u m m a r y
||No. 802 - Northrop F-5A Freedom
||USD$13.96 from Squadron.com
|Contents and Media:
||Four sprues of injected plastic, one
sheet of decals, two-piece clear plastic canopy.
||The only F-5A on the market. Nice
decal sheet. Good instructions
||Old tooling. This kit is more like a
||Outdated tooling and poor/lacking
detail. Not recommended
1/48 scale F-5A Freedom Fighter is available online from Squadron.com
Reviewed by José Rodríguez
There are plenty of kits for the Northrop F-5E
Tiger out there. Some of them are outstanding. The question is why did I pick
the F-5A from Italeri?
Why do you climb a mountain? Because it is
there. I was enticed by the option in the decal sheet that lets you build an
aircraft belonging to the Spanish Air Army; besides, anybody can build an F-5E
right out of the box and end up with a good model. I kind of expected the F-5A
to be more challenging, and I like that in a kit.
Right after opening the box I knew that this
kit was challenging all right, quite so. Can you say retro?
There are four spruces of very shiny injected
plastic and the flash around many of the 62 parts is obvious. When I say shiny,
I’m not kidding. I had a hard time photographing these parts because the high
luster on the polished plastic bounced my flash light right back to the camera.
The quality of the tooling is circa 1960s; thick parts, part numbers embedded on
the parts themselves, ejector pin marks, raised panel lines, and flash
thumbnails below to view larger images:
The cockpit has no floor or bulkheads. The
instrument panel is flat and the decal sheet provides the instrument gages.
There are no details on the sidewalls and the ejections seat looks like it came
from a Tonka truck – forget about seat belts and handles. The pilot figure
resembles something from Planet of the Apes. The canopy can be open or closed.
The wheel wells have no detail. The nose well
is just a hole and the nose landing gear is glued to two locating holes in the
inside of the fuselage. Landing gear doors have no detail and are as thick as
manhole covers. The landing gear struts have an odd shape, more rectangular than
The gun ports on the nose are not drilled and
the cannon are glued directly to the outside of the fuselage. The fuselage vents
are but a feeble attempt at the real thing. There are two holes on the sides of
the rear fuselage that are supposed to be engine vents but they are huge and you
can see through one side of the fuselage to the other.
thumbnails below to view larger images:
The exhaust nozzles are blocked by a flat
plate right at the point where they enter the fuselage. The inlet nozzles are
deep but there is not compressor face, just another flat plate.
The wings are molded in one piece from wingtip
to wingtip, top to bottom.
The fit seems to be adequate but the abundance
of raised panel lines will require carefully threading when sanding the joins.
decal sheet is up to today’s standards. It is printed by Zanchetti-Buccinasco,
Milan, Italy. They look in excellent register and good detail. Option one is for
the USAF 4441st Combat Crew Training Squadron based at Williams AFB in Arizona,
1964. This squadron trained the pilots and maintenance personnel of nations
receiving F-5s. The second option is for a Royal Norwegian Air Force aircraft,
“Jokers Aerobatic Team”, and option three is for the Ejército del Aire Español,
Ala Táctica 21, Morón Air Base. All aircraft are in natural metal finish.
Am I going to build this aircraft? I will
probably give it a try using cannibalized parts from an F-5E kit, if I find one
on the cheap. I like a challenge but this kit is close to passing that point. If
you are the type who can build an award winning model out of cardboard and
toothpicks, by all means this is for you, otherwise, buy something else. This
kit is more like a toy than a serious kit. As far as I see, I bought myself an
expensive decal sheet. I could go to plan B and try to backdate an F-5E into and
F-5A. The F5-E uses the more powerful General Electric J85-GE-21A turbojets. Its
air intakes had to be increased in area to provide more air to the engines and
the fuselage had to be made somewhat wider to accommodate the extra compressor
stages. The use of the new Dash 21 engine also required the installation or air
intake louver doors in the rear fuselage to prevent compressor starvation at low
forward speeds. While it would be easy to erase the extra air intakes, it would
be hard to slim down the wider F-5E fuselage. Add to this, among many other
things, the new control surfaces on the wings and I’m looking at getting gray
hairs. Maybe I will have to wait until the Gods of modeling release the Alpha in
a new superb kit, or I could buy lottery tickets and wish for better luck.
I don’t recommend this kit, unless you really
like the decals or you like toiling like in the good ol’ days of modeling.
By the way, if you want to know about the
history of Northrop’s lightweight fighter, check out this excellent web site,
Review Copyright © 2002 by
Page Created 27 January, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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