Wednesday, May 14, 2014


For aircraft modellers, here's fascinating footage from the Vietnam War era, showing US F-5Es repainted in opposition markings.

We don't understand a word of Russian, so it's not clear exactly to what purpose these F-5s are put to. A likely scenario is that the aircraft were left behind during the fall of Vietnam, then commandeered by Soviet forces for dissimilar air combat training.

The F-5E compared quite well with early models of the faster MiG-21, and its second engine increased survivability in case of a cannon strike or mechanical problem.

Fire control was similar between the two types, but the MiG’s top speed was hugely better, albeit in subsonic turning combat, things evened up considerably, as the F-5 had better snap-roll and sustained turning ability.

In the 1980s, US Top Gun pilots often flew F-5s against MiG-21s. Pilots who flew both aircraft reckoned that their rear visibility was about the same, but much worse than later US fighters, such as the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Viper, which had wide-view bubble canopies.

It will be interesting to see how the new F-35 compares in dissimilar air combat tests, as the cockpit visibility looks to be about the same as the F-5E.

For F-5 model makers, this old film could be the inspiration to paint a different marking scheme, and perhaps sit the finished aircraft in a jungle-style diorama setting.

Click below to see combat-capable F-5E and MiG-21 kits.