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FLIGHT International,

17 December /







HE lightweight, low-cost fighter championed by so many designers and committees during the mid-1950s resulted in production of only the very conservative Fiat G.91. Though the basic thinking behind such ventures is probably even more valid now than then, the very small aircraft projected proved to have a limited capability mainly because there is no really effective way of uplifting a large load of conventional stores other than under an aircraft of adequate size. Given a certain military load there is also a minimum overall size of aircraft. It was said at the time that the popular weight target of 5,0001b was unrealistic and that a weight of about 14,0001b was more probable. The Lockheed F-104A was originally in this weight bracket and has since grown to far beyond that figure in the F-104G. It was in 1955 that Northrop began design studies leading to the N-156 with the basic concept that propulsion weight was the dominating factor in determining the final size of a tactical aeroplane. On this basis they chose the then-new GE J85 engine and arrived at an aircraft with a basic "clean" gross weight in the region of 12,0001b. From this original tactical specification, the USAF developed the T-38 Talon supersonic advanced trainerand not the other way round, as has frequently been stated. The history and engineering of the N-156 were described in considerable detail in Flight for January 8, 1960. The F-5, as the tactical aircraft has since been designated, was ordered into production in 1962 and is now entering service with the background experience of the very large Talon programme, for which the 500th aircraft was delivered this month. The F-5, though not initially adopted by the USAF, has established itself as a Military Assistance Programme type by sheer quality, in the sense that it has proved to be the only aircraft of advanced performance and wide tactical capability to prove eminently suitable for operation by the less rich countriesin no sense a second-rate aircraft, but one which does not involve the tremendous financial outlay, engineering complexity and operating costs typical of the most advanced aircraft now coming into service. And not only is the F-5 now established as a major MAP type, but several air forces, including the USAF itself, are actively investigating the F-5 with a view to outright purchase and even licence construction. Though the intention to issue the F-5, in both its single-seat -A and two-seat -B versions, was announced during 1962, the first official disclosure of a recipient country came from Norway early this year. By cancelling one of three originally intended squadrons of F-104Gs and cutting back on certain naval building programmes, the Norwegian Government was able to pay something over one-third of the total 26.5m cost of 64 F-5s to be delivered during 1966 and 1967. At the time of the announcement some 170 other F-5s were scheduled for delivery under MAP though no specific recipients had been named. Five aircraft were in USAF test flying at Edwards AFB and production was building

up towards the final rate of 12 aircraft per month, in the ratio of one F-5B to nine F-5As. Now the F-5 has completed its final Category 3 USAF testing phase and has full operational and weapons clearance, a programme which remarkably did not occasion a single accident. A total of 42 F-5s of both types have now flown and the first deliveries, to the Iranian Air Force, are under way. USAF Tactical Air Command has set up a training establishment for both pilots and groundcrews at Williams AFB. In Europe, Turkey and Greece are also to receive F-5s under MAP and Norway, as mentioned above, is paying part of the cost of its 64 aircraft. In the Far East, South Korea, Nationalist China and the Philippines have agreed to make the F-5 their standard fighter and will receive them under MAP. The total of F-5s scheduled for the current three financial years from 1963 to 1966 has now reached 250 and more will undoubtedly follow in subsequent years. Production is already foreseen until at least 1968. Of even greater interest than the success of the F-5 as an American MAP venture is the fact that four nations quite outside the MAP programme are considering adopting the type. Canada has been evaluating the F-5 in relation to the F-4 Phantom and seems likely to adopt the F-5. New Zealand and Spain are also considering it. Italy, as part of a major analysis of its defence and industry related to the fast-ageing Air Force operational equipment and the rapid decline of F-104G production work-load, is very likely to adopt the F-5and possibly to produce it under licence. The main reason for the great attraction of the F-5 is that it involves a structure which the Italian industry is capable of producing in its entirety, without any major technological problems. The same cannot be said for such aircraft as the F-4. The F-5 is also an ideal replacement for the F-84F in terms of operational characteristics, cost and complexity of maintenance. Here, the basic concept of the F-5 is fully vindicated. Here, too, lies the first real justification of the original light fighter concept as an aircraft of adequate performance, but of manageable technological and financial implications. From the production point of view, it seems logical that Italy and Spain might in some way share or co-operate in production; and a major justification for Canadian interest is that Canadian manufacturers might well obtain a share of the MAP production work, as they did in the F-104G programme. The F-5 therefore looks like achieving a universality almost as great and even more important and successful than that of the F-104G. As far as equipment is concerned, the F-5 has proved capable of carrying the air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles which will compensate for its very slight inferiority in she#r supersonic performanceMach 1.4 as distinct from the presently current Mach 2.0. To the full complement of conventional stores it adds a twin 20mm gun installation, which can alternatively be replaced by a considerable weight of special mission electronics. In fact, each recipient nation is specifying slightly different weapon delivery equipment








International, December 1964


Northrop Norair F-5A with all seven pylon stations occupied by external tanks and weapons. Current orders for 1963-1965 amount to about 250 aircraft, with considerable additional orders in prospect

Second F-5B leaving Edwards AFB for Tactical Air Command service trials during April this year. Two-seaters are being produced ct the ratio of one to every nine single-seaters

Viewed in conjunction with the new cutaway drawing overleaf, this "Flight" drawing of the inboard profile of the F-5A indicates the location of major equipment within the compact airframe. Fire control and radar equipment, not shown here, is chosen by recipient air forces
Iliffe Transport Publications Ltd 1964





FLIGHT International, 17 December 964


F-5A . . .
according to its particular tactical requirements. The F-5s are also being delivered in plain metal finish, national markings and regional camouflage schemes being added by individual recipients. A current development project is a camera nose, which would be interchangeable with the existing nose of all variants. The two-seat F-5B retains the operational capability of the single-seater, except that the front cockpit occupies the space devoted to the gun installation, or other equipment planned for this area. The rear seat is raised lOin above the front to provide the instructor pilot with adequate forward view. Though the adoption of the two afterburning GE J85s was fundamental to the original lightweight powerplant concept, the twinengined safety thus conferred must count as a major operational advantage of the type, particularly in relation to the poor, if not outright dangerous, engine-out characteristics of current supersonic operational aircraft. On one engine, the F-5 has demonstrated performance equivalent to that of current subsonic combat aircraft. In other systems features, the F-5 makes no concession to the more extreme light fighter thinking. Aerodynamic layout is an effective compromise between sheer speed requirements and good low-speed handling and landing behaviour. The effectiveness of the solution has been adequately demonstrated by the time-toheight records set by the Talon and by the outstanding safety record of both the F-5 and the T-38 during their respective test programmes, and by the T-38 during several years of intensive operation.
This new and up-dated "Flight" copyright drawing of the Northrop' F-5 indicates the structural arrangement and systems layout of this highly successful lightweight supersonic strike fighter. A performance summary is given on the facing page
1 Dielectric honeycomb fin cap 2 Honeycomb panel assemblies 3 Honeycomb access door (undersurface) 4 One-piece etched top and bottom skins 5 Fin spars integral with fuselage 6 Main aft-fuselage machined forging 7 Titanium frame 8 Magnesium skin 9 Machined leading edge, honeycomb filling 10 Variable geometry intake 11 Air-conditioning pack 12 Air-conditioning heat-exchanger intake 13 Liquid-oxygen convenor 14 Honeycomb-stabilized ailerons 15 Aileron power units 16 Aileron system interconnect cartridge 17 Aileron beam linkage 18 Leading-edge flaps 19 Hinges and power units for (18) 20 Trailing-edge flaps 21 Flap torque tube 22 Flap actuator 23 Honeycomb-stabilized rudder 24 Duplicated rudder power units 25 Stability augmentor 26 Honeycomb-stabilized tailplane 27 Tailplane power control unit 28 Steel spars and torque tube 29 Yaw actuator (autostabilization system)

P International BER.r3.l5



Iliffe Transport Publications Ltd 1964

30 Directional gyro
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Stabilization servo amplifier Manually operated canopy ^ Canopy thruster and damper Canopy spring balance Stand-by compass Rear-view mirrors External canopy jettison Ejection seat handgrips and triggers Fire suppression bottles Forward dorsal fuel cell Aft dorsal fuel cell Aft fuel cell Centre fuel cell Pressure refuelling socket Actuating jack Braking parachute compartment Break for engine removal Bleed to cabin air system Packaged engine controls and accessories Forged engine-mount trunnions Rail for engine removal Engine cooling-air inlet Engine cooling-air outlet Generator and hydraulic pump Fin navigation light Utility and flight control reservoirs Sidewinder IR-homing missiles Bull Pup Pylon tank (150 US gal) Tip-tanks (50 US gal)


61 Bomb

fi./GH"' International 17 December 1964







Northrop Norair F-S (Two General Electric J85-GE-I3: 4,0801b thrust each with afterburner, 2,7201b without) Span, 25ft 3in; length, including pitot boom, 47ft 2.3in (46ft 4.4in); total wing area, 170 sq ft; internal fuel capacity, 583 US gal; empty weight, 7,7331b (8,1471b); gross weight, basic mission, 13,3371b (12,9821b); max gross weight, alternate mission, 19,7561b (19,4581b). Performance: (with clean wing-tips and in certain cases at representative reduced weight) max Mach number at tropopause, 1.4 (1.34); range cruising Mach number, 0.8S: max sea-level Mach number, 0.99 (0.98); take-off distance, 2,220ft (1,860ft); take-off speed, ISOkt (I44kt); time from brakes-off to 40,000ft, 4.2min (4.lmin); landing speed, l30kt at 9,730lb(l29kt at 9,1801b); landing distance 2,050ft (1,810ft); interception combat radius with internal fuel and two Sidewinders, 200 n.m. (195 n.m.): max power combat ceiling (500ft/min climb), 50,000ft at 11,1001b (50,000ft at I0.600lb); ferry range, 1,620 n.m. (1,645 n.m.); lo-lo-lo attack mission radius, 350 n.m. with max fuel (355 n.m.) or 160 n.m. with max bomb-load and reduced fuel (165 n.m.). * F-5A: figures in brackets refer to F-5B where significantly different.