Following up on the story of the F-5, here are five things you might not know about the F-5 series:
- The Iranians took an F-5, added twin vertical stabilizers to it, and created a ‘new” fighter they call the HESA Saeqeh (Thunderbolt ). Iran claims the Saeqeh performs like an F/A-18 Hornet. But even plain old avgeeks like me know that shoehorning some kludgy glass displays into the cockpit and bolting a second fin on to a standard F-5 do not add up to a home-grown Hornet. The Iranians say the Saeqeh maneuvers better than a standard F-5. That’s a long way from performing like a Hornet.
- In order to get the F-5 off the ground using just a little bit less runway, the nose gear in F-5Es and F-5Fs is equipped with a selectable two-position strut. When in the extended position the aircraft’s static angle of attack is increased by 3.3 degrees, providing additional lift at takeoff speeds.
- Many sources credit the F-5E design as the basis for / starting point for / predecessor of the Northrop YF-17 Cobra, which lost the Lightweight Fighter competition to the YF-16 during the mid-1970s. The YF-17 came back in a big way though. Today you can recognize the family resemblance in the McDonnell-Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet. The American version…not the Iranian.
- Northrop’s original codename for the design that became the F-5 was “Tally Ho”.
- The Soviet Union acquired captured F-5Cs from Vietnam and F-5Es from Ethiopia. They thoroughly evaluated and tested the F-5s over a period of several years. The Soviets threw the F-5s at MiG-21s and MiG-23s to see how aerial combat might conclude between the dissimilar aircraft. Supposedly the data generated during these flights contributed the designs of the second-generation and much improved MiG-23MLD Flogger K and ultimately the MiG-29 Fulcrum. Ironically the Soviet evaluation of the F-5s roughly parallels the similar American dissimilar aircraft training efforts outlined in our previous story about the development of the MiG-21.