ProModeler 1/48 F-86D Sabre Dog






Two aircraft


Tom Cleaver




The history of the F-86D Sabre has been well-documented in the other reviews of this kit available here at Modeling Madness. See the Kit Review Index for the appropriate links.


The ProModeler F-86D Sabre is one of the most eagerly-awaited releases of recent years, since there has never been an accurate kit of this widely-used airplane previously available in this scale. (Editor's Note: Apparently it is also going to be the last all new aircraft kit to be produced by Revell-Monogram for quite some time. Lack of sales of previous airplane kits have led management to decide to stop producing new plane kit and concentrate on what brings in greater profits for them, and that is cars. This is exactly the same scenario that happened at AMT/ERTL. R-M has been a mainstay of quality and affordable aircraft kits for modelers for years and their absence from the aircraft market will be missed.)

A Note About Wing Sweepback:

Shortly after the kit was released and I received mine, I raised the question of whether or not the wing sweepback is accurate. There was considerable discussion back and forth across the internet on the subject, particularly since there was a very obvious difference between the sweepback of this kit and the Hasegawa and Academy F-86F Sabre kits. After reviewing everything I have been able to find, I think the wing of this kit is the most accurate available in a model; whether it is exactly accurate, I am not completely convinced of. However, as regards building an F-86D model from this kit, the question is really irrelevant. As you can see from the accompanying photos in this and other reviews, the model makes up into what surely "looks like a Sabre to me."



This is one of the best-thought-out kits as regards production design I have found. Assembly of the model out of the box is an easy evening's work, with all parts fitting easily. I recommend you pay very close attention to the fuselage center seam, because any failure to fully get rid of it will be very obvious when the model is completed in natural metal finish. The kit comes with a prop to make it nose sit, but there is more than enough room in the nose to allow you to put internal weights in, which adds immensely to the final look of the model.




I first painted the central box of the wings with Gunze-Sanyo H-338 Light Gray; if you have ever looked out the window when flying in an airliner, you have seen that the wing box is anodized, and looks approximately this color - also any photo of a Sabre will show this effect on the wings. I also painted the radome with Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black and the anti-gare area with Gunze-Sany H-78 Olive Drab. After masking off these areas, I used my standard method of SNJ aluminum as the base coat, with Testor's Model Master Metalizer colors for other areas of the finish to give a multi-hue look. I used MM Buffing Aluminum for different panels, and MM Magnesium for the rear section of the fuselage, while painting the internal exhaust area and the engine with MM Exhaust. I unmasked the model and then sealed with with Model Master sealer overall prior to applying the decals.


I had planned to use the TwoBobs decals for the F-86D which were given to all who attended the IPMS-USA National Convention in Chicago this year. Unfortunately, this decal sheet is almost entirely wrong. The font for the entire F-86 series was a North American font that utilized curved letters, not the usual angle letters. This is so well-known and so obvious to anyone who looks at ten photos of any USAF Sabre, that I am amazed the decal sheet came out with angle-font lettering. Additionally, the buzz number is too small, and does not match the serial number - the buzz number is the last three digits of the serial number. The wing USAF is both incorrect as regards the font and too large for the model. And then there is the national insignia - I admit I have seen starts and bars as incorrect as these on airplanes, but they were on restored warbirds painted by people who didn't know what they were doing. Last but not least is the fuselage stripe, which is too small to fit correctly, and is in incorrect colors - they would not be light blue and gold, bur rather medium blue and insignia yellow. I said the decal sheet is "almost entirely wrong" - the one thing that appeared to be right was the fin flash decal for the squadron marking. Even the servicing stencils are actually too large, though not so bad that they cannot be used.

I really hate having to excoriate any manufacturer of anything we use in modeling, but in this case, these mistakes are so egregious that I feel it necessary to lay this out in detail. This is particularly the case, given that the people who provided the information to TwoBobs to do the sheet provided the correct information! This is not a case of making a guess based on incomplete information. It is furthermore unfortunate that the decals for the F4U-5 Corsair and the F-104 Starfighters that were part of this package are also 15% too large for the models, and result in a completely-inaccurate look. What is most amazing to me is that each of the decal sheets have a photo printed on them that illustrates the markings accurately! If you bought this sheet, you have spent US$28 for a fin flash, the only decal on all three sheets that is useable, and I am not absolutely certain of that.

Fortunately, I have a policy of never throwing away anything, and as a result I have a pretty extensive decal dungeon. I decided I would do the second airplane in the photograph on the decal instruction sheet, so that I could use the fin flash decal. I was able to piece together the buzz number and the serial number from other Sabre decal sheets, which also provided the "USAF" for the wings and the proper-size and configuration national insignia. As is shown in the photo, the "U.S. AIR FORCE" on the fuselage was a late addition to the markings, and applied with the standard angle-font lettering. This also came from the decal dungeon.

Overall, given that 56 USAF squadrons as well as numerous ANG squadrons used the F-86D Sabre during one of the most colorful periods of aircraft markings, it is my hope that the aftermarket decal makers are busy creating accurate decal sheets for this kit, because I would make more Dog Sabre models if I could. Just as a for instance, there's the 51st FIW on Okinawa with markings similar to the ones carried in Korea, and the 325th FIW "Swordsmen" based at Hamilton AFB with a red vertical fin and rudder and a gold sabre across the whole fin and rudder.

Final finish:

Since this is an early F-86D before the fleet was repainted in overall aluminum lacquer to control corrosion, I went for the weathered look one sees with natural metal. I overcoated with thinned Dullcote, so that some panels are more flat in finish than others, which is the way different varieties of aircraft aluminum weather in sunlight; this varies from a satin finish to a flat finish.


I think this is the most accurate F-86 kit of any version of the series to be released by any manufacturer. One can make a beautiful model from the kit straight out of the box (with aftermarket decals, since the kit decals are worse than the TwoBobs sheet). As more aftermarket decal sheets appear, I am sure more than one of these models will be sitting on my Sabre shelf. The kit is excellent value for the money.

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