Sub $1M Freedom Fighter Up for Grabs

Just going to come out and say it: if you are ever in Arizona, you have to check out the Pima Air & Space Museum, which has some 400 aircraft on display. I spent two days there, filming shorts for GDC, with a concentration on aviation gunnery, and one of the planes I spent some time with is the somewhat unsung F-5 Freedom Fighter, which is still in somewhat limited service around the globe despite the fact that the youngest one is still well over 30.

I mean, just look at it:

Two seater F-5B-50-NO, SN 72-0441, is dressed in the colors of the 425th TFTS which she flew with until 1989, including conversion to a GF-5B. Chris Eger photo

In related news, I saw last night where Code 1 Aviation in Illinois just listed a circa 1968 Northrop F-5A (SN 1009, FAA Reg N685TC) for sale, at a cool $950K.

Code 1 photo

Code 1 photo

She had been built originally for the Royal Norwegian AF as 89108 and later came to the States, being registered with the FAA in 1990. Of interest, the Norwegians, who fielded no less than 108 of the type, kept their F-5s flying as late as 2007.

From the ad:

This is a beautifully-restored, well-equipped example of Northrop’s versatile, lightweight, supersonic fighter thats still serving in several nations. With a maximum speed of over 700 knots, a maximum climb rate of over 30,000 feet per minute, and a ceiling of 51,000 feet, the F-5 is not for the faint of heart. But it is a surprisingly simple, reliable jet that can be your ticket to the rarified world of the fighter pilot.

Too bad the gun compartment is missing its twin Ford-built M39A2 20mm revolver cannons– but it does give the owner a potential cargo/baggage compartment. Code 1 Photo

Introduced in 1953, the M39 was the standard gun armament of the F-86H model Sabre, the F-100 Super Sabre, the F-101A/C Voodoo, and the F-5 series, effectively bridging the gap between the .50 cal M2/M3 guns of WWII and Korea and the subsequent M61 Vulcan. 

It was dubbed a revolver system as, although it was a single barrel, it used a chute-fed five-chamber cylinder to up the rate of fire to 1,500 rpm while allowing for better heat dissipation and less potential for a cook-off. Meanwhile, the Colt Mk 12 20mm cannons used at the same time by the Navy and Marine Corps on the F4D Skyray, F3H Demon, A-4 Skyhawk, F-8 Crusader, F-11 Tiger, and early A-7 Corsairs, were less reliable as its feeding mechanism was prone to jam under G-loading during high-speed dogfighting maneuvers. Chris Eger photo

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