Bill Cross reviews the new book from HMH Publications and Casemate Publishing by Robert Pied and Nicolas Deboeck.


One of the most-pervasive air frames of the jet age is the Northrop F-5 and F-5 "Tiger" II. The plane was developed on a hunch by Northrop's chief engineer, Edward Schmued, who had been part of the design team for the P-51 Mustang and F-86 Sabre. Bucking the trend of "bigger is better," Schmued and his team opted for a lightweight, rugged frame powered by two powerful General Electric J85 engines. The plane unfortunately had limited combat service with the USAF, who preferred the big jets, but was often the choice for opposing forces (OPFOR) "aggressor" because it mimicked the MiG-21 in performance (so well that some maintain the rules of the game were rigged because the F-14s and F-15s couldn't out-fight the F-5s). Anyone who has seen the recent "Top Gun" or the series "For All Mankind" will be familiar with these sleek, fast beauties.

Additionally, the F-5 served with nearly a dozen foreign air forces, and has been one of the United States' most-successful armaments exports. HMH has released an absolutely gorgeous profile of the F-5 in their "Duke Hawkins" series. If you are interested in modeling this jet, or just like great books about airplanes, this volume is a must-have.

What's Inside

The beautifully-printed book runs to 138 pages with 100% color photographs (sometimes 2-3 per page). Purists may object to the lack of historical imagery, but in truth the early rendition of the F-5 that served in Vietnam and elsewhere is mostly overlooked in favor of the more-modern F-5 II.

  • F-5 Types
  • F-5 Tiger II Forward Fuselage
  • F-5 E/F Air Intakes (the book uses the E/F model as a base)
  • F-5 Fuselage (main)
  • F-5 E/F Wings
  • Cockpit
  • Back Seat Cockpit
  • Front Landing Gear
  • Main Landing Gear
  • Speed Brakes
  • Vertical Tail
  • Horizontal Tails
  • Aft Fuselage
  • Patrouille Suisse
  • Iranian Sa'eqeh
  • Maintenance
  • Engine
  • Ordnance
  • Action
  • F-5 "Freedom Fighter" (the earlier variant)
  • Fuselage
  • Cockpit
  • Maintenance
  • Turkish Stars (their version of the USAF Thunderbirds)
  • Action

The Review

Simply stated, this is a gorgeous book that treats the F-5 with the love and detail any modeler will welcome. The color photos are crisp and highly-detailed, and there is no aspect of the air frame that isn't covered. Super-detailers will rejoice, and even those who build straight out-of-the-box will appreciate the many color schemes and national insignia the F-5 and Tiger II flew under. There are no downsides to the book, and it should be on any bookshelf of modern jet modelers, if for no other reason to see "how it's done." While HPH currently has 28 jets in their Duke Hawkins line, I wish there was one of these volumes covering every modern jet aircraft.


As a builder of 1/32nd scale models and an avid student of the Vietnam War, I only wish a suitable kit would be introduced to go with this book. Overall, it is one of the finest reference books on aircraft I have ever encountered, and has made me curious to try some of the others in this series. If you have any intention of modeling either the original F-5 or its upgraded Tiger II, then treat yourself to a copy. You won't be disappointed.

Thanks as always to Casemate Publishing for this review copy. Be sure to mention you saw the book reviewed on Aeroscale when ordering your own copy.



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