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F-5E Tiger II

AFV Club 1/48 F-5E Tiger II Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Images by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2010 Manufacturer AFV Club
Subject F-5E Tiger II Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48102 Primary Media 182 parts (168 in light grey styrene, 7 clear styrene, 4 vinyl keepers, 3 etched metal)
Pros Modern, state of the art kit of this aircraft; uses the new “plug and play” underwing pylons; options for several different aircraft configurations Cons Uses small depressions for riveting which is not popular with some modelers
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $49.50

First Look

F-5E Kit
F-5E Kit
F-5E Kit
F-5E Kit
F-5E Kit
F-5E Kit

While the lightweight Northrop F-5E Tiger II never served operationally with any US squadron, it did serve well as the opposing force fighter for both the USAF and the US Navy until “The Real Thing” became available in the form of MiG-29s and other similar ex-Soviet aircraft. Most people are more familiar with the Navy ones that were painted black and given red stars to perform as “MiG-28s” in the movie “Top Gun”.

AFV Club has now swung over to make 1/48 scale aircraft, and as full disclosure I must state up front I have only sufficient references for Korean War aircraft and thus cannot comment on the overall accuracy of this kit. That being said, here is a description of what you get.

The kit is pretty much state of the art from what I have seen. It comes with the new feature of having vinyl keepers mounted inside external ordnance for two good reasons - to allow it to be finished off the model and then quickly and neatly attached, and second, to permit swapouts from after-market sets to later be sold by AFV Club or others.

The fuselage is nicely done with recessed panel lines and rivets; the latter are not popular with some modelers but it seems to me to be the only way to get them on the surface without having the model look like it caught chickenpox. But it has the most convoluted assembly I have seen in years.

The fuselage proper consists of two side nose sections with a belly section, a center upper section with spine; a lower wing section; and an engine cone at the rear with a top and bottom section. Even though AFV Club is noted among armor modelers for very good joints with few gaping seams, I am not sure if this will yield a smooth finish or not, and with the construction being the way it is smoothing it out could prove difficult.

Given that as a start, the kit abounds with options. The ejector seat comes in four parts and also provides the peripherals that go behind it in the cockpit tub. Oddly enough the kit comes with gun bay doors on the left side of the fuselage for option posing, but no interior. Watch out as some holes need to be drilled in the model and AFV Club’s warning looks like a string being pulled through a hankie.

The wings provide for optional positions for the flaps, slots and ailerons. There are also optional blow-in doors for the rear part of the fuselage which have to be selected in Step 5. The two jet exhausts also are noted in Step 8 as canting inward; while I am not sure if that is correct the English part here calls them “nuzzles” so note the real meaning!

The landing gear includes the compression links and all doors have interior detail. Door actuating struts are also included. Air brakes may be shown open or closed and two sets of inner landing gear doors (open or closed) are included.

Ordnance consists of a pair of Sidewinder missiles and three drop tanks – these may be either cemented in place using fixed mounts or left loose to use the vinyl keeper attachments. Two empty outboard pylons are also provided.

The etched metal covers two inserts on the intake fences and the front frame of the cockpit windscreen with attached rear view mirrors.

Four finishing options are provided: 12 Squadron, Royal Malaysian Air Force; No 144 Squadron, Singapore Air Force; VFC-13, US Navy (with red stars); and 64th FWS, 57th FWW (Red Flag) , USAF. A full color poster of the latter is included inside the box.

Overall, while I do not have sufficient references to validate the kit, it seems to be a pretty good effort and very detailed. I am not sure the “origami” construction of the fuselage will be popular though.

Sprue Layout

  • A 42x2 AR48101 - ejection seat, wheels, landing gear, pylons, weapons
  • B 4 AR48101 - cockpit tub, alternate fuselage panels
  • C 4 AR48101 - nose sides, bottom
  • G 3 Etched metal
  • H 31 AR48101 - wing tops, tail surfaces, landing gear struts
  • I 7 AR48101 - clear styrene
  • N 14 AR48102 - nose cone, landung gear doors, details
  • P 30 AR48101 - wings, tail section, intakes, center line tank
  • R 4 Vinyl keepers
  • S 1 Upper fuselage and sp