Airfix 1/72 Sabre F.4/F-86E(M) Sabre

KIT #: A03083
PRICE: $11.75 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The F-86 was one of the most successful US fighters of the early/mid 1950s. Due as much to its success in Korea, it was an aircraft that was highly sought by a variety of US-friendly nations. One of those was the UK and while waiting for its Hunter to be de-bugged, was provided with Sabres for the RAF. These planes were license built by Canadair and fairly equivalent to the F-86E. These aircraft were later provided to other nations. 


Hornby's work at re-inventing Airfix has been going full bore for a couple of years now and the difference between now and then is obvious to even the most daft. New kits to replace some of the older ones is the mantra or so it seems and here is one to put to pasture the old Heller mold that the company was using. Not surprising is that the kit has been re-issued with little more than a change of decals.

Molded very much like all of its new kits, the engraving may be a bit much for some, but most of us can deal with it OK. Four standard grey sprues and one clear one for the canopy and windscreen come in the now standard folded cardboard box. This one is made in India as are a number of Hornby products. 

So let us get the the straight Sabre bits. This one has a 6-3 non-slatted wing with a fence. Sabre people realize that pretty much it is the wing that determines the accuracy of the markings to be used. Heaven forbid that some one put slatted wing Sabre markings on a fixed wing F-86. Heads will roll, I tell you! The kit has a nice cockpit which includes a pilot figure. No harness on the bang seat which is pretty much like the real thing, only much simplified. Decals for instruments, which is OK. An intake section is included with the upper piece having '3 Grams' engraved on it. Now this means that 3 grams of weight is needed.

The wing can have pylons added to the inner section for the use of bombs if one so wishes. Now I'm not sure if the USAF version is the fighter bomber -35 or not, but in this scale, it probably doesn't matter and those wanting to use the pylons and bombs will need to do a bit of research if accuracy is important. The kit has well done landing gear with flattened tires included and two styles of nose wheel. There are separate 'gear up' gear doors with additional reinforcement to allow them to be easily installed, a nice touch. The same goes for the separate speed brakes; a closed option is given. It will be interesting to see if the molding is such that these brakes are properly drooped down when open. In addition to the bombs, the standard early drop tanks are provided for the outer stations. This is topped by a two piece canopy/windscreen that can be posed open if one wishes.  

Kit instructions are well drawn with the usual Humbrol paint numbers in place of real paint names except for the camo and markings guide where the colors used on the outside are identified. Markings are for two planes. One is a 112 Squadron aircraft in standard RAF camouflage of the day. The other is an unpainted metal Yugoslav aircraft, a nice addition. Decals are well printed and include a mass of data markings.


Since this kit's release some ten years back, I've built several of them. They build quite well and while there are a few issues, nothing that is insurmountable. One note is that the gun trough panel is not really the right shape being too sharp of an angle on the lower part. This can be fixed if you wish by filling in the seam and rescribing it, but most will just leave it as it is. See image below. The lower wing/fuselage fit could also be better, but that is all part of building kits. I would consider this to be a good one and if you can locate one at a decent price, I encourage you to go for it.

May 2022

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