Italeri 1/72 F-5E Tiger Ii




$Unk, bought at swap met


Four aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Testors boxing. Decals and parts identical.


The F-5E "Tiger II" was a greatly improved version of the earlier F-5A "Freedon Fighter". Redesigned as a highly maneuverable, lightweight and inexpensive air superiority fighter, the -E featured an air-to-air fire control radar system and a lead computing gunsight. More powerful J85 engines required the fuselage to be both widened and lengthened. The forward wing root was redesigned to give the "Tiger II" wing its characteristic triple delta shape.

The first flight of the F-5E was on 11 August 1972. The first USAF unit to receive the aircraft was the 425th TFS at Williams AFB, Arizona responsible for training foreign pilots in the F-5 aircraft. The most well known use of the "Tiger II" was as an aggressor aircraft at the USAF Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB Nevada. The aggressor pilots of the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron were trained in Soviet tactics and used the -Es to similate MiG-21s for training USAF pilots in aerial combat skills. Eventually, aggressor squadrons were formed at RAF Alconbury, U.K. and Clark AB, PI for training USAF pilots stationed overseas along with pilots of friendly foreign nations.



There are many out there who think that old means bad or that raised panel lines on a model kit somehow diminish its desirability. Well those who think that are really missing out on a lot of very nice models. This is one of them. There are not a ton of parts to this kit because this aircraft is not that large. Parts are well molded in light grey plastic and offer a decent level of detail. There is good detail in the cockpit and wheel wells. The instrument panels have raised detail and while the bang seat is a bit simplistic, it is more than adequate. There are no sink areas nor flash. There are some ejector pin marks on the landing gear legs and on the fins of the bombs.

In terms of optional bits, well, you can pose the canopy open, though the mechanism is very much simplified. You also have the choice of adding the various underwing stores, though to not include them means filling the holes for the pylons in the single-piece wing. Frankly, the bombs and missiles aren't bad, but even those with the Hasegawa weapons set are a bit better formed. Three sets of drop tanks, two for the wings and one centerline are also included. If nothing else, the planes were most often seen with the centerline tank unless involved in ACM.

Since this is a Testors boxing, the instructions are most complete, showing whatever differences there are depending on which set of decals will be used.  Color info is given by FS 595 standard or by Testors Model Master paint number as well as generic name. Decals are very well done by Microscale and offer markings for four aircraft. First is a Swiss plane in twotone greys. Second is a Taiwanese Tiger in an SEA color of two greens and a tan over light grey. A Navy adversary aircraft from Top Gun is next in a wrap scheme of two blues and a grey over a light blue (see image below of model I built in 1985). Finally a Jordanian F-5E in a desert scheme of brown, tan and dark green over light blue. All of them very fetching camo schemes. There are also a number of aftermarket decals available for this kit.



This isn't the only 1/72 F-5E kit out there, but in my mind, it is the best. Trumpeter has recently issued an engraved version of this kit, but this one still seems to be better done. I've built a bunch of these and the similar F-5F kit and really like them.

Review kit courtesy of me.

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