Hobby Master HA3301 US Navy Northrop F-5N Tiger II Fighter - VFC-111 "Sundowners," Naval Air Station Key West, FL [Aggressor Scheme] (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Northrop F-5A/B Freedom Fighter and F-5E/F Tiger II are part of a family of widely used light supersonic fighter aircraft, designed and built by Northrop in the United States, beginning in the 1960s. Hundreds remain in service in air forces around the world in the early 21st Century, and the type has also been the basis for a number of other aircraft.
The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The first generation F-5A Freedom Fighter entered service in the 1960s. Over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies during the Cold War. The USAF had no need for a light fighter, but it did specify a requirement for a supersonic trainer and procured about 1,200 of a derivative airframe for this purpose, the T-38 Talon.
The improved second-generation F-5E Tiger II was also primarily used by American Cold War allies and, in limited quantities, served in US military aviation as a training and aggressor aircraft; Tiger II production amounted to 1,400 of all versions, with production ending in 1987. Many F-5s continuing in service into the 1990s and 2000s have undergone a wide variety of upgrade programs to keep pace with the changing combat environment. The F-5 was also developed into a dedicated reconnaissance version, the RF-5 Tigereye.
The F-5 serves as a starting point for a series of design studies which resulted in the twin-tailed Northrop YF-17 and the F/A-18 series of carrier-based fighters. The F-20 Tigershark was an advanced version of the F-5E that did not find a market. The F-5N/F variants remain in service with the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps as an adversary trainer
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale rendition of a US Navy Northrop F-5N Tiger II fighter that was attached to VFC-111 "Sundowners," then deployed to Naval Air Station Key West.
Wingspan: 7-3/4 inches
Length: 4-1/2 inches
Release Date: May 2011
Historical Account: "Sunrise, Sunset" - The VF-111 Sundowners was a U.S. Navy fighter squadron flying the F-14 Tomcat until disestablished in 1995. The Sundowner tradition lives on in the form of VFC-111 as an aggressor squadron flying F-5Ns, it was made official in November 2006.
In October 1983, VF-111 returned to NAS Miramar following a world cruise on the maiden deployment of the USS Carl Vinson. The Sundowners accumulated over 1400 landings and 300 flight hours during the cruise.
In 1986, VF-111 accumulated over 7000 accident free flight hours and won the COMFITAEWWINGPAC Third Quarter Safety Award. The squadron earned COMCARGRU 3 and COMCARWING 15 endorsements to receive the ADM Joseph C. Clifton Award which designates the recipient as the best fighter squadron in the Navy.
In the spring of 1986 VF-111 began another busy work-up cycle, completing a successful series of training evolution and exercises in preparation for their June 1988 Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment. VF-111's seventeen month work-up was capped by a history making event, FLEETEX 88-2, the first time since World War II that a carrier, USS Carl Vinson and a battleship, USS New Jersey operated as a Battle Fleet.
VF-111's eventful 1988 deployment began in June and ended in December. It included operations in the Northern/Western Pacific, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean, providing support of tanker escorts in the Persian Gulf and included a transit of the Bering Sea, the fourth such transit in four deployments. Interoperability with U.S. and foreign air assets was stressed through exercises with the USAF Alaskan Air Command and Air Forces of Malaysia, Japan and Thailand.
In preparation for another deployment in 1990, VF-111 deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson from September to November 1989 as participants in PACEX 89. This landmark exercise had the Sundowners operating in the Bering Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan as a part of the largest naval exercise since World War II.