Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70
e-mail: info@muzeumlotnictwa.pl

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region

Mecenas Muzeum

Kraków Airport

Instytut Techniczny Wojsk Lotniczych - sponsor restauracji samolotu Caudron  CR.714 Cyclone

Patroni Medialni

Skrzydlata Polska

Aeroplane: Northrop F-5E Tiger II

Northrop F-5E Tiger II

  • Technical data

Span 8.13 m
Length 14.68 m
Take-off weight 11,192 kg
Maximum speed 1734 km/h
Ceiling 15,545 m
Range 2863 km (with additional fuel tanks)
Armament see text
Powerplant :
2 x J85-GE-13 turbojets rated at 2,270 kG each


In the mid 50's, the American company Northrop issued a fighter development plan. Production and service costs were taken into consideration, as well as marketing. Specialists paid attention to the lack of cheap, versatile fighters. In 1955, a team of designers carried out a private venture designing an aeroplane which became the N-156. In 1954 an interesting engine, the General Electric J-85, came on scene with a small size compared to a large thrust. After adding afterburners, the engine became a dream power plant for the N-156.

At this time the USAF issued a competition for a supersonic, two seater trainer. At Northrop this was already done as the N-156T, based on the preliminary design of the fighter on which work had been suspended. The trainer N-156T was a winner and in 1961, it entered service with the USAF as the T-38 Talon.

In the middle of 1958, negotiations with the Defence Department were held, leading to the return of the shelved fighter, the N-156F Freedom Fighter. This fighter, not dissimilar to the trainer, was a low wing fighter with two J-85 engines. Its fuselage was designed according to the "area rule" and thanks to the shape and a flat lower part, it created great lift. The armament consisted of two front fuselage mounted 20mm cannons, two air-to-air Sidewinder missiles on the wing tip rails and up to 2800kg of bombs, napalm containers and unguided missile pods.

The company received an order for three prototypes. The first was flown in June 1959. Between 1960-61, wide scale military tests were conducted to check weather and terrain conditions. The use of a versatile aeroplane for combat, ground attack and reconnaissance, was tested. A further test endured unpaved runways.

In April 1962, the N-156F was chosen for the Military Assistance Program, carrying supplies to the USA's allies. The new fighter was a perfect choice, being cheap and simple in service and at the same time more accessible for countries of limited means. Due to its excellent flying characteristics, it was also bought later by some NATO countries.

In October 1962, the name of the prototypes was changed to the YF-5A. In 1964 production of the F-5A started. Within the MAP program, Iran was the first operator, then came delivery to other countries. The F-5A and its two seat derivative, the F-5B were produced at Canadair. Aircraft for Holland were assembled in co-operation with the Fokker works and for Spain at the CASA works. The aeroplanes exported to other countries differed in details.

In 1968 the General Electric company worked on a new version of the J-85 engine with thrust increased by 25%. It was used to power the new version of the F-5, the F-5E Tiger II, flown in August 1972 and introduced into production in the same year. Ideas from previously tested F-5's were applied to the new construction. The new aeroplane was equipped with front and rear flaps on the wings, changing the aerofoil, in accordance with conditions. The idea was burrowed from the Dutch version of the NF-5. Also taken from the Dutch and Canadian variants was the closing shutter, side suction engine ducts for the air intakes. Also, the two position front wheel strut was also used, allowing for better take off and increased fuel capacity tanks. The landing hook was adopted from the F-5A (G) of Norway. It also had an increased wing span and an enlarged flush at the wing roots. It could also be equipped with in-flight refuelling installation. In the front of the fuselage, target radar was placed. All these changes were influenced on increasing speed, ordnance payload (3175kg) and improved manoeuvrability. Previous armament was changed for a gun pod, laser guided bombs and the Maverick missile.

In 1974, export of the F-5E started. In the same year the two seat trainer and combat plane, the F5-F, flew for the first time and in 1979, the reconnaissance RF-5E was flown. Production ended in 1987. In total, 1166 F-5E fighters, 241 F-5F's and 12 RF-5E's were produced.

The USAF used this aeroplane in "aggressor" squadrons, acting as the Soviet Mig 17's and 21's in combat training exercises. Several air forces across the world still fly the modernised F-5E. In 1983, based on the F-5E, the new F-20, powered by the GE F404 engine, was developed. Technical problems and a lack of buyers ceased the program.

The aeroplane at the museum was shipped from North Vietnam to Poland at the end of the Seventies. After a series of tests, it was given to the museum in 1992.


Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
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