Italeri 1/72 F-5F Tiger II
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The F-5E and F-5F Tiger II are part of a supersonic light fighter family, initially designed in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation. Being smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to both procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft. The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and low cost of maintenance. Though primarily designed for the day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform. The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies. Though the USAF had no acknowledged need for a light fighter, it did procure roughly 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which were directly based on the F-5A.
After winning the International Fighter Aircraft competition in 1970, a program aimed at providing effective low-cost fighters to American allies, Northrop introduced the second-generation F-5E Tiger II in 1972. This upgrade included more powerful engines, higher fuel capacity, greater wing area and improved leading edge extensions for a better turn rate, optional air-to-air refueling, and improved avionics including air-to-air radar. Primarily used by American allies, it remains in US service to support training exercises. It has served in a wide array of roles, being able to perform both air and ground attack duties; the type was used extensively in the Vietnam War. A total of 1,400 Tiger IIs were built before production ended in 1987. More than 3,800 F-5 and the closely related T-38 advanced trainer aircraft were produced in Hawthorne, California. The F-5N/F variants are in service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps as an adversary trainer. Approximately 500 aircraft are in service as of 2014.
Italeri's F-5 kits are no stranger to most modelers. Designed in the late 1970s, the kits have raised panel lines and raised instrument panel and side console detail. At least the consoles in the front cockpit are raised. The small additional rear cockpit is totally devoid of any detail. There are no decals for instruments.
The kit certainly does not appear to have the shark nose or larger LEREX upgrades so you may not be able to accurately build any of the markings options. For that reason alone, I'd check to find photos of the option you choose before building the kit. The cockpits are basically control sticks and two piece seats with separate instrument panels. These fit in the upper half of the fuselage. The fuselage is split horizontally with the wings molded into the upper half. There are wing fences to add to the top of the wings. No placement guide is provided for these but you can figure it out by looking at the markings guide. The horizontal stab is trapped between the halves when closed. This kit does not need nose weight.
Intakes are short and shallow. A single piece fit slots into the rear fuselage. The windscreen and two canopies are separate, and you are provided hinges if you wish to pose them open. Flipping the fuselage over, you then install the landing gear and the speed brakes. These latter are shown open and there is no actuator for them. Those gear doors that don't fit on the gear itself are butt joins. For things under wings you have Sidewinders for the wing tips, and five pylons. All the holes for these are already drilled into the wings so if you want a clean airframe you'll have to fill things in. This includes the centerline pylon for the big fuel tank. The instructions show all the wing pylons as staying empty.
Instructions are pretty simple and use both Italeri acrylic paint and FS 595 references. You get three Swiss options from the 2014/15 time frame before they were sold off. One is a VMFT-401 plane from 2011 with the big tiger stripe rudder, another is a VFC-13 aircraft from 2015 with the large 'Sundowner' marking on the fin while another from the same unit in 2011 is in all black. Decals are excellent though oddly, only supply one seat harness decal. Guess one of the two crew members will be bouncing around a lot.
I've built several of Italeri's F-5 kits over the years. They are fairly simple to build and hold no real surprises. I'm pleased to see that this boxing, despite its age, is still flash free. Doing aggressor schemes is always a fun task for many of us and this kit allows quite a bit of that. Well worth picking up until someone does one better.
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