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AFV Club 1/48 scale Northrop F-5E Tiger II

A development of the F-5A Freedom Fighter, Northrop’s more-powerful Tiger II has served around the world and as an aggressor aircraft to train U.S. pilots.

Kit:No. AR48102 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$49.50
AFV Club, distributed by Merit International, 626-912-2212
Excellent fit; plentiful options
Early-style ejection seat only; no checkerboard decal for the tail of my chosen aircraft; rough exterior surfaces
Injection-molded, 188 parts (3 photoetched metal, 4 vinyl), decals
I am a lazy modeler: I have had a Mono-gram F-5E half-built, at the rescribing stage, for three years. When FSM asked me to review this one I put the Monogram kit back in the box, probably forever.

This new kit from AFV Club is wonderful! The list of options alone makes this a “must-have” over anything else that has been produced up until now: open or closed canopy; posable leading- and trailing-edge flaps, ailerons, elevators and rudder; open or closed rear fuselage; auxiliary air inlet doors; compressed or extended nose undercarriage leg; and open or closed airbrakes and landing lights. There is also a good selection of pylons and drop tanks, should your chosen subject have them. Weapons include two AIM-9J Sidewinders and an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pod.

Assembly posed few issues. The cockpit fits and paints up very nicely, representing the essentials found in the F-5’s “office.” The instrument panels and side consoles are a highlight of the kit; the area behind the seat is sparse in contrast, but it’s not that visible once complete. Another drawback: Only the early type of seat for the F-5 is provided. An aftermarket later-model seat will be required if you wish to be accurate with either of the U.S. jets represented in the kit’s color schemes. I deviated from the instructions by attaching the top instrument panel, Part N6, to the instrument coaming, P17, then mounting the coaming to the cockpit top.

The main fuselage was no problem. I expected the multipart cannon-bay panel to be a headache, but dry-fitting and gluing the joins from inside worked. I ended up with a step between the lower fuselage, Part C5, and the nose side parts, C7 and C8, but this may have been “operator error.”

The air intakes should have had a blanking plate to prevent a view of the inside of the fuselage. More minor issues include shallow afterburner cans and wing undercarriage bays. All exterior surfaces are slightly rough, so a natural-metal scheme requires extra preparation.

The decal sheet has four schemes: Royal Malaysian air force; Singapore air force; U.S. Navy adversary “Desert Tiger Stripe”; and the U.S. Air Force aggressor “New Lizard” scheme I chose. I used Testors Model Master and Alclad stainless steel, with Pledge Future floor polish for a gloss coat.

The decals behaved beautifully! There was no silvering and they conformed well. However, a glaring omission from the decal sheet is the black and yellow checkered tail band for the scheme I chose.

I used my favorite mix of Future and Tamiya flat base for the flat finish coat. Regarding the kit’s painting directions, many American F-5s have been in use for many years and have undergone quite a bit of maintenance in their time. The instructions call out silver for the undercarriage legs and bays, but most aircraft ended up with gloss white undercarriage and aircraft gray wheel bays and airbrake interiors. Check your references!

I thoroughly enjoyed building this kit, and I will certainly build more of them. There are more than a dozen schemes that I’d like to do. Thank you, AFV Club, for producing such a nice kit of one of my favorite aircraft. Bring on the RF-5 Tiger Eye and F-5F!


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