Wolfpack 1/48 F-5A Skoshi Tiger

KIT #: WP 14803
PRICE: $35.00 by the time it got to my door
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2015 release. Includes photo etch and masks.


In the mid-1950's, the USAF was looking for a replacement forth T-33 to be used by air training command. The bidding was fierce as it was anticipated that this would be a rather large contract. Northrop had been working on a lightweight fighter design based on two small afterburning J-85turbojets. These were then incorporated into a slim 'wasp-waist' fuselage with short, broad wings. The aircraft was over-engineered to improve structural strength as it was designed to be fully aerobatic. The landing gear was also made stronger than needed, and allowed the use of the aircraft on unprepared surfaces. This aircraft became the T-38. It was the first dedicated trainer tobe capable of speeds in excess of Mach 1.

Boosted by the success of this project, Northrop then turned its attention into modifying the design into a lightweight fighter. Using much ofthe same design components as the T-38, Northrop started work on the N-156F.Emphasis was placed on ease of maintenance, especially engine changes. The F-5has a track and trolley system built into the engine bay to allow easy installation and removal of the engine once the tail cone is removed. In addition to modifying the forward fuselage for a single seat and 20mm cannon, the wings were enlarged by adding a forward fillet and changing the intake design.

As history has shown, the N-156F then became the F-5A and was ahuge success. Though the USAF did not buy the expected number of aircraft, preferring larger, more complex aircraft like the F-4, the F-5 was proven in combat in Vietnam, the initial deployment going under the name Skoshi Tiger. This USAF combat evaluation was a huge success, showing that a small, lightweight aircraft was fully capable of operation in a combat environment (albeit, one without any interference from the air). After this, the F-5A was chosen by a large number of foreign countries, several of them choosing to undertake production licenses. Though now out of service pretty much everywhere, the later F-5E/F and some F-5B variants are still flying.


Wolfpack has its kits manufactured in Korea. These kits are nicely molded with the now required engraved panel lines. The kits are devoid of the recesses rivets that one sees on most Chinese made kits. Oddly, the kit starts its construction with painting the resin seat, followed by adding guns and pitot tube to the nose. Then it gets into the cockpit. The instrument panel is photo etch with decals that could be fit behind the p.e. or used in place of them. Decals for the side consoles as well. The panels do have raised decals so your choice on this. I can see why there is a resin seat as the plastic one is rather 'soft' in terms of detail. One then attaches the canopy mechanism. A bit of surgery is required on this piece for the closed option.

Moving to the nose gear, you are to install the gear doors first, then build up the nose gear and install that prior to putting the whole thing into the nose and closing the halves. In order to make other F-5 variants, the nose section is separate. Like the Kinetic kit, there are inserts on the side of the fuselage. Then one attaches the windscreen, canopy, gun sight and the boarding ladder. I'm not sure why modern kits have you build the kit in this way. I've always attached forward fuselage sections to the aft first, then installed all the other bits.

So we then get to the erar fuselage. This has a separate fin. Burner cans fit into a piece that will then go into the back of the fuselage. Wings are right and left sides with separate flaps, ailerons, and slats. These can be posed down if one wants and to do either up or down, one will need to cut some tabs. I looked at a lot of photos and it was not uncommon to see these planes on the deck with the slats lowered. For the flaps, it was rare that they were down much at all. Once these items were installed on the upper wing halves, they are attached to the lower wing. Intakes are quite long and end in the first compressor stage.

These intakes are then attached to the forward fuselage with a large lower insert before the wings along with the forward and rear fuselages are all brought together. There is a very large insert for the lower rear fuselage.

Then you start adding other bits. Those include the tail planes, main gear, gear doors pylons, and tip tanks. Note that usually, the inner main gear doors were retracted, though that does not seem to be an option. There is no missile option with this boxing, though the parts are all there. For things under wings you have fuel tanks, bombs and rocket pods. Holes have already been opened in the lower wings for the pylons. Same for the centerline. There are inserts in the rear fuselage for the engine bypass doors found on CF-5 and NF-5 aircraft. This kit does not use those and in any matter, I don't think the proper nose gear leg is included for those versions. This kit does include an air refueling probe in resin. A metal probe tip is also in the kit.

Instructions are well done with generic and FS 595 color references. Both options are in the SEA camouflage scheme and differ only by serial. Both are with the 4503 FCS. One has the air refueling probe attached. The other does not, but has a mission tally on the left nose. The decal sheet is nicely done and includes wing walk areas. A set of canopy masks are also included and while there are no instructions for them, they should be easy to figure out.


So, is this one better than the Kinetic kit? Well, it is certainly better than the Testors kit. It does remind me a lot of the Kinetic kit and perhaps it is based on it. For sure it is less expensive and having the resin seat and etched bits is a nice addition.

March 2017

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