Brand and Kit Number: AFV Club AR48102
Media: Injection Plastic, Photo-etch, Resin
Aftermarket: Seat from Wolfpack Design WPD48089
Markings: TwoBobs 48-216 F-5E PACAF Gomers #2
The F-5E Tiger II is an upgrade of the F-5A Tiger. Introduced in 1970, it has more powerful engines, a lengthened and enlarged fuselage, larger fuel capacity, better avionics, better aerodynamics and more crucially, a radar. The F-5E would prove to be a successful combat aircraft for US allies, but would only serve the US in an ‘aggressor’ role for training.
In the latter half of the 1970s, the 26th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron received the F-5E from undelivered stocks for the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and an embargoed Ethiopian Air Force order. The aggressor F-5Es were painted in a variety of colorful camouflage schemes designed to mimic those in use by Warsaw Pact aircraft. During this period, the squadron was based in Clark AFB, Phillipines. The unit is currently active as the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron.
AFV Club introduced this kit in 2010 to all modelers’ delight. We finally had a modern take of this popular aircraft (1,499 built with over 20 users). Before this kit, the only game in town for 1/48 was the Monogram kit from 1978. This kit is designed for multiple variants and options in this particular boxing include:
Panel lines are recessed and look good. The kit also comes with a small photo-etch fret which includes rear-view mirrors for the canopy and mesh screens for the intake splitter plates.
Right from the beginning I decided to replace the stock ejection seat with an aftermarket one. I used a resin one from Wolfpack Design.
Overall fit was good but there were some things to note:
I also ended up making a few mistakes:
Colors & Markings
The decal sheet offers 6 options with the most interesting being 75-01561 in the Vietnamese Air Force’s SEA camouflage and a striking sharkmouth. As usual, TwoBobs’ decals went on very easily although they are a bit troublesome with the layering involved. The camouflage pattern as printed on the sheet also did not line up properly in some spots so some guesstimation was made.
Weathering was kept to a minimum with my usual mix of dark gray and raw umber oil paint sludges. Due to the darker colors up top, the effect isn’t very obvious.
The F-5E doesn’t have many antennas and yet I managed to ping 1 off into the black hole that is my room. In my defense, it’s really tiny. The last item on were the exhausts which as mentioned above, ended up not fitting well at all. Serves me right for being careless during assembly.
All in all, it has been a fun build. Putty was kept to a minimum but the really tiny parts were a challenge since I have presbyopia now.
Number 7 of 2017
Kotobukiya is releasing the Arbalest from Full Metal Panic!. This is the mecha piloted by the main character Sagara Sasuke.
This looks much better than the earlier release from Aoshima. I hope Kotobukiya will issue the other Armed Slaves like the mass produced Gernsbeck. The Arbalest is coming in April 2018 @ 6,264 JPY. More pictures on Hobby Search.
The resin ejection seat was painted separately and left out until final assembly. The cockpit is much improved with this lone aftermarket part and I highly recommend it.
The nose gear is a straightforward build. The kit gives you the option of an extended nosegear. If I’m not mistaken, the nose gear takes on that form when taking off and landing.
The kit also includes both opened and closed options for the main landing gear doors. Looking at photos online, I saw both instances so I went ahead with the open option. The air brakes are also left open.
The main landing gear are quite detailed. The door is connected to the strut with 2 (very) small levers. Exact placement is not very clear in the instruction sheet so I did some guessing. I’m not sure I got it correct though. The connection is quite fragile so I added some diluted white glue around the joints.
The arrestor hook was painted in black, masked then sprayed white instead of using the included decal.
Since I have a resin seat, the canopy will be left open. The canopy struts needed some trimming to fit into the cockpit. They do however, friction fit so I’ll only cement them into place after I have installed the canopy.
I modified the included AIM-9 to replicate an inert training missile. I wasn’t sure an ACMI pod was in service at this time (1970s) so I left it off.
P-Bandai is a double-edged sword. For one thing, it gives Bandai a chance to issue obscure subjects. On the other hand, these are sometimes the more interesting subjects but are hard to get your hands on. This is one of them.
This is coming in February 2018 @ 3,240JPY. More pictures at Gundam Kits Collection.
This was a surprise since the VF-4 is one of the more obscure valkryries from the Macross metaverse. It’s also a surprise it’s coming from Wave since as far as I know, only Bandai and Hasegawa has the 1/72 kit licenses for Macross.
In any case, I hope to see more pics soon. Pictures of the prototype can be found on Hobbysearch. It will come in December @ 6,264JPY.