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Yakety-Yak... A 1/48 Scratchbuilt “Firebar”

By “Bondo” Phil Brandt, Originally published August 2004

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The Yak-28P interceptor represents the penultimate iteration of the venerable Yakovlev twin-jet fighter/bomber family (Yak-25/26/27/ 28) which, in the form of the Yak-25 “Flashlight,” first flew in the early Fifties. The sharply swept wings, huge radome and bicycle landing gear of the Firebar lend a certain “swoopiness” which, in this modeler's opinion, perhaps best represents Evil Empire Cold War fighter design philosophy. The close-held, last-of-the-line Firebar was never exported, but defended the borders of the Soviet Motherland (along with the Su-15 Flagon of KAL shootdown infamy) until 1988 when the Mig-31 Foxhound began to be produced in quantity.

Until Collect-Aire released a not-bad 1/48 resin Flashlight kit circa 2002, the only other Yak-25/ 26/27/28 kits extant were the ancient (1956) Revell box-scale Flashlight, the Victoria Models mutimedia 1/48 Flashlight and the two-forone Contrail vac kit (Firebar and Brewer) whose scale is generally considered somewhat larger than 1/72. The most recent 1/72 release is an injected one by Amodel, and as one might expect, the Ukrainians have produced the definitive model of this bird.

Although it was my understanding that, following their Flashlight kit, Collect-Aire was going to do various Yak family sequels, such releases have, to date, not materialized. Accordingly, the Scratchbuilding Division of Bondo Industries elected to press on with its own Firebar rendition.

Preparatory Research

“Aviatsiya Magazine,” published in Russia, always has great 1/72 plans, with much detail. I enlarged these to 1/48. The mag’s text is, of course, in Russian, but the pictures and plans speak for themselves. An even larger (and in English) publication (Midlands Publishing) is the recent Aerofax book on the whole Yak-25- 28 family by the prolific author, Jefim Gordon There are more pictures than you’ll ever need...except, unfortunately, closeup details. A plate of color sideviews is included in the appendix. I bought the Amodel 1/72 injected Yak-28 kit from Linden Hill Imports to use as a 3D example. It was most useful in building the bicycle landing gear and wheel wells.


As this boy hotrodder did in the Fifties, I prefer to adapt already available components which have the general shape desired. The huge centerline fuel pod of the Monogram B-58 filled the bill for the torpedo-like Firebar fuselage. The tank was split horizontally so that a cockpit and maingear bays could be fashioned from plastic sheet. The long, ogival radome came from a vacuformed Polish HitKit of the Flagon. The radome was filled with epoxy putty and adapted to the B-58 tank. The cockpit outline piece came from that area on the Revell F-89 and was integrated with the basic fuselage pod.


Because the cockpit tub of the Firebar is strongly reminiscent of its progenitor, the Flashlight, I cloned (in resin) the two-place tub and instrument panels from the Collect-Aire Flashlight kit. Seats are Neomega KK-2s. Sidewall detail was added using artistic license, since I was unable to obtain interior pix of same.

Landing Gear

Maingear wheel bays were formed from plastic sheet, and the struts built from parts box components and brass tubing. Main wheels are from the 1/48 Lindberg Mig-31. Outriggers were fashioned from Monogram Harrier units, with scratchbuilt bay doors made from plastic tubing. Gear doors were laminated from sheet.


The long-nosed, semi-podded engines were built from Plexiglas tube, brass tube, plastic sheet and lots of epoxy putty! Kitbashed afterburner cans (decreased diameter) came from the Zhengdefu ripoff of the Academy F-111 kit. Intake spikes are modified from the monogram B-58. The engines are canted vertically from the significant anhedral of the wings. Because of the thick Plexiglas tubing used as the “keel” of each engine assembly, doing turbine/afterburner interior details was bypassed in favor of scratchbuilt typical red Soviet FOD covers.


The Hobbycraft Cutlass furnished the inner wings, transitioning to the outer units which were made from the venerable Hawk/Testors OV-10.

Flaps came from the Cutlass, and the ailerons and leading edge extensions were scratchbuilt. The faired-in wingtip “bullets” which house the outriggers were created from the ends of Mk 82 bombs with the center sections from plastic tube. Proper wing anhedral was achieved by a sturdy bent brass carry-through rod epoxied through the fuselage. The long, slender spikes jutting forward from each wingtip were built from two diameters of thin brass tube.


The vertical fin, rudder and slabs were created from those of the Heller RF-84F kit.


I was unable to find a suitable existing canopy assembly, so I carved a master and vacuformed same. The canopy interior rails came from the Revell F-89, the aft canopy bulkhead was scratchbuilt and the canopy/windscreen arches were Dremelled out of .060 sheet.


Pylons were scratchbuilt and mounted to the wings with brass tube. The large radar and IR missiles are from the Trumpeter Flagon kit, and the Sidewinder-like IR Atolls from the Monogram Harrier.


After coating all components with gray automotive lacquer primer, the overall surface was practically immersed in repeated iterations of my favorite lacquer putty, 3M Blue Acryl. Although it does shrink if applied too thickly, its quick drying and sandabilty are IMO unmatched. I also used Mr. Surfacer and slow drying CA glue for major discrepancies. Panel lines were also scribed at this time. Final wetsanding of the primer was with 12,000 grit.

Alclad was, as usual, the NMF of choice. I used four basic shades with two custom blended ones thrown in. The shade differentiation may seem fairly strong, but the cover of the above-mentioned Aerofax book has a color shot of just such a strongly contrasting metal panel mix. The radome was done in acrylic Dark Gunship Gray.


The typical Soviet aircraft of the time was unadorned, save for the requisite Soviet stars and fuselage number. The stars came from an Aeromaster sheet, and the numbers from the forthcoming Collect-Aire Mig-31.


It’s been a real Chinese fire drill, and I know where the mistakes and shortcuts are. But, it’s over now, I’m glad, and the Firebar has been bloodied in competition at the Phoenix Nats. Time to give the total scratchbuilding a rest, and get on with other less involved kitbashes at the Weirdness Division of Bondo Industries.

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