|KIT:||Special Hobby 1/72 F-86H Sabre|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run with photo etched parts|
During the Korean War, it was realized that a dedicated nuclear capable fighter bomber was required. There were some planes, such as the F-84F that were able to handle this type of weapon, but it was not quite what the USAF needed. A modified Sabre with a larger J-73 engine was developed. Though the fuselage was different, the wings and tail planes were all Sabre. The fuselage was enlarged to handle the additional air flow of the bigger engine and all but the early planes got 4 20mm cannon in place of the standard 6 .50 cal machine guns. The aircraft served for many years with regular USAF units until replaced by the F-100, after which the H model went on to serve in the Air National Guard until the early 1970s.
This Special Hobby kit is one of the later aircraft with the four cannon. It comes on two grey plastic sprues with an additional clear plastic sprue for the windscreen/canopy. Molding of the plastic is quite good and up to MPM/Azur/Special Hobby's current standards. Thanks to the way the sprues are laid out, the wing tips on the lower wing have no protection and mine were bent back quite a bit from rattling around in the slightly oversized box. I also found some sink areas in the thin main gear doors and one of the nose gear doors. This problem also occurs near the jet exhaust on the fuselage and is quite prominent on the intake piece. There is an upper and lower intake section that has several large ejector towers that will have to be ground away as they will be quite visible on the completed model unless one makes an intake cover. The intake is see-through as no compressor face is provided. This is not true with the exhaust as the four piece tailpipe does have a blanking plate that also acts to position the exhaust in the fuselage as there is no other positioning shelf provided.
The upper intake section includes the cockpit tub with a separate back bulkhead that will help to blank off the intake. The section behind the cockpit under the canopy is bare as it should be with the radio beacon equipment a separate piece that attaches to the back of the canopy. The windscreen and canopy are well molded, but rather distorted, so you need to have the canopy open to appreciate the detail you have put into the cockpit. Much of the cockpit consists of photo-etch parts for the seat bits, instrument panel consoles and the like.
The wings are a single lower piece with two upper wing halves into which a wheel well center section is placed, very much like the Hobbycraft F-86E/F kits. The wings are the extended 6-3 versions. The speed brakes are molded closed.
You get separate options for the tail planes and rudder trim tab depending on the markings you will use, with one set being smooth and the other having stiffeners. Landing gear are fairly well done as are the wheels, though resin replacements ofthe same design will have crisper detail. A set of late Drop tanks are supplied, but oddly, they are missing the end plates on the fins that are so typical of post Korean War Sabres. Why this was missed is a puzzler as it is clearly shown on the box art and in the markings guide. You can make them out of sheet brass or perhaps rob them from another kit that has them. Unbelievably, the kit provides separate vortex generators and bases for the aft fuselage and the underside of the stabs. Good luck getting these teensy bits in place without losing any of them. The small wing fences are also made of photo etch.
The instructions are typical of any of the MPM group with nicely done construction steps, and painting information. All the colors given are generic names only. There are markings for three aircraft; the box art plane from the 34th FDS/413 FDW at George AFB in 1955, a yellow and black marked plane from the the 429th FBS at Clovis AFB, NM, and finally the wing commander's plane from the 50th FBW at Toule-Rosieres AFB in France during 1956. The decals are superbly done by Avi Print so choosing will be difficult.
It has been a very long time coming. My first vacuform experience was the Rareplanes F-86H replacement fuselage I used with a Hasegawa 1/72 Sabre. I'd been hoping for a decent injected kit of this important aircraft and now one is available. Price is reasonable for what you get, though about twice the price of a Hobbycraft F-86F. I am looking forward to building this one and am not really sure how I'll handle the vortex generator situation. If we are really lucky, we'll have one in 1/48 some time in the future.
Thanks to me and my wallet for this one.
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