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Classic Airframes new 1/48 scale
F-5A/C Skoshi Tiger

by Phil Hale

 

Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter - USAF

  

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale F-5A USAF Freedom Fighter
is available online from Squadron
 

 

Background

 

Only a true F-5 fan would recognize the words Skoshi Tiger. This is the cover name given to the F-5A/C combat evaluation program in Vietnam.

The 4503rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (provisional) was activated at Williams AFB in Arizona in July 1965. It was an all volunteer group with pilots and ground crew selected from Project Sparrow Hawk at Eglin AFB, Florida. Sparrow Hawk had proven that the F-5 was a capable fighter-bomber and it was on to Vietnam to prove itís combat worth.

Twelve F-5Aís were assigned to the program but were so highly modified that the US Air Force re-designated them as F-5Cís. Refueling probes, additional avionics, belly armor, camouflage paint and various other combat necessary equipment were added. After an intense stateside work-up program, the unit departed for Vietnam and combat. The F-5 was cleared to carry most of the most common weapons used in Vietnam.

After six months of combat the Air Force brass determined that the F-5 was very capable and requested that they remain in Vietnam as part of the build-up in 1966. The 4503rd TFS(P) was disbanded and re-organized as the 10th Fighter Commando Squadron. The F-5ís had done so well in combat that the Air Force delayed conversion of the F-5 into the South Vietnamese Air Force.

In combat, the F-5 delivered thousands of tons of ordnance and rockets plus fired over 1.5 million rounds of 20mm ammunition. When compared to itís closest rival, the F-100, the F-5 was found to be just as capable.

 

 

Construction

 

Classic Airframes have just released their excellent F-5 kit, and I was fortunate enough to build one of the first kits. Let me say up front, that this is a limited run kit and as such requires a little extra attention in cleanup but builds into a fine representation of the real thing.

Resin parts make up the cockpit, wheel/speed brake wells, nose wheel well, after burner area, and speed brakes. The remainder of the kit is injection molded gray and clear plastic.

The engraved panel lines are crisp and sharp with thin leading and trailing edges. Several options are given in the kit. These include, tip tanks, missile rails, centerline drop tanks, napalm canisters, and 750lb bombs.

Correct weapons pylons and even sway braces are provided in the kit. AIM-9B Sidewinders are provided and yes the F-5 did fly some Combat Air Patrol missions.

No refueling probe is provided but after some research, the F-5ís in Nam flew missions both with and without the refueling probe. The probes were attached primarily to assist in the overseas flight from the States to Southeast Asia.

 

 

The cockpit tub is nicely done but the ejection seat has the wrong headrest however this is easily corrected by cutting away the parachute pack container. The cockpit tub (part R2) also contains the canopy raising gear and is nicely represented.

The instrument panel (part 1) and internal canopy framing (part R5) is well represented. The internal canopy framing is a little too big to fit inside the canopy and should be sanded and test fit. It can be attached to the raising gear first and then the canopy attached to the framework. This will allow you to properly position the framework and make attaching the canopy very easy.

Everything fit very well. The fuselage is in four main pieces. The fuselage halves (parts 1 & 2) fit very well and the underside rear section (part 30) fits well, however I had to fill the gaps left between the wing and the resin wheel/speed brake well piece (part R10). This fit to the fuselage well but it left a slight gap between the wing and the fuselage. This was the only area that required any large amounts of filler to make sure of a smooth blended fit. I put about a half an ounce of lead shot in the nose to make the model set well on its nose gear. Care must be taken in attaching the nose gear well (part R6) and making sure that it is centered. The intake trunks (parts 4,5,6,7) fit well together and then fit to the fuselage just as good. Little filler was needed to blend these into the fuselage.

 

 

You will have to locate and drill the holes for the horizontal stabilizers (parts 28, 29). I cut the plastic pins off the stabilizers and replaced them with brass pins for strength. Refer to drawings for the proper placement. I did have to make a cover for the parabrake housing. This is the area between the burner cans. I replaced the pitot tube and the cannon barrels but not out of necessity. The landing gear and wheels are nicely molded and clean up very well.

 

 

Care must be taken in assembling the nose gear (parts 19, 23) to prevent the nose wheel from being misaligned.

 

 

Paintine and Markings

 

I painted my F-5 with Testorís Model Master Vietnam colors and then highlighted the panel lines with a drafters lead. I then weathered the underside with pastels.

 

 

I am pleased with the results of the finished model and I am looking forward to building more F-5s.

The decal options given in the kit are for a USAF F-5C, a South Vietnamese 522 FS F-5A and a Spanish 211 Squadron silver F-5A. The decals are custom printed by Micro Scale and work very well.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In summary, this is an excellent offering and builds very well even for a limited run kit.

I would like to say this about limited run kits. They are not Hasegawa or Tamiya and require extra attention in clean up and building but I find the results are more than worth the extra effort. We are fortunate that these limited run cottage industry companies provide us these kits. Most of them do it for the love of the hobby with no designs of getting rich.

I would like to express my thanks to Classic Airframes for producing the F-5 series, it has long been one of my favorite airplanes. My good friend Walt Holmes helped to take the photos of the finished model.
 

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the sample

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images: 


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Phil Hale
Page Created 22 April, 2004
Last Updated 21 April, 2004

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