Hungarian Yak 9 - "Sea Hawk"

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Alexsander Yakolevs series of single engine 'Yak' fighters are generally considered the finest and most versatile piston engined combat aircraft produced by the Soviet Union during World War II. They were involved in combat in all theatres the Soviet air force was active in and over 14,500 were built (some sources say 16,000). Through constant refinement, by wars ends they were so widely feared that Luftwaffe commanders instructed pilots to avoid combat with them if possible

Yakovlev and his designers were able to upgrade and refine the basic 'Yak' airframe as the war progressed and requirements changed. In April 1944 the Yak 9U was introduced incorporating many improvements including full metal construction, a 1,650-hp Klimov VK-107A engine and top speed of 434 mph in factory trim. This and other late model Yak 9 variants were widely used by all Soviet satellite countries following World War II thru the mid 1950s.

Hungary declared itself a free republic following the end of World War II. In mid 1949 new elections were held, the Communists and their supporters won and the Republic was then established. Leader Mˇtyˇs Rˇkosi was a believer in the value of technology to promote the socialist ideal. The announcement of the Schneider Cups revival was seen as the perfect venue to promote advancements in the workers paradise of the east following the war.

Since their entry into the race was late and access to western performance equipment severely limited by most anti-communist western governments, many creative methods were used the acquire whatever components were needed to build their racing floatplane which was named HalˇszsŰlyom or 'Sea Hawk' following the longstanding Hungarian tradition of naming aircraft after birds. A former German military equipment repair facility along the Lake Balaton in central Hungary was acquired and turned into a base of operations/ development for the project.

At the same time the recently elected Czech Communist government was in the midst of eliminating inherited western military equipment and their leader Klement Gottwald was more than happy to trade decadent Spitfire and Mosquito parts for fine Hungarian apricot brandy and Tokaj wine. This spirit of comradeship greatly benefited the Hungarian entry in the 1949 Schneider Cup as the actual plane used was a gift from Soviet leader Stalin promoting 'solidarity of the working classes'. Upon its arrival, a group of Hungarian aviation enthusiasts and ex-RHAF (Royal Hungarian Air Force) pilots and mechanics transferred from the main wartime military airbase at Ferihegy as well as the Weiss Manfred aero engine facility to begin immediate work at Lake Balaton

Since the Yak series had already evolved a great deal thru the war, it easily lent itself to additional modifications for use as a racing floatplane. The standard wings were clipped and the engine shop decided with the amount of time available, the best way to upgrade power was to emulate the tricks Rolls-Royce had used in the development of their aero engines so several ex-Czech Merlins where taken apart and carefully studied. This along with help from eager Soviet advisors and engine specialists allowed an increase in the Klimov engines horsepower to 2150 thru reworking the intake and valve train, ejector exhausts, methanol injection and use of 'donated' 130 octane aviation fuel from leftover Allied stocks. A Spitfire paddle bladed propeller was installed to transfer as much power as possible with the uprated engine.

The streamlined shape and generally fine finish of the DH Mosquito prompted the mechanics to smoothen the wing and rear fuselage as well as relocate the radiators and oil cooler into the leading edge to decrease residual dragand clean up the lower side of the wing for a better airfoil. An extended lower fuselage strake as well as modified and enlarged rudder were also incorporated to promote additional directional stability.

Since Hungary is a landlocked country, suitable floats were found and donated after an exhaustive search using wartime Luftwaffe records.The basic colors used are the traditional Hungarian red, white and green plus standard Russian military aircraft colors and showed a 'unity among socialist brothers' prevalent at the time. The Yak also became the first aircraft on the Hungarian civil registry following the end of World War II.

The model is based on the ICM kit plus numerous bits from the spares box. Most of the kit parts needed a great deal of cleanup to work though the detail itself was not bad. The floats are He-51 and propeller from a Spitfire Mk 9. A Typhoon canopy was also used. The decals were created with Adobe Illustrator following a great deal of research on post war Hungarian civil aircraft and were printed by Norm Filer.

 

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