Hasegawa 1/72 F-20 Tigershark

KIT #: 00233
PRICE: $15.95 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2003 boxing



The F-20 Tigershark (initially F-5G) was a privately financed light fighter, designed and built byNorthrop. Its development began in 1975 as a further evolution of Northrop'sF-5E Tiger II, featuring a new engine that greatly improved overall performance, and a modern avionics suite including a powerful and flexibleradar. Compared with the F-5E, the F-20 was much faster, gainedbeyond visual range air-to-air capability, and had a full suite of air-to-ground modes capable of firing most U.S. weapons. With these improved capabilities, the F-20 became competitive with contemporary U.S. fighter designs like theF-16 Fighting Falcon, but was much less expensive to purchase and operate.

Much of the F-20's development was carried out as part of aU.S. Department of Defense (DoD) project called "FX", which intended to sell less-advanced fighter designs to U.S. allies to limit the possibility of front-line U.S. technology falling intoSoviet hands. FX developed out of a general re-working of U.S. military export policy started under theCarter administration in 1977. Although Northrop had high hopes for the F-20 in the international market, changes in policy followingRonald Reagan's election left the F-20 competing for sales with front line fighters like the F-16. The development program was eventually abandoned in 1986 after three prototypes had been built and a fourth partially completed.


Back in the 'olden days', it was not at all uncommon for a kit maker to produce a kit for which there were no variants. This was, of course, before it was imperative to get the most out of a set of molds by doing multiple versions. Today, it is rare indeed for a major kit maker to take this sort of gamble and we have to rely on the short run folks for many of the more unusual, one-off subjects. Back in the 80's when this kit was developed, it was also desirable to be the first out on the market with a new type and it just so happened that this particular subject never got past the prototype stage.

Despite the 2003 date on the side of the box, the instructions date from 1986 when this kit was first made. It adheres to Hasegawa's then new trend of engraved panel lines and minimal cockpit detailing, something that pretty much continues today. The only real difference is the lack of multiple inserts for the different versions. This kit has the usual decals for instruments, a fairly nice bang seat and a pilot figure to help fill the cockpit. Speed brakes can be posed deployed though there is no actuating cylinder. Same for the landing gear. There is an insert for the nose guns and one can add an air refueling probe if one wishes, though it looks rather silly. This is the later F-20 so the first prototype cannot be accurately molded because of the later canopy that is suplied. . The kit provides a boarding ladder if you wish to pose the canopy open and there are either fuel tanks or missiles for most of the pylons as shown on the box art.

Instructions are limited to Gunze paint references with FS 595 call-outs where appropriate. Decals are old school and give markings for the second prototype in two shades of grey. These aircraft were shown to a lot of countries in hopes of gleaning sales and when shown, they usually wore the insignia of the country being visited. If you can find photos that show this, it will help to add a bit of spice to what is really a pretty bland camo scheme.  


If you want an F-20 (aka F-5G) in 1/72 scale, well this is about it. Monogram does the 1/48 version and anyone doing a collection of US fighters will need to have this one. Fortunately, it is one of those kits that seems to always be available so getting one shouldn't be an issue.



July 2009

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