Revell 1/48 F-5F "Aggressor"

KIT #: 04694
PRICE: $24.60 from www.greatmodels.com  ($30.00 MSRP)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Re-issue of Monogram kit

HISTORY

A two-seat combat-capable trainer of the F-5E Tiger II, the F-5F, first flew on 25 September 1974, with a new, longer nose, which, unlike the F-5B which did not mount a gun, allowed it to retain a single M39 cannon, albeit with a reduced ammunition capacity. The two-seater was equipped with the Emerson AN/APQ-157 radar, which is a derivative of the AN/APQ-153 radar, with dual control and display systems to accommodate the two-men crew, and the radar has the same range of AN/APQ-153, around 10 nmi. A reconnaissance version, the RF-5E Tigereye, with a sensor package in the nose displacing the radar and one cannon, was also offered. The latest radar upgrade included the Emerson AN/APG-69, which was the successor of AN/APQ-159, incorporating mapping capability, however, most nations chose not to upgrade due to financial reasons, and the radar only saw very limited service in USAF aggressor squadrons and Swiss air force.

The F-5E eventually received the official name Tiger II. The F-5E experienced numerous upgrades in its service life, with the most significant one being adopting a new planar array radar, Emerson AN/APQ-159 with a range of 20 nmi to replace the original AN/APQ-153. Similar radar upgrades were also proposed for F-5F, with the derivative of AN/APQ-159, the AN/APQ-167, to replace the AN/APQ-157, but was never carried out.

Northrop built 792 F-5Es, 140 F-5Fs and 12 RF-5Es. More were built under license overseas: 91 F-5Es and -Fs in Switzerland; 68 by Korean Air in South Korea, and 308 in Taiwan.

The F-5 proved to be a successful combat aircraft for US allies, but had only limited combat service with the US Air Force in Vietnam. The F-5E evolved into the single-engine F-5G, which was rebranded the F-20 Tigershark. It lost out on export sales to the F-16 in the 1980s.

THE KIT

Monogram originally brought out this kit in the 1970s and typical of those times, we have a kit that has nicely done raised detail, a very sharp two seat cockpit and some of the usual situations one expects of older kits. For instance, there is flash on many of the parts, ejector pin marks on missiles, pylons and the inside of the gear doors, to name a few. I also notice some rather large depressions on the upper wing opposite wheel well detail and along the leading edge slats which will need to be filled in.

The fuselage is split into upper and lower sections with the upper section having the tailplanes and most of the wing molded into it. The lower section has stub lower wings. The slots for the pylons are molded in place and so one will have to fill those if not using the wing pylons (as would be appropriate for the aggressor version). There are holes to be drilled if one wants to use the upper wing fences the lower fuselage pylon or the upper fuselage VHF antenna. If using the RHAWS antennas, those will have to be added.

One can build this kit wheels up and with the speed brakes closed if so desired, though a stand will need to be fashioned. Wheel well and gear detail is quite good as one expects from Monogram molds. There is even the additional weight to put under the burner cans as on the real aircraft. The kit can be built with the canopies opened and one gets a pilot figure and boarding ladder. Sidewinders are provided for the wing tips as are two cannon pods for the pylons. These were almost never carried. The kit does not include the 'shark nose' radome that one finds on several nations' F-5s.

Markings are for one ex-Swiss AF F-5F in aggressor markings as well as an F-5F from the Royal Thai Air Force. The VFC-111 plane is in a nice camouflage scheme while the Thai plane is in the compass ghost greys scheme. Decals are nicely printed and matte. Revell instructions are well drawn and continue the irritating trend of only offering references for Revell paint (means mixing for several shades).

CONCLUSIONS

Like most older Monogram kits, the timing of re-issues is well thought out and if you want a 1/48 F-5F, then perhaps now would be an appropriate time to pick one up. The price has escalated quite a bit since it was first issued, now being about 5 time the initial MSRP, but you can find these on discount as did I. Despite the age of the molds, they have held up fairly well and with a bit of work should provide an excellent model. I should mention that to properly do an ex-Swiss F-5 (and that includes the box art plane), one needs to locate a shark nose radome and extend the leading edge wing extensions, making the forward ends wider and more square. This can be easily done with card and some sanding. I do need to mention as well that I was unable to find a photo of an F-5F that showed these upgrades. I'm assuming the entire fleet was so modified. Those wanting other markings will be able to find them from various companies, several sheets having been reviewed right here in MM over the last year.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_F-5

January 2011 

I got this one at GreatModels where you can find this and many other great kits and accessories.

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