Airfix 1/72 F-86F/E(M) Sabre

KIT #: A03082
PRICE: $11.75 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit. Made in India


You know, everyone who is interested in aircraft, whether they are military or not, has a moment in their lives, when they have come into their realm of consciousness. It could be that your father owned a light plane and so there were planes around all the time. It could be the first time that you attended an air show and were amazed at the sights, and smells, and sounds of aircraft roaring around you. For some of us, we were introduced to aircraft by being in a military family and planes were part of where dad went to work.

For me, the latter is the case. When my father was based at Wheelus AFB in the early 1950s, I was introduced to aircraft. As dad was a comm tech working around teletypes and long range communications networks, he wasn't attached to a squadron so some of the places we lived didn't have an airbase. But Wheelus did and what a base. It was basically a place where aircraft came to expend a bunch of ordnance in terms of bullets, rockets and bombs by blasting holes in the sand of the Sahara. It also had a large control line airplane club that had a spot to fly near the end of the active runway. On some Saturdays, my father took me to watch the control line planes and the real ones that thundered off the runway close by. The majority of aircraft were B-29s and F-86s. It is here that I learned to love aircraft in general, and the F-86 in particular.

In those days, USAF squadrons all had rather gaudily painted aircraft. No need to put on camouflage and hide as we do today. The US was top dog and we didn't care about such things as camouflage. Let others hide behind it as we didn't need to. While I don't remember any specific color schemes (heck, I still wasn't old enough to start kindergarten), I do remember the flood of color that was part of the aircraft of the time. Even the B-29s seem to have had color in them, and the F-86s were the best, taking off in groups of two or four then doing high speed passes down the runway. I loved it and have never really experienced the same since.


Hornby's work at re-inventing Airfix has been going full bore for a couple of years now and the difference between now and then is obvious to even the most daft. New kits to replace some of the older ones is the mantra or so it seems and here is one to put to pasture the old Heller mold that the company was using.

Molded very much like all of its new kits, the engraving may be a bit much for some, but most of us can deal with it OK. Four standard grey sprues and one clear one for the canopy and windscreen come in the now standard folded cardboard box. This one is made in India so Hornby is still spreading the manufacturing.

So let us get the the straight Sabre bits. This one has a 6-3 non-slatted wing with a fence. Sabre people realize that pretty much it is the wing that determines the accuracy of the markings to be used. Heaven forbid that some one put slatted wing Sabre markings on a fixed wing F-86. Heads will roll, I tell you!. The kit has a nice cockpit which includes a pilot figure. No harness on the bang seat which is pretty much like the real thing, only much simplified. Decals for instruments, which is OK. An intake section is included with the upper piece having '3 Grams' engraved on it. Now this means that 3 grams of weight is needed.

The wing can have pylons added to the inner section for the use of bombs if one so wishes. Now I'm not sure if the USAF version is the fighter bomber -35 or not, but in this scale, it probably doesn't matter and those wanting to use the pylons and bombs will need to do a bit of research if accuracy is important. The kit has well done landing gear with flattened tires included and two styles of nose wheel. There are separate 'gear up' gear doors with additional reinforcement to allow them to be easily installed, a nice touch. The same goes for the separate speed brakes; a closed option is given. It will be interesting to see if the molding is such that these brakes are properly drooped down when open. In addition to the bombs, the standard early drop tanks are provided for the outer stations. This is topped by a two piece canopy/windscreen that can be posed open if one wishes.  

Kit instructions are well drawn with the usual Humbrol paint numbers in place of real paint names except for the camo and markings guide where the colors used on the outside are identified. Markings are for two planes. One is 'The Huff' as shown on the box art. The other is an Italian plane with the 4th Stormo in 1958. This is in standard NATO colors. Decals are well printed and include not only the Korean War bands but a mass of data markings. I should note that the USAF plane has the correct North American applied curved font.


Nice to see a reasonably priced new 1/72 Sabre. While I do not think this one surpasses the Fujimi Sabre in terms of detail, it does in terms of price and availability. It is a fine kit that most will enjoy building, and that is what is important.

February 2011

Thanks to me for this one.

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