When the North American Sabre flew in 1947, it attracted attention
throughout the West’s aviation industry.
In 1948, the Royal Canadian Air Force began serious planning for
modernizing the equipment of their fighter squadrons.
It was obvious that the best fighter available was the Sabre, and
during that year the Canadian government made a decision to equip the RCAF
with the Sabre.
agreement was quickly reached with North American and Canadair became the
manufacturer of the Canadian Sabre, known as the CL-13.
A total of 1,815 CL-13 Sabres were built by Canadair between 1950-58.
The initial production batch was for ten, to verify the tools, which
led to the production of the one and only Sabre Mk. I, a direct copy of the
By this time, North
American was producing the improved F-86E with the all-flying tail that made
the Sabre easily transonic in a dive.
The outbreak of the Korean War changed the initial production
contract from ten to 100. In 1951, the need of the USAF for the Sabre was so
great that Canadair produced 100 F-86Es as the F-86E(M), which were sent to
to make up combat attrition.
The Sabre Mk. 2 introduced powered controls and the all-flying tail,
while the only Sabre Mk. 3 was the first Canadian Sabre to use the
magnificent Orenda 3 turbojet with 6,000 lb thrust, which was a vast
improvement on the J-47GE-13 used for the Mk. 2 and on USAF Sabres. The
Sabre Mk. 4 retained the GE engine and was produced for the RAF as that
service’s first swept-wing fighter.
The Sabre Mk. 5 used the Orenda 10 with 6,500 lbs thrust.
The best Sabre ever produced by anyone was the Sabre Mk.6, which was
to the rest of the Sabres as the MiG-17 was to the MiG-15 in terms of
Powered by the
Orenda 14 with 7,275 lbs of thrust - a 150% increase over the power of US
Sabres - the Sabre Mk. 6 outperformed every fighter in its class. It had the
best climb performance and altitude of any Sabre; had the Sabre Mk.6 been
the opponent of the MiG-15 over the Yalu in Korea, it would have been the
Soviets who would have been looking up at 50,000 feet to find Sabres diving
The first 220 Mk.6 Sabres had the 6-3 wing of the later F-86F series.
The slats were brought back from that point for the rest of the 655
Mk. 6s produced; this improved low-speed performance without losing high
The first Sabre Mk.6 was completed
November 2, 1954.
390 Mk 6s equipped the four RCAF Sabre wings serving in
with NATO, where the Sabre Mk. 6 was considered the best dogfighter of any
fighter serving with a NATO Air Force.
225 Sabre Mk.6s were supplied to the new German Luftwaffe, beginning
in 1955, where they served until replaced by the F-104G in 1964.
Among the BundesLuftwaffe units that flew the Sabre Mk.6 was
JG 71 Richtofen, the first fighter unit of the reconstituted air
force, which was led by the world’s leading fighter ace, Colonel Erich
Hartmann, recently released from ten years as a Soviet Prisoner of War.
To encourage morale in the unit, Hartmann introduced the famous black
tulip-petal markings he had carried on his Bf-109 during the Second World
War, making for a very striking and distinctive look for all of JG 71's
The Sabre Mk. 6 lived up to its potential in the Indo-Pakistani War
of 1971, where the 90 Sabre Mk. 6s sold by German to Iran and passed on to
Pakistan were the main day fighter of the Pakistani Air Force, where they
killed Hunters and Gnats and gave MiG-21s fits until overwhelmed by numbers.
The Hasegawa Sabre has appeared in many forms in the 15 years since
it was first released.
particular kit was released by Revell-Germany as a Luftwaffe Sabre
Mk.6, though it is really the F-86F-30 Sabre originally released by Hasegawa
Out of the box, the
kit can be made as one of the 220 early-production Sabre Mk.6 aircraft with
the 6-3 “hard” wing, of which only 30 or so were supplied to the
BundesLuftwaffe, where they flew with the Sabre conversion unit, and even at
that it still needs modification to be a real Sabre Mk.6.
As anyone who has looked at photos of the Sabres of JG 71 knows, they
were all later-production aircraft with the slatted wing.
Fortunately, Bill Scobie of Scobie-do Productions has produced a very
nice “drop-fit” all-resin slatted 6-3 wing, which can be used to create one
of those Sabres.
The kit provides markings for three different Luftwaffe Sabres - two
in camouflage including one from 2.JG 71, and a natural metal Sabre from the
Sabre conversion unit. An additional problem with these kit decals is that
the tulip petals for the nose are the wrong shape and size, and are
positioned inaccurately, which leads to inaccurate positioning of the serial
codes on the forward fuselage, with the result that the model will look
Fortunately, Air Doc has
recently released a sheet of decals for the Sabre Mk.6, which includes
decals to do an airplane from either 1 or 2.JG 71.
These have nose tulips that are the correct size and are positioned
correctly, leading to correct positioning of the squadron codes.
Construction was straightforward, other than to modify the fuselage
to be representative of the Sabre Mk.6.
This included deleting the intake on the lower rear right fuselage
and filling that in and smoothing it, and creating “sugar scoops” for the
lower fuselage engine cooling intakes.
I created these from sheet styrene, but there are resin aftermarket
sets for this (most notably from
Resin, which I would have used but they were out of stock at the time).
By the early 1960s, which is the time period for the aircraft
represented in these decals, the Sabre Mk.6 had exchanged its North American
ejection seat for a Martin-Baker Mk.5 seat.
Resins makes a very good MB Mk.5 seat (which wasn’t available).
I replaced the kit seat with a resin seat from an old Cutting Edge
The wing presented less difficulty in attaching to the fuselage,
since it did not involve modification to the fuselage as had been necessary
with the earlier F-86E narrow-chord slatted wing. Some putty, some sanding,
some Tamiya “Mr. Surfacer” replacement was all it took.
I left the slats off until after painting.
The red leading edge of the fin and nose cone were painted with
Tamiya Flat Red and masked off before painting the rest
of the model. I
mixed up a “slate blue grey” color that looked close to a color photo of
Luftwaffe Sabres in one of my books.
I used RLM71 dark green for the other upper surface color.
The lower surface “silver-grey” color was mixed with Tamiya Flat
Aluminum, Sky Grey and Flat White. When finished, the model was given an
overall coat of Future.
I used the Air Doc decals for the unit markings, and the kit decals
for the national markings and stenciling.
Everything went down without problem.
When all was dry, I washed the model to get rid of decal solvent
residue and gave the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix Satin Varnish.
I unmasked the canopy and windscreen and mounted the canopy in the
The slats were
attached, as well as the dive brakes and landing gear.
These aircraft were kept in excellent condition, so I did not do any
The model looks great sitting next to the slatted F-86E and will make
a great part of any definitive collections of the best jet fighter ever.
For those who want to do a Sabre Mk.6, I highly recommend getting the
conversion set from Harold Offield at
Resins - it’s worth it if you have to wait for production to catch up with