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AFV Club 1/48 F-5E Tiger II

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CODE: AR48102
Retail Price: 35.99
Our Price: 25.99
You save: 10.00 
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This is the first aircraft kit release from AFV Club who are better known for their armour kits. As there are no up-to-date kits of the F-5E Tiger, this one certainly fills a gap. Highly detailed and including a small number of photo-etched parts, markings are included for the following aircraft:

  • Royal Malaysian Air Force 12 Squadron.
  • Singapore Air Force No 144 Squadron.
  • US Navy VFC-13.
  • US Air Force 64th FWS 57th FWW.

Review by Mike Williams.

The F-5 was originally designed as a light-weight fighter, and served in large numbers with the US air forces as a supersonic trainer, and latterly as an aggressor aircraft for dissimilar combat training exercises due to its flight performance being very similar to the then most likely foe, the Mig 21.

The Tiger II was the next generation of this handsome fighter, and was popular with the western allies both as a trainer and as a light fighter, its original intended purpose.

When the test shots of this kit arrived on the internet forums it created a lot of buzz, as the only previously available mainstream kits were from Monogram & ESCI, and the moulds are somewhat dated by today's standards.

The top-opening box contains 2 full sprues, plus 5 smaller sprues, the main fuselage as a separate item, a sprue of clear parts, decals, instructions and for no apparent reason, a glossy reproduction of the box art. The final item, hidden in the decal sheet bag is a small fret of photo-etched metal, which provides some fine louvers and a front sill to the cockpit with mirrors built in.

The moulding of the sprues is very nice, and the modular nature of construction makes it perfectly plain that there will be other versions, and AFV Club would be crazy not to have taken advantage of the opportunity to fully tap the market in that respect. Of course, careful test-fitting will be required to ensure that the modularity doesn't trip you up, but the end result will be worth the effort - especially when you think of the 2-seater that will hopefully be along soon.

The cockpit is nicely detailed, with 3D panels and side consoles for the modeller to paint and detail. Alternative parts are provided for extended canopy jacks, to allow you to pose the canopy open without any fuss, scratch-building or fragile glue-joints.

Moving on to the fuselage, you can pose the auxiliary doors on the fuselage sides open or closed, by choosing the appropriate louvered inserts. The complex shape of the intakes is portrayed using several parts, so a little filling will probably be needed, although as there is no intake trunking supplied with the kit, it would be advisable to either scratch-build some FOD guards, or paint the interior black to fool the casual observer. Seamless intakes will doubtless appear in due course from the usual suspects.

The flying surfaces are all posable, including the rudder, which exhibits a curious stressed skin effect between the rows of rivets, which doesn't seem that evident on the in-service machines that I have seen, but may be evident on older, more care-worn airframes. If you feel the urge to remove or reduce it, a sanding sponge should make short work of it without obliterating any detail.

The rivets over the airframe are neatly executed with small depressions representing the flush rivets, and heavy raised detail around the jet exhausts where the skin is covered with a proliferation of raised rivets.

The wheel bays are again well detailed on all surfaces, using the moulding technology available to simplify the process while keeping the level of detail high. The same level of care and detail has been shown to the whole model, from the gear bay doors, to the drop tanks, with no parts looking like they were put in to increase the part-count. The drop-tanks attach by friction fitting into small vinyl washers that you sandwich between the two halves. Instructions helpfully advise that additional weapons will be available separately - perhaps the beginning of a universal style of fitment of modern weapons to model kits?

The slight anhedral of the tail planes is made simple to obtain by a linking rod between the two parts that passes through the whole of the rear fuselage. It does seem a little thin however, so fabrication of some supports inside the airframe itself would be a wise move, and cementing the parts into place at the desired angle will minimise the chances of damage later.

Decals are provided for four airframes, as follows:

  • Royal Malaysian Air Force 12 Squadron (silver with black anti-glare panel)
  • Singapore Air Force No 144 Squadron (3 shades of grey camo)
  • US Navy VFC-13 (desert pink/earth red tiger stripe)
  • US Air Force 64th FWS 57th FWW (desert yellow & earth camo)

There are bound to be plenty of Aggressor squadron decals out there soon, if not already, and the use of the aircraft by many nations should ensure a variety of schemes for the after-market decal users.


In the box, the kit looks excellent, and with the caveat of the lack of intake trunking, it's a hearty recommendation. The detail is consistent, the moulding crisp, and the instructions clear, so it shouldn't pose too much of an issue to build, even for a relative novice.