Matchbox 1/72 F-5B/CF-116D Freedom Fighter

KIT #: PK-39 (1989)
PRICE: Currently Out of Production
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Victor Scheuerman
NOTES: OOP Mike Grant Decals used.



While the American aggressors are well known, their Canadian counterparts were not. Until the premature retirement of this diminutive fighter, one of its roles in the Canadian Forces was that of aggressor. As per their southern cousins, these aircraft supported some interesting camouflage finishes. While the colour gauntlet ran from sprayed aluminum to ‘Lizard’, it was the ‘Ghost Scheme’ (Final) that was to become standard.




See the preview for more information. While the kit decals look good, this kit was built to use some ALPS printed decals that were available at one time from Mike Grant Decals. The decals look flawless and the paint guide was supplied in full colour.


In addition to the ‘Ghost’ scheme dual modelled, the sheet offers three others. A ‘Ghost’ single seater that lacks the white in the national insignia. A single seater, with wrap around dark grey and green camouflage. This CF-5 belongs to 434 ‘Bluenose’ Squadron, and the latter’s schooner is featured in a dark blue tail band. The last option is another CF-5D, but this is in sprayed aluminum with high visibility red wing tips. There is a sheet of serial numbers in three sizes that will allow you to model any CF-5, except for the ‘Bort’ aggressor number. Also included were the canopy silhouettes in black for the fuselage bottom, for both the single and dual aircraft. (Editor's Note: I believe that Leading Edge also does a CF-116 sheet)




As stated, the basic cockpit was upgraded slightly. First off, remove the interior lettering and ejector pin stubs from the fuselage walls. Since the center console was short-shot on the one side, both sides were removed. Missing crewmembers were found in the spares box, and appropriately they came from the Matchbox Strikemaster kit. Improvements were made from .010” card and comprised; floor to the aft section, the back of the kit seats, new center console and instrument panel, main instrument panel and gunsight.  The interior and figures were painted, with black dots made from a drafting pen fronting as instrument faces. One note here is the location of the rear seat. If you attach it to its locating lug; the seat sits so far aft, that the closed canopy will hide it. To correct this, mark on the sill where the aft framing starts, and mounted the seat so that it is slightly ahead of this.


The fuselage and main wings were glued together, while the unused wing pylon locating holes were filled in. The rear tailplanes come attached to a wide bar that fits into a separate lower rear fuselage. This would have resulted in a tuff joint to fill and sand. This bar was cut off and glued into place and then this whole lower section, minus the tailplanes, was attached to the fuselage halves. The tailplanes would be attached later. All the gear doors were glued in the up position and fitted very well. Filler was only required on the bottom were the wing and fuselage met, along the upper wing fillet, and the modified rear fuselage. As this was to be a CF-5D, the missing intakes on the upper aft fuselage were made from strip. 

The cockpit opening was covered with a foam mask, and the model was sanded smooth and given a coat of primer. I decided to replace the removed raised panel lines with engraved ones. To this end, Testors Masking Tape was used as a guide for the OPHA P-Cutter blade. With engraving complete, the model was re-shot in primer. The masked canopy was attached, first with white glue, then five-minute epoxy; but only after repeated sandings to get a decent fit.


Mike Grants Decals includes full colour side and top profile guides, along with FS numbers. Using this information, Floquil Primer was used as the base colour.  Testors Model Master (MM) Neutral Gray, and MM Intermediate Blue did duty for the other two camouflage colours. These were all sprayed free hand, using a Badger 100 double-action, interior-mix, with a fine tip. When dry, the model was given a gloss coat of Micro Gloss.  


The decals are covered with a solid cover film; therefore they must be cut out individually. This was done, and as recommended, decals were applied using Micro Set/Sol. In my case not all decals fully settled into the Matchbox trenches; but then some regular decals will not either. Another thing that was noticed was the pattern in the blue tail stripe – see photo. Over all the decals worked well.


With the decals in place, the model was given a Raw Umber wash. Micro Flat was then misted on, until the desired finish was achieved. The masking was removed from the canopy, which was then polished. Next, the pre-bent brass tube was epoxied into the opened port exhaust. When this attachment had fully cured, the model was then attached to the base in the same method. Final additions like the nose Pitot tube and clearance lights were added after the model was in place.




For this base I was fortunate to have purchased a 419 (Moose) Squadron stick-on crest at an airshow. This is done in a clean blue/red finish that also shows the silhouette of a CF-5. I would normally use the main colour of the model for the base trim colour, but in this case, the blue in the sticker was the guide. A ‘standard’ Wal-Mart pine base was used. The wood was well sealed, with three applications of wood sealer, with a light sanding being done between each coat. The top was then stained Oak, while the sides were painted Testors Pla 1162 Mat Skyblue, as it was close to the blue in the crest and squadron tail bar. The crest was colour photo copied, as this was the only one I had. The cut paper copy was then glued to the base with rubber cement. A hole was drilled in one end of the wood base to accept the brass tube that the model would be mounted on. Final step before the model was mounted was to spray a couple of coats of clear satin finish to seal the colours and paper together and to give a uniform finish.


If you want an accurate F-5, then build the superior ESCI/Italeri kit. However, if you, or your child, want something that clearly looks like an F-5 and is an easy build; then I heartily recommend this Matchbox version of this popular jet. As to the title ‘The Moose is Loose’, this is a phrase that was sometimes used when a 419 (Moose) Squadron aircraft was in the air.

October 2008

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