Fujimi 1/72 RF-86F Sabre

KIT #: F-20
PRICE: HK $60.00
DECALS: Two options


The F-86 Sabre is a famous jet with a long combat history.  For a good history of the Sabre as a fighter, take a look at this build right here on MM: http://www.modelingmadness.com/reviews/korean/cleaver/tmc3286.htm, or look at the other builds and previews on the site.

The early F-86A was made into a recon aircraft, codenamed "Ashtray", but the definitive version was  based on the F-86F, and known as "Haymaker".  Both types had their guns replaced with three cameras. Two cameras were mounted in blisters either side of the cockpit, and mirrors enabled them to photograph downwards from openings in the bottom of the fuselage.  A third camera was mounted in between the viewing ports of the other two cameras. In US service, these aircraft conducted a series of top secret overflights of the USSR and China in the 1950s. They were so sensitive that each mission had to be approved by the President.

Apart from the top secret USAF missions, RF-86Fs saw long service with Japan and Korea. The JASDF Sabres were only replaced by RF-4Es in 1979 and the Koreans reportedly kept using theirs for ten years after that. 

If you go to Dayton Ohio you can see a USAF RF-86F in the collection there (including on its webpage).


Well, it was news to me that there was a recon version of the Sabre so when I saw the Fujimi kit at a decent price I bought it. That got me interested and a few hours of googling later, I learned more about the secret overflights. Much of it was only declassified in recent years.

From what I can tell, the Fujimi F-86 kit is considered the best in 1/72 scale.  I also have the Heller F-86F and many years ago I built the Matchbox kit. The Heller kit is pretty good, but this Fujimi kit is clearly a step up in quality.

This kit has finely engraved panel lines and cleanly moulded detail parts like the wheels, airbrake bays and cockpit features. It has a good instrument panel and cockpit side panels, a three-piece ejection seat and two nicely done Sidewinder missiles (which don't go with the recon version).    Particularly nice is the intake, made of two parts and with a separate engine inlet to install deep inside the jet. True, the Heller kit isn't too far behind here, but the Fujimi version looks like an easier build.

The clear parts are nice and clear and thin too.

The Fujimi kit seems to have the proper longer wing, compared against the Heller F-86F which, I understand from reviews on MM, has the wrong, shorter wing. I know different Sabres at different times had different wings. I am not nearly an expert on the Sabre so if this is important to you, best to check some references! I'm sure daboss will correct me if I misunderstood this. (The Heller kit has the correct wings for the earlier versions of the F-86F up to F-35 while all Japanese Sabres were F-86F-40 versions with longer wings. Fujimi also does the earlier short wing versions. Ed)

Fujimi did a family of Sabres, so the recon version is simply another Sabre with two small extra sprues.  The first is clear, and has the three camera windows with their streamlined mountings.  These go under the fuselage.  The other sprue has four parts - two side blisters for the cameras, and two parts to blank off the machine guns. Other than that, this kit is a standard Fujimi Sabre.

There are two decal options for this kit, both JASDF aircraft. The Sabre on the box top is from the 501st Recon Squadron, while the other version, quite similar, is from the "Air Defence Command HQ Flight Squadron". The decal sheet includes the fake gun muzzles that were painted on to some of these RF-86s to disguise the fact they flew unarmed. 


This is a great kit of a less well-known version of the Sabre. It doesn't come with US markings, but anyone with suitable references will be able to put together the right decals for a US plane. (Editor's Note: USAF RF-86s had different camera housings and were short wing variants so doing so will require a bit of scratchbuilding)

Richard F

August 2009

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