F-5F Tiger II Aggressor


Kit Manufacturer




Out of Box (OOB) or Modified

Rating (1-10 10=best)

F-5F Aggressor



Out of production, $12

Underwing stores


After US Air Force pilots reported their experiences in Korea, manufacturers started working on more maneuverable, lighter aircraft. Northrop had been working on one for a while, known by the name of the "Fang." This did not lead to a contract, but the design was changed for a lightweight fighter. This aircraft was used as a basic configuration for the T-38 Talon trainer, F-5A and F-5B fighter aircraft. While the USAF wasn't interested, they were persuaded to give these initial aircraft a test in combat in Vietnam - the "Skoshi Tiger" tests. The aircraft were modified with a refuelling probe, flown across the Pacific, then turned around and went on their first attack mission. These proved to be a huge success, with high reliability and availability, and convinced other nations (under a Mutual Assistance Program for US allies) to take delivery of F-5A and B (two seat) aircraft.

Further development in aerodynamics and engines led to the F-5E and F (the C designation going to those aircraft used in the Skoshi Tiger tests.) These were procured in small numbers by the US Air Force and Navy for their "Top Gun" / Air Combat Maneuvering schools, as performance - and size - wise they were a close match for the very numerous MiG-21. Being cheaper and easier to maintain than the F-15 and F-16 type aircraft, many US allies also purchased these upgraded aircraft, as well - something that would not happen with the later F-20 Tigershark.

In box review

This kit of the F-5F is the only one in 1/48 scale, and considering it's several years old, it's very accurate. It comes with two beige and one clear sprue, and decals for an aggressor from the Navy's "Top Gun" school. It has raised panel lines, and a decent cockpit set. Aggressor aircraft are always popular due to their odd color schemes, not normally seen on US aircraft.

The aircraft depicted comes with the original pointed radome. Later models adopted some of the F-20's improvements, such as the "tigershark" flattened nose (which improved turn rate) and different leading edge extensions. There is an aftermarket set of these items available. Unless you do the box version, check photos of the aircraft you're modelling to see if you need them.

Fit problems have been reported with this kit - nothing severe, but they're there, nontheless. The other odd thing is giving a "gun pod" to an Aggressor aircraft - these will normally fly clean, with a "dummy" AIM-9 Sidewinder on one rail and an ACMI instrumentation "dart' on the other. Save the underwing and underfuselage stores for other aircraft, unless you choose to use one of the aftermarket decal sheets for aircraft serving in other countries.

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