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Northrop F-20A Tigershark
Multi-Role Jet Fighter/Bomber

120th Fighter Wing
"Big Sky" Country
Montana Air National Guard
(What If)


This model added to kgwings.com on March, 2020

Northrop F-20 Tigershark

In 1975 the Northrop Corporation began a program to improve their succesful F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II, that program would produce the Northrop F-20A Tigershark.

Northrop F-20 Tigershark

Northrop produced three prototypes with the first successful flight taking place on Aug. 30, 1982 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The F-20 (originally designated F-5G) was initially meant to be a no-frills lightweight fighter that would be fast and light, it was also intended to be inexpensive to purchase and maintain. These features would make it an ideal export to allies of the United States.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark

While under development, it's mission requirements changed due to relaxed U.S. export restrictions. The U.S. now wanted it's allies to share the same capabilities as it's own forces. The Tigershark gradually became more complex and also heavier and more expensive.

Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The Tigershark was in direct competition with the General Dynamics F-16A which was developed at the same time. Both aircraft had comarible performance with the F-20 being less expensive but the F-16 showing more potential for future development. In the end the F-20 project was cancelled and it's potential was never realized.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
I chose to build my F-20A in an alternate reality where it proudly served in the Air National Guard with the 120th Fighter Wing in Montana throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The F-20 was powered by the General Electric F404 afterburning turbofan engine, the same engine installed in the F/A-18 Hornet.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark

This is a very nice easy build. Parts fit well with very little cleanup required. External details are nice with fine recessed lines.

Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The canopy of this kit is designed to be assembled in the open position, you will have to make some custom modifications if you want it closed.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
3 external fuel tanks are included in the kit as well as 2 AIM-9 Sidewinders as well as two extra hard point pylons which I left empty for now.
Dassault Mirage IV Heller
The kit comes with a simplified transparent wedge to represent the Heads Up Display, it's not very convincing so I replaced with a piece of a pearlized sequin glued into some scrap brass detail parts.

Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The gear bays are simpified but do include some detail, unless you're going to display on a mirror it won't be visible anyway.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
The Hasegawa ejection seat is very simplified so I trimmed up a True Details resin seat made for an early F-5 and merged it with the kit's canopy lift linkage parts. The seat I used isn't exactly correct but much closer than what comes in the kit. I also created a rear bulkhead out of styrene bits to improve this area also.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
Here is my cockpit tub after a bit of paint and a wash applied.
Northrop F-20 Tigershark
Here is my Tigershark with just the basecoat colors applied. I used the technique of painting an entire solid, then adding white to the same color and "filling in" each panel without quite reaching the edge. After this step I sealed with clear acrylic floor wax then applied decals and black Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color.

F-20 Tigershark
Kit: Hasegawa #02604
1/72 scale

Scale: 1/72

In 1984 when the molds for this kit were cast, Hasegawa was one of the highest quality manufacturers in the business. This kit still holds up nicely with fine resessed panel lines and great fit overall. Still fairly easy to find at prices as low as $10.00 (US), this kit is a good value at twice that cost.

Decals are provided to build the second prototype aircraft serial #20063, first flight 1983.

In order to make my "what if" aircraft I used: Repli-Scale 72-1004 Montana Kansas ANG markings for F-16 Fighting Falcon/Viper.



The kit is comprised of approximately 62 parts molded in light gray and 2 transparent canopy parts. One small decal sheet and a 2-color double-sided instruction sheet are included. Instructions include suggestions for different weapons loads.

All parts are cleanly molded fine recessed panel lines and no flash to speak of.

Canopy parts are crystal clear and canopy is not positionable, it can only be assembled in the open position without major customizing.

Assembly starts in the cockpit with a simplified cockpit tub and a simplified seat and an average detail pilot. Decals are provided for the front and side instrument panels and they look pretty good when all is finished. A descent joystick is also provided.

My instruction sheed did not call for nose-weight but I added some just to be safe.

The splitter plates and intakes are a bit thick for scale so I thinned them down. The backs of the intakes are blocked off and visible when the kit is complete, someone less lazy than me will want to deepen them.

Airbrakes can be positioned open or closed.

A refueling probe option is included.

Kit can be built gear-up easily.

A simple boarding ladder is included.

Three drop tanks are included as well as 2 Sidewinder AIM-9 missiles and 5 pylons.

Fit is excellent overall, almost no filler was needed and very little sanding.

Aftermarket Parts:

True Details #45004 - Resin ejection seat
Scratch Additions:

The ejection seat provided in the kit is not very impressive however the canopy hinges are pretty good so I modified a True Details F-5 resin seat to fit with the hinges. Although the version of seat I used isn't quite accurate, it's much closer than the kit parts.
I made a HUD out of a transparent sequin.


This is an excellent kit, easy to assemble with very nice detail. Any fan of the F-5 or T-38 will especially love building this final chapter to the Freedom Fighter legacy. Highly recommended to all modelers.

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