Revell/Hasegawa 1/32 F-5E Tiger II 'Swiss'
2 Bobs decals and Black Box cockpit used. Both OOP.
In 1970 Northrop won a competition for an improved
Fighter Aircraft (IFA) to replace the F-5A. The
resultant aircraft, initially known as
subsequently became the
It was lengthened and enlarged, with increased wing area and more sophisticated
avionics (the F-5A and -B had no radar). Various specific avionics fits could be
accommodated at customer request. Unlike the gunless F-5B, it retained a single
M39 cannon in the nose, albeit with a reduced ammunition capacity. A
reconnaissance version, the
with a sensor package in the nose displacing the radar and one cannon, was also
offered. The latest radar upgrade included mapping capability, however, most
nations chose not to upgrade due to financial reasons, and the radar only saw
very limited service in USAF aggressor squadrons and Swiss air force.
In 1968 The US Navy
instituted a formal Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) program in, with the
formation of the US Navy Postgraduate Course in Fighter Weapons Tactics and
Doctrine at NAS Miramar, which is better known as
Top Gun. This program was established in response to
a relatively poor air-to-air combat result over
kill ratio being only about 2 to 1 in favor
of the Navy, which was far from
satisfactory. The first course began in March of 1969.
At first, the emphasis was placed
on close-in air-to-air dogfighting, which had previously been de-emphasized in
favor of missile launches, but it later became recognized that it might be
useful to fly against a dissimilar type of adversary aircraft in the simulated
dogfights. This would force students to pay closer attention to the equipment
flown by the enemy--recognizing its strong points and looking for any
At first, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
attack aircraft were used as the adversary trainers, since the aircraft was
small, highly-maneuverable, and well suited to replicate the Soviet fighters of
the day. The adversary Skyhawks were painted with camouflage schemes that
approximated those of potential enemies. The Skyhawks were later joined by
Northrop T-38A Talon trainers.
This program was successful in
improving the Navy's kill ratio in combat over
and by 1972, the Navy's kill ratio in air-to-air combat had jumped to about 12
to 1. The success of the program resulted in the
program being elevated in status to that of a separate establishment in
July 1, 1972,
when it formally adopted the title
At the same time, it was decided to expand the Top Gun program beyond NFWS at
and the Navy set up dedicated full-time adversary squadrons at NAS Oceana,
Virginia and at NAS Miramar, California.
VFC-13 began its life in 1946
when VF-753 was commissioned and began flying the F6F Hellcat. Today's squadron
was formed on September 1, 1973
at NAS New Orleans when the US Navy was reorganizing the US Naval Reserve. The
squadron first flew the F-8 Crusader. In April 1974 they transitioned to the A-4
Skyhawk. The demand for west coast adversary squadrons and other
missions meant the squadron was moved to NAS Miramar in February 1976, that
summer they transitioned from the A-4L to the two seat TA-4J. In 1983 they
returned to single-seat aircraft when they transitioned to the A-4E, and in 1988
they upgraded to the more powerful A-4F. (Editor's note: Throughout the Skyhawk
era, the unit always had at least two TA-4Js.)
In October 1993 VFC-13 transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet
which further enhanced the squadron's ability to perform its adversary mission
by providing an even more capable and realistic threat aircraft. When the Navy
School, or TOPGUN, the
squadron transferred to NAS Fallon in April 1996 and also transitioned to the
F-5E Tiger II. The unit's mix of 23 F-5E, F-5F and F-5N aircraft are all painted
in a variety of colorful adversary schemes of blue, gray, or brown camouflage.
In January of 2006, VFC-13 established a permanent detachment of 12 aircraft at
NAS Key West for East Coast training. Subsequently, in the fall of 2006, the
VFC-13 Key West detachment was designated squadron VFC-111, with an assignment
of one F-5F and 10 F-5N. In parallel, the eleven aircraft strength of VFC-13 at
NAS Fallon was increased to 17 (still all F-5's).
VFC-13 provides quality
adversary training for regular Navy fleet and replacement squadrons and air
wings, reserve fighter and attack squadrons, U.S.A.F. and U.S.M.C. units, and
Canadian forces. The Fighting Saints have received two consecutive C.N.O. Safety
Awards, the Golden Wrench Maintenance Award, and in 1994, a
In almost constant production
for 25 years this is the only 32nd
scale kit of the F-5E around. The kit, when purchased from an estate consignment
at my local hobbyshop, was in the Revell of Germany boxing as a Swiss Tiger but
it is all Hasegawa. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and has five sprues
molded in light grey and a single sprue of clear parts. The kit is definitely of
late 70’s vintage with raised panel lines, huge joint gaps/mismatches and sparse
detail despite being in a newer boxing. RoG
hasn’t done much to improve the
original Hasegawa molding. The kit represents the F-5Es that came off the
production line in the early 1970s. The kit includes the sharknose or
‘shovel-nosed’ radome that came out as a result of the F-5G/F-20 program.
Kit options are:
Choice of open or closed canopy
Choice of open or closed engine auxiliary intake doors
Port gun bay can be posed open or closed (more on that later)
Centerline fuel tank
The kit also includes wing pylons, additional external tanks,
and bombs that are found in Swiss service. The kit does include the RWR (radar
warning receiver) fairings on the nose and tail section used on Swiss Tigers and
were retained on these aircraft acquired by some the US Navy Aggressors (be sure
to check references to make sure).
This is my RevellAG/Hasegawa F-5E “Sharknose” done up in VFC-13
colors using Two Bobs Aggressors decal sheet now, sadly OOP.
This model was a battle from start to finish.
Since I wanted to close up the gun bay on the nose
I first had to fit the doors. I don’t think it was ever Hasegawa’s intent for
you to close these up. The fit is terrible and gaps and mismatches abound.
amounts of bondo, styrene sheete, CA, Mr. Surfacer, Mr. Dissolved Putty
along with repeated applications of each and lots of wet sanding were required
to bring the moldline into shape.
I used the Black Box resin cockpit. The kit tub
isn’t that bad considering the vintage but the BB pit though does add quite a
bit to the model and is an improvement over the kits offering. The BB pit is not
a “drop-in” affair, however. Grinding and shaping of the resin tub is required
to get it to fit properly inside the forward fuselage and allow the forward
fuselage halves to join together without a gap. The glareshield requires some
cutting of the kit and a few dry fits to make sure it installs properly. The
cockpit was painted with Tamiya acrylics then given an enamel wash to ‘pop’ the
details. The various knobs and switches were done with a fine brush, steady hand
and keen eye.
Fitting the forward fuse to the aft fuse requires
a bit of putty, Mr. Surfacer and sanding getting things to spline correctly. You
to do this before you install the intakes though so you have good access to
areas that will be limited when they are in place. The intakes too require putty
and sanding to get them to fair in smoothly with the fuselage. I think by now
I’ve used almost a whole tube of Squadron white putty on this beast.
The wings were assembled and also needed some
putty to conceal the join lines on the bottom side. I thought about dropping the
flaps but I figured at this point I already had spent way more effort than I
anticipated. With the wings done they were glued to the fuselage and more putty
was needed to clean up the joints. (Are you starting to see a pattern here?)
Even the vertical fin needed putty to hide seam lines.
putty, Mr. Surfacer and sanding sessions followed until the model was deemed
ready for paint. It should be noted here that all during the sanding process the
canopy retraction and extension mechanism that’s part of the BB cockpit was
carefully accounted for so as to prevent damage to it. Unfortunately the best
laid plans and intentions of modelers are often for naught. During one wet
sanding session one of the mechanism arms was knocked off and sent spinning down
the drain. I think the screams could have been heard 100 miles away by Scott Van
Aken in central Illinois.
At this point with all I had been through I was seriously considering putting
the model through a wall. However, patience and calm persevered and I managed to
scratch build a replacement from kit parts and some scrap styrene. Another
I replace the kit pitot tube with some small
diameter brass tubing and music wire. It runs the full length of the radome to
the cockpit so there’s no chance of it breaking off.
The model was first primed with Mr Surfacer 1000 followed by
panel line shading with Floquil grimy black. Next an over all coat of PollyScale
dark ghost grey was applied to the entire model. This is where the fun started.
Using paper templates scaled up from the three views provided with the Two Bobs
decal sheet I applied the masking for the cammo scheme. A few nights and several
rolls of Tamiya tape later the masking was finished and it was time to apply the
PollyScale Blue USQM 3-1. I’m not exactly sure what this color is and where it’s
used in real life but it was the closest match I could find to the Two Bob’s
color sheet. This was
allowed to dry then the model was masked again for the
radome and wheel wells. The radome was sprayed Tamiya flat black and the wheel
wells were sprayed with Tamiya gloss white. After the paint dried overnight all
the masking was removed. The results were quite spectacular. The aft, stainless
steel area of the hot section was painted with various shades of Alclad II along
with the exhaust nozzles.
The decals were an old Two Bobs sheet I got from
another modeling buddy via one of the forums. The Two Bobs sheet gives you
options to do three different Aggressors and the data sheet is excellent with
full color pictures and drawings. I particularly liked the two toned splinter
scheme. The decals went on without trouble and needed just a bit of Solvaset to
get them to conform.
Now came all the fun parts like gear doors,
landing gear struts, tires, etc. These were cleaned up, ejector pin holes filled
(did I mention ejector pin marks abound on this kit….and in some most
inconvenient places), sanded, seams removed and such then painted, weathered and
made ready for assembly. The kit canopy is bare bones basic and doesn’t even
have panel lines on it. It’s just a smooth piece of plastic. After polishing and
dipping the canopy in future I installed the Black Box resin details
(pre-painted with Tamiya dark grey and weathered) then applied BMF to the
exterior for the aft doghouse portion (the kit canopy has no raised area to
duplicate this), side frames and canopy arch. The clear portion was then masked
off in prep for final paint.
The airframe was now given a
satin clear coat with PollyScale clear and final assembly commenced.
I scratch built the ACMI pod with one of the kits
unused Sidewinders, the kit unused pitot probe and some music wire using
reference photos from the web. It was painted international orange, black and
silver and glued in place on the left wing tip launch rail. The wheel wells,
landing gear, air brake bays and gear doors were given a black enamel wash to
bring out the highlights. I assembled the kit’s boarding ladder and after a Mr.
Surfacer white primer application is was painted yellow. The black, antiskid
areas on the rungs were hand painted.
And there you have it…..a 1/32 version of a TOPGUN
adversary aircraft. This model was a challenge from start to finish but in the
end the effort was worth it. The BB cockpit is simply stunning and the color
scheme really grabs your attention.
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