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
“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.
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
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
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
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
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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