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Zvezda Yak-130

Review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with great engineering
There has never been a better time to be a modeler of Russian aviation! We have seen kits of quite a lot of the prominent aircraft used by the Russian air force over the last few years, some of which have been stunning.

The Yak-130 is a two-seat, twin-engine, light-attack jet currently in service with Russian forces and several of Russia’s client states.

Zvezda plastic is somewhat softer than that of most kit manufacturers. This does have an influence on how the kit parts are handled, especially the 13 clear plastic parts. I found it very easy to clip the parts from their respective gates, and carefully slice off the remaining excess, with little concern for the part fracturing since the plastic is not at all brittle, and actually slices well.

The one thing that became clear very early in the build was the importance of following the instructions exactly! If you do, the assembly sequence is logical and proceeds very smoothly, with excellent fit being evident throughout the entire airframe. Some areas are quite complex in shape and assembly but have no concerns as everything will fit very well.

I did deviate very slightly with the front landing gear assembly, removing the two nubs on the sides of the top of the gear, so that I could slide the assembly into the nose gear bay after painting/assembly had been completed. I was concerned by the possibility of having the nose gear mounted so early in the process that I may damage it or have masking problems.

It is obvious that Zvezda had access to the real jet and did its homework because the kit really captures the fine nuance of the design. One example is the auxiliary air intake doors located above the Leading-Edge Extension (LEX) of each wing. On the real aircraft, these swing down to block off the main air intake when the aircraft is on the ground to avoid Foreign Object Digestion (FOD). There are S-shaped pieces that act as springs to hold the intake door in the closed position. With a little push, the door will unlatch, and swing down into the closed position, blocking off the main air intakes below the LEX. The fit in both open and closed position is perfect. Zvezda also includes intake and exhaust covers, both of which also fit perfectly into their respective positions. Impressive.

Detail throughout is terrific. In fact, I decided to leave the undercarriage bay doors open — they are usually closed when the aircraft is on the ground — because the detail is so good.

The well-appointed cockpit features beautifully done K-36L seats, unique to the Yak-130 and Su-35, including seat cushions with convincing seat belts and hoses. There is some detail missing on the sides of the seat, but it is not that obvious once installed in the cockpit. I don’t think aftermarket seats are an essential addition here.

The weapons supplied with the kit are all appropriate for the subject, and all fit their respective pylons/mounts correctly and positively. The kit provided numerous display options, including in flight, with two nicely molded pilots, or all opened up on the ground. Both leading-edge and trailing-edge flaps can be posed either neutral or deflected. The trailing-edge flaps feature foolproof mounts and molded eyelid flaps. There are even chocks supplied for an airfield diorama.

Five markings choices are provided, including Russian, Algerian, Belarusian, and Burmese aircraft. The decals are extremely thin and grip the surface of the model quickly. Flood the surface with water so you can move the markings into their final positions. The thin decals conformed to surface detail easily and did not silver.

So now that I have built both the Kitty Hawk and Zvezda 1/48 scale Yak-130s, how do they compare? Zvezda is the clear choice presenting a well-thought-out kit with clever design and engineering that is easy to build. It was obviously created by people who really knew the subject and how to present it in scale. I hope Zvezda continues to expand its 1/48 scale aircraft range as this kit really is a delight to build, is accurate, and reasonably priced. Well done Zvezda!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2019 issue.


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