"Tiger II" was a greatly improved version of the earlier F-5A
"Freedom Fighter". Redesigned as a highly manoeuvrable, lightweight
and inexpensive air superiority fighter, the -E featured an air-to-air fire
control radar system and a lead computing gunsight. More powerful J85 engines
required the fuselage to be both widened and lengthened. The forward wing root
was redesigned to give the "Tiger II" wing its characteristic triple
flight of the F-5E was on
11 August 1972
. The first USAF unit to receive the aircraft was the 425th TFS at Williams AFB,
responsible for training foreign pilots in the F-5 aircraft. The most well
known use of the "Tiger II" was as an aggressor aircraft at the
, Nellis AFB Nevada. The aggressor pilots of the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron
were trained in Soviet tactics and used the -Es to simulate MiG-21s for training
USAF pilots in aerial combat skills. Eventually, aggressor squadrons were formed
, PI for training USAF pilots stationed overseas along with pilots of friendly
Span: 26 ft. 8
Length: 48 ft.
Height: 13 ft.
lbs. max. takeoff weight
M-39 20mm cannons, rockets, missiles and 5,500 lbs. of bombs externally
General Electric J85-GE-21s of 5,000 lbs. thrust each with afterburner
1.63 mach at 36,000 ft. (1,050 mph)
miles (maximum with external fuel tanks)
Ceiling: 50,700 ft.
I have always
liked the F-5 family of sleek and aggressive looking light fighter aircraft.
There have been many kits in 1:72 of the T-38 Talon, F-5 Freedom fighters and
F-5E Tiger II, plus the F-5F twin seat fighter and the F-20 Tigershark. In
, Monogram produced a superb series of F-5 kits ending with the F-20 kit during
the mid eighties. Last year Sword released a limited run new tool T-38A Talon
and Classic Airframes are to release the F-5A and F-5B.
Of the 1:72
scale choices, Italeri are the better of any still available and I was fortunate
enough to be able to purchase the F-5E (old style radome) and F-5F from a kind
modeller in the
for US$7 each. Italeri has retooled the F-5E to depict the “shark nosed”
radome of later models.
To make matters
even better, I was also able to purchase a set of Cutting Edge resin ejector
seats and another fellow modeller from Brazil send me a FCM sheet depicting a
Brazilian Air Force F-5E from Pampas Squadron 1°/14° G. AV. –
“Anniversario de 53 anos”.
research showed the subject F-5E as being armed with wingtip Sidewinders and
Rafael Python 3 AAM’s or bombs. Keen to do the Python AAM armed option; I
managed to secure a pair of resin aftermarket missiles from the
I now had all
the ingredients to do a F-5E that differed somewhat from the more usual
offerings of this type.
Resides in a
depicting an typical end opening Italeri box with box art depicting an
attractive in-flight USAF F-5E in Aggressor markings. Opening the box reveals
two grey plastic sprues, one clear, an excellent decal sheet and a instruction
sheet. On the whole, all parts are clean and flash free, with fine, raised panel
As is common
with F-5E kits, the fuselage consists of upper and lower halves joined
horizontally. I am still undecided to which is better, a vertical or horizontal
seam, but certainly clean up would be easier along the fuselage sides than the
dorsal and ventral spines.
The two piece
windshield and canopy were commendably thin but not being bagged separately,
were scuffed and surface scratched. One of the wingtip missile rails had broken
and after a frantic search the broken part was found, much to my delight and
inspection were dense, sharp and commendably thin. But they went into the decal
bank as I had these excellent looking, although a little thick, FCM decals.
images below to see larger images
(as always) started in the cockpit. Italeri provides a very nicely moulded
cockpit tub and instrument panel that looks fantastic with some careful painting
and highlighting. I used overall Citadel Codex Grey and also tried
Flat Black for the first time.
has an incredible range of acrylic colours to choose from which need to be
thinned with distilled water prior to application. Once dry, which is very
quick, there are NO brush marks at all. I will be moving to using these paints
exclusively for detail and hand painting work.
paints can be sprayed as well (either the standard range or the airbrush range)
I cleaned up
the control stick and added some detail with scrap stretched sprue, once painted
this was attached to the cockpit tub. The kit supplied seat is very basic,
consisting of two halves joined vertically down the middle. This results in a
messy seam that needs considerable work to get rid off. Fortunately, however, I
had a Cutting Edge resin replacement seat. Once carefully painted up the resin
replacement seat looked superb!
A quick dry fit
ensured the completed cockpit tub fitted very well, but the open nature of the
area behind the seat needed two small bulkheads of plasticard fitted and painted
Codex Grey to conceal the empty holes visible through the cockpit opening. The
horizontal fuselage halves were then cemented into place with only moderate
amounts of filler needed. These were then cleaned up with wet and dry used wet
to remove any seam lines and smooth everything into place.
where the each wing abutted to the lower fuselage, required filling and sanding
to eradicate the join line, so out came the putty and nail polish remover which
provided a nice smooth join. The one piece tail slotted neatly into the area
provided and only required a small amount of filler and some careful sanding to
complete fuselage assembly work.
and clamshell canopy were polished with Novus plastic polish and brush painted
with Future inside and out to improve clarity. Once the Future had cured, Tamiya
masking tape was used to mask both clear parts and the windshield was then
cemented in place. PVA glue was then used to fill any gaps. The canopy was
tacked into place using Maskol in preparation for the painting stage.
provide a simple peg like affair to support the canopy in the open position,
which is a far cry from the F-5E’s complex hinge mechanism. Unfortunately, I
had no aftermarket resin cockpit replacement and was not keen to attempt scratch
building so I went ahead with what the kit supplied.
The inside of
the intakes were the hardest to clean up, with a mould separation line causing
all sorts of grief. In hindsight, it may have been easier for Italeri to mould
the splitter plate and intake separately to avoid this problem. However, in the
end all was well and I painted these parts separately to ensure full coverage of
the light aircraft grey on the insides of the covers. After the paint had dried
I cemented them to the fuselage and after a little filler and sanding, a good
I then repaired
the broken wingtip rail and added the underwing pylons, filling any gaps between
each pylon and the wing underside with PVA glue. The final item to add was the
nose pitot which was cemented into place and faired in to the radome contours
with superglue. This was sanded as soon as cured and was polished with wet and
dry. By using superglue for this task, I ensured a strong bond.
legs and tyres were sprayed with Tamiya AS-12, then I weathered the aluminium
finish with a “sludge wash” of Aeromaster Tyre Black, detergent and water.
Adding the detergent retards the drying time of the acrylic paint considerably
allowing excess wash being able to be removed with cotton buds and micro brushes
after 15-30 minutes drying time. The tyres were then painted with Aeromaster
Tyre black. A coat of Aeromaster flat sealed the wash in and imparted a
realistic weathered look to the aluminium finish. I then assembled the
centreline fuel tank and bombs, taking care not to sand flat spots while
removing seam lines.
pylons proved to be an issue with my selection of load-out as the Python
missiles needed a different style pylon to that supplied in the kit. In the end
I elected to use the kit supplied bombs, painting them dark blue to represent
the “inert” practice bombs shown as part of load-out on the subject
Sidewinder’s proved to be a problem. Brazilian Air Force aircraft use the
AIM-9B and of late a new AAM based on the AIM-9B (with AIM –9L style finlets)
called the MAA-1 Piranha. The kit supplied missiles were generic AIM-9L style
missiles which I initially thought needed replacing. Eventually, after much
thought and trial and error, I modified the nose of the kit supplied AIM-9L’s
and depicted them as the MAA-1. During this time of confusion and angst I posted
a HELP! Message on the ARC forum, which was answered promptly. Thanks RJ!
Painting and Decaling
A primer coat
went on first, to highlight any flaws. Several were revealed and then dealt
The FCM decal
placement instructions indicated that the overall blue-grey finish on the
Squadron F-5E was to be FS 35526. Checking online for colour swatches of the FS
number, I was surprised to find that this was a light blue shade, although with
a grey hue to it. However more research and a couple of emails to my Brazilian
friend Mario Serelle, revealed that the correct colour was indeed FS 36375. A
quick search through my Paint Locker yielded Gunze H308 and Aeromaster Light
Ghost Grey, with the Aeromaster colour appearing to be the closest match to this
colour. Unfortunately the Aeromaster paint had thickened over the years, the
good news being that it thinned well enough to airbrush with Tamiya thinner and
bays were then painted with Humbrol Flat Aluminium and once dry, washed with the
same sludge wash applied to the undercarriage.
decals was initially nerve racking as I had no experience with FCM decals. The
images on the sheet were sharp and in register with a matt sheen to the carrier
film. This is certainly a similarity with Revell AG decals. Application wise,
the decals went on well and responded slightly to Aeromaster Sol. The decals did
silver, even after repeated applications of decal solvent. This became more
readily apparent after the flat seal coat.
All that was
required now was the addition of cut to size red decal to represent the red tail
Pictures of the
subject plane, sent to me by Mario Serelle, showed that the plane was not kept
perfectly clean by its ground crews, so I began the weathering by applying a
wash to the recessed panel lines around the control surfaces. For this I used
the same “sludge wash” I used previously on the undercarriage.
Once again the
model was put aside to cure and finally sprayed with Pollyscale Flat Coat,
giving an overall flat appearance. I then post shaded the raised panel lines
with some medium grey pastels, adding to the slightly worn look of the Ghost
Grey finish. Finally the BMF around the exhaust cones was darkened with graphite
dust and some brown chalk.
came off now and revealed painted framing that was nicely defined. I buffed away
any uneven areas with a sharpened wooden toothpick and then polished the canopy
clear areas with a cotton bud.
assembly involved addition of the pre-painted underwing load-out, wingtip
MAA-1’s (modified AIM-9L’s) and centreline fuel tank.
canopy installation was fiddly to undertake. I found the best course of action
was to attach the peg with CA glue to the underside of the canopy and then once
set, attach the peg into the provided slot in the rear cockpit bulkhead. A quick
touch-up around the peg area saw the canopy assembly completed.
Air Force F-5E Tiger II was now finished!
images below to see larger images
This kit was a
fine and easy build, with very little filler or major sanding needed to complete
the kit. I certainly will build my twin seat Italeri F-5F and will also add the
later “shark nosed” F-5E kit to my stash.
addition I would make to the kit is to replace the ejector seat with a resin
aftermarket example. This is well worth doing as it will save a lot of hard work
and enhance the remainder of the superb cockpit immensely.
will be using FCM decals again, although the next time I will use Johnson’s
Future (Super Stride, Pledge One Go in
) to bed down the decals and to try and avoid silvering issues
already been made about the unusual light ghost grey finish of my F-5E, which
certainly was one of my goals; to produce something a little different!
Lock On: F5E Tiger II
de Vasconcelos Serelle (FCM decals, heaps of images and loads of advice)