Northrop NF-5B/F-5B/SF-5B Freedom Fighter Europe
Kinetic, 1/48 scale
S u m m a r y
||Kinetic Model Kits Item No. K48117 - NF-5B/F-5B/SF-5B Freedom Fighter Europe
|Contents and Media:
||187 grey injected moulded parts, 14 clear parts, small photo-etch sheet of 11 parts, decals and instructions.
USD$29.99 plus shipping available online from Lucky Models
GBP Ex £40.83EU/Export Price, UK £49.83plus shipping available online from Hannants
and hobby retailers worldwide
||Crisp yet subtle moulding with good detail. Interesting choice of schemes.
||No seat belts. Photocopied instructions with poor paint scheme profiles.
A nice kitting of the 2 seat F-5 Freedom Fighter for European operators. Some interesting schemes included with it.
by David Couche
The Northrop F-5 is a family of supersonic light fighter aircraft initially designed as a privately funded project in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation. There are two main models, the original F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter variants and the extensively updated F-5E and F-5F Tiger II variants. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and a low cost of maintenance. Smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft. Though primarily designed for a day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform. The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for US allies. Though at the time the United States Air Force (USAF) did not have a need for a light fighter, it did procure approximately 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which was based on Northrop's N-156 fighter design.
In 1962, the Kennedy Administration revived the requirement for a low-cost export fighter, selecting the N-156F as winner of the F-X competition on 23 April 1962, subsequently becoming the "F-5A", and was ordered into production in October that year. It was named under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system, which included a re-set of the fighter number series. Northrop manufactured a total of 624 F-5As, including three YF-5A prototypes, before production ended in 1972. A further 200 F-5B two-seat trainer aircraft, lacking nose-mounted cannons but otherwise combat-capable, and 86 RF-5A reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with four-camera noses, were also built. In addition, Canadair built 240 first generation F-5s under license, CASA in Spain built 70 more aircraft designated SF-5A/B.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) received 75 F-5A single seat fighters and 30 F-5B dual–seat trainers. They were license built in Canada by Canadair respectively as NF-5As and Bs in the 1969 CL-226 production line. These aircraft equalled the Canadian CF-5A and CF-5D versions with more powerful engines fitted. The first NF-5A was handed over in October 1969 at Twenthe Air Base for 313 Squadron acting as Operational Conversion Unit. The last aircraft was handed over in March 1972. The NF-5As flew under the Dutch registrations K-3001 / K-3075 and the NF-5Bs under K-4002 / K-4030. They were operational at Twenthe AB (OCU, 313 and 315 Squadrons), Eindhoven AB (314 Squadron) and Gilze-Rijen AB (316 Squadron).
During the RNLAF transition to the F-16, the NF-5s and Bs were stored at Gilze-Rijen and Woensdrecht air bases. 60 aircraft were sold to Turkey, 11 to Greece and 7 to Venezuela. Some aircraft have been written off during their operational life due to crashes and some remaining aircraft are displayed in museums or used in technical schools. The NF-5As and Bs were operational from 1971 to 1991.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force received 108 Freedom Fighters: 16 RF-5A, 78 F-5A and 14 F-5B. The first 64 were received as military aid. They were used by six squadrons, the first and last being 336 Squadron receiving the first aircraft in February 1966 (formal handing-over ceremony a month later) and deactivating in August 2000. Three aircraft were kept flying until 2007, serving with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace for tests in the "Eye of the Tiger" program, supporting development of the Norwegian Penguin anti-ship missile. The aircraft received under military aid were handed off to Greece and Turkey. Of the aircraft bought by the Norwegian government, nine were used in exchange with US authorities for submarines of the Kobben class.
*Text courtesy of Wikipedia
An end opening floppy box, which for me is the first Kinetic kit I’ve seen this way and my least preferred packaging, is packed full of all the goodies you will need to make a nicely detailed model of this Freedom Fighter. This moulding was originally released in 2013 but now has new schemes/decals in this version. Contents include, 5 grey injected moulded sprues with some 119 parts on them. There is one clear sprue containing 14 very clear parts with 8, decals and the non-inspirational B&W photocopied instruction booklet. Come on Kinetic, you can produce nice and detailed kits and yet your instruction booklets, too be blunt, are very poor and modellers are crying out for you to provide us, with at least, coloured decaling profiles. Panel lines are recessed and raised detail in places required, such as the cockpit and wheel bays. All sprues are cleanly moulded with little flash evident and sprue gates to the parts appear to have been created to minimise their effect on the parts.
This sprue is the grey plastic sprue and has 16 parts on it. Sprue B has the upper and lower wings as well as the tailplanes and most of the pylons. Major parts have simple recessed panel lines and no rivets at all. The single piece lower wing has a nicely detailed set of wheel bays and airbrake wells.
Sprue C contains 39 parts and there are 2 of them. There are 2 types of drop tanks on this sprue, the waisted or Coke bottle style wing tip tanks or the more standard under wing tanks. The remainder of the parts are parts for the weapons carried including 2 Sidewinder missile versions, the AIM-9B and AIM-9J, rocket pods and Mk 82 bombs.
Here on Sprue D we have 41 parts, including the rear fuselage halves. Detail is excellent on all surfaces of these 2 large parts and include a certain amount of reasonably refined rivets runs which are obvious on the real aircraft. This also has the parts for the intakes, the undercarriage legs, wheel bay doors as well as parts to construct one of the pilot ladders, which are nice extras for the model. The 2 halves for the single seat versions are on this sprue with the cannon included but these are not used on this version.
An interesting sprue with 27 parts on it. Of main interest are the major underside panels, 3 of them that create close to the underside of the fuselage. These panels have plenty of excellent crisp detail and will make a base for great finishes on your model. Strangely, there are 3 more drop tanks included, one of the wing tip type and 2 under wing, one with a pointed nose and one with a rounded nose. There are a number of minor parts on here as well including the emergency tail hook.
Finally we get to sprue K, having 25 parts including the forward fuselage halves for the 2 seat version, exhibiting good detail, as well as all of the parts for the cockpit. The cockpit tub and instrument panels have excellent raised detail which you will need to paint as there are no decals for them. The seats consist of 3 pieces with no seatbelts. With the quite large, fairly exposed cockpit, a set of aftermarket belts would certainly be an improvement.
This is the clear sprue with 14 crystal clear parts. You get the 3 parts of the canopy and the interior section between the 2 crew. There are plenty of lights to give a realistic finish to your model rather than the old painted method.
The kit contains a small brass photo-etched sheet with 11 parts on it. They are the slime lights, and some grill meshes etc. These will add some more raised detail to your fuselage and tail fin. Disappointing that Kinetic supply a photo-etch sheet but don’t give you seat belts.
Instructions & Markings
The instructions for the kit are the usual OK construction sheets but poorly detailed painting and decaling instructions. With the good quality of the Kinetic kits plastic parts, you would think that the same effort went into helping us to construct and painted them by supplying better quality instructions…..unhappy rant over with!
Colour call outs on the scheme profile are for Mig colours only. The early instruction pages have a paint call out chart with a number of paint brands, including Vallejo, Mr Color, Model Air, Italeri, Humbrol and Tamiya ranges. These include the major colours where available included on this list. The decals appear to be in perfect register giving the options for 9 different aircraft, 3 from the Netherlands, 3 Norwegian aircraft and 3 Spanish. Included are basic data stencils.
I have included a scan of the aircraft profiles but briefly, they are;
NF-5B, Netherland Air Force, early 1980’s (choice of 4 aircraft nos.)
NF-5B, K-4002, Netherland Air Force, mid 1980’s
NF-5B, K-4014, 313 Squadron, Netherland Air Force, 1986
F-5B, 718 Squadron, Royal Norwegian Air Force, late 1970’s (choice of 2 aircraft nos.)
F-5B, 332(AH)/718(DP) Squadron, Royal Norwegian Air Force, early 1970’s (choice of 2 aircraft nos.)
F-5B, 718 Squadron, Royal Norwegian Air Force, 1970.
The first built CASA/Northrop SF-5B, CE.9-001/211-1, 211 Squadron, Spanish Air Force, 1970’s
Same airframe as above, as seen in August, 1987.
Same airframe as above, as seen in August, 2008, Ala 23, Spanish Air Force.
A very nice, well detailed but simplified kit that gives you a good range of schemes used by some of the European air forces.
It looks like it will build into a nice model at the end, but maybe it’ll pay to have some photographic resources in regard to colours etc.
Despite my grumping at times, this will build up into a good model and is quite cheap, so it’s excellent value for the money. I look forward to building this kit to go with my single seat versions.
Thanks to Lucky Model for the sample
Review Text and Images Copyright © 2021 by David Couche
Page Created 5 April, 2023
5 April, 2023
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