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Monogram's 1/48 scale F-5F
Tiger-Striped Tiger II

by David W. Aungst


F-5F Tiger II


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Top Gun is famous for creating some distinctive camouflages representing enemy aircraft paint schemes, but every so often they do something just because it looks good. This Tiger II is an example of the "looks good" practice. I always liked this camouflage scheme, but lacked the ambition to attempt the positive / negative markings.

Finally, my desire to have the model sitting on my shelves overruled my fears and I dived in. The markings proved to be easier than I had always thought they would be.


The Kit


Before I could paint, though, I needed to build. The Monogram F-5F kit is not bad by the standards of its day, but it does need some help. I did not do anything extraordinary, just some basic improvements to the kit. The modifications I made to the kit were as follows:

  • The Monogram kit is of an Air Force F-5F. When the Navy got a hold of the aircraft, they modified them for better ACM performance. I made the same changes to the kit. These include:
    • Reshaping the nose cone into a "shark's nose".
    • Removing the radar scopes from the main instrument panels (Naval F-5's do not carry radar).
    • I should have also enlarged the leading edge extensions on the wings, but I learned of this modification too late to incorporate them into the kit.
  • I drilled-out the left nose cannon barrel.

  • On F-5F's, the right nose "cannon barrel" is actually an avionics intake. I replaced the gun barrel provided in the kit with a small diameter plastic tube and faired this into the nose without leaving a gap around it.

  • I added the angle-of-attack vane on the right side of the nose using the etchings provided in the Monogram "high-tech" release of the F-5E.

  • I blocked the engine intakes so you could not see through the model.

  • I added afterburner interiors to the engine exhausts using plastic tube and the etchings provided in the Monogram "high-tech" release of the F-5E.

  • I added anti-sway braces to the centerline weapons pylon.

  • I replaced the fins on the centerline fuel tank with .015" sheet styrene. This is still too thick, I know, but any thinner just looked as wrong as the two foot thick fins that come in the kit.


Model Picture



Painting and Markings


Before I go on, I have to warn you that the markings on the model are not authentic. I guess you can call this an "inspired what-if" scheme.

I wanted to have some more interesting markings than what the real aircraft actually wore, so I fudged some stuff. I also lacked concrete information on the full details of the aircraft when I built the model. The fudging allowed me to move forward on the model and have fun in the process. I will accept full blame for any misleading information that my images create.

Compared to the real aircraft, I changed the following during the painting and finishing process.

  • First, while the green and gray areas are roughly in the right places, I ignored the exact demarcations on the real aircraft. I just winged it with scotch tape to define the splinter pattern. The effect of this is that the model has quite a bit more of a zig-zag to the demarcation lines.

  • I went on to add national insignia where none existed on the real aircraft and I fudged the camouflage lines to make them run through the national insignia at all four locations.

  • I added positive / negative painted NAVY titles where the real aircraft wore only black.

  • Lastly, I modified the danger markings around the cockpit to be positive / negative and added more data markings than the real aircraft actually had.

For paints, I used all Testors Model Master enamels. The camouflage is made up of Dark Ghost Gray (F.S.36320) and Dark Green (F.S.34079).

Before painting the camouflage, though, I determined all the locations of the markings where I was going to do positive / negative masking and painted those areas in the colors of the markings. Then I masked off the markings and painted the actual camouflage. I used rub down transfers to mask the lettering and Scotch brand Magic Transparent tape for all the other markings. The national insignia were the hardest to do. When I unmasked everything, the results were what you see in the pictures. This is a simplistic description, but it conveys the idea of how I did it.

I chose to include some extreme close-ups of th emarkings so you could see their designs. At these magnifications, the flaws in the proportions and irregularities in the tape cuts, especially on the national insignia, are rather apparent. It is funny how when viewing the model overall you do not detect all these proportional issues without specifically looking for them.


Markings Close-Up
Left Fuselage
Markings Close-Up
Right Fuselage
Markings Close-Up
Markings Close-Up
Left BuNo
Markings Close-Up
Wing Top
Markings Close-Up
Wing Bottom

For decals, SuperScale includes this aircraft on sheet #48-317, Topgun Aggressors. The problem is that they also have about eight other F-5 and A-4 aggressor aircraft on the same sheet. With that many aircraft on one sheet, needless to say, only the very basic unit markings were provided. I supplemented the SuperScale sheet with scrap decals for the data markings, in addition to the masked and painted markings that I discussed above.

The RESCUE markings come from a SuperScale A-10 Warthog decal sheet. I painted the green background of the arrow before applying the decal. I did similarly with the DANGER triangles. These decals are black outline triangles that come from one of the Hasegawa F-4E Phantom decal sheets. Painting the opposing colors for the triangle backgrounds made them stand out really well. The gold name blocks are straight off the SuperScale 48-317 decal sheet.


Markings Close-Up Markings Close-Up

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. I finished the weathering with some dry brushing to pop out the surface details. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".





It is a "what-if", closely inspired by a real aircraft -- ohh well. I like it, and I had fun building and finishing it. That is really what matters. If I had refused to build the model until I knew all the answers, I might never have built it.


Model Picture


ronically, I found some years after I finished the model that I had a book in my library with quite a few images of the real aircraft and did not know it at the time I built the model. I think I still like my redition better that the real one ...



Additional Images and Project Summary


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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

19 January, 1994

Total Building Time:






Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):


Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):


Extra Detailing / Conversion:

Modelling the F-4 Phantom II
Osprey Modelling 3
Author: Geoff Coughlin, Neil Ashby

US Price: $17.95
UK Price: 12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: September 25, 2003
Details: 80 pages; ISBN: 1841767468
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2004 by David Aungst

Page Created 27 May, 2004
Last Updated 26 May, 2004

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