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RF-5E Tigereye (KH32023) 1:32 Kitty Hawk The original F-5 design was lead at Northrop by Edgar Schmued who previously at North American had been the Chief designer of the P-51 and F-86. The F-5 was designed to reverse the trend of bigger and heavier fighters to produce a small, agile, high performance aircraft. It was also recognised that life cycle costs, and the ability to upgrade the design needed to be thought out at the beginning. Thus after winning the International Fighter Aircraft Competition in 1970 to provide a low cost effective fighter to America's allies Northrop introduced the F-5E or Tiger II. More than 3800 aircraft were built and served with the US Forces as well as their allies. Indeed the F-5F & N still serve in the adversary role today. The design of the F-5 would later go on to influence the YF-17 and F/A-18, as well as the late unsuccessful (in sales) F-20. The RF-5E was developed to give a fairly low cost reconnaissance aircraft using the F-5E airframe. Cameras were installed in a lengthened nose with the radar and one 20mm cannon being removed. Additional weight was needed at the rear to balance the new nose. The programme was a private venture by Northrop which had anticipated more sales than we actually generated. The test aircraft was leased from the USAF was converted. Saudi Arabia bought 10, and Malaysia 2. Singapore converted 8 of its F-5Es, and the ROC 7. Part of the problem with the new low cost aircraft was that the RF-5E cost about 50% more than an F-5E. The Kit This is a complete new tool from Kitty Hawk, The kit arrives on 6 spures of plastic with a small clear sprue, sheet of PE and two decal sheets. There are in addition resin exhaust nozzles add two resin crew figures; one seated and one standing. Construction starts as one would expect in the cockpit. The seat is first put together from an impressive 20 parts. Next up the cockpit tub is built up from another 20 or so parts not including the instrument panel and coaming. Once together the canopy raising parts are also added behind the seat. Following this the complicated nose gear bay / gun bay is built up which goes on front of the cockpit. All the detail is there for the nose mounted 20mm cannon including their ammo boxes and feed chutes. Once built up this section and the cockpit can be added into the front fuselage halves after some PE detail is added to the sides first. The nose section can then be built up with the cameras added in, this can then be added to the front. If wanted the seated resin pilot figure can be added. The canopy is then added at this stage in the instructions though I suspect most will leave it until the end. The canopy retraction mechanism is only in the raised position so if you want the canopy down some surgery will be needed. There is then the option to display the gun bay panels open if you wish to show off all that detail. Moving on to the centre fuselage two complete engines are built and installed. This seems a bit strange as no intake trunking is supplied and they will just sit there inside the fuselage. The main gear wells are made up and installed before the top of the fuselage is added. There are some optional vent panels to be installed but again its a case of checking your references as the instructions are of no help. For the rear the modeller can choose to build up plastic exhausts or use the resin ones. The two fuselage sections can now be joined and at the front the intakes added. Next up the wings are constructed. The main gear bay walls are added to the inner parts and the outers then added over the top. The main gears are made up and added along with the leading edge and separate flaps. The wings, tail planes and vertical tail are then added to the fuselage. The tail has a separate rudder. The kit has underwing pylons and a whole range of missiles and bombs are provided. These include AIM-9 & AIM-7 missiles, Cluster bombs, dumb bobs and fuel tanks. All that is probably needed for the Tigereye are the wingtip missiles and a drop tank so there will be plenty for the spares box. Decals The large decal sheet (and smaller additional sheet) look to be well printed. There is minimal carrier film and the colours are sharp, everything looks colour dense. From the box you can build one of five aircraft Company Demonstrator USAF 11420 Malaysian Air Force Republic Of China / Taiwan Air Force Republic Of Singapore Air Force. Conclusion The plastic looks great, and there is an impressive array of marking options available. The addition of PE and resin parts including good figures makes this an all round exciting package from Kitty Hawk. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Available soon from major hobby shops