Academy 1/48 F-86F-30 Sabre

KIT:

Academy 1/48 F-86F-30 Sabre

KIT #

 2162

PRICE:

$25.00

DECALS:

See review

REVIEW &
PHOTOS :

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

Has full engine detail

HISTORY & KIT

I'll direct you to the preview for theparticulars on the aircraft and the kit itself. I'll just add that I'll bebuilding this kit as the fighter-bomber variant. There are steps in the kitinstructions that are specifically for that version.

CONSTRUCTION

For this kit, the first thing I did was to open the holes in the bottom of thewing for the drop tanks and bomb racks. This kit had been purchased at a swapmeet so the wings and fuselage had already been removed from the sprue. Rathercrudely too as there were some chunks taken out of the parts where they joinedthe sprues. Anyway, once the holes were cleaned up the wings were joinedtogether.

Then it wason to the cockpit. The cockpit sits atop the intake trunking. I glued togethermuch of the cockpit that would all be painted the same colors as I could. As anote, the instructions say to paint the cockpit grey. This would be correct forall aircraft built in late 1953 and beyond, which would be for nearly all exportSabres. Korean War F-86s are supposed to have flat black cockpits, so that iswhat I painted it.

Once the cockpit was painted and pretty well complete(except for the seat) it was glued into the right fuselage half. I don't plan oninstalling the complete engine as that would just make it more tail heavy. Thecompressor front was painted and glued at the end of the intake trunking. Boththe intake and compressor front were painted aluminum. On the back end, the aftcompressor as well as the tail pipe were painted exhaust and also glued inplace. The instructions call for 15g of weight so I stuck in a very largefishing weight to hopefully compensate for any tail heaviness. 

Once thetrunking had dried, The fuselage halves were joined together. The fit wasn'tbad, but was not a perfect fit. Some filler will be needed. While drying, thedrop tanks were glued together as were the bombs. Both of these items werepainted olive drab. I used the banana shaped tanks as shown in the decalinstructions.

Afterapplying the initial coat of filler, I decided to install all the fuselageinserts. There are four of them; two on the upper fuselage and two lower. Fit ispretty good, though I did use a bit of filler to take care of some overly largegaps. You need to know that there are a number of sink marks on the fuselage.Some of them are relatively straightforward to repair and others aren't. Thebiggest offenders are those just under the speed brake wells. Those really needto be filled and are easy to do. Not so easy are those on the fuselage side.They are opposite the reinforcements where the fuselage break is. These gonearly all the way around and are relatively shallow. I left them alone andhoped they would not show. 

Then the wingwas attached. Fit is quite good, but not tight. There are small gaps all the wayaround; some of which needed filler. I also noticed that the right wing had aslight warp in it. Not sure if it is fixable at this stage or not. The next stepwas to glue in the gunsight to the top of the instrument panel and then installthe windscreen. Fit here is pretty good. Other than the tail planes, I had anairframe at the point where I could start painting it. The windscreen and canopywere masked and the canopy tacked on with white glue. Off to the paint shop.

PAINT & DECALS

I really built this kit so that I could try out the Alclad IIthat I was sent for review. First I lightly sprayed the kit with a light greyacrylic to act as a barrier. Then the entire model was painted dark aluminumwith the Alclad II. It was then given a second coat as the instructions said itwould need it. About an hour later, I looked it over. It was dry to the touchand ready for the next step. I masked off several prominent panels and paintedthe rest of the airframe using regular aluminum. Again, two coats. Under closescrutiny, I noted a number of scratches and stuff left over from sanding. Hmmm.Next kit will get a more thorough undercoating to hide some of those scratches!

Once the aluminum was dry, I peeled off the tape to see what itlooked like. There is not really that much difference in tone between theregular and dark aluminum, but it is there. The exhaust and gun ports werepainted Magnesium using Tesors Metallizer as no similar color was sent by Alclad.There is a jet exhaust, but it is a bronzish color in the bottle and I wasn'tsure how it would turn out. Anyway, I am thrilled with the Alclad II. It worksas advertised and seems to be a bit more durable than SnJ. It certainly takesfewer applications.

The landing gear were painted dark aluminum and then glued intothe wheel wells. It was at this time that I got the book F-86 Fighter-bomberunits in Korea and came to the realization that I could find no photos ofthe scheme I wanted to use that matched the Academy kit. Specifically, all ofthem in the book had slatted wings where the Academy kit isn't. SIGH! Back tohunting for decals and a definite slowdown in construction. 

I finally found a sheet that would fit in with the plane I wasconstructing. Unfortunately, the sheet only offered the black stripes for theyellow wing and fuselage band all Korean war F-86Fs carried. I tried thefuselage band from the kit decals. Hmm. They fit, but not very well as I could seelots of air bubble under the decal. Dragging out the Solvaset, I applied that tothe decal. It only made things worse! I then got frustrated and set the kitaside for a while (like a few months) and worked on other things.

Getting back into the kit, I first removed as much of thefuselage decal as I could. Then these areas were painted white, as was the nose.The nose was then painted red  and when dry, masked off. Then the otherareas received a coat of  yellow. I used Testors Model Master enamels forthese colors. Knowing how Alclad II reacts with enamels unless one is verycareful, the areas that were painted were given a coat of clear acrylic glosswhen dry. 

At least I thought it was dry.Within a day some horrible cracks appeared in the yellow paint. Nothing to dobut to sand it off and respray the white. I didn't fully strip the paint, justthe clear coat and yellow, though some of the white also disappeared, which iswhy the respray. I waited a full three days between coats just to make sure thistime. 

After the final clear coat, I used 18mm Tamiya tape to mask off the yellowstripes. The decal instructions stated that the yellow bands were 15mm. Add the2mm black stripes and I think that I'll have them properly covered. Onceeverything had dried for several more days, I applied a couple of coats ofAlclad II Aluminum over all the affected areas. The Alclad II did a great job ofcovering even the red and yellow paint. Just reinforces how much I like thisstuff!

It was then time to start decaling this beast. I usedAeromaster 48-278, Sabres over Korea pt. IIIand chose the mount of Capt. Dennis Clark of the 67th FBS/18th FBG. His aircraftwas appropriately named "Dennis the Meanace" after the cartooncharacter. This same plane was later 'given' to Lt. Reid Irvins when Clark'stour of duty was over.

The Aeromaster decals worked as advertised, and are fully compatiblewith Solvaset, my fave setting solution. It took a bit of work to get the nosedecal to fit and the fuselage black stripes were a bit of a fuss as well, butfinally succumbed. The wing stripes were WAY too long, but better long thanshort! Obviously, there is some difference between the Academy  Sabre andthose of Monogram and Hasegawa as most of the decals from this sheet seemed abit large. After getting on the larger decals, it was off to the kit decals forthe myriad data and other markings. The kit decals had the white rather badlyoff register, so any decals that had white in them (not many, thankfully) had tobe trimmed when possible. A few were beyond fixing and were not used, though Idoubt anyone will notice their absence.  Once all the decals were on, thekit was wiped down to remove dried Solvaset and other decal residue. Then it wasback to the bench to apply the rest of the parts.

EVEN MORE CONSTRUCTION

Now that it waspretty, I still had a considerable number of bits to add to it. First, Idrybrushed the interior to bring out any detail that was there. At this time, Ialso installed the seat. The head rest can be painted any of three colors;black, red or olive drab. The reference shows all three colors being used. Theseat is actually pretty basic and really needs to be replaced with a resin onewith greater detail, but I used it anyway. The part behind the seat consists ofan ARN-6 antenna (with the little clear bit that actually needs to be a smokybrown on the inside) and some structure. This was glued to the bottom of thecanopy and set aside.

Now the wheels were installed and then the gear doors. The fiton these was very good indeed as is the fit for the extend/retract pistons.While the instructions would have to install the completed main gear with theouter doors attached, it really isn't necessary and will save a lot of hassles.The nose door needs to be bent at a 45 degree angle and then glued to maintainthat angle. You can simply hold it in a clamp for a day while the glue dries.The gun doors were then glued on. Fit here is not the best and I ended upfilling the gun bays with putty to keep the doors from 'sinking' in. The speedbrakes had no such trouble and fit so well that I could have just pressed theminto position! Now I know that many of you are going to think I am some sort ofheretic by not having the speed brakes open. After all, almost every picture yousee of a Sabre on the ground has the speed brakes extended. Well, I wanted anice, clean looking airframe so glued them shut!  :oř

Next the wingpylons were installed. The holes in the wings need to be enlarged a bit for thepylons to fit. The fit of these is not that good and there are all sorts ofgaps, especially at the leading edge. Frankly, the curvature of the pylons isnot the same as the wing at this point, the pylons not being curved enough. Itis just the opposite for the small upper wing fences, they are too curved! Fixit or live with it as you choose. I should mention at this point that it isimportant for you to not install these things until AFTER the decaling isdone or you'll be asking for trouble.

With the pylons in place, the tailplanes were installed usingsuperglue. Fit here is good, but a bit sloppy as the holes in the tail are a bittoo large. The fuel dump tube is then installed. I suggest installing this aslate as possible or you'll just knock it off. Same with the wing pitottube. 

At this time, the only aftermarket bits other than the decalswere installed. I have learned to really like MV lenses, and usethem whenever I can. They just look a ton better than what comes with the kit and are made in an amazing number ofsizes for all sorts of applications. The ones I used on the Sabre are part # LS29. With those installed I could then glue on the forward nose gear door. At therear a pair of lights, one amber and one white, were glued in. I like to usewhite glue (Elmers) for these things as it eliminates any major screw-ups withsuperglue.

Last things were the stuff under the wings. I had painted thedrop tanks O.D. for use with another decal option (see sob story severalparagraphs above). Having already painted them, I decided 'to hell with it' andused them anyway. No one can say for sure that it never flew with them as theywere available. The fit of the tank support strut is ok, but not really thatgood. Finally a pair of M117 bombs were glued on the inner pylons, the canopyattached with white glue and the intake and exhaust plugged with the covers thatcome in the kit. Alright, call me lazy, but I'm not about to do all that fillerwork on intake and exhaust seams when there are perfectly good covers available!

Once that was done, a mission was planned and some suspectedcommunist felines were reconnoitered and strafed. They were last seen fleeingover the border!

CONCLUSIONS

To say that thiskit turned out great would be about right. It sure beats the heck out of theMonogram kit, despite the few shortcomings noted in the review. Haven't builtthe Hasegawa version yet, so can't really compare the two, however, I am not atall dissatisfied with the Academy offering. Some of the plusses of the Academykit are a lower price, a proper Korean War vintage fuselage and wings, and fullengine and gun bay detailing. Let's not forget those engine covers, too!

A very pleasant building experience and a kit that I can easilyrecommend to most modelers. Just remember to get a different decal sheet for it!

REFERENCES

F-86 Sabre Fighter-bomber Units Over Korea, by WarrenThompson, Osprey, 1999

April, 2001

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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