Northrop F-5 & T-38

Designed from the start as a low-weight, low-cost fighter the Northrop F-5 became an export success. It is also a very recognisable fighter aircraft. Typical is the shape of the fuselage: when viewed from the side the bottom is nearly flat, while the top is curved from the nose over the canopy to the exhausts. At the back, the canopy is flush with the top of the fuselage. The wings are thin and flush with the bottom of the fuselage. The air intakes have about a D shape and are below the canopy. Another key feature is the trapezium vertical stabiliser with forward swept trailing edge. Finally, the two side-by-side external exhaust pipes at the very end complete the appea­rance of the F-5.

The two seat version of the F-5 was developed into the dedicated T-38 supersonic trainer.

The typical silhouette of a Northrop F-5: a nearly flat underside with a curved upper part, over the canopy that is flush with the top of the fuselage. Note the D shaped air intakes.

The rear of the F-5 is also characteristic with the two visible exhaust pipes and trapezium vertical stabiliser.

Different versions

How to recognise the different versions of the Northrop F-5 and T-38 will be added later.

Confusion possible with

Northrop F-20 Tigershark

f 20

The F-20 is a single engine derivative of the F-5 (originally designated F-5G). That is a main diffe­rence between the two, apart from smaller ones. (photo USAF/WikiMedia) 

HESA Saeqeh

hesa saeqeh

Another deveopment of the F-5, from Iran. On the Saeqeh the vertical stabi­lisers have doubled, but for the rest it still looks like an F-5. (photo Dara Zarbaf/WikiMedia)