Dream Model 1/72 F-5F Tiger II
|Scott Van Aken
After winning the International Fighter Aircraft Competition, a program aimed at providing effective low-cost fighters to American allies, in 1972 Northrop introduced the second-generation F-5E Tiger II. This upgrade included more powerful engines, larger fuel capacity, greater wing area and improved leading edge extensions for better turn rates, 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-5s 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 adversary trainers. Over 400 aircraft were in service as of 2021.
I bought this kit to pad an order I made with Ali Express. I was fully expecting this to be a knock-off of the Italeri kit, however, that has not turned out to be the case. There are several differences between the two. First off, this one has a separate nose section to enable the twin and single seat versions to use the same aft fuselage. In fact, all the two seat parts are on a separate sprue.
On the Dream Model kit, the tailplanes are molded in with the lower fuselage half which also includes the wings. Due to this, the holes for the wing pylons are already drilled out. It means that if not including any ordnance, they will need to be filled. Speaking of which, the kit offers a rather complete set that comprises a pair of LGBs, a pair of rather odd looking Mk.80 series bombs and a pair of Sidewinders for the wing tip. The tip rails are already molded in place. There is a centerline tank as well.
Other differences is that the speedbrakes are not separate and molded closed. There is also an etched brass fin tip, but the instructions are mum on which options get this part. Check reference photos for this. All the transparencies are separate, but there is no canopy-open mechanism so they have to be posed closed. Frankly, it would have made more sense for this to be a single part. While dealing with the interior, it is fairly well appointed with decals for instrument panels and side consoles. A small photo etch fret includes seat harness and the aforementioned fin tip piece. Finally, another difference is that this kit provides both the early and the later 'shark nose' radome, though again, the instructions don't tell you which markings option uses which radome. As a note, it appears that this kit has the later extended chines so if doing an earlier plane, those will need to be reshaped to the smaller ones with which the type was originally fitted.
Instructions are on both sides of a single sheet of paper and are quite adequate to build the kit. Color information is provided with MiG paints. There is a full color camo and markings sheet for the four options. One is the box art plane with VMT-401. In a similar scheme with a large sundowner marking on the fin is a VFC-111 aircraft. An all black VFC-13 aircraft is included and finally a Swiss aircraft is offered. Note that the unit info for the VFC-13 and VFC-111 aircraft are switched. I have a feeling that the VFC-13 and VMT-401 aircraft would have the older chine shape. Decals are nicely printed and should work just fine.
It is actually nice to see this one. The Italeri kit, while still very nice, was in need of a more modern replacement in this scale. Seems like this one will fill the bill nicely.
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