Canadair CF-5A Freedom Fighter, 419 Sqn.; CFB Cold Lake

Painting & Finishing

After giving the model a thorough cleaning, the parts that were not to be painted were masked off with Tamiya tape and a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 was airbrushed over the model. This revealed the inevitable host of flaws that always seem to appear from nowhere when this primer is applied! Eventually, after repeated fill/sand/prime cycles, painting could begin. I decided to finish the model as CF-5A number 705 as it appeared while serving with 419 Squadron during the late 1980's in an early version of the "Ghost" aggressor scheme. Gunze acrylics were custom mixed to match samples of the three main colours, FS595b 35237 Blue, 36251 Gray and 36307 Gray.

These colours were airbrushed free-hand over the model, working from lightest to darkest, with an Iwata HP-SB airbrush. When the paint had dried, a thin coat of Future was sprayed over the model. The decals are from Mike Grant's CF-5 sheet, produced with an Alps printer, and I have to say I was impressed by them. They went on well, snuggled down nicely and, after another thin coat of Future over top, looked almost painted on.

Surface detail was brought out with a wash of dark grey watercolour before the model was sealed with Model Master clear matt acrylic. I generally don't care for this clear flat, as I find it is very white and tends to lighten the colours on a model, but in this case it was exactly this effect that I wanted to produce, to give the model a slightly faded appearance.


This project would probably have been a lot simpler if I'd started with Classic Airframes' F-5A kit. What can I say, I like fixing up old model kits! This one had been in my collection for years, and there's nothing basically wrong with the kit. In fact, in some areas I prefer it to CA's offering; the exhaust pipes, for example. All in all, this was a fun and satisfying model to build, and I'm reasonably happy with the results.

Main References:

McIntyre, Bob: Canadian Profile #4 - Canadair CF-5. SMS Publishing, 1985. Shaw, Robbie: Superbase 18: Cold Lake. Osprey Aerospace, 1990.

Model and photos by Dave Askett.

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