This first entry in a new Flightcraft series looks at two Soviet spyplanes. The Yak-25RV was a high flying aircraft similar to the American U-2, and was very obviously different to the basic Yak-25, with totally redesigned wings to improve lift at high altitude. The MiG-25R series of high-speed reconnaissance aircraft was less visually distinct, but more effective, and with a much long service career.
For each aircraft we get a development history, a look at its service record, a detailed description of the type and a review of the available models. These are supported by an excellent selection of photographs and plans, including pictures of the real aircraft and of well built models, top, side and front line plans and side drawings showing various colour schemes.
The Yak-25 is an interesting aircraft. It was given so much lift that it was actually quite hard to fly at lower altitudes, while at its normal operating altitudes there was only a 10mph gap between stalling speed and maximum safe speed. It could also be quite hard to land, with minimum power still enough to keep it in the air (some First World War rotary powered aircraft suffered from a similar problem, in that case due to engines with little or no throttle control). Despite these problems the Yak-25 still had a fifteen year service career, not at all bad for the period.
The MiG-25 is the more successful of the two, with a career that included active service in Egypt before the Soviet Union fell out with the Egyptians in the mid 1970s and was also briefly involved in the war in Afghanistan.
The modelling sections differ - the Yak 25RV is the subject of several models, so we get normal reviews. In contrast the reconnaissance MiG is currently unrepresented, so instead the authors focus on a conversion kit that contains the correct reconnaissance nose (with the slight problem that the new nose is for a less accurate original model).
Soviet U-2 - The Yakovlev Yak-25RV
Mach 2.5 Spy: Mikoyan MiG-25R series
MiG-25 in Colour
Author: Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation