by: Kevin Brant [ ]
HistoryThe Northrop F-5 project started in the mid-1950ís, with the USAF placing orders at the end of 1962. The success of the aircraft, led to request for an upgraded version and a version that could be exported. Northrop upgrade to the F-5E Tiger II, which was a very successful aircraft, purchased and used by many countries. Chile and Morocco continued use of the F-5E, and through the Israeli Aircraft Industry(IAI) upgraded and added newer electronics to the aircraft, designating it the F-5E Tiger III. The F-5E is still in use by the Chilean Air Force with a projected decommissioning in 2015.
The KitAFV Club has brought us a great 1/48 version of the F-5E Tiger III. Opening the kit, the box is stuffed with 12 sprues of grey plastic, a 12 page booklet of instructions divided into 16 steps, 1 sheet of decals, 1 clear sprue, 1 small fret of photo etched, and a colored sheet of the box top art. A quick review of the sprues shows what seems multiple parts that may not be used, there is no indication in the instructions of parts not used, but I did find 3 different cockpit panels as an example.
Upon examining the sprues, the moldings are crisp and clean, very little flash and no ejector marks to clean up. Surface detail is very well molded, with etched panel lines and rivet detail. There are plenty of small pieces too, for dressing up the cockpit and landing gear. The kit comes with 3 drop tanks for different versions and wingtip mounted sidewinders. The wingtip missiles are the only ordinance included in the kit.
The cockpit detail is molded very well, with raised detail. The kit lacks seat belts and most seat detail, but I am sure there would be an aftermarket kit out there, should you wish to add detail. There are two different canopy tops include in the kit. Wheel well and landing gear look great, well molded and detailed for a plastic kit. The seems to be plenty of room in the nose for what would be needed weights to keep the nose down. The small PE fret contains detail for the front of the air intakes, as well as canopy detail.
The instructions are well laid out and seem very clear. The options between the Chile and Morocco versions are well identified for ease of construction. There are plenty of paint call outs shown during construction, listed paints include Gunze Sangyo, Humbrol, Revell, and Lifecolor. There are color options for 3 Chilean(all the same Grey on Grey) and 1 Moroccan(3 color camouflage) schemes. Body colors are listed as FS numbers.
The decals look good and in register for the larger decals. While some decals are well detailed, the smaller text decals are unreadable, even through a magnifying glass. The ones are readable seem to be in the appropriate country language. The decal sheet is labelled AFV Club, printed in Taiwan.
SummaryOverall seems to be a well engineered, well detailed and molded kit. The instructions are clear and concise, seem very easy to follow. It is an interesting subject, of an aircraft that has been very popular around the world, with interesting markings. I know I will be adding this kit to my build queue, and maybe even moving it closer to the top.