by: Andy Brazier [ ]
The F-5 series of aircraft is a low cost fighter program, which was developed and built by Northrop, starting in the 1960s.
By the end of the 1970s the more advanced F-5E's had replaced the F-5A.
The RF-5E Tigereye is a single-seat reconnaissance version of the F-5E fighter. The RF-5E Tigereye was exported to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Malaysia. The nose radar is replaced with a forward oblique KS-87D1 frame camera and various sensor pallets. Pallet 1 mounts a KA-95B medium altitude panoramic camera, a KA-56E low-altitude panoramic camera and an RS-710E IR Linescan. Pallet 2 combines a KA-56E camera with a KA-93B6 panoramic camera. Pallet 3 is for LOROP (Long Range Oblique Photo) missions and has a KS-174A camera.
Packed in the top opening lidded box, you will find six bags containing the light grey sprues, a single fret of photo-etch, two sets of decals, the instructions and a rather nice A4 size poster of the box art.
The model itself comprises of nine light grey sprues, two clear sprues, the one P.E fret and a set of poly caps.
The plastic doesnít seem to be distorted in any way, but a few pieces do seem to be glossy, whilst most has a matt shine to it. A little flash is present, but nothing worth worrying about, and ejector pin marks look to be in places that wonít be seen.
The first thing that does strike you with this kit is the amount of parts for such a smallish aircraft. A lot of this can be put down to the modular style assembly of the kit, the nose section, including the cockpit is one part, then comes the main fuselage, followed by a separate rear section. Eleven parts make up the wings alone. The flaps look to positional, as they are all separate parts.
This sounds good as multiple variants can be produced by simply swapping parts, but is does mean more panel lines potentially need filling.
Exterior detail is exquisite with recessed panel lines, rivets and fasteners, which are very finely done.
Interior detail for the cockpit is pretty good, with raised detail for the instrument panel and side consoles. The bang seat is a multi-part affair, but unfortunately doesnít include any harnesses.
The nose section is unfortunately devoid of any cameras, so this is going to look a bit empty unless you scratch build or get some A.M parts for it. The whole underside of the nose section where the camera glazing is, is a clear part, which should make attaching this part with out getting glue on the important glazing a lot easier.
The wheel wells have a nice amount of detail, with panels, rivets, hydraulic lines and servos, making it all look nice and busy.
The undercarriage legs are very well crafted, with brake lines moulded onto them. The main gear legs have one side of the wheel hub moulded as part of the leg, which should make painting, fixing the wheels a lot easy and stronger.
The air intakes donít have an insert for the engine fan, so a bit of scratching is going to be needed to stop the see through look. The exhausts are blocked off at the other end, with a fairly detailed afterburner ring, so you wonít see all the way through.
Ordnance has the Tigereye equipped with a couple of Sidewinder missiles for the wing tips, and either a 1042L or a 568L centre-line drop-tank, and two 568L wing drop tanks.
The small Photo Etch fret holds four parts. Two of the parts are some vents for the intakes, and are very well done. The other two parts are for the canopy. One part is just a small frame for a small window at the back of the canopy. The other part gives some detail to the open canopy edge, and includes a couple of rear view mirrors.
The canopy can be modelled in either open or closed position, but you will have to decide this fairly early in the build as different parts are used.
The clear parts are crisp, thin and distortion free, but they are packed in with the main sprue parts, so your mileage may vary with the condition they come in. Separate bags would have been nice to stop any problems arising.
A nice touch with this kit, is the inclusion of a boarding ladder, which hooks onto the cockpit frame.
Instructions, markings and decals
The instruction book is twelve pages of A4 size paper, printed in black and white. The build sequence is over 17 easy to follow steps. Interior colours are given along the way. I like the way AFV Club have tackled the paint chart, every time a colour is called out for in the build, its given its correct name. A handy colour conversion chart, for Gunze Sangjo, Revell, Humbrol and Life Color is at the front of the instructions. I wish more manufacturers would adopt this style, as itís a lot easier to follow.
Four options for the markings are given, but you can actually narrow that down to two. The first three markings are all for the Ė
ROCAF (Republic Of China (Taiwan) Air Force) 401st TCW, 12th tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
All three have the same paint schemes of a two tone grey low visibility camo. The only difference with the markings is the aircraft serial numbers and a slight difference in the tail marking style.
The fourth option is for an aircraft of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, which has a three tone grey wrap around camo scheme.
The decals are a bit of a letdown compared to the rest of the kit. Even though on first glance they do look nice, when you look more closely they do seem very patchy, with some parts of the decals glossy while other parts of the same decal are dull. The decals themselves have a lot of carrier film around the edges, so trimming them might help snuggle them down. Having never used AFV Club decals before I donít know how they react with decal solutions?
Two sets of the ROCAF tail fin decals are supplied, the set on the main decal sheet are black, where the separate set are a dark grey colour. Looking at the box art work the separate sheet seems to be the correct set as they do look to be of a more low visibility one. This does beg the question of why is there a dark set on the main decal sheet?