Monogram 1/48 F-20A Tigershark

KIT #: 5445
PRICE: $ Currently Out of Production
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Steve Eggers
NOTES: Only 1/48 F-20 around


It was the ultimate and last progression of Northropís F-5 series of low-cost fighter jets. F-5G was the designation given to a vastly improved version of the F-5E Tiger II that would be offered to the export market. It was to have been a reasonably-priced aircraft that would have a performance equal to that of the best first-line fighter aircraft available anywhere in the world.

The F-20 Tigershark was designed, built and tested (even flown by Gen. Chuck Yeager!) by the Northrop Corporation in the early 1980ís.The F-20 was the largest commercial military project ever attempted. Designed for the export market, Northrop invested $ 1.2 billion in the F-20 before the company cancelled it after six years of sales attempts with no customer. The lack of success in sales were due to shifting political stance in Washington and unrelated to the aircraft itself, which was the first to fully exploit the digital electronics revolution and was the most advanced aircraft of its day. Three prototypes were built, of which two crashed during sales demonstrations and one now resides at the Los Angeles County Museum of Science.


Monogramís offering of the F-20 depicts a 1/48th scale representation of the aircraft.  Although the instructions state that this model kit depicts a more production version than a prototype, I have my doubts. The kit is molded in dark metallic gray, and has very fine raised panel lines.

 The box art shows an F-20 (82-0062) in the colorful Red, White and Black stripes of 1983 Paris Air Show. After looking at many photographs of the Paris Air Show bird, I noticed some differences between the real aircraft and the model, most notably, the canopy. The Paris Air show bird carried an F-5E style canopy, while the other two F-20ís that were built have the 44% larger canopy. The Monogram kit comes with the later style canopy. Prototypes 2 and 3 can be built from this kit.  I do not know if the Monogram F-5E canopy will work with the F-20 to build serial number 82-0062.


Construction is pretty straight forward, although, itís not the easiest aircraft to build.

The first step is the construction of the cockpit, as with many aircraft kits. Detail here is very good, nice and crisp. The ejection seat is very well done, matching the photographs of the Tigershark. 

I painted the cockpit and instrument panel overall light ghost gray. The ejection seat is painted Tamiya Haze Gray, with flat red seat and flat yellow ejection handle and then shaded to bring out the detail of the seat. The mechanics of the canopy opening/closing mechanism was also painted Haze Gray and shaded.

 The fuselage is in 2 sections, a top and a bottom.  Like I stated earlier, the wings and the horizontal stabilizers are molded as part of the top fuselage half.  This is actually the one endearing quality of this kit. One does not have to worry about sanding off the detail around the wings.

The aft section of the fuselage is attached as a separate piece. It leaves a pretty nasty gap that I never got finished to my satisfaction. It looked good when I prepped the area, after painting, it didnít come out exactly like I had wanted it to. It actually turned out looking more like a recessed panel line than anything else.

The kit comes with two AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, as well as a centerline fuel tank. I wish the kit had come with the additional wing tanks that were usually seen in many of the F-20 photos back in the 1980ís.

The Sparrow cannot be mounted the way they are shown in the instructions. An additional launcher needs to be added, and I havenít done it. Maybe at a later dateÖ


I decided to depict this aircraft as prototype number two tone gray paint scheme.  I used the Hasagawa 1/72 scale F-20 instruction sheet as a reference to paint the model.

Light Ghost Gray (FS35375):  top of aircraft and top of the centerline fuel tank.

Light Gray (FS36495): bottom of aircraft, bottom of centerline tank.

Neutral Gray (FS36270): nose radome

Medium Gray(FS35327): glare area

The kit decal sheet is a typical Monogram sheet. I found the best way to put these decals on is to get the absolute hottest water that your fingers can stand and attach them to a GLOSSY surface.  Do NOT use a setting solution with these decals, for some reason it just doesnít work. 

 After all the decals were applied, I used Willow Charcoal and shaded various areas of the model. Notably any louvered vents, and aileron and flap areas.


Iíve always thought that the F-20 never got the opportunity it really deserved. I remember seeing this aircraft when I was growing up in the 1980ís and thinking that it was the one of the coolest fighter planes ever made. Even the designation sounded cool, it was the F-20. Although, my finished product wonít win any model contests, it suits me and I finally have an F-20 in my collection.

Steve Eggers

November 2005

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