In 1981 the Mexican Air force or Fuerza Aerea Mexicana (FAM) received at least ten F-5E and two F-5F’s assigned to fighter Squadron 401 (Escuadrón Aéreo de Defensa 401) Tiger Knights. It forms part of the VII Air Group making its operations from BAM No.1, Military Air Base No.1 in Santa Lucia.
A Special configuration was delivered on the Mexican F-5’s as follows:
Shark nose radome
Leading Edge Extensions – LEX
Fin extension housing an ADF antenna
GPS units added in the upper part of each cockpit
The manufacture recommends their own conversion set R48-003
The decals are supplied over two sheets, one of about A5 in size and the other of much smaller size. The first larger sheet covers the full colour stencils, squadron markings, codes and the tiger strips, while the second smaller sheet covers the leaping tigers, low-viz national markings and a second set of ‘Fuerza Aerea Mexicana’ titles. The colours all look to be in prefect register a good thing with the leaping tiger being done as one decal. The carrier film extends only a very small amount beyond each decal so should not give any problems.
One item this reviewer is waiting to try out is the tiger strip decal for the F-5F 4501 as the decals for this have been done in off-white/pale grey to go over the tail which needs to be painted black.
Codes and pilot names have been supplied to allow any of the F-5’s in the FAM to be built but only six serials are supplied and only one set of national markings and one of stencils which are in Spanish, so this may be a problem if you want to build more from this otherwise complete set.
If anything lets down this set I would say unfortunately that it is the instructions, don’t get me wrong I like them but I have had to study them half a dozen times and I’m still confused on some issues. Only four aircraft are covered in the instructions although six serial numbers are supplied and codes and pilot names for all the F-5’s in FAM service but no information on which should go with which. This set is one for the more experienced, but with very careful study of the instruction sheet at least any one of the five featured aircraft can be built.
The manufacture recommends the following kits for use with these decals, AFV club with Aztec conversion R48-003 or Monogram (5470) with Aztec conversion R48-003.
There is no guide as to which section of tiger strip goes where although it should be easy to judge the locations. The pattern of the black area to be painted over which the tiger strip is to be applied is not explained on the instruction sheet and looks like it has a smooth edge from above but on the profile view is jagged.
All the aircraft featured are finished in a wrap around ‘Vietnam’ colour scheme of Dark Green FS34079, Medium Green FS34102, Dark Tan FS30279 with a radome of ‘Radome Green’ 50% FS34159 50% FS34052
• F-5E 4001, sn.81-0632, Sqd leader Major J.C. Calls B, Santa Lucia AB 1992. Tiger in anger jumping over a cloud nose art both sides of the cockpit.
• F-5E 4007, sn.81-0638, Tte. J.A. Abarca, Santa Lucia AB 1992, Cobra nose art on starboard side of cockpit.
• F-5E 4508, sn.81-0823, Cap. Caudillo, Santa Lucia AB August 2002, 1000th F-5 off the Northrop production line. (the decal indicated for this aircraft is serial 81-0634, no 81-0823 is on the sheet and just by looking would be out of sequence anyway unless a replacement aircraft check your references)
• F-5F 4501, sn.81-0640, Tte. T. Montesinos, Santa Lucia AB 1992, slight change in the pattern of the camouflage over the front of the aircraft.
• F-5F 4501, sn.81-0640, Tte Cor. Sierra, call sign Puma, Santa Lucia AB 2006. This is a special anniversary version scheme of the above aircraft and is finished with a pale grey/black tiger strip pattern over the whole tail with a leaping full colour tiger on the vertical tail and a 1915 – 2006 legend at the tip of the vertical tail.
• Serials left over: F-5E sn.81-0633, F-5F sn.81-0639,
With this set unless you are doing one of the schemes in the instructions then a good reference is a requirement not an option, otherwise study the instructions and when you think you have it, study them again. That said some very nice attractive F-5’s can be achieved using this decal set.
Highs: Good colour register, attractive colour schemesLows: Confusing instructions, more decals than schemes, only one set of stencils.Verdict: A case for good decals let down by not so good instructions.
About Luciano Satornetti (Littorio) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM
Ok, firstly I build what ever takes my fancy however I mainly build 1/350 WWII era ships mainly cruisers and any aircraft. However my favourite aircraft being the mighty Beaufighter, Sepecat Jaguar, Hawker Hunter, Fw-190 and the Su-27 family. I also like wheeled armour like the Stryker and Centauro