F-20 Tigershark


Kit Manufacturer




Out of Box (OOB) or Modified

Rating (1-10 10=best)

F-20 Tigershark



OOP, $12



The F-20 Tigershark was the ultimate expression of the F-5 / T-38 family. While it bore some resemblance to the earlier aircraft, it was in fact a whole new beast. The aerodynamics were improved by a redesigned nose and leading edge extensions, a single, more powerful engine (similar to the F-16's) was used, and the internal systems were updated. It was flown against the F-16 and found to be a very good aircraft - so good, in fact, that politics ended up killing it. Three prototypes were produced - two in a bright red-and-white paint scheme, and one in a metallic grey - the same grey paint used on a Mercedes seen around the airfield! Politics and the crash of two of the prototypes due to pilot error led to the death of the program and the end of the F-5 / F-20 fighter family. The F-20 was called by one Air Force general "the best fighter we never bought."

In box review:

This kit is out of production, and I doubt it will see production again, as the aircraft itself was never used operationally - a pity, as it's a great looking airplane. The kit is molded in the metallic dark grey used on one of the machines - which is great, except that it doesn't exactly match the airplane, and it's a bear if you want to paint the red-and-white example!

Markings are given for two of the three prototypes - there wasn't much difference between them, except the one not shown had the earlier F-5E style canopy, later stretched back as shown in the kit for better visibility. Two Sidewinders and two Sparrow missiles are included - they were tested on these aircraft, so it wouldnt' be out of place to mount them. A seated pilot figure and a drop tank are also included. Plan ahead if you want to do the red and white paint scheme - the only striping decal with white in it is on the tail, and it is translucent. You'll have to do some careful masking and painting to get he decals and the red-white seperation to match up. When finished, though, it sure stands out!

This kit is molded differently from the F-5E in that the tail section is split off from the rear fuselage, most likely due to molding reasons. The major assemblies are then the upper and lower fuselage, and the left and right engine cover and vertical tail. The wings are molded integrally with the upper fuselage.

I built one of these years ago, and enjoyed it - except for the red and white painting! I'm tempted to find a second one of these for that scheme. The metallic grey can be found in a good line of car colors, as it was taken directly from a Mercedes car dealer on the real aircraft.

The molds weren't used much - all moldings are crisp and reasonably flash free. This kit does have very finely raised panel lines, so be careful doing any filling or sanding, especially around the tail section. Other than that, it seems to have a decent fit and finish to it, and shouldn't be a difficult build.

For more information and discussion of these aircraft, check out this discussion group!
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