Monday, December 24

The aircraft colours of Kittyhawk's RF-5E TigerEye in 32nd scale

We have a closer look at the five marking choices of Kittyhawk's new RF-5E Tiger Eye in our preview - We found pictures of all the aircraft so you can see for yourself a little better what these profiles look like on real aircraft...

The aircraft colours of Kittyhawk's RF-5E TigerEye in 32nd scale

RF-5E Tigereye
Kitty Hawk
Kit No# KH32023
1:32nd scale
Northrop RF-5E Tiger Eye
Original Northrop plan was to provide the Tiger with limited reconnaissance capability installing a similar nose as the RF-5A had. This solution had already applied earlier to some Saudi Northrop F-5E but was unsatisfying as the nose was too small to accept the latest reconnaissance equipment; the company decided, therefore, to go (using company funds) for a new design carrying sensors as cameras or infrared systems on quick-change pallets inside the lengthened, strengthened, wider nose. It would have similar capacity as the McDonnell RF-4E for countries already operating the Tiger, a market for between 100 and 150 aircraft was forecasted.

Camouflaged Northrop RF-5E 11420 on a test flight.  
An alternative possibility to convert Northrop F-5E Tigers fighter into reconnaissance aircraft was not considered by Northrop as not effective due to the high costs.

One of the Northrop F-5E Tiger prototypes (74-01420) was leased back from USAF to be converted as a prototype and first flown as RF-5E on 29-01-79 from Edwards AFB's Air Force Flight Test Center.

The F-5 family including the longer nosed Rf-5E  Tiger Eye in a lineup...
Flight evaluation took place at the same base; the aircraft was converted again to fighter configuration by December 1979/April 1980, at the end of the evaluation. Demonstration flights were held during this period to possible non-US customers: Jordan, Thailand, Korea, China/Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Norway, Switzerland, Morocco and Portugal.
It was shown also at the Le Bourget (France) show in June 1979 but the sales were disappointing mainly due to the high cost (50% more than the fighter). Only 12 aircraft were sold: two bought by Malaysia and ten by Saudi Arabia.
The necessity for a reconnaissance version of the Tiger was still felt in Asia beginning of the 1990s; Singapore initiated a programme to locally convert eight Northrop F-5E to reconnaissance aircraft by STAerospace in 1991, delivered in 1994. The same company converted seven Republic of China (Taiwan) Northrop F-5E to the reconnaissance version with initial delivery in August 1997.

The Marking Choices in the box
There are five marking choices for this kit, of course, two US versions, but also including Malaysian, Taiwan & Singapore Air Forces.

Northrop RF-5E "Tiger II" #11420 USAF
The prototype RF-5E is seen in pictures here below in flight and on the ground. The aircraft was used as a demonstrator and as a tool to help sell the RF-5E to overseas customers.

Northrop RF-5E  #11420 USAF
The same aircraft, though this time in an all-metal scheme and in operational service' Here we have a  right underside view of the U.S. Air Force Northrop RF-5E Tigereye reconnaissance system testbed aircraft (s/n 71-1420). This aircraft was sold to Brazil in 1989.

Northrop RF-5E  #M29 28 Malaysian Air Force
All Malaysian Northrop RF-5Es would be retired by the end of 2014. Four operational reserve Northrop F-5E and two RF-5E were retired in December 2014 plus additional 12 in semi-reserve.
A new role was added to the Air Force with the acquisition of 2 Northrop RF-5E in September 1980 at a cost of USD 8.20m. These were the first production examples of the Tiger pure reconnaissance version. First flight of the first example (serial M29-20) was on 15-12-82; delivery to Malaysia followed at the end of 1983.

Northrop (AIDC) RF-5E Tigereye  #5501 Taiwan Air Force
In the mid-to-late-1990s, the F-5E/F series became second line fighters in ROCAF service and most are now withdrawn from service as squadrons converted to new fighters entering ROCAF service. Seven low airframe hours F-5Es were sent to ST Aerospace to convert them to RF-5E standard to fulfil a reconnaissance role previously undertaken by the retiring Lockheed RF-104G in ROCAF service. 

As of 2009, only about 40 ROCAF F-5E/Fs still remain in service in training roles with about 90–100 F-5E/Fs held in reserve. The other retired F-5E/F are either scrapped, or used as decoys painted in colours representing the main front line F-16, Mirage 2000-5 or F-CK-1 fighters, and deployed around major air bases.

Northrop RF-5S  #872 Singapore Air Force
From 1990 to 1991, using jigs and toolings purchased from Northrop, Singapore Aircraft Industries (SAI, now ST Aerospace) converted eight existing F-5Es into RF-5E Tigereye variant. Subsequently, these were used to reequip No. 141 Merlin Squadron, which had traded in their older Hawker Hunter FR.74S for the newer Tigereyes in 1992 and was by then based at Paya Lebar Air Base, after the 144 Squadron had relocated there in 1986. By June 1993, all three squadrons had been relocated to the base, thus consolidating Singapore's F-5E/F operations at Paya Lebar.

This kit will be available in January 2019 - Check out the Kittyhawk website for any other info on their other kits...