Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The prototype Yak-38 flew for the first time in 1971. It based on the Yak-36 'Freehand' technology demonstrator. Sea trials aboard the aviation cruiser Kiev were observed in 1975. About 75 Yak-38 aircraft were produced, including a small number of two-seat trainers (Yak-38U). These were based on the four Kiev-class aircraft carriers. In the mid-1990's these carriers were withdrawn from service, together with their Yak-38s.
The plane's operational effectiveness was limited and it was considerably inferior to its Western contemporary, the Harrier. The Forger was deficient in speed, weapons, and range compared to the Harrier. It relied on fixed vertical lift fans for vertical flight that were dead weight in horizontal flight. The Soviets were developing a greatly superior successor in the Yak-141 'Freestyle', but that program was drastically curtailed with the fall of the Soviet Union.
One interesting feature of the Yak-38 was hands-free landing. The aircraft could negotiate a telemetry/telecommand link with a computer system in the aircraft carrier which would allow it to be guided onto the deck with no interaction from the pilot. It was supposedly impossible to achieve a vertical landing under manual control.
Specifications (Yakovlev Yak-38M)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 15.50 m (50 ft 1 in)
- Wingspan: 7.32 m (24 ft 0 in)
- Height: 4.37 m (14 ft 5 in)
- Wing area: 18.5 m² (199 ft²)
- Empty: 7,385 kg (16,281 lb)
- Loaded: kg ( lb)
- Maximum takeoff:13,000 kg (28,700 lb)
- Maximum speed: 1,110 km/h (627 mph)
- Range: 370 km (231 miles)
- Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,400 ft)
- Rate of climb: 4,500 m/min (39,400 ft/min)
- Wing loading: kg/m² ( lb/ft²)
- Thrust/Weight: 0.51:1 kgf/kg
- four underwing pylons for 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of stores
Related development: Yak-36
Comparable aircraft: Harrier series
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