1/32 Hasegawa Northrop F-5E

Golden Crown F-5E of the Imperial Iranian Air Force

by Fred Shammas



 This is my first modeling article. I hope you enjoy the story behind building this model.

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The Imperial Iranian Air Force was one of the worldís largest F-5 users, taking delivery of about 160 F-5Es and Fs from 1974 to 1976. The IIAF Golden Crown Aerobatics Team chose this type of aircraft, transitioning over from the F-5A around 1975 . Iíve seen the Golden Crown team perform at airshows, and I know members of the 1977 team personally. Suffice it to say that Iíve always wanted to build a large scale F5 in IIAF Golden Crown markings. 

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In my opinion, the F-5 is one of the most beautiful aircraft in the world. In the past, I tried on two separate occasions to build one, but I couldnít finish them because I could not find IIAF Golden Crown decals anywhere in the market, and I did not know how to make my own decals. Iíve since learned how, and Iím very pleased how they turned out. 


Originally released in the late 1970s, the 1/32nd Scale Hasegawa F-5 is a fairly old kit. Despite itís age, itís arguably the best F-5 kit in any scale. I wanted the very best for this project, so I used a Black Box cockpit set, and it fit perfectly! 

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The model went together very easily with no problems except for the surface. I sanded off the existing raised detail and rescribed new panel lines. I also fabricated  intake and exhaust covers from scratch. The Farsi text, numbers and the Golden Crown logo were found at www.iiaf.net

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For the exterior I used several coats of  Testorís white paint, both glossy and flat. I used Testorís liquid cement (!) to thin my paints. It works better for me. 


So far, so good. Everything was going smooth, however, making the  Golden Crown decals was a little bit of a challenge. I had to learn how to make my own decals. Thanks to an old picture of a  G/C F-5 that I kept for many years, and with the cooperation of my friends at iiaf.net, I was able to achieve my goal of creating the decals. 

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The process started with enlarging the illustration to 1/32nd scale, which I accomplished by taking the picture to the copy center and making multiple copies. Then I started modifying these multiple profiles into 3-dimensional masks which would accurately fit the compound curves of the model (I would wrap the masks around the unpainted model to ensure the scallops would match up without gaps or puckering). These shapes were than laid down on frisket film, and the appropriate colors were sprayed. The masking was removed, and the colored shapes were cut out and placed onto a new piece of frisket film. After several days of masking, painting, cutting and pasting I had a master with all the text and markings which could be taken to a printer for final printing onto decal sheet. By the way, the decal sheets were not cheap. In the process, I made several mistakes. When you make your own decals it requires spraying a lot of clear coat layers, so it will make the decals strong enough to be cut and submerged in the water without falling apart. The project was starting to come to life, slowly. 

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Now it was time to start applying decals onto the model. Oh boy, the model looks great. After the decaling was done, I added all of the ďFiddly Bitsí, like landing gear, doors, safety pins, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

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Iím so pleased with the final product that Iím starting another one. This time it will be number 7 airplane, for my friend Maj. F. Nasirkhani, who flew Crown #7. As I mentioned before, the Farsi text, numbering and crown logo comes from www.iiaf.net. Without their help, this project would never have left the ground. 

I have several decal sheets of the Golden Crown. If youíd like to find out more about the IIAF, visit www.iiaf.net, where you can find some cool pictures and interesting articles. 

Iím planning on building all 7 aircraft. For Photography, I used a SONY CyberShot 3.2 megapixel digital camera, with some of my 1/48th scale models in the background for ĎWindow DressingĒ. 

Thanks also to Dave Hansen for help in editing my terrible English.


Photos and text © by Fred Shammas