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F-5E-2-LO from P-38J?

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Hi All,


I know that Tamiya has not yet even released their new P-38J variant, so this question is probably way too premature.  However, I'm taking a shot that knowledgeable P-38 people might have an answer.  Does anyone know what would have to be changed on a P-38J in order to make it into a photo recon F-5E-2-LO variant?  I can hardly wait for the 'J' variant to arrive so I can build a number of super famous P-38s in natural metal finish.  But I've come upon some older references to the recon variants that were done in a spectacular looking azure blue livery along with some red accents (spinners, etc.), and that would end up being an incredible addition to my forthcoming 'fleet' of P-38s!!  Does anyone know what details would need to be added/changed/deleted to update a J variant to the photo recon F-5E-2-LO?  Would such a modification be too hard to be practical?  Thanks in advance for anyone's expertise!  🙂

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1 hour ago, Rob Mignard said:

Curt, give me a call; I can help you.



Will do, my friend...don't know why I just don't always come to you first!!!!  😃

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It looks like a fairly simple task to convert any of the Tamiya P-38's to an F-4/F-5 configuration (assuming the same fuselage is used for both the F/G/H and J-L kits) The good news is that the original F-4 through the F-5E use the same basic nose shape; the differences are in the window shapes and locations. Also, most of them were converted from P-38 airframes (Hooray!) which will greatly simplify converting the model. The easiest method will probably be to use the Academy F-5E nose (with has blisters; which are correct for the F-5E). The shape of the Academy nose appears to be "right-on," It will, however, probably take some minor fitting and reshaping to fit onto the Tamiya kit. Making an earlier version than the E is then an exercise in cutting and filling; which should be in most modelers skill set. Windows will need to be shaped, fitted, and polished (which again, should be in most modelers skill set). The Monogram/Revell nose won't work because the curve of the doors doesn't match the Tamiya kit. Also, you could carve or cast your own if you're so inclined.


I highly recommend the Mushroom Models Publications "Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Early Versions," and "Lockheed P-38 J-L Lightning." They have scale drawings and photographs of all of the photo versions.


I'm interested in making this conversion and will use the Academy nose.


Hope this helps. 



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On 4/4/2022 at 8:26 PM, Curt B said:

But I've come upon some older references to the recon variants that were done in a spectacular looking azure blue livery along with some red accents (spinners, etc.), 

Probably not painted in Azure Blue (which was a essentially a Mediterranean use colour) but it could have been PRU blue (which is the UK colour, and completely different colour to Azure Blue) or Haze Blue (US colour) supposedly different from one another, here's a quote lifted from Dana Bell -


"Here's a bit of clarification on the Haze Paints.  The original Cabot Haze was applied over a  totally black base coat.  The heavier applications of Haze to undersides resulted in a very light blue, while the lighter applications on top gave a much darker blue.  The vertical surfaces in between were graded from light applications down to dark.  Since accurate applications were nearly impossible to measure, there was a great deal of variation the the appearance of these aircraft, and as the slipstream and maintenance crews wore away layers of paint, the entire aircraft began to darken (particularly noticeable on leading edges).  The scheme was also very difficult to to retouch.


Two other paint companies provided their own versions of Haze.  Cabot took exception to the violation of his invention, but just as everything came to a legal head, the iridescence problem was discovered - at altitude the finish began to glow.


During F-5A production, Lockheed developed a two-color lacquer scheme that became known as Synthetic Haze Paint - a deep blue was applied overall, with a much lighter blue on undersides, in shadow areas, and graded up vertical surfaces.  In the color shots of 267332 above, you can see the countershading on the boom beneath the wing - a clear indication of Synthetic Haze.  Higher resolution copies of that photo also show the more subtle countershading on the vertical surfaces.  (Note that Xtracolor X160 probably needs a second color to make the scheme work - Synthetic Haze certainly wasn't monochromatic.)


As with the original Haze Paints, the lighter shade wore away with time - rubbed against by crews or the slipstream.


The AAF debated the value of Synthetic Haze, eventually eliminating it from the mod centers that built F-5Cs and Es.  However, the Director of Photography was convinced that the paint helped protect his crews, and it was often applied in the field.  Some units simply used a firm demarcation between the two blues - like a blue version of OD over Neutral Gray.  B&W and color photos can be hard to interpret - especially since many aircraft were instead painted with British paints.  If you can recognize two shades on your F-5E, you've got Synthetic Haze.  If you see only one shade, you're probably looking at one of the British colors."




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The F-5E-2-LO was converted from P-38J-15-LO air frames.


As far as the Academy nose being right on and the monogram not right. I have put the monogram nose on the academy kit and it was almost a perfect fit. So they are pretty much one in the same. The bottom of the camera nose is not correct on the academy kit for an F-5E. It is a flat window, no steps. The shape of the camera "eyes" on the side are not bad but the camera window is to small and needs to opened up. Can it be made to fit the Tamiya kit?  I have not looked in to it myself but might if no one does a conversion but then again I have the Paragon set I mention below.

If you can find an old set of Paragon F-5E conversion kit I think it would work. I have compared some of his other photo recon conversions to the Tamiya kit and they seem very close to matching size wise.







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My statement about the Academy kit F-5E nose being correct does not imply that it is correct for the myriad of F-5 nose configurations. There were lots of modifications; many of them field mods I assume. Pinterest and Flickr are good sources of F-5 photos. As with all models; closely check photographs of the airplane you're building.



F-5 102.jpg

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That's a F-5B-1-LO in that photo. They used P-38J-5 and J-10 for those. They still used the earlier curved windscreen of the early model Lightning's.

Yes there are some mods done in the field but nothing really drastic. Like a camera directly in the tip of the nose or maybe a boxed extension to a camera port under the nose to allow for a longer lens.


Photo's Lightning based on the J or L air frames.



F-5E (3 variants)




Lots of cool stuff, wish the aftermarket guys when do some more of these because I don't see Tamiya doing any. 


For some reason the F-5F is my favorite.





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