Hasegawa 1/32 F-86E(M)

KIT #: 08060 (St 10)
PRICE: €40 when new
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


 The North American F-86 Sabre is best known as the United States' first swept-wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces.

Its success led to an extended production run of more than 7,800 aircraft between 1949 and 1956, in the United States, Japan, and Italy. In addition, 738 carrier-modified versions were purchased by the US Navy as FJ-2s and -3s. Variants were built in Canada and Australia. The Canadair Sabre added another 1,815 aircraft and the significantly redesigned CAC Sabre (sometimes known as the Avon Sabre or CAC CA-27), had a production run of 112. The Sabre is by far the most-produced Western jet fighter, with a total production of all variants at 9,860 units.

In 1954 Greece received the first F-86s, which were surplus ex-RCAF Canadair Mk2s with their old wing modified to a larger unslatted one, also known as the “hard” wing. This modification, as well as general maintenance of the aircraft before handing them to Greece, was performed both in Canada by Canadair and in England by Bristol Aeroplane, after the latter was first supplied with modification packages by Canadair. These modified Sabres were renamed F-86E(M) (M: Modified).

Around 110 machines were supplied to Greece in total, equipping the 341, 342 and 343 Squadrons and remaining in service till 1965, to be replaced by F-5As. The Sabre was the first Greek aircraft that could break the sound barrier in a dive. The most famous Greek Sabres were those used by the famous aerobatic team “ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΦΛΟΓΑ - Hellenic Flame” (1957-1965), vividly painted in red, white and blue.

At least nine Greek Sabres survive to this day, the four of them being aircraft of the “Hellenic Flame” team.


Hasegawa first issued this kit in 1972 as the long wing F40 version and has reboxed it totally unchanged another 19 times ever since, with occasionally different decals. No short wing version was ever done, meaning you cannot directly model an earlier Sabre out of this kit, unless you perform some surgery. My specific copy was the 2007 rebox.

Upon opening the box, I was greeted with 164 light gray styrene parts, arranged in 9 sprues. Molding is expectedly old school, with raised detail allover, the styrene itself being glossy and somehow hard with not too much flash.

The cockpit is acceptable, with instrument panel, seat, stick, rudder pedals, a convincing headrest and good looking loop antennas and cockpit pressure regulator, the latter two found aft of the headrest onto the rear anti-glare area. Instruments are nicely molded “raised” onto the instrument and side panels and also onto the sidewalls, promising to look good with proper painting. No seat belts are provided. Finally, an acceptable pilot with separate hands is supplied.

Landing gear is well executed, the bays featuring sufficient detail and depth, with the exception of the total absence of the distinctive circular brake drum housings, which are merely replicated by two uninspiring holes (since this is too obvious of an omission, I keep my reservations on the possibility of some Sabre versions featuring holes there). Some vinyl tubing is to be installed in the bays, to replicate flexible lines, a nice touch. I would also not mind at all having brake lines molded onto the main gear legs. The gun bays are also nicely detailed, with their access panels optionally left unglued.The air brakes can be posed “open”, with their housings also featuring good detailing. Flaps and ailerons are separate, with the latter moveable.

A fully detailed engine is supplied, which is a nice mini model in itself, even including vinyl tubing! In order to display it attached, the kit offers the (commonly found in F-86 kits) option of a removable rear fuselage (but not a dolly, on which the rear fuselage part could be placed). A 3-piece good looking tripod jack is supposed to support the rear fuselage part once installed. Finally, a nice full depth front intake is provided, as well as intake and tail pipe covers.

Two types of auxiliary fuel tanks are supplied, as well as two Sidewinders. Clear parts are well done, with the canopy also moveable. The canopy’s supporting frame is separate, making its painting a breeze.

Instructions are the typical (excellent) Hasegawa pamphlet-style, including a nice history, a parts list and 12 very clear construction steps, with sufficient color callouts in Gunze Sangyo, Mr Color and generic naming. Two NMF similar Japanese schemes are offered, with the decals looking well registered and containing a good amount of maintenance stenciling.  


I started by assembling the 3-piece intake trunking (which contains the nose landing gear bay), then put together the 6-piece cockpit, which I placed onto the trunking top. The whole subassembly was subsequently trapped between the fuselage halves, followed by attaching the intake lip. Having decided not to display the gun bays, I permanently attached the respective panels. Basic cockpit color, including stick body, rudder pedals, rear bulkhead and seat was Hu64 Light gray, with black instrument panel, side consoles and stick grip, red seat arms and headrest and yellow/black emergency handle. Seat belts were fabricated out of masking tape.

Next major subassembly was the rear fuselage, which is a 12 -piece affair, including the tail planes, rudder and air brakes, which was assembled per the instructions (the air brakes were left apart, to be attached “open” at later stages). Having decided not to display the engine, I omitted installing the fuselage bulkheads (which were supposed to support the engine) and went on joining the front and rear fuselage parts, whereas I had beforehand made sure to secure a good amount of fishing weight immediately aft of the rear cockpit bulkhead.

Continuing with subassemblies, it was time to assemble the wing, a 13-piece affair. Since I wanted to depict a Greek bird (which had unslatted 6-3 wings), I attached the slats permanently in “retracted” position and, by studying net available drawings, added two  appropriately shaped wing fences from sheet styrene at the corresponding positions. Then the wing was attached to the fuselage. Again, fit was good. Ailerons were finally attached “neutral” and flaps “down”.

By studying net pics, I decided to make two circular housings, in order to cover the holes present in the main landing gear bays. These were fabricated from cylindrical sections of leftover wing tanks, with thin styrene sheet added at one side. They were subsequently attached onto the holes, with the area then looking closer to reality.

The correct for my version external tanks were also assembled at this point and attached, as were also the missile pylons. After some filling and sanding (not that much, actually, since fit was quite good), I took the Sabre to the paint shop!


I first applied a coat of matt black onto the front anti glare area, then masked it off. Next I went on and applied a coat of Hu11 Silver allover, including doors, landing gear parts and canopy base.. Upon drying, I carefully masked the fore (gun) and aft (exhaust) areas and painted them Testors Burned Metal. After a protective coat of Future, I proceeded to decaling.

During their early days with the Hellenic Air Force, Greek Sabres featured light blue roundels and fin flash, the latter being characteristically long. To replicate them, I used suitably sized decals from an excellent generic “Plastimodelismo” decal sheet (sadly, no longer in production). The codes were sourced from my spares. The rest of the decals were maintenance stencils, for which I used the kit supplied ones, which behaved equally excellently. A coat of Future sealed them.


I attached the gear legs, doors and all retraction arms in position, followed by the nice looking wheels which were beforehand assembled. All landing gear parts were painted silver (including doors innards), with the oleos highlighted with a fine chrome pen. The air brakes were also attached “open”. All bays were painted  green zinc chromate, with internal detailing picked up in silver, black and light gray accordingly.

Since no engine was installed, I decided to add the nicely rendered intake and exhaust covers, which I painted red. Red was also the color of the distinctive port aft fuel vent tube. The pitot tube was then added to the starboard wing, its tip painted burned metal. Finally, the cockpit pressure regulator and the distinctive radio-compass loop antenna were assembled and attached at the rear base of the canopy frame.

I decided to apply some weathering,namely black wash at the landing gear, air brakes and hinges areas, scratches on the painted insignia and stencils by silver dry brushing, fluid/grease leaks done with a fine brush using brown and black  temperas and finally some general “dirtying’, using dark colored dry pastels. A final satin (towards matt) coat gave the Sabre its final finish.

The windscreen had its well defined frames hand painted and was attached in position. The canopy transparency was affixed onto its frame with Clearfix and the complete assembly was attached “closed”. The navigation lights were represented by blobs of red and green clear paints, before calling the Hellenic Sabre done!


The best 1/32 Sabre is Kinetic’s offering (also reboxed by Italeri and Wolfpack). This kit’s design looks to have been based on the very good 1/48 Academy kit. All different-wing variants have been covered by various editions (Hasegawa only provides the long wing slatted version), whereas the normal retail prices the kit is offered are pleasantly low. Tom Cleaver stated that the Kinetic builds easily and results in an accurate and impressive model once completed. Kinetic has a winner here.

Despite its age, the Hasegawa offering is still a decent kit of the iconic Sabre. Apart from cockpit size and canopy shape, its general shape is accurate. Fit is good and detailing is acceptable. I am not sure if the circular voids found in the main wheel wells are an over simplification or a feature of some Sabre variants but, anyway, it is a fixable issue. Even out of the box, a good model can be made, with its easy construction and relatively low parts count deeming it suitable for everyone but the absolute beginner.

An interesting fact (especially for Hasegawa who is famous for maximizing its molds potential) is that, since 1972 (where this kit was first issued), only the slatted long wing version has been offered. Though a successful kit, I believe that Hasegawa would have attained far better success should they have offered all Sabre wings possibilities (with the endless attractive markings). 

A good amount of aftermarket stuff seems to exist, addressing many of the kit’s lesser areas. Everything comes at a price, though, with the modeler having to decide upon spending extra money in order to improve the Hasegawa, or go for the already great (and cheap) Kinetic, but please note that, as of 2022, both kits are difficult to find and come at unnaturally high prices! Nevertheless, it can be logically assumed that both Kinetic and Hasegawa will reissue their Sabres not very far from this day at their normal retail prices.

If you have the Hasegawa kit in your stash, or find one at a good price, by all means grab it and build it! You will not struggle to finish it and you will be rewarded with a very good looking big Sabre to proudly display at your showcase.

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

 26 July 2022

Copyright ModelingMadness.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page

Back to the Previews Index Page