Airfix 1/48 Sabre F.4
KIT #: A08109
PRICE: 52.00 delivered
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 Release


The Canadair Sabre was produced in two significant batches. The first, the Mk. 2 and Mk. 4s, with fewer than 1,000 produced, were only slightly different from their US counterparts, which was the F-86E. The second run, the Mk. 5s and Mk. 6s of similar numbers, were patterned on the later versions of the US Sabre with larger wings for improved maneuverability while replacing the original General Electric J47 engine with the locally designed more-powerful Avro Canada Orenda.

In mid-1952, the Sabre Mk.4 went into production with the first one flown on 28 August 1952. Apart from some minor structural and systems changes, including improved air-conditioning and gun sight, the Mk 2 and the Mk 4 were identical. Of 438 Mk 4s built, approximately 70 were used temporarily by the RCAF, all surviving examples being passed to the RAF. The other Sabre 4s went directly to the RAF under a mutual aid program, equipping 11 RAF squadrons. The majority served in West Germany with NATO, with two squadrons being based in the UK as part of RAF Fighter Command. The Sabre Mk.4 served with the RAF until mid-1956 when they were replaced by Hawker Hunters. The survivors were overhauled in the UK, fitted with '6-3' wing modifications and handed to the USAF (which had funded these aircraft) which in turn passed them on to other NATO members, with the majority going to Italy and Yugoslavia.


I have always liked the F-86 Sabre. I've built kits in this scale from all the major manufacturers so when I had enough cash back from one of my credit cards, I decided to use that to buy the Airfix version. Now one thing about the Airfix kit is that it is a rather odd bird. It is the Sabre F.4 after it was modified with the 6-3 wing. While some will say it was like that from the get go, it wasn't until rather late in RAF use that the new wing was incorporated. This made it what was later known as an F-86E(M) with the M standing for modified. Now, can this kit be used for a Korean War F-86 and the answer is not really due to the wing change. Not to say that no Sabre Mk.4s were used, but few had the 6-3 wing. One really needs to research things in this regard. For most folks, you could easily build this as an F-86F-25/30 as the external differences were miniscule.

Once one gets over the huge box in which it rests, the kit does offer some interesting engineering compared to the Academy and Hasegawa kits. One thing is that it has both gun compartments able to be viewed along with the area of the ammo cans. You are also provided a closed bay option if you don't want to fuss with it. Same goes for the speed brakes with an open and closed option. From the look of things, this is the first Sabre kit to correctly portray the droop of these when open.

Another nice feature is that you are provided covers for the intake and exhaust so you don't have to sweat filling the intake and exhaust seams. Main wheel wells are multiple pieces, unlike other kits where the main gear well is molded in the lower wing. An interesting engineering feature is that the ailerons and wing tips are a single piece that is added to the finished wing. There are also quite a few inserts for the fuselage including a separate fin fillet insert and one just in front of this feature that are normally molded in the fuselage halves in other kits. The landing lights can be posed extended, though you'll not see this unless they are undergoing maintenance. For the retracted position, the insert for this is clear plastic that you'll need to mask. I think I prefer the method used with other kits.

I should mention that the cockpit is nicely done with some belt detail on the seat back. A pilot figure is included for those who like to incorporate this feature. Two different styles of drop tank are included with one being the smaller Korean War version and the other a larger tank with end plates on the fin tips. The canopy can be posed open if one wishes. To round out the options, there are both early and later nose wheels.

The instruction book is well done with the usual Humbrol paint numbers. Two markings options in dark green/grey over azure blue are provided along with the usual mass of stencils. The box art plane is with 3 squadron and lots of color is one while the other with 4 squadron is fairly plain. There are aftermarket decals out there if you wish something different. Kit decals are nicely printed and should cause no issues.


I look forward to giving this one a try when I get around to it. It seems to be a bit fiddly in places, but like all kits, one won't really know until it gets built. I would like to hope that Airfix will produce a proper slatted E or even a slatted Sabre 6 with the proper 'sugar scoops'. I guess time will tell. For your viewing pleasure, the box art markings from a Modeldecal sheet on a HobbyBoss 1/72 Sabre.


January 2024

Copyright All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission from the editor.

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