FCM 48-21: F-5A/E Tiger

Units: See review




Scott Van Aken

The Northrop F-5 family has been one of the success stories in terms of low cost light weight multi-role fighters. Designed to be attractive to countries who had the need for low cost air defense aircraft, the F-5 was a development of the T-38 Talon trainer that was built for the USAF. Basically, the airframe was beefed up to be able to handle carrying ordnance and two wing stations and the centerline were made available for droppable ordnance in the ground attack mode. The wing tips were able to carry two air to air missiles so that the aircraft could also operate in the air defense mode. Thanks to the USAF buying and doing combat operations with them in Vietnam, the aircraft found a ready market around the world. The type was also build in Canada by Canadair with a few modifications. The F-5A evolved into the more potent F-5E and these planes are still giving service around the world. The last new built aircraft were delivered to Singapore in 1989.

With the F-5A/E in service with so many South and Central American countries, it was a natural that FCM would be doing a sheet on them. Their 1/48 sheet covers both the F-5A and F-5E versions. Kits in 1/48 for the F-5A are available from Classic Airframes with the F-5E being done by Monogram and ESCI. Though both of the E kits are currently (2004) out of production, they are not difficult to find with the Monogram version being much more available. (Late note: I've been informed that the Monogram kit is currently being done by Revell of Germany so I guess it isn't as unavailable as I thought!

This sheet covers six different aircraft in a variety of camouflage schemes.

#1 is a 60 year commemorative aircraft from 1/1 grupo de caca 'Jambock', a Brazilian unit that started with P-47s in Italy during WWII. The scheme on this F-5E is reminiscent of the WWII color scheme.

#2 is an F-5A of the Venezuelan AF in the standard SEA camouflage used by these planes.

#3 is a Chilean F-5E from groupo de aviation #7. This plane is in the 'F-15 Eagle' scheme of light and dark ghost greys.

#4 is a Saudi F-5E from 17 Sq. This aircraft is in a desert scheme common of many mideastern air arms.

#5 is a Tunisian F-5E from 15 Sq. It carries a modified desert scheme.

Finally, #6 is a South Korean RF-5A of the 132 tac recon squadron. It is in a modified SEA camouflage scheme.

As with other FCM sheets, the instructions are first rate and offer proper color and decal placement information. This sheet uses FCM's new application method. For more info on how that works, please visit this review.

Thanks to FCM for providing the review decals.

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