed production, the low-set monoplane wings remained, as did the main landing gear, aft-end of the fuselage and original tail-dragging undercarriage. The rubber tail wheel was soon replaced by a metal version to withstand the heat of the turbojets’s exhaust gases. The result was the Yakovlev Yak-15, which flew for the first time on April 24, 1946 — and became one of the earliest jet fighters to serve with the Soviet Air Force. The Yak-15 was publicly displayed during the Tushino Aviation Day of August 1946.
Armed with two nose-mounted 20mm and latter two 23mm cannon, the Yak-15 had a top speed of 500 mph with a range of 315 miles. Its service ceiling was 43,800 feet. It entered service in 1947, and a subsequent two-seat trainer version was designated Yak-21. The Yak-15’s service was short-lived; with rapid advances in jet technology during this period, by 1950 it was superceded by the MiG-15, which had superior performance. The Yak-15 was withdrawn from front-line service by 1953; its only operator had been the Soviet Air Force.
Czech Models’ Yak-15 is injection molded in grey and consists of 34 plastic parts and 16 made of resin. The cockpit is done entirely in resin and includes flooring with side instrument panels molded as a single piece, a bucket seat with molded on straps, control yoke, main instrument panel, rudder pedals, and a rear bulkhead assembly with what appears to be radio equipment.
A second assembly consisting of a bulkhead and a single piece forming the rear turbine face and a large, internal jet exhaust cone are cemented together, then must be cemented to the bottom of the cockpit flooring to form a fairly large resin assembly meant to fit more or less midway along the fuselage interior. The two-part jet intake fan, a separate assembly cemented into the open-faced nose, must also be cemented into the fuselage before its two halves are mated.
Internal ribbing in the upper wing over the corresponding landing gear opening in the lower wing, combined with a single piece to be cemented into both upper wings, provide the detailed look of the boxed in wheel wells. Each of the main landing gear consist of five pieces, including a highly detailed resin wheel. The gear doors similarly feature good internal detail.
The main armament of two 20mm nose cannon are represented by two parts forming faired gun ports with separate barrels. The additional finishing touches of the tail wheel, tail wheel guard, instrument panel hood and gunsight, and an antenna mounted on the starboard fuselage just below the canopy, about a third of the length from its rear at an angle of about 70 degrees, complete the kit. Curiously, the instructions do not directly refer to attaching the vacuform canopy to the airframe at all, although a small, partial profile view showing the canopy is employed to help with placement of the antenna.
The decals are provided by Czech Model, and feature large, red star markings outlined in white with a final thin red border, combined with large, numerical markings of two varieties: one set of numbers is clear with a white border, the other is gold outlined in black and provides a greater variety of numbers. While markings and drawings are provided for up to three paint schemes (red overall, light grey overall, and Russian Topside Green over Light Blue), no individual units are identified. The instructions do not reference any paint manufacturer.
The Yak-15’s plastic components are only average in quality; what makes this kit is the quality and number of the resin parts which provide the bulk of the impressive detail, for the engine, cockpit and landing gear. Highly recommended for those interested in Soviet aviation during the early Jet Age.
- Czech Model instructions