Northrop F-5A "Freedom Fighter"
at the Western Museum of Flight
The F-5A is a small, lightweight, low cost, easy-to-maintain
supersonic fighter, well suited to the needs of
friendly foreign countries who didnt need, couldnt
afford, and couldnt maintain the bigger, more complex fighters
in the U.S. inventory. Development was begun by Northrop
in the mid-1950s but for a time took back seat to the development
of the related T-38 trainer. In 1958 Northrop initiated
building of a prototype of this small fighter, designated the
N-156F. Two prototypes were built and flown, with a third
partially constructed. The firm market for this airplane
didnt develop until May of 1962 when the U.S. Department
of Defense selected the N-156F as the basis for the airplane
to modernize the air forces of selected countries under the Military
Assistance Program (MAP). The airplane was given the designation
F-5A, with first flight of the prototype ( a modified
N-156F) on July 31, 1963.
Countries receiving the F-5A under MAP included Iran, South
Korea, the Philippines, Turkey, Greece, and the Republic of China.
Norway, Spain, and Canada made direct purchases of the airplane.
The airplane was also modified by the U.S. Air Force and evaluated
in Vietnam with those airplanes dubbed Skoshi Tigers.
Following more than eight years of production, the last F-5A
was delivered in June, 1972.
The airplane at the Western Museum of Flight is a Norwegian
F-5A "Freedom Fighter" Specifications
Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division, Hawthorne, CA
25 feet, 3 inches
46 feet, 11 inches
13 feet, 2 inches
170 sq. feet
Clean Takeoff Weight
Maximum Takeoff Weight
(2) General Electric J85-13 Turbojets rated at 4,080 pounds thrust