1/72 ESCI CF-5B (CF-116) “RUT ZULU”

Gallery Article by Chris Dittmar


Although considered by some in Canada to be an “unpopular aircraft” the CF-5 soldiered on for many years in the Canadian Armed Forces until being prematurely retired in the 1990s after a massive service life extension. During the 1980’s the 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron flew the CF-5 introducing prospective fighter pilots to all aspects of fighter operations before they proceeded to an operational squadron. Through this period a four member demonstration team known as the “Rut Zulus” flying the two seat CF-5B (CF-116) combined a variety of close formation and fast paced maneuvers that entertained spectators across Canada and the United States. All members of the Rut Zulu team were qualified instructors and their aircraft were painted in several aggressor schemes making for a colorful show.   


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The ESCI CF-5B (CF-116) kit has long been one of my favorites among jet aircraft and as F-5s go there is nothing out there at present that comes close to this offering. As it hasn’t been produced in a number of years the kit is hard to come across, but it is still available at swaps and I often see it on e-bay for not a bad price.

The kits parts were cleanly molded and I found that it went together with little effort. It features fine recessed panel lines and only a small amount of filler was needed in order to blend the wings into the fuselage. The kit was built straight out of the box with the exception with the pitot tube on the nose that was made with telescoping tubing.

While I intend to build all four aircraft from the Rut Zulu team the “Lizard” scheme looked to be the easiest to attempt first. Be aware that there is a slight colour difference between the Canadian and US Lizard schemes on the F-5, the US scheme is much darker. I learned this the hard way and had to strip the paint off the kit, check my resources and begin painting again. The kit was painted using Tamiya Acrylics mixed to FS colours Yellow FS 33531, Green FS 34258 and Brown FS 30118.  These were all masked with Blue Tack and then a coat of future was applied. I decide to paint the tip tanks in the Hi-viz scheme as they are interchangeable with all CF-5s and I thought it would add a little more colour to the aircraft. 


The kits decals were old and unusable so I decided to use the Mike Grant CF-5 sheet. This set is really well done with enough decals for four different planes. After applying the decals the kit was finished up with hi-lighting the panel lines using a Dirty Brown chalk pastel wash and a coat of flat. 

Overall the kit was a joy to build and I am looking forward to working on the remaining three aircraft from the Rut Zulu team. Hopefully this kit will become easier to find in the future as I understand that Italeri has been re-releasing some of the old ESCI molds. Perhaps this kit will be next. 

Chris Dittmar


Photos and text © by Chris Dittmar