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This was a project I was doing over at ARC for a Group Build (Far East), but I haven't finished it yet. I've been reading up on South Vietnam's F-5 operations and was inspired enough to want to build one. The kit I am using is Kinetic's F-5A, which does the job nicely. Work naturally started with the cockpit:

f5ackpit1_zpsqbqrhqkh.jpg

The panels and side consoles are nice, but I wish Kinetic would have done a set of cockpit instrument decals since the panel detailing is okay, yet lacks dials on the instrument faces. So out came my collected instrument decals to do the job. Eduard does color etch, but I was a little cash strapped when I started. One minor issue I will point out is if you are doing an F-5 that ISN'T a Canadian bird, the kit provides a Marconi HUD box rather than the more rudimentary NORAIR gunsight that most F-5A/B models have. The Marconi HUDs are something seen more with air forces that have updated fleets. It took me a few minutes with a file to make the HUD/gunsight mount look a bit more featureless, although if I had to do it again I would have cut the box completely out of the panel and stuck in something a little smaller. But it looks okay.

With cockpit work done, I assembled the intakes, fuselage and wings. Everything more or less went together okay.

f5fuselage3_zpsyi0bomtn.jpg

One thing I recommend when building this kit is to not finish the nose and rear fuselage separately and glue them together as the instructions recommend. Instead you will have MUCH cleaner seams up top if you glue each nose half to each rear fuselage half before gluing them together. Fit was good and the resulting seam was a lot easier to handle. It did not need filler. Now there is a little bit of a gap between the intakes and rear fuselage, plus a similar gap between the bottom nose/fuselage plate ahead of the wing and the wing itself. I was able to fill the gap perfectly with some .010" styrene sheet (plasticard) and it blended in nicely.

ailerondroop1_zpschwniuiv.jpg

You can position the control surfaces on this kit. The rear wing flaps are traditionally up when the plane is parked. Leading edge flaps sometimes have a slight droop when parked (or more depending on the operator). One thing that all early F-5 and T-38 jets seem to have though are drooped ailerons when parked as they seem to sit about five degrees down on both sides when the hydraulic system is not pressurized. Thankfully it is pretty easy to represent that with this kit.

f5pylons3_zpsrbfwgkfg.jpg

One unique feature of VNAF F-5s were the 90 lbs. of lead armor plate they had mounted under the nose and parts of the tail. The plating was introduced during the USAF's "Skoshi Tiger" evaluation and South Vietnam continued the practice when they got the original F-5C jets and some additional F-5A and B models. Again I used some plasticard to represent the armor plates based on available photos found in my reference books and online.

Another thing I'll mention is the outer wing pylons. If you wish to droop the leading edge flaps, a notch will need to be added to the outer pylons. On the real jets, this notch is covered by a spring loaded flipper door/fairing that goes up when the flap does. Kinetic didn't scribe in the fairing area in so I am going to represent that with pencil lines. I did sand in a slight notch into both pylons to help make space for my slightly drooped flaps.

f5pylons1_zpsge1odvge.jpg

So that is where I am. I've got the model in primer with some paintwork done to the bottom. I'll shoot another round of photos when I start laying on the SEA camo on top. I'm using a little different pattern than Northrop's factory camo. Based on pictures I've seen, it looks like the oldest F-5s in the VNAF fleet likely went through depot level maintenance in 1969-70 and when they got repainted, the camo pattern seemed to be based on the desert/Asia Minor scheme, but with SEA colors. Hopefully I can pull this off properly.

Edited by JMChladek

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