Can you tell me anything about this brass figurine of a jet?
February 28, 2009 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Aviation buffs and antique enthusiasts: can you tell me anything about this brass figurine of a jet?

Aviation buffs: Any idea what kind of jet it is? It looks like a Northrop Talon with tip tanks, or maybe a "pointier" Lockheed Shooting Star. Or is it even a specific kind of jet at all? It could be just a stylized jet-like shape.

Antique enthusiasts: Can you tell me anything else about it, like when it dates to? There are no identifying marks on it of any kind; however, there are at least two more of these out there in the world that I've discovered while researching this question. (In fact, the photo I've used isn't a photo of the one I's a completely identical figurine, however.)

I acquired it roughly twelve years ago in an antique store in Arkansas. I know that this is no guarantee that it is actually an antique, but--at the risk of sounding imprecise--if "feels" like something that was made in the past.

Thanks in advance. Oh, and one more thing...this isn't some Antique Roadshow deal where I have delusions of selling it for hundreds of bucks. I'm just genuinely curious about the object.
posted by Ian A.T. to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
The T-38 Talon is a possibility, but it looks closer to an F-5 to me.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 4:56 PM on February 28, 2009

Looks like an F-80 Shooting Star to me. I am old enough to remember them in real life.
posted by JayRwv at 5:34 PM on February 28, 2009

The F-5 and T-38 had pretty much the same airframe, so 6 of one, half dozen of the other. It's a simplified figurine, though, so a definitive identification may not be possible.

It's not an F-80: the cockpit blister is much closer in design to the F-5.

It honestly looks like some kind of award to me? But who knows what kind.
posted by selfnoise at 5:38 PM on February 28, 2009

F5 Tiger was my first guess when I looked at it: Pic.

This kind of desktop item never looks like the actual aircraft though.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:52 PM on February 28, 2009

PS: Definitely not a Shooting Star. The P80's wings were not so swept back as ones on the model.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2009

F-5E Tiger II looks close - the earlier F-5 has a much longer nose.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:34 PM on February 28, 2009

I definitely think F5 or T-38 Talon as well. Jumped right to mind.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:19 PM on February 28, 2009

This figurine looks a lot like the CF-104 Starfighter (or other F-104 variant), with the exception of the tail.
posted by Simon Barclay at 7:32 PM on February 28, 2009

It is an F-5 or T-38. Googling around, I'd suggest an RF-5, which seems to have commonly carried wingtip tanks.

Unfortunately, being some manner of F-5 means that it could have come from any number of countries from anytime in the past 45 years. AFAIK, aircraft manufacturers commonly made things like this as giveaway swag, as did subcontractors of different sorts. I used to have a nice F-16 like that, but painted resin rather than brass, that came from IIRC Pratt and Whitney. I would also bet a decent meal that wings/squadrons had things like this made from time to time.

So anyway, it might be from some base in the US, or some base in Canada or Spain or the Philippines or South Vietnam or.... Or it might be from Northrop, or CASA, or Canadair, or some company who did avionics for any of the F-5/T-38 manufacturers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:28 PM on February 28, 2009

This is weird: I saw exactly he same one in an antique shop 2 days ago and the owner told me the name of the plane and its story (he said he was a collector and had the same plane in different versions like steel, etc.). He told me it was an F5 but I forgot the rest, and his shop is closed on Sunday and Monday. If you can wait, I can phone him Tuesday.
posted by bru at 5:25 AM on March 1, 2009

I'd say it's definitely not an F-104, and probably not a "generic jet" -- it's an F-5 or T-38 variant. Not sure who would've manufactured it, or why. Are there any markings on the bottom?
posted by Alterscape at 7:05 AM on March 1, 2009

Probably not an award but an intentionally vague representation made early in the manufacturing and/or bidding process by Northrop to appear in executive desk portraits.
posted by Morrigan at 4:02 PM on March 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I knew I could count on the expertise of my fellow MeFites.

Bru: Fascinating! If you wouldn't mind calling the antique shop, I'd really appreciate it. Or, if you'd rather, you can MeFi Mail me the number and I'll be glad to do it myself. I really would like to get to the bottom of this.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2009

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