HMH Publications | Aircraft in Detail 028: Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter & Tiger II

Reviewed by Kevin Williams

Publisher: HMH Publications
Author(s): R. Pied, Nic Deboeck
Publishing date: 2023
ISBN: 978-2-931083-21-5 (Softcover)
Pages: 138

This particular volume (No. 028 in the series), covers the sleek and beautiful Northrop F-5. Everything the Freedom Fighter and Tiger II enthusiast could want, and gobs of it, is featured in this book. (Book is broken down into two basic sections, dealing primarily with the Tiger II and a smaller section devoted to the original Freedom Fighter.) If it isn't presented in this volume, it probably doesn't exist! Both single seat and dual seat aircraft are covered here, and specimens from numerous nations as well.

HMH originally set the bar pretty darned high, and seem to delight in raising it ever further. Such is the case with this volume, and I wholeheartedly approve.

As with the majority of titles from this publisher, this is very much a collaborative effort, using photos from many varied sources, each with appropriate photo credits given, and there are quite a substantial number of them in this magnificent volume. Printed on good quality semi-glossy stock, the photos are nothing sort of magnificent, highlighting many areas of the air-frame, giving both modelers and aviation enthusiasts alike, a wealth of eye candy on this fascinating plane. If there's a detail of the F-5 that you'd like to see, it's more than likely in this book.

While I certainly should be used to it by now, flipping through the pages of a new HMH title, still fills me with awe. The quality and variety of images, is truly mesmerizing. Having been a huge fan of the sleek F-5 for years now, a book of this nature was just the ticket for me. (Now I'll need to chase down a 1:32 Kitty Hawk kit to start on.)

The Northrup team chose a lightweight frame powered by two powerful General Electric J85 engines. The plane has been, for quite a while now, used as an opposing forces (OPFOR) aggressor or adversary aircraft because it mimicked certain Soviet aircraft in performance, giving it's contemporaries a real taste of heated aerial combat, by a foe that was fast and very agile, just what's needed to finely hone the skills of a modern combat pilot. The F-5 has served with nearly a dozen foreign air forces, and has been one of the United States' most-successful aircraft exports.

Photo Samples

As is readily apparent. the images are really quite magnificent. Photos are broken down by section; types, forward fuselage, air intakes, fuselage, wings, cockpit (many pages), back seat cockpit, cockpit again, front landing gear, main landing gear, speed brakes, vertical tail, horizontal tails, aft fuselage, Patrouille Swiss, Iranian F-5 Sa'eqeh, maintenance, (naturally including the 20mm rotary cannon), ordnance, Action!!, F-5 Freedom Fighter, fuselage, cockpit (including F-5BM), Turkish Stars, and Action. Certainly enough material is presented here, to satisfy even the most ardent F-5 enthusiast, with gobs of beautiful, crystal clear, sharp colorful imagery.

The myriad photos obviously form the backbone of this book, and for me, this is a true blessing, as I can never seem to get enough details, and this book certainly has them in great abundance. Generally, text is very informative as well. Photos are razor sharp, revealing incredibly nice color details. HMH certainly has filled a much needed/desired niche here, and I hope doesn't let up any time soon. To have an entire wall of books from this publisher would be much to my liking. (It's my fervent hope that we'll one day be seeing HMH titles on the fifth gen F-35 and F-22 as well.)

Over the years, several 1:32 scale iterations of the F-5 have been kitted, with the now defunct Kitty Hawk kit being one of the newest. (Rumors are circulating that a lot of the KH kits will be re-released though, so hopefully we'll be seeing the F-5 again soon.)

For those with a passion for the F-5, I can highly recommend this volume. Buy a copy, you will not be disappointed.


On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate this book as a solid 10, no question about it. Topping out at a very respectable 138 pages of F-5 excellence, it's just packed wall-to-wall with details, details, and more details, and is therefore highly recommended.

Note: Book cover image directly from HMH Publications (used with permission).

My review copy compliments of Casemate Publishers. Thanks a ton to Casemate, it's truly an outstanding reference book for several of the various F-5 variants, really top-notch stuff. My thanks also to Nic Deboeck for his involvement, as well as a shout-out to Bill Cross for some additional ideas/input with this review.

© Kevin Williams 2024

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This review was published on Tuesday, January 02 2024; Last modified on Tuesday, March 12 2024