Yak-130 is an advanced subsonic jet trainer, built in Russia to replace the outdated Czech built L-39 Albatroses. The airframe enables the student pilots easy transition to 4+, 4++ and 5th generation fighters.
The development began in 1990 but soon after the demise of Soviet Union, Yakovlev partnered up with Italian company Alenia Aermacchi. In 2000, the cooperation ended due to different project priorities, with Yakovlev continuing its progress on Yak-130, while Alenia designated its aircraft M.346.
The aircraft is equipped with full digital glass cockpit, fly-by-wire system and full navigational suite. The aircraft has nine hard points and can carry up to 3.000kg of combat load. Thrust-to-weight ratio at normal take-off weight is 0.70 compared to 0.65 of Hawk 128 and 0.49 of L-159B ALCA. Engine intakes are equipped with automatic blanking doors to prevent foreign object damage, similar to they system used on MiG-29.
The first prototype made its maiden flight in 1996, the first preproduction aircraft in 2004 and the type was finally accepted to Russian Air Force in 2009. As of this moment, there are more than 100 Yak-130s in service with the air forces of Russia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus and Myanmar.
Yak-130; photo by Anton – original photo: https://russianplanes.net/id209515
I got pretty fond of this aircraft when I saw it for the first time in person at one of MAKS airshow in Moscow. To me, it looks like a small sports car but can carry a big punch. Until recently, the only Yak-130s available in kit form were a couple of releases from Amodel, but they represented the prototypes which differ from production example, especially in the nose area. Luckily Zvezda came out with a new tool production Yak-130 and for those, who love bigger scales, KittyHawk announced one in 1:48.
The box is full of plastic goodies, despite the aircraft’s small size. What stands out the most are the weapons sprues, providing you with a vast amount of armament possibilities – from sub- and supersonic dumb bombs, various rocket launchers and TV-guided Kr-500 bombs to gunpod, fuel tanks and R-73 missiles. There are also two sitting pilots included if you wish to build the aircraft in engine running mode. If so, you will have to do some cutting and scratchbuilding for the intake blanking doors and open auxilary intakes but as the interior structure is already made, that shouldn’t be too hard.
Despite the rather complex building arrangement of the fuselage, the fit is rather good; you just have to build it slowly and dryfit components for best fit. The markings in the kit let you choose to build one Belarus aircraft, and two Russian Air Force ones – in either grey or Flanker blue-grey scheme; full stencils are included. As I am sucker for Flankers, the decision was not hard, though achieveing it, was harder than I expected – check the step-by-step for the explanation. I have to admit that I bought 2 kits when it was released, so with the arrival of Begemot’s decal sheet, I am thinking of building a Myanmari one as well, though Belarussian option is interesting as well.
Cons? Well, there aren’t many. Complex build of the fuselage but on the other hand, it lets you build full length intakes and proper wheel wells. Shallow panel lines – yes! I actually went through all of them with a needle to deepen them slightly – that’s a problem I see with most new tool Zvezda kits… And that’s about it!
Step-by-step build: https://vvsmodelling.com/2018/03/24/zvezda-172-yak-130-mitten-build-article/
In the end, all I can do is recommend this kit to anyone interested in modern Russian Air Force and unique looking aircraft. With a little work, it could be even transformed into Italian M.346 Master.
Aftermarket: Eduard photo etch set
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-196 Su-27/33 Light Blue, MRP-199 Su-33 Blue, MRP-298 Su-35 Blue, MRP-004 White, MRP-32 Green for Wheels, MRP-195 Sukhoi Cockpit Blue, MRP-173 Tire-Rubber Matt)
Alclad (ALC-106 White Aluminum, ALC-123 Exhaust Manifold)