Northrop NF-5A in 1/32 scale
Royal Netherlands AF (KLu)
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Review / Modelling report
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NF-5A model in 1/32 scale kit review ? building report

Belcher Bits issued a resin set for a F-5A conversion in 1/32 scale using Hasegawa F-5E (or same Revell F-5E kit)  and the conversion requires modifications on mostly the F-5E kit wings and rear fuselage. It includes new rear fuselage, correct wing tip fuel tanks and centreline fuel tanks plus refueling probe. Also not forgotten are the F-5A instrument panel, intake fronts and other necessary odds and ends. The set includes also some simple Canadian decals. The smaller parts supplied are excellent, the large fuselage needs some extra work though. See www.belcherbits.com on how to order your set if you want one. 

But lets look first a little bit to the background on the F-5.

The Northrop F-5 was developed as a lightweight multi-mission aircraft capable of speeds in the area of Mach 1.4. It was aimed at air forces that had no big budgets available and the USAF did not really put in big orders for this plane, only a dozen being evaluated in Vietnam. But the USAF did adopt the T-38 Talon trainer that was based on work on the F-5 as the world's first supersonic trainer.

The F-5A prototype, the N-156, was ready for  flight test in 1959. later on many orders came in from various nations like Canada, Greece, Iran, South Korea, Libya, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and South Vietnam.

cutt-away drawing (source unknown)

Many F-5 were delivered through the Military Assistance Program to various countries, including NATO. Overall about 650 F-5As and 200 two-seat F-5B aircraft were built.
( Note: Later on, the F-5 was used as a starting point for the  improved International Fighter Aircraft (IFA) program. The result was the F-5E Tiger II. Compared to the F-5A, it was lengthened and enlarged, with increased wing area with and more sophisticated avionics. 

Of the F-5, several variations were developed, based on specific air force specs of various countries. The NF-5 was developed for the Netherlands Air Force and was based on the Canadair CF-5. This F-5 version has two more powerfull engines and some extra equipment as compared to the usual F-5A. 

The major external characteristics of the Dutch NF-5 are:
- tailhook below aft fuselage (later also used for F-5E type)
- two large split air intake doors aft of main wing trailing edge in both sides fuselage to provide extra air to engines (later also used for F-5E type)
- provision to carry also the larger 275 gallon underwing fueltanks
- trailing edge flap had an extra setting (8 degrees)
- other nose wheel leg (that could be extended); this was to take-off with a B61 but later on the extension of the leg was often fixed.
- different cockpit main instrument panel layout
- slightly larger intake than USAF F-5A for the more powerfull Canadian Orenda engines (similar to CF-5)


This 1/32 scale F-5A model will be slightly adapted to get a Dutch AirForce NF-5A as extensively used in the nineteen seventies and eigthies before the NF-5's were replaced by the F-16's. In addition,you will need a F-5E 1/32 kit, issued by Hasegawa and the same mould used by Revell.

Interested in 1/72 scale? Check out my F-5 series models here...



The KIT
OK, back to the conversion and the kit. 

The Belcher Bits conversion set enables you to build a F-5A using the 1/32 scale F-5E kit as a starting point. If you want to see how I made a Hasegawa 1/32 F-5E kit years ago, look here....

The Hasegawa 1/32 kit needed (Revell kit uses the same mould): 


Also note the new tanks supplied.

When you look at the F-5 fuselage (yellow) compared to the F-5E (dark grey) , you will see remarkable differences: the shape, length and widths are completely different.

There is no way you could have converted the Hasegawa fuselage to get a correct F-5 fuselage, so the Belcher set is very usefull indeed. 

The provided Belcher Bits instructions tell you quite well how to do the conversion. Especially you need to do some work to modify the kitís wings. 

MAIN FUSELAGE
The forward fuselage of the F-5A and cockpit section is very similar to the F-5E as supplied in the Hasegawa kit. The Belcher Bits set provides for the rear of the fuselage two big resin halves. There were some problems to alignment and filling and sanding is needed. The intakes and exhaust are solid, and this is  pitty as they are very difficult to drill open. I used my household drill to drill open the exhaust pipe holes, but still I could not really get good results as the resin is very tough. 


I gave up on opening the intake holes as there would be a too big risk to damage the parts. I will use intake covers later on instead. I used two component glue to glue the fuselage halves. 

After filling especially at the rear end, I sanded the whole fuselage. 
You will also need to do some rescribing of the panel lines; this is again not easy as the resin is very tough.  Here you see on the left the CF-5A resin intake: 

Note that this intake is slightly larger as the orginal F-5A intake as the CF-5 and NF-5 use more powerfull Canadian Orenda engines. So for the NF-5, this Belcher Bits set intake is correct.

NOTE: I left the  resin intakes for assembly later on.

Next step now is to assemble the forward fuselage and cockpit. You will see that the height between this forward section and the rear resin fuselage are 2 mm different;  so first I removed a small portion at the top edges to prevent much work later on but anyway later one some filling and sanding will still be needed here. 

The cockpit area can be as detailed as you want. (more on that later on). 


WING
The F-5 wing is quite simple compared to the later F-5E wing as has straight edges. The modification is to remove certain areas of the Hasegawa wing especially at the leading edge root extensions. After that you need to sand a lot to get wing airfoil type leading edges. I also recommend you to use small metal pins to add strength to the wing-fuselage and stabilizer -fuselage joints. 

The NF-5 "manoeuvring leading edge flaps" were simply suggested adding a straight inscribed panelline. 

VERTICAL TAIL
Next step is to cutt off a part of the vertical as indicated to fix it on the resin F-5 fuselage. This seems simple, but you will end up with different thickness between the resin root section and the plastic Hasegawa section. Filler is needed here. The vertical tail shape of the kit is OK.
NOTE: Assembly of the vertical tail will be done later. 

Various parts
As noted, the kit comes with specific items needed for the F-5A. These parts are OK, such as the main gear doors, other sized speed brakes, aft fuselage air inlets and another center line fuel tank with its pylon. You also get the  arrestor hook and even some parts to make an aerial refueling probe as found on mostly Canadian and American F-5A's (not on a Dutch NF-5 used). Some clean up with a X-acto knife and some sandpaper on these parts is only necessary. 


The unused parts of the F-5E kit.
 

On to next NF-5 Page 2.....
 

Back to 1/32 Models.......


References:
IPMS NL Walkaround: http://www.ipms.nl/walkarounds/walkaround-vliegtuigen-jets/1653-walkaround-f5.html
http://www.nf5.nl
http://www.cybermodeler.com/aircraft/northrop/northrop.shtml
NF-5 video to see at YouTube...

Books:

  • De Northrop NF-5A in Nederland, C. van Gent, De Alk, Alkmaar 1992
  • IPMS The Netherlands magazines: MIP 1985/4, 1986/1, 2001/3

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    Created this page 
    November 3, 2006;;
    Updated February 7, 2016