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VTOL | Rank 5 USSR
Yak-38 Pack
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GarageImage Yak-38M.jpg

The Yak-38M is a rank VI Soviet jet fighter with a battle rating of 9.7 (AB/RB/SB). It was introduced in Update "New Power".

General info

Flight performance

Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 0 m - sea level)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 1,190 1,186 12500 39.6 40.7 87.3 78.7 520
Upgraded 1,205 1,197 36.9 38.1 124.5 102.4


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear Drogue chute
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
1265 500 N/A 650 500 ~11 ~5
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 650 < 850 < 920 N/A

Engine performance

Engine Aircraft mass
Engine name Number Basic Mass Wing loading (full fuel)
Tumansky R-28V-300 (main) 1 7,240 kg 502 kg/m2
RD-38 (lift jets) 2
Engine characteristics Mass with fuel (no weapons load) Max Takeoff
Weight (each) Type 7m fuel 20m fuel 23m fuel
1,420 kg (main) Vectored-thrust low-bypass turbofan 8,077 kg 9,631 kg 9,960 kg 10,300 kg
210 kg (lift jet) Axial-flow turbojet
Maximum main engine thrust @ 0 m (RB / SB) Thrust to weight ratio in level flight @ 0 m (100%)
Condition 100% WEP 7m fuel 20m fuel 23m fuel MTOW
Stationary 7,120 kgf N/A 0.88 0.74 0.71 0.69
Optimal 7,120 kgf
(0 km/h)
N/A 0.88 0.74 0.71 0.69
Maximum lift engine thrust @ 0 m (RB / SB) Thrust to weight ratio in VTOL (all 3 engines) @ 0 m (100%)
Stationary 3,230 kgf N/A 1.68 1.41 1.36 1.31

Survivability and armour

The Yak-38 has no armour. It is a fairly large target with the entire fuselage being taken up with engines and fuel tanks.


Offensive armament

Main article: GSh-23L (23 mm)

The Yak-38M is armed with:

  • A choice between two presets:
    • Without offensive armament
    • 1 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannon, wing-mounted (160 rpg)

Suspended armament

Main articles: S-5KP, S-8M, S-24B, GSh-23L (23 mm)

The Yak-38M can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

  • 2 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannons (250 rpg = 500 total)
  • 4 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannons (250 rpg = 1,000 total)
  • 10 x 100 kg OFAB-100 bombs (1,000 kg total)
  • 2 x 250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs (500 kg total)
  • 4 x 250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs (1,000 kg total)
  • 2 x 500 kg FAB-500M-54 bombs (1,000 kg total)
  • 2 x 500 kg FAB-500M-54 bombs + 2 x 250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs (1,500 kg total)
  • 64 x S-5KP rockets
  • 64 x S-5KP rockets
  • 96 x S-5KP rockets
  • 40 x S-8M rockets
  • 2 x S-24B rockets
  • 4 x S-24B rockets
  • 32 x S-5KP rockets + 2 x S-24B rockets
  • 2 x R-60 missiles
  • 2 x 23 mm GSh-23L cannons (250 rpg = 500 total) + 2 x R-60 missiles
  • 2 x R-60 missiles + 2 x 100 kg OFAB-100 bombs (200 kg total)
  • 2 x R-60 missiles + 2 x 250 kg OFAB-250sv bombs (500 kg total)
  • 2 x R-60 missiles + 32 x S-5KP rockets
  • 2 x R-60 missiles + 64 x S-5KP rockets
  • 2 x R-60 missiles + 2 x S-24B rockets
  • 2 x Kh-23M missiles

Usage in battles

The Yak-38 is not very fast (you can reach Mach 1 in a slight dive when carrying minimum loadout) and not very nimble (bad energy retention in tight turns) so you'll lose many engagements with dedicated boom-n-zoom and dogfight optimised aircraft. What really makes this plane shine is the customizable loadout as well as its amazing rate of climb (101,2 m/s when spaded) and acceleration.

Due to your low speed it is wise to avoid high altitude combat as you'll be pitted against supersonic interceptors at this BR. Try to stay low and either ground pound or destroy enemy attackers. Doing this your main opponents are F-86 and Harrier variants. Both of which will out-turn you in a dog fight.

You have two options for dogfighting aircraft:

Use your climb rate to get into an advantageous position. You can out-climb almost all aircraft of your battlerating. And as long as you stay at lower altitudes you'll most likely be able to avoid those aircraft that can out-climb you.

Switch to hover mode. The Yak's hover mode can only be engaged at speeds below 450 km/h so you have to plan ahead a bit or react really fast once you slow down enough. Your goal here should be to get into the center of the enemies turning circle. When executed correctly it is impossible for the enemy to get their aim on you, while you are still perfectly able to fire at them. And if they disengage they set themselves up for you to lock on with AAMs. But be awere that engaging hover mode will make you an easy target for other aircraft that are not part of the dogfight so it's best used in 1 on 1 situations.

Air to air

The Yak-38m has several air to air options for its loadout. You can also set one additional 23mm gun-pod as offensive weapon in your modifications menu. Keep in mind that gun pods add a substantial amount of drag and heavily impact your climb and turn rate though and are not dropped after expending their ammo.

All combinations of gun-pods, R-60 and S-24B are viable but emphasize on different ways to approach enemy aircraft.

- Central gun-pod + R-60 keeps your drag quite low and still leaves you with a main gun after firing both missiles.

- Everything from two gun-pods (2x pods or central pod + 2x pods) up creates a high volume of fire and makes the Yak-38m deadly in head-on approaches. This can be combined with R-60 for taking out faster planes.

- 4 pods (5 with central pod) give an incredible burst mass of over 40 kg/s and will shred everything in a head-on approach. In many cases this will be overkill though. The pods can't be fired independently and trigger discipline is required to not run out of ammo to fast. Also no R-60 in this config.

- 2x R-60 + 2x S-24B (+ central pod) opens up the possibility to make snapshots on passing enemies with very deadly anti-bunker rockets. With a bit of practise and setting a detonation distance you are comfortable with the S-24B can be used to reliably take out every plane in its large burst radius. Can also be used in head-on approaches but in contrast to adding more gun-pods they won't create any drag after you have fired them.


Tier Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
I Compressor Fuselage repair Gun pod VSPU-36 FAB-250 UB-16
II New boosters Airframe Gun pod UPK-23-250 FAB-500 UB-32 R-60
III Wings repair G-suit Offensive 23 mm X-23M B-8M1
IV Engine Cover New 23 mm cannons C-24

Pros and cons


  • VTOL capabilities
  • Numerous payload options
  • Offensive 23mm cannons have a very high fire rate


  • Subsonic
  • Offensive 23mm cannon has low ammo for its fire rate, trigger discipline is required
  • Offensive 23mm cannon is a Tier III modification



Although Soviet engineers were experimenting with VTOL fixed wing aircraft design since the early 1960's, it wasn't until December 1967 before a formal order to develop a light VTOL strike aircraft as well as a corresponding trainer version was issued. As a result, engineers at the Yakovlev design bureau began work on the new aircraft in the late 1960's, basing their design on experience gained from developing the preceding Yak-36 - an early VTOL demonstration design.

The new aircraft, designated Yak-36M, was being developed for immediate frontline service, operating both from land bases as well as aircraft-carrying ships. The aircraft's primary role was that of a strike aircraft, engaging ground and surface targets while also being suited to intercept enemy aircraft and helicopters if necessary.

Not too long after work on the project began, the first prototype saw completion and conducted its maiden flight in December 1970. Subsequent prototypes and trials continued testing the aircraft's performance, particularly its novel VTOL capabilities. By 1973, the aircraft was considered ready and serial production commenced.

After some further testing and crew training, the aircraft officially entered service with the Soviet Navy in August 1977, receiving the designation Yak-38. By 1982, over 140 Yak-38's were built, all of which served aboard the then new Kiev-class aircraft carriers. In the mid 1980's, the modernized Yak-38M version came into service, most prominently featuring more powerful engines as well as other improvements. About 50 Yak-38M's were built before the type was ultimately decommissioned in 1991.

Further development

The Yak-38M was seen as a stepping stone to a better VTOL aircraft by the Yakovlev Design Bureau. A large part of the Yak-38M design would end up in the Yak-41M which instead of having 2 nozzles, would instead pivot a much larger single engine exhaust while still retaining the 2 lift engines at the front, and unlike the Yak-38M it was supersonic capable. In the Western world it was known as the Yak-141 while inside the Soviet military it was the Yak-41M. When the Cold War ended and funding for the project was cut Yakovlev looked for other companies that would like to enter a partnership. In 1991 Yakovlev would enter a partnership with Lockheed-Martin and due to this relationship officially change the designation of the 2 flying prototypes to Yak-141. Lockheed-Martin would end up using the experience they gained from this on their X-35 plane which would end up being the F-35 family of planes, the F-35B is the one that has the general engine layout of the Yak-141.


See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the aircraft;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links

USSR jet aircraft
Bereznyak-Isayev  BI
Yakovlev  Yak-15 · Yak-15P · Yak-17 · Yak-23 · Yak-28B · Yak-30 · Yak-38 · Yak-38M
Mikoyan-Gurevich  MiG-9 · MiG-9 (l) · MiG-15 · MiG-15bis · MiG-15bis ISH · MiG-17 · MiG-17AS · MiG-19PT
  MiG-21F-13 · MiG-21PFM · MiG-21SMT · MiG-21bis · MiG-23M
Lavochkin  La-174 · La-15 · La-200
Sukhoi  Su-9 · Su-11 · Su-7B · Su-7BKL · Su-7BMK · Su-17M2
Ilyushin  IL-28 · IL-28Sh
Tupolev  Tu-14T