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In-Box Review
Airfix 1/72 F-5A
Airfix 1/72 F-5A Freedom Fighter in box review
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by: Mark Doremus [ MD72 ]


Northrup developed a concept for a light weight, low cost, high performance fighter in partial response to a proposed Navy requirement for a fighter to operate off of WWII escort carriers. The Navy decommissioned the carriers and no longer needed a fighter to fly off of them. Northrup continued the development of their model N156 as a fighter and a trainer. The Air Force decided it didnít need a light fighter but they and the Navy purchased the trainer version as the T-38. Through the Military Assistance Program, Northrup was able to sell over 600 copies to smaller Air Forces around the world. The Freedom Fighterís first flight was in 1959 and production continued until 1972.
The kit:

Airfix first released this kit in 1966 and revised the tooling in 1984. Opening the side closing box reveals 47 parts molded in a silvery gray plastic. The canopy is clear and nicely molded in two pieces. There is a decal sheet with markings for one airplane purchased by the Imperial Iranian Air Force in 1963. There is single sided 6 x 12Ē instructions sheet with 4 exploded views showing the assembly steps and providing some general instructions and a brief history of the plane in 3 languages. The only painting instructions are on the back of the box along with the decal placement. Naturally enough, color callouts are from the Humbrol line.
With the 2 piece canopy, you pose the canopy open but, typical for kits of the era, cockpit detail is limited to an ďLĒ shaped pilotís chair and a pilot. The gear bays are too shallow, with the gear down; you probably will want to cement the main gear doors closed to hide the missing cavity. The wings are molded as a single piece with a part of the lower fuselage and the stabilizers are also molded in one piece connected to a piece of the lower fuselage. The fuselage is split vertically with the rudder attached to one side. The rear fuselage is a single piece that matches up to an angled face under the rudder and the stabilizer piece. Underwing stores include a fuel tank, 2 Sidewinders, and a pair of bombs. The bombs look too aerodynamic for ordinary ordinance, they might be practice bombs.
My example has flash around several parts and many parts are showing witness lines from features on the opposite side. Most of the flat parts, like gear doors and speed brakes have large ejector pin marks. Test fits hint that there will be a bit of filling and sanding to get the seams right.

Looks like there are three other F-5A molds out there, Hasegawa, Esci / Italeri and PM. Iíve not seen the Esci and PM offerings. The Hasegawa T-38 (F-5B) is about the same age and the tool is in better condition.
Highs: Decals look crisp and well printed.
Lows: Mediocre fits, flash, large ejector pins, shallow detail, only one marking option.
Verdict: This version is going to take a lot of care to be a contest winner. Itís a good practice kit or a starter for a youngster.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 00043
  PUBLISHED: Oct 19, 2013

About Mark Doremus (md72)

Copyright ©2021 text by Mark Doremus [ MD72 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


The bombs look like they're an unholy mix of the old-style M117 and the newer Mk. 82. It's probably a good idea to replace them with something which looks a bit more real. Or leave them off entirely. Modern jets rarely fly with live bangity things hung on them, and even more rarely are seen armed on the flight line.
OCT 19, 2013 - 09:07 AM
Hi I've just tried to view this and get this message: This review either does not exist or has not been published for public viewing. Please contact us if you think you believe this is in error. I've never had a problem before so what have I done wrong. Thanks chris
OCT 19, 2013 - 09:19 AM
I was thinking of the M76 Practice Bomb when I saw the shapes. I suppose If I place the pilot in the cockpit (bury the lack of detail) and pose it on the runway just past the armourer's check point, it'll be legal.
OCT 19, 2013 - 02:27 PM
The great problem with that is those practise bombs are tiny. They're usually carried on a CBLS (Carrier, Bomb, Light Stores) which itself is smaller than a live bomb. They're weighted so they have all the ballistic characteristics of real bombs for a fraction of the cost. They're also re-usable. More often than not fast jets these days will have those hanging on them rather than the real thing. You could probably hack those "bombs" up into a fairly reasonable fake CBLS without much difficulty. Chris, the review hadn't been set to "live" which is why you had trouble seeing it. It ought to be corrected now.
OCT 19, 2013 - 02:36 PM
Yea, you're right, Mk76 are about 24in long (.33" in 1/72), these are 1.2" long, about 86" real life.
OCT 19, 2013 - 03:34 PM
thank you
OCT 19, 2013 - 06:24 PM
If you can get hold of the Hasegawa weapon set of bombs that contains a CBU and a variety of loads
OCT 19, 2013 - 09:04 PM
Good suggestion, I think I've got one in the stash somewhere.
OCT 20, 2013 - 04:17 AM

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