Heller 1/72 F-86F Sabre
KIT #: 277
PRICE: $15.00 'second hand'
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Joel Hamm
NOTES: Microscale AC72-0061 decals

HISTORY

Oh no, Iím not going to make a fool of myself by spouting off about a subject this well known and covered. If I have to say something in this section: It was the USís first operational swept wing fighter (which someone will likely challenge, anyway).

THE KIT

In a previous review I mentioned that I was trying to hunt up a Heller F-86 because Iíd heard it was a quick, easy, cheap, and foolproof build. I did and it was. Except the last may be a function of how much a fool, or an oaf, might be its builder. The molds date back to the previous century, but betray their age only by mixing raised and recessed panel lines. Parts are clean and crisp; fitting together without filling, filing, fidgeting, or fuming. Landing gear may be the most intricately detailed of any on the market, or after-market.

By current standards the canopy is a bit thick, but it is clear enough to see within the correctly shaped seat, instrument panel and side consoles, both with raised detail, and accurate control stick. (How many out there know that it is a Joyce stick, after its inventor, not a joy stick? Thereís a powerful bit of pedantry!)

CONSTRUCTION

 Nothing is worth noting, except a warning that the gear and brake doors lack locating lips to hold them level with the fuselage and wing surface if mounted closed. One trick to keep them from sinking into their wells as the glue dries, is to hold them in place with globs of Blue Tack, or similar gummy stuff, then flow liquid cement into the joint.

There are no alignment tabs to hold the horizontal stabilizers at the proper angle. I got it right on first try, but after knocking them off several times ended up with too little dihedral.

Sabres were rarely seen without aux fuel tanks, but dirtying up those sexy swept wings seemed a capital offense. This one has just returned from an encounter over the Yalu, where they had to be jettisoned.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 This was a third and final attempt to achieve a panelized NMF with Alclad II. After stripping the resultant mess in brake fluid dosed with turpentine, I sprayed everything with a uniform coat of the only metal paint available Ė Testors square bottle aluminum. This stuff dries looking like aluminum lacquer. No problem there, since thatís precisely what most Sabres wore in actual service, particularly Herr Huff.

Heller sold this kit in many boxes and markings. This one came with transfers for a German machine, and for John Glennís Korean War mount, Mig Mad Marine. The sheet was too far gone to save. A week of sun bleaching in a south window cured the yellowing, but fused the decals to the backing paper. I had exhausted the spares bin with a prior throw-away jet, and was loathe to spring twice the cost of the kit on a new sheet. Then the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 25K and I figured: What am I saving it for Ė coffin stuffing?

The only known eye-catching scheme was out of print - a plane of the Skyblazers demo team. Several were offered on line, but trusting someone elseís old sheet seemed unwise, particularly at e-Bay prices. I had to settle for a recent Microscale re-issue of the same-old-same-old: The Huff coupled with Beauteous Butch II. At least the quality was excellent. They settle down without setting fluids, but snuggle tighter with the Microscale system of Micro-set and Micro-sol; all of which was essential for laying down the black outline stripes on the yellow wing and fuselage bands (which must be painted on), and the assorted pencil line-thin whatever-they-are red line markings. A coating of Future sealed everything for the future. 

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Bits and pieces went on just fine. Raised details on the instrument panel and consoles got a wash (actually, gouache Ė more pedantry) of diluted black gloss, so the MS decals could be saved for later.

I briefly toyed with the notion of vac-ing a thinner canopy to show off all that stuff, but restrained myself with the reminder that this was supposed to be a quick and simple job. Canopy framing is thick and sharp enough to do a decent hand-brushing job, but Model Master silver chrome enamel didnít show up that well. I tried something new: first a coat of acrylic flat black, then the metal hue. Worked pretty well, and will become primary transparency framing technique.

When I went to hand paint all the stick-ons I found the port landing gear door missing in action. Cursed a few times, searched the workbench, cursed a few more times, checked the folds of my clothes and desk chair, cursed more and scoured the carpet. Set loose Rosie Roomba, the vacuuming robot, checked her filter and dust bin. Cursed up a blue streak, then spent a whole 10 minutes shaping a snippet of flat plastic into a replacement. Later, after the project was finished, the photos taken, and the plane snug and cozy on the shelf, I discovered the missing door still attached to the sprue. Thatís why I enjoy this hobby. It has such a calming effect.

CONCLUSIONS

Ho hum Ė another Huff-jet. Well, at least itís not another Messy-schmidt 109.

Joel Hamm

9 February 2018

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