F-5 Fighter is a unique family of fighter among American military aircraft. Although produced in very substantial numbers, not one F-5 serves in American combat squadron. The most significant role this plane plays as combat trainer in so called Aggressor squadrons. The first F-5E was rolled out on June 23, 1972, and first flew in August 11th. However due to engine problems it was not introduced into service until April 1973. The F-5E has two M-39 20mm cannons in the nose and can carry two AIM-9 on wingtips launch rails. In addition to the cannon and missiles, F-5E is capable to carry a variety of bombs and rockets. This version was exported to many air forces through the world and some of them were Chile, Switzerland, Iran, Kenya, Brazil etc.
Kit contains 80 plastic parts molded in grey styrene located on two sprues and additional sprue with 4 clear parts. Quality of the molding seems to be rather good but expect to find some sink marks on some vital parts, nothing much, but some additional work will be needed there. Panel lines are nicely engraved, crisp and clean, there are no rivets on the kit, not even the ones on the aft fuselage that are very visible on the real aircraft. Cockpit is pretty nice for this scale, especially the instrument panel and side consoles. Manufacturer also supplied decals (black/white print) for these so it is up to modeler to decide weather to use them or to paint cockpit. There are no details on the cockpit sidewall and probably you should consider acquiring aftermarket seat, or to do a serious detailing on the one from the box.
Test fit showed nice fitting between fuselage halves, it is my strong believe that no putty will be needed since I haven’t even cleaned the fuselage halves when I tested the fitting. Some flesh is present on the small parts of the kit, but it is not a great deal. Undercarriage looks good, doesn’t have much details and a main undercarriage wells seem to be a bit shallow. Exhausts are very nice; they have a good level of details for this scale. Wings are nice and thin, as seen on the real F-5, but on the other hand, horizontal stabilizers have very thick trailing edge that needs to be thinned. Weaponry is mostly OK, especially Sidewinders, but a central fuel tank looks a bit odd and it would be best not to install it on the kit or to find a replacement. I should also mention that wing pylons are a bit thick on the first look, and have some flesh. Clear parts are clean and have excellent transparency; canopy is molded in two parts so it is easy to leave it in opened position.
Instruction sheet is printed on 6 pages and it is excellent and easy to follow.
Hobby Boss provided marking options for 4 aircraft.
1. F-5E VFC-13 Aggressor
2. F-5E VMFT-401 Snipers June 2006
3. F-5E FAB Grupo de Caca Sta Cruz 1985
4. F-5E 19th Sqn. Swiss Air Force 1980
Decals are excellent, well printed with nice colors and in perfect register. Service stencils are readable even in this scale, excellent work by Hobby Boss.
Please note to consult your references before you chose what option you’ll start working on. Without additional work on creating dorsal fin this kit can’t represent FAB 4839 F-5E.
Hobby Boss released a very nice kit of this interesting bird. For a rather low price you get a good base to build a nice replica of this interesting fighter. If you ask me, I am satisfied with what I got in the box for a 7 euro retail price, and I would buy it again although this is not my preferable subject. If you are looking for few of this kits in order to pair them with more than exotic aftermarket decals this is a kit for you.