Building Kinetic’s 1/48 F-5B Freedom Fighter


It’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of build log on here, so I decided it might be worth revisiting a few past builds to walk through the process and various encounters along the way.

In 2015, I was asked to build Kinetic’s F-5B Freedom Fighter for Model Aircraft magazine. I know Kinetic can be a bit…inconsistent…but the F-5B is one of those aircraft that just bristles with interesting schemes, so I decided what the hell?


As for schemes…I considered a few, but let’s be honest. It was always going to be a dirty Hellenic Air Force ship wearing the ghost scheme.

The kit itself is a mix of good and…less good. And proved a good workout for those “basic modeling skillz” everyone goes on about.

But the first thing that needed addressing – the ejection seats.


Kinetic’s seats were…disappointing. So I opted to replace them with some rather nice resin ones from KASL. The pale gray resin does a shit job of showing off the detail, but it’s rather nice considering how tiny these seats are.


Moving along to the cockpit, the canopy supports have to be added right out of the gate, so you have to decide up front if you want to depict them raised or closed.

The supports naturally sit too narrow, so I cut a length of toothpick to spread them appropriately while they set.


After the canopy supports were installed, the cockpit was primed in Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black.


Eduard doesn’t do a PE set for the F-5B, but there is a Kinetic set that seems like it’s just rebranded Eduard. It’s okay, but it still has that graininess that I dislike in color PE.

It also sits proud of the backing plastic and had to be trimmed on the sides and top in order to fit. Trimming color PE is never fun.


Overall, the cockpit PE is…passable. If there were a resin option for the F-5B, I’d have probably gone for it. But there’s not, and the kit IP and consoles aren’t really all that great.

The bang seats were airbrushed the same base gray as the rest of the cockpit, then the belts, headrest and cushion were all hand-painted.f-5b20freedom20fighter20-3-x2


Some weathering washes really helped to tie everything together and claw back the brighter tones of the PE consoles and red headrests.


The aft fuselage of the F-5B is actually…pretty good! The tail is a bit wonky with the way it fits together (both sides of the tail top are on the port half, and the starboard tail sort of insets below it), but the rest is quite good.

I particularly liked the wing control surfaces.

To solve the up/down quandary, Kinetic came up with a nifty solution. Each control surface has four tabs. If you want to depict, say, the slats lowered, you just cut off two of the tabs. If you want to depict them raised, you cut off the other two. Nice and simple.

One severe downside here? The burner cans. As clever as the control surfaces are, these are the opposite. The way it should work is…you have the backplate, and two burner cans. Burner cans go into the backplate. Everybody is happy.

Instead, Kinetic bafflingly chose to mold one of the cans into the backplate. But the other is separate.

…the fuck?


So. The aft fuselage is great. And the front fuselage isn’t bad. But when you bring the two together…oh man.

The problem here, if you compare Kinetic’s approach to the much-praised AFV Club F-5E and F-5F, is that prong of plastic that extends back into the aft fuselage. It falls along three different curves and at least for me made perfect alignment essentially impossible. The too-proud spine was ultimately the least painful way to go.


And…it gets even better with the intakes.

As you can see, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening here. The forward fuselage sits proud of the aft, but the aft is proud of the intakes!

That can only mean one thing…


Putty time.


I think this is more putty than I’ve ever left on any other build. Ever.


The nose seam proved…tenacious.


More Official Basic Modelling Skills™ – sanding.


Eduard makes a mask set for everything, right?


There isn’t a mask set for the F-5B. There is a set for the F-5A. It doesn’t fit. Whoops. Time to break out more “basic modeling skills”.

A lot of tape and liquid mask and swearing later, the clear parts were masked.


F-5Bs have little light at the front of their tip tanks. Kinetic’s kit doesn’t. So I cut them down to fit some MV lenses. Their solution of “paint this pointy thing silver and then clear blue” just didn’t cut it.


Enough suffering. Primer is down. Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black.


Time to put the camo down!


These colors required some mixing to keep them faded and tie them together.


The main scheme is down. As you can see from the areas still in black, this particular F-5B has several areas that are out of sync with the rest of the scheme.


This particular F-5B had several repainted and possibly replaced elements, including the starboard slat and SEA-camo tip tank.


I generally prefer to hit gear bays after laying down the camo. It’s not always possible, but on the F-5B it certainly is.

Post-it notes make great, cheap overspray masks. Not that it’s a massive problem with the way I paint, but may as well take precautions.


Gearbays. I done them.


More masking skills came into play with the pitot tube. Whoever thought up the candy cane thing can eat a bag of dicks.


After the paint’s done, it’s decal time! These happen to come from Icarus. They’re solid. Not, perhaps, jaw-droppingly good, but very serviceable.

"Vallejo Wash"

And here’s where I fucked it up, trying to match the dirty aft section of the Greek F-5B.


Masking removed. Landing gear installed. Panel lines washed.


A view into the cockpit. The PE looks alright, but having to trim it to fit was still ridiculous.


And done.




8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jon Bryon says:

    This is a brilliant article; thank you. If only Model Aircraft actually printed this kind of article, I might actually buy the magazine. As it is, what they print is far too brief to be of any practical use.

    1. Doogs says:

      I hear you on print length – although it can be deceptive. My article in Model Aircraft is only about 250 words shorter. Though magazines don’t have the freedom to throw in a bunch of higher-res photos.

  2. Drewe says:

    Reference the burner cans – I think it’s a draw angle issue. The F-5’s cans are straight sided, but toe in relative to one another. So if I squint REALLY hard I can see the reasoning, even if it’s a clumsy solution. They saved *one* part.

    Beautiful model.

  3. Howard Kilburn says:

    That’s damned good Doogs, every time I see one of yr paint jobs it inspires me to get my airbrush out.
    regards Howard

  4. Frans Wassenaar says:

    Looks great!

  5. Billy Papa says:

    Extremly good! And, me beign a Greek, is spot on on historical accuracy. A thing slipped through though. Since 1990, and onwards HAF had the old Northrop ejection seats replaced by modern Mb mk10. It is evident in the photo you posted 😉 It can be easyly changed. Again, a masterwork.

    1. Doogs says:

      Good to know! I’ll certainly keep that in mind when Tanmodel starts dropping their 1/32 F-5A and B!

  6. Richard says:

    Hey, nice job. I just started this kit and I’ve run into something I’ve never seen-tape will not stick to the glass parts. I’ve cleaned them and tried different tape but it just won’t stick. Did you have this problem?

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