Bestfong 72003: 1/72 RoCAF RF-5E
PRICE: HK$45.00
KIT: Various 1/72 F-5E (Italeri, Trumpeter, Airfix..) but you need the RF nose from the Airfix kit.
UNITS: 7 aircraft options

Northrop's F-5E was a very successful export fighter. It had a nice mix of decent capability and relative simplicity, meaning smaller air forces could get some good use out of it, and not simply buy expensive planes to watch them rot in hangars for lack of maintenance, as happened to those air forces who bought jets beyond their capability. At least ten air forces used the F-5E, and several still operate large fleets - the Republic of Korea flies 174 (says wikipedia).

Less successful was the recon variant of the F-5. Called RF-5E, it had a camera nose but otherwise retained the basic capability of the F-5E. Malaysia ordered a couple, as did the Saudis, but that was it. What happened? Maybe smaller air forces figured recon pods were better, because then a jet could still be used for its full combat capacity when not flying photo missions. Still, later, Taiwan, with a sizeable F-5 fleet, decided it needed a recon capability and it modified seven existing airframes to roughly the same standard. 

This decal sheet gives you RoCAF's current RF-5E low visibility scheme, with a cool tail design. You get the numbers to make any one of the seven airframes that fly with the 401 TFW 12 TFS. It includes a colour sheet showing the painting instructions (a modern two tone grey on grey scheme). It gives Mr Color references. The topside is 307 which is meant to be FS36320 Dark Ghost Grey but which comes out a bit too blue. Check online - google images throws up some good pics.

Airfix made a kit of the RF-5E which I have built and plan to re-do using these decals (as the ones I used from the original kit were of that lamentable mid-90s Airfix standard, which is code for "less than they could be", which in turn is code for "rubbish"). I'm not aware of another mainstream RF-5E kit in 1/72 but I imagine there are, or were, conversion sets available. Other modelers might get the Airfix kit for the camera nose and then use their preferred F-5E for the rest. I'm happy to vouch for the HobbyBoss kit which is quite a bit better than that old Airfix one. I know, as i've built both.

Richard F

June 2015

Bestfong does provide a Tigereye resin nose. Visitthis link.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Decal Review Index Page