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Jon.M

Airfix 1/72 Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter

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Hello chaps and chapesses,

This looks like an enjoyable group build and I'd like to join the fun with this:

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I bought this kit from a model fair in Milan last year, as you can see it only cost €3.00 which is the end of the good news. :)

The kit was first issued in 1966 and this incarnation I believe dates from 1990-94. Matchbox subsequently issued an F-5A and later Esci issued what is said to be the best version of the F5-A in 1/72.

In my opinion this kit does well under Murdo's Law. It's horrible! I don't mean because it's basic, that was to be expected with an Airfix kit of this age, but the moulds seem to have aged badly. There's some flash but worse are the sink marks and on a brief dry fit of the fuselage and nose they don't. Fit that is. So either this gets put away with the thought that life's too short and the stash too large to bother with it or I decide to have some fun with it. Which is why I'm here at some point I'll probably need some encouragement. :lol:

I intend building this OOB. I'll try adding some detail to the cockpit. Depending on how it goes together I might spray it with Alclad but it's more likely to be brushed with Humbrol enamels as in the old days when I first built this around 1970.

I hope to get started this weekend but due to other commitments this may be a bit start and stop. This is my first group build here on Britmodeller and I'mm looking forward to it. I'm already enjoying looking at the other builds.

Jon

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Believe it or not, this kit is not the worst F-5A in 1/72.

Having built both, I'm of the firm opinion that the Hasegawa is even nastier in many respects...

This is, however, it's fair to say, a pile of steaming camel dung next to the Esci/Italeri effort. Which means it's perfect for this GB! Great choice, sir!

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I built the matchbox one of these with the kids as I remember it the wings to fuselage join was a shocker also the nose cone took some adjustment

Of course I might have been the fault of my over eager assistants. Can we paint it yet dad can we , can we, is it ready to paint yet ? :whip:

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The Hasegawa version must be really bad! I didn't get on with either their Harrier AV8A or EE Lightining.

I have seen a couple of very nice builds from the Airfix kit though so I know it can turn out well. But then I'm not Mike Grant. :)

Jon

Edited by Jon.M

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This one brings back a lot of memories! What a superb choice. :thumbsup:

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This is where I got to last night adding some generic detail to the cockpit. I've done almost no research so it's not an accurate representation of the F-5A cockpit.

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As the kit's cockpit is almost non existent I have decided to add the pilot to fill the empty space and also because he's the single best part of the kit. :D I finished painting him today although I still have to add a wash and remove the growth from the top of his head.

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The wheels and undercarriage legs are badly moulded so I had a look through my spares for suitable replacements. As I usually build aircraft with undercarriage down I don't have many spare wheels and couldn't find anything appropriate. What I did find was a period Airfix clear stand. :)

So as the kits undercart is so rough and I don't want to spend any money on after market items for it I'm departing from my usual habits and doing this one 'in flight'. I also found a better pair of sidewinders.

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This is where I've got to today with most sub-assemblies glued, but with a lot of filling and sanding to come in the next few days. The upper join of the fuselage should clean up OK the lower join will need a lot of filler. Blending the nose in is also going to take some work.

Progress will be much slower during the week and next weekend is Milan's largest model fair. I bought this kit at last year's show so who knows what foolishness I'll get up to this year. :rolleyes:

Jon

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One of the "must have" Airfix kits from my childhood, looked extremely cool up on the wall in Woolworths. It took me years to figure out which air force it was from.

John

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Hi John,

When I first thought about building this kit I went looking for decals as the originals are a bit discoloured and who wants to build an Iranian aircraft?

I found a set of decals for a pretty red and white Turkish display team F-5A but after looking at the kit I decided to not spend any money on it. So the Iranian decals were taped to the skylight in the loft and they're looking better now.

The roundels look close enough to Italian ones that it'll probably fool casual observers. :)

I'm being disparaging about this kit but it's so far proving to be fun, and as it cost so little I don't care if it goes pear shaped or banana shaped given the state of the fuselage parts.

Jon

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I built/destroyed the re-re-release of this kit two or so years ago. It was horrible, I decided to use the paint that came with the kit. Big mistake... The model is now my paint test bed. Anyhow, I should still have the decals for the Iranian example, you are welcome to have them if you'd like? Provided I can find them also.

Kind Regards

Dazz

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Believe it or not, this kit is not the worst F-5A in 1/72.

Having built both, I'm of the firm opinion that the Hasegawa is even nastier in many respects...

This is, however, it's fair to say, a pile of steaming camel dung next to the Esci/Italeri effort. Which means it's perfect for this GB! Great choice, sir!

When Hannants were selling off bagged PM kits for £1 each a couple of years ago I bought a load for the school model club, including some F-5As:

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They were perfect for my requirements but it would take a lot of work to get up to even the Airfix standard. I think the PM kit may owe something to the Hasegawa/FROG version.

John

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I should still have the decals for the Iranian example, you are welcome to have them if you'd like? Provided I can find them also.

Kind Regards

Dazz

Thanks for the offer Dazz. The Iranian decals came with this kit and I intend using them. They look OK, if nothing special, after being exposed to sunlight for a few days.

The issue I've got is from 93 -95 and suffers a lot from mould wear, I'm amazed that this was re-issued as a starter kit recently.

Hi John,

Interesting colour schemes on those F-5s. B) It's good to see kids being introduced to the hobby and they're are both good efforts. :clap2:

At least with the PM kit there's no problem getting the nose and rear fuselage lined up with the main fuselage. I've been having trouble with the Airfix one (update to follow this evening). They also have those sexy wing tip tanks.

Jon

Edited by Jon.M

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Brave man - good luck, this looks like a ch-ch-challenge!

Pete

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The issue I've got is from 93 -95 and suffers a lot from mould wear, I'm amazed that this was re-issued as a starter kit recently.

I never know what possesses Airfix to issue kit's like this as starter sets, It's almost as if they are trying to put people off :mental: If your first ever build was one of these, you would probably steer clear of Airfix after that. I think we've all built a particularly bad kit at some point and become wary of it's manufacturers other offerings.

I never know why they don't go down the Hobbyboss route, basic kit with a one piece wing and a horizontally split fuselage. Give them enough parts to make it interesting to build but without the worry. Nice chunky tabs for fins and tailplanes so they fit and line up easily and a choice of snap fit or glue canopy.

They could do the usual suspects, Spit, Hurricane, 109. Maybe some small jets like F-86, Hawk etc. and they could be easily designed for production in both 1/72 & 1/144. Stand alone & gift sets in 1/72 and stand alone in 1/144. I know I'm a 1/144 builder :whistle: but they would be great as rivals to Revell's Micro Wing series and Zvezda's Art of Tactics series for wargamers. If someone received a gift set which they could build into a half descent model in a day or two as their first kit they would more than likely want to build more and progress their skills. OK, rant over :rant::D

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I never know what possesses Airfix to issue kit's like this as starter sets, It's almost as if they are trying to put people off :mental: If your first ever build was one of these, you would probably steer clear of Airfix after that. I think we've all built a particularly bad kit at some point and become wary of it's manufacturers other offerings.

I never know why they don't go down the Hobbyboss route, basic kit with a one piece wing and a horizontally split fuselage. Give them enough parts to make it interesting to build but without the worry. Nice chunky tabs for fins and tailplanes so they fit and line up easily and a choice of snap fit or glue canopy.

They could do the usual suspects, Spit, Hurricane, 109. Maybe some small jets like F-86, Hawk etc. and they could be easily designed for production in both 1/72 & 1/144. Stand alone & gift sets in 1/72 and stand alone in 1/144. I know I'm a 1/144 builder :whistle: but they would be great as rivals to Revell's Micro Wing series and Zvezda's Art of Tactics series for wargamers. If someone received a gift set which they could build into a half descent model in a day or two as their first kit they would more than likely want to build more and progress their skills. OK, rant over :rant::D

If you look at the photos of the PM kits above, you'll see that applying adult modeller's criteria of what's a "good" kit to kids who can't wait to slap on the glue and paint doesn't apply! If it did, I wouldn't ever get any kids back at the school modelling clubs.

John

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Out of curiosity, how old are the kids in the modelling club? While having modelling clubs in schools and other places is a great idea, fun and good for the hobby, unfortunately not every child will have the opportunity to do modelling as a group activity. I'll build anything from any manufacturer nowadays but my first proper kits (painted and decaled properly) were Airfix and Revell and they put me off those manufacturers for years. I wasn't basing my opinion on an adults point of view but rather from my memories of disappointment that the model never looked like the plane on the box. It didn't help that both used photos of the kit and not "art" at that point. I know skills have to be learnt but it would be nice if more kits out there gave those new to the hobby a confidence boost :)

Back to the model... Is that just a huge amount of flash around the wheels or are they that badly misaligned? Also, what have you done with your pilots cup of tea?? :P

Edited by Speedman

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Back to the model... Is that just a huge amount of flash around the wheels or are they that badly misaligned? Also, what have you done with your pilots cup of tea?? :P

Hi Speedman,

Here's the other side of the wheels. :lol:

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Not much flash. Half of the wheel is larger and better moulded than the other half. "Better moulded" is a relative term. :whistle:

This is the solution to the problem.

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On the subject of the quality of Airfix and Revell kits, when I first built them in the late sixties and early seventies all kits easily available in Britain were like that. When the moulds were new though the quality of the parts was better. I built this F-5A in about 1970 and while I don't remember it clearly I'm sure the fit was nowhere near as bad as this newer one. It's not that they were bad when they were new, they weren't, it's more that other manufacturers issued newer better quality kits and and the market changed to accommodate a greater percentage of older modellers with greater expectations and deeper pockets. I hope this group built is reminding us that there is fun to be had with simpler less detailed models.

Under Hornby, Airfix are now producing good newly tooled kits with in my opinion a good quality to price ratio. They're also getting to grips with attracting a new generation. More of the starter kits are now versions of the new tool kits with simpler paint schemes and decals and they've also started this range. http://www.airfix.com/news/airfix-launches-quickbuild/

It must be admitted that some horrors remain in the range. Boulton Paul Defiant anyone?

I hope to get an update on the build done this evening but it might be tomorrow, suffice to say that much filling and sanding has taken place.

Jon

P.S. I've just won another Northrop, an Airfix P-61 Black Widow on evilbay. I've never built one but it has been described as "a challenge".

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I did one years ago, it was...interesting. Lots of glazing but not a lot inside, I don't know what's out there to add a bit of interior detail but if there is anything it would help.

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That nose join .....looks 'interesting' to say the least. Good choice to have it flying, how do the undercarriage doors fit?

Sean

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Hi Speedman,

The only aftermarket item I found for the cockpit was a resin ejector seat by Pavla. Which is why I decided to include the pilot even before I decided to build it wheels up. The canopy is so thick that the lack of interior detail shouldn't be a problem.

Hi Sean,

The strange nose join is an illusion caused by the weird silver plastic that Airfix used at the time. It changes colour when cut or sanded leaving darker areas and swirls in the plastic. It does make eliminating joins fun. In short they remain visible even when they are perfectly flat. It won't be possible to judge the joins properly until it's been primed. In the photo above the nose even looks bent or badly aligned but it isn't. Or at least I hope it isn't :) it's really hard to judge even with the naked eye.

The undercarriage doors and air brakes had to be sanded down and have ejector pin marks removed to get them to sit flat. They are still being sanded from the outside.

The filling and sanding is not yet finished and will probably continue after the first coat of primer.

Jon

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The P-61 does have a fair bit of aftermarket stuff. Aires do a resin cockpit and Eduard do both interior and exterior PE sets as well as masks. However I understand that these parts were designed for the DML/Dragon kit and the Aires cockpit at least doesn't fit the Airfix kit well.

I've still got to consider how I want to build this, but as you point out there is a lot of glass.

Jon

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My absence this week has been due to a death in the family which will continue to affect my participation over the next couple of weeks. I have found that filling and sanding can be a therapeutic distraction. There has been progress on the F5-A but not much time spent following or commenting on other builds.

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Awful fit of the air intakes. :o The gaps were first filled with plastic card and then plenty of filler.

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I added the pilot and several breakable bits and thought I was ready to start priming, but then discovered that the canopy is a bad fit, I thought I'd checked earlier in the build. :wall: It's too bad to fill with clearfix so I've removed the pilot so I can add some plastic card then sand it back to get a reasonable fit. I hope I don't break the missile carriers of pitot tube doing this.

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I'm not sure when painting will start it may be a couple of weeks.

Jon

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Condolences Jon, we hope all goes as well as can be expected over the next couple of weeks and await your return when you're ready.

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Sorry to hear of your loss Jon and thanks for posting your progress.

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