Hasegawa 1/48 F-86F-30 Sabre

KIT #: Pt 13
PRICE: CAD$28.70
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Aerocalcas # 48011, 48002 and 48014 used


 In 1957, after an impressive display of the Gloster Meteor acrobatic team of the Air Force in front of Gral Emrick (USAAF), Argentine pilots were invited to learn to fly Sabres in the US. The process took 100 hours and started in February 1958. At the moment the Air Force was still planning to replace the Meteors with another interceptor. The Argentine Pulqui II having been left aside, the contenders became the Gnat, Canadair Sabre 6 and finally the F-84 and F86. The last one was offered in very attractive financial conditions and chosen by the Air Force.

The purchase:

A contract was signed for the first 28 planes that were part of a potentially larger number of planes (December 1958). These were second hand. They had the -40 wings (slightly longer and with slats). They were thoroughly inspected in the US and accepted by Argentine pilots after a test flight. These Sabres had between 1200 and 2000 hours when purchased by the AAF. All pilots that were trained in the US in T33 and F86 were former Gloster Meteor pilots so they had extensive experience in jet planes.

The first planes were delivered behind schedule in 1960 and were C-101, 105, 108, 110, 111 and 112. On September 6, 1960 the first planes were ferried to Argentina in what was called “Operation Sabre”. The stops were at Texas, Florida, Kingston (Jamaica), Panama, Peru, and Chile. They arrived at BAM El Plumerillo on September 26, 1960 where they were received by the Defense Minister, the Governor of Mendoza Province and the Aeronatuc Secretary. Some planes of this first batch had mechanical failures so they arrived later. By the end of the year all the 28 planes were in Argentina and were officially incorporated to the Argentine Air Force on December 16, 1960 during a ceremony led by the democratically elected president Arturo Frondizi.

The now called Grupo 1 de Caza Bombardeo had 3 operational and 1 reserve squadrons. Corean ace Pete Fernandez completed the training about tactics in Argentina.

Operational use:

The fact that this technology was a considerable jump when compared to the Meteors, and the lack of spares, meant that some planes were grounded almost from the very beginning (C-105, 121 and 122) and were cannibalized.

The first plane (C-103) was lost in an emergency landing in June 1961. The first fatality in a Sabre happened at the end of an Air Show at the Vta Brigada Aerea, when the experienced ViceCommodore Correa Arce lost control of the C-118 during an take off acrobatic maneuver.

Seven planes were selected to become the Acrobatic Squadron called Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross). Planes were painted in a very attractive red, yellow and blue scheme and they toured the country intensively (planes were named Alfa, Beta, Alfa Centauro, Gama and Delta)

The First Competition among the American Air Forces took place in 1962 in El Plumerillo and the winner was the Argentine team flying their Sabres, followed by the USAAF and Peru came 3rd.

The Air Force also gave support the operation of their F-86s to the Bolivian Air Force.

Accidents reduced the flight line year after year. In 1966 cracks in the wing spars were detected. Only 4 planes were in flying condition. Kits supplied by the USA were used to fix the planes.

By 1972 the F-86s started to have a 3-colour cammo and the all-metal scheme was not used anymore. These colors varied throughout the service in the Air Force going from a Dark Green (almost black) to Dark Green, Dark Grey to Light Blue Gray, and Dark Brown, Green to Light Brown. Undersides were always white. In 1974 both color schemes where still co existing. During the first years of the new color scheme, the words “Fuerza Aerea” were painted in white on the nose. Towards the end of the life of the Sabres, this text was expanded to “Fuerza Aerea Argentina / IV Brigada Aerea”

In 1973 and due to the fact that the number of available Sabres was greatly reduced, only 2 Squadrons were left. Then, in 1975 the A4-Cs were purchased and all Sabres constituted II Squadron.

With the Skyhawks in service, the remaining 13 Sabres struck of charge and sold to Uruguay. Their pilots and technicians were trained but at the end the operation was not finished because the Americans decided not to sell spares the FAU.

In 1978 only 4 planes were flown in a constant basis in order to use up all the remaining hours that those planes had, the rest were grounded with different mechanical problems.

In 1980 the Squadron was activated again and little by little, all 13 planes were made operational again. They were the intermediate step in the training of the new pilots that were to fly Mirages or Skyhawks and several of these flew with distinction against the British in 1982 (Zini, Mariel, Litrenta in C-130, Paez, Puga, Arnau, Diaz, Palaver, Cimatti, Mir Gonzalez, Garcia Cuerva, Musso, Lupianez, Castillo, Demierre, Velasco, Yebra, Lopez, Constantino, Gabari Zoco, Gonzalez, Castillo).

Modifications that the Argentine planes went thru were the replacement of the VHF for a Collins 20B, installation of VOR/ILS in 1978 and an ADF Collins 60 placed on the tail of the planes in 1983.

Still being used as trainers in the post Malvinas (Falklands) war Air Force, a fatal accident (partial detachment of one wing due to failure of the spar of C-120) provoked the final closure of the II Squadron in 1986.

Some of them are in display in different parks along the country, a couple are in Museums (C-127 at the Air Force’s) and C-109, 119, 125 and 127 were sold to customers in the US and some of them are flying the planes in Air Shows using USAAF colors and markings. As for C-111, it is on display at the Argentine Air Force Academy.

Into “action”:

The planes were used during some internal conflicts during the early part of the 60’s.

Then, in 1965, the ever-present conflict with Chile for different areas of Patagonia provoked an incident in Laguna del Desierto when troops of both countries exchanged fire. Five planes were sent to Comodoro Rivadavia for 20 days.

On August 30th, 1967 the situation with Chile deteriorated again. Seven planes were again sent to Comodoro and although planes from the Argentine Navy actually fired upon Chilean warships, diplomacy closed this new round of conflict.

In 1978, when war was only averted by a storm that prevented Argentine Marines from disembarking on the islands that were disputed in Cape Hornos (24 Dec 78), the Sabres were deployed to the South again. The mission of the 13 remaining planes was Air defense. Both sides were probing the other’s defenses and during one of those missions six Sabres (C-108, 109, 111, 122, 123 and 127) entered the Chilean airspace during 18 minutes.

Individual history:

C-101: Destroyed in 1968 in an accident. Pilot ejected

C-102: Destroyed in 1983, pilot ejected but entangled in the parachute cords, he fell to his death

C-103: Heavily damaged in emergency landing in 1961

C-104: Flew for the last time in 1986. 4804 hours flown

C-105: Used for spares after 1963

C-106: Accident during landing in 1971. SOC

C-107: Fire on board in 1967, pilot ejected safely

C-108: Crashed during mock combat against C-114 but the pilot managed to land with a seriously damaged tail. Pilot ejected after plane ingested shrapnel during live ammo exercise. 1981

C-109: Flew for the last time in 1986. 6027 hours flown. Sold in the US for air shows.

C-110: Air collision with C-127 during combat practice in 1975, pilot ejected safely

C-111: Emergency landing with nose gear retracted in 1973. SOC 1986 with 5642 hours. Placed in a park in Mendoza in 1988, removed in 1998 and after being restored in 1999 it has been in display in the Air Force Academy

C-112: After several accidents during its life in Argentina, it was nicknamed “El Asesino” (The Murdered) as the guns fired accidentally and provoked the death of a Corporal and seriously injured a NCO. After an emergency landing in 1972 it was SOC.

C-113: Crashed in 1962, pilot ejected safely

C-114: Crashed in the air with C-108, pilot ejected (1974)

C-115: Crashed due mechanical failure in 1976, pilot ejected

C-116: Destroyed in 1967, pilot ejected

C-117: Run out of fuel and was destroyed in 1974, pilot ejected

C-118: Destroyed in 1961 shortly after take off, pilot killed

C-119: SOC in 1986 with 5709 hours and sold to Wardwirds Unlimited (Texas)

C-120: After an eventful life, suffered a crack in the spar and fell to the ground taking her pilot to her death in 1986

C-121: After a minor accident it was used as a source for spares (1963)

C-122: SOC in 1986 with 4925 hours. In display at the Air Force Museum

C-123: SOC in 1986 with 6686 hours (most hours flown). Sold to the USAF for U$S 1.00.- In display at the Hill Aerospace Museum.

C-124: SOC in 1986 with 4999 hours

C-125: SOC in 1986 with 4948 hours. It now belongs to the Heritage Foundation Inc. (Illinois)

C-126: Crashed in 1981, pilot ejected safely

C-127: SOC in 1986 with 6538 hours. Air Museum (Chino, California)

C-128: Air collision with C-101 in 1968, pilot ejected safely


This is a Korean War Sabre Dash 30. As such, the wings are shorter and the slats are not present. It is typical of Hasegawa or Tamiya, great quality of parts and lots of details.


Being as I said above a Hase, build is really easy. The engine and air intake were painted in silver. The cockpit, wheel bays and air brakes have lots of details and I painted it in US Interior Green, red or black when appropriate, with some dry brushing with silver here and there. Instrument panel faces were given some drops of Future.

I built the pilot using the correct helmet for the ones used in the AAF. Minus the head it was glued in his seat. I left the orange scarf for last in order to paint it with all the other minor details.

Once the fuselage halves were joined, I found some small areas where Putty was required.

Next I put together the wings. Before attaching them to the fuselage, I cut out the tips, added 2 pieces of plasticard 8 mm wide. These were bent (especially the top one) to follow the contour of the wing. The wing tips were glued back. It really took lots of sessions of putty, extra glue and sanding until I got a decent look.

The slats were marked with a knife. Finally, wings and fuselage were joined. There is very small gap (less of 1 mm) here and I covered it with acrylic base. Before it got dry, I wiped out the excess, leaving only this base in the gap.

The drop tanks were modified to remove the fins. I had to use plasticard and putty to cover the slot thru which the fins are installed.

Just before starting to paint it, I added the horizontal tail surfaces.



I gave the plane a coat of light gray to check for imperfections and also to give a better surface for the MM Acryl gloss white paint to adhere.

It has been a long time since I preshaded my kits. I did it again on this plane using black along all the panel lines.

Then I started with the Light gray (MM Acryl 4746 with some drops of black) for the upper surfaces. Using “worms” of Blue Tac I masked this area and then painted the kit with a combination of two colours: MM Acryl 4812 and 4728 for the ochre.

After another session of Blue Tac, I finally painted the dark green (4726) that was made a notch darker using some drops of black.

In between coats, the panel lines were dry brushed again in black when they were lost under the previous color.

Some areas in the tail were painted in burnt metal, same as the exhaust.

I dry brushed sanded black pastel along moveable areas, guns and some caps.

The entire top surface was given some coats of Future until I was satisfied with the gloss.

Please note that the demarcation line between white and cammo on the left side should have been lower in the nose area…I only realized when I was taking the pictures!


I decided to build C-111 because it had a very interesting story in the Argentine Air Force and also because there are several pictures of this plane towards the end of her life, which is what I wanted to represent.

Well, here I had to use 3 sets of decals from AeroCalcas, as the 2 Sabre sets don’t have all the stencils or details required for my C-111 (circa 1982). The words “IV Brigada Aerea” were “borrowed” from their A4-C set 48011.

The numbers are from set 48002. As this set is one of the first produced by Aerocalcas, they don’t have lots of ink density and the yellows, for instance, look more like a light green when applied over a dark background. “C-111”s were the only usable decals from this set.

Hence, all the stencils and flags are from set 48014, which has better ink density.


I glued the landing gear. The entire plane was given a coat of satin varnish.

The gunsight and windshield were glued, as well as the air brakes (should have been in a more “dropped” position), landing gear doors and the pitot tube (cut to remove the bent tip as the Air Force planes had a straight version).

As I had forgotten to open the holes for the drop tanks located under the wings, I scratched the white paint and very carefully I glued them using pictures to properly place them.

I painted the scarf in orange (red + yellow) and glued the head of the pilot.

Very tiny red dots (that mark access to panels?) were applied with very thin metal tips on a couple of places on the left side of the fuselage.

The navigation (?) light inside the hood received a drop of red at the bottom and was then glued. It then seems to be painted in clear red. Navigation lights on the wing tips were painted in green and red. Formation lights on the tail were clear and orange (mix red and yellow)

The metallic covers for the intake and exhaust were painted in bright red.

The landing lights received some drops of chrome silver and placed under the nose.

Several minor details were added and the last part to be glued was the rear mirror.


I feel quite happy with the results as I believe that it represents quite well the look of the Argentine Sabres during the last years of service.


NA F-86 F-30 Sabre, by Atilio Baldini and Jorge Nunez Padin (Serie Fuerza Aerea #16 - 2008). Excellent reference in which most of the historical part of this text is based.

NA F-86 F-30 Sabre, by Jorge Nunez Padin (Serie Fuerza Aerea #6 - 1999)

Escuadrilla Cruz del Sur, by Atilio Baldini

And my special thanks to Fernando C. Benedetto for his help with the historical part of the text.

Pablo Calcaterra

December 2010

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