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Northrop F-20

by Dan Lee


Northrop F-20


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The Northrop F-20 was privately developed in the early 80's as a modernized follow up to their F-5 series of light weight fighters. First flight was 30-Aug-1982. By incorporating the latest technology, the F-20 was to become a poor man's F-16/F-18. This new fighter was originally designated as the F-5G, but was latter redesignated to F-20 in an attempt to distinguish the fact that this new variant wasn't a mild upgrade of the original F-5 family.

The F-20 featured a single GE F404 engine giving this little fighter a tremendous thrust to weight ratio. The latest avionics suite put the aircraft into the same league as the F-16/18 series. The F-20 was capable of BVR engagements using Sparrow missles. In addition, Air to Ground radar modes allowed the F-20 to perform ground mapping and tracking of ground targets.

Three prototypes were built. However two were lost in accidents. The F-20 never found a customer due to reasons not related to the aircraft itself. In the end, Northrop cancelled the program after spending a fair amount of its own money.



Hasegawa's 1/72 Scale F-20


Hasegawa's 1/72 F-20 was released in the 80's. It features recessed panel lines, a pilot figure, underwing fuel tanks, a center line fuel tank, boarding ladder, optional refueling probe and wingtip AIM-9L Sidewinders. The fuel tanks are molded along with their pylon. An extra set of pylons is provided to allow other stores (user supplied) to be used.


The kit only allows the canopy to be built in the opened position. Surgery on the canopy actuator assembly is required before the canopy can be closed.

Decals are provided for the second F-20 prototype in a grey top with light grey bottom paint scheme.





I built this one almost straight out of the box.

Decals for the main instrument and side panels were used. The seat was replaced with a True Details F-5 resin seat. The canopy actuating arms were cleaned up and grafted onto the True Details seat. The molded on gun barrels are best drilled out and replaced. However, replacement barrels were left off; I was lazy. A dab of putty was required around the wing/intake assembly joint. The main landing gear doors and airbrakes were thinned down.

The ACMI pod came from an Italeri NATO weapons kit.



Painting and Decals


I decided to go with a what-if paint scheme based on the USAF F-5 Aggressor Grape scheme. Employing what was already in my paint drawer, I decided to use Humbrol #47 (a gloss light blue) as the base coat. Next Tamiya enamels were used for the blue grey and grey. Tamiya Neutral grey was used for the nose radome. Landing gear and gear bays were painted with Tamiya flat white.

Testor's Exhaust and Aluminium Metalizer paints were used for the engine exhaust.

Decals came from the kit and the spares box.





This is a nice Hasegawa kit. It goes together well and quickly.


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by Dan Lee
Page Created 01 April 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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