Kit #AA2119. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of the Fokker VAK-191B,
complete with decals.
With the growing threat of a Soviet invasion –
and the risk of first-strikes knocking out major tactical airfields, NATO
countries in the 50s and 60s explored several VTOL options. The US looked at Zero-Length Launch systems,
which used a strap-on rocket to literally blast an F-100 or other fighter-bomber into flight. The British followed a path that led to the Harrier – also adopted by Spain, India and
the US Marines. Germany followed its own
path with several concepts, including the Fokker
VAK-191B, a near-clone of the Harrier.
Initially planned as a tactical nuclear strike fighter with moderate
supersonic dash capabilities, the aircraft eventually became a technology
demonstrator, equivalent to a US “X-plane” project.
In 1962, West Germany announced a requirement
for a new ground attack fighter to replace the Fiat G.91, and blended this need
with NATO’s focus on VTOL fighters. This effort focused on the Focke-Wulf Fw.1262 design, which was
developed in a partnership with Germany’s Vereinigte
Flugtechnische Werke (VFW) and Italy’s
Fiat as the VAK-191, a tactical nuclear strike fighter. Within five years, NATO
had lost interest in the tactical VTOL concept and Fiat had pulled out of the program.
Without the resources to undertake such
a program without partners, the West German Luftwaffe turned VAK-191B into a
technology demonstrator. Prototype development was cut from six to three airframes,
which made 91 flights between 1970 and 1975. These prototypes tested concepts later
included in the Panavia Tornado,
including 'fly-by-wire' technology.
As built, the VAK-191B would not have met its initial tactical goals, and in
comparison, the Harrier proved to be a much more combat-capable aircraft.