Fujimi 1/72 F-86F-40 Sabre
|KIT #:||722559 (F-58)|
|PRICE:||$1800 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
2014 release 'Value Set'
The F-86 is one of those planes that just seemed to have gotten most everything right, all rolled up into one package. It was well armed, handled fairly well and for the time, it was fast. It was also able to be upgraded and served in the air arms of dozens of nations. One of those nations, and one of the two who license built them, was Japan. Japan chose the F-86F-40 version that had longer wings and reverted back to the slats for lower speed handling. The longer wings added to the aircraft's lift which benefitted turning and provided, along with the slats, a lower landing speed. While the 20mm cannon was becoming the 'go to' armament, the .50 calibre Browning was still potent enough in most cases.
Japan's Mitsubishi-built -40s were also wired for Sidewinder missiles, though the early Sidewinders were not very reliable. Such was the popularity of the aircraft that they remained in service for many years in the trainer and hack roles. They also served with the Blue Impulse years after they were gone from regular service. The quickest way to tell a Mitsubishi built F-86F-40 from a North American built aircraft is that the Japanese version has a UHF antenna on the upper nose. Many of these planes were later recycled for drones and other auxiliary services, or ended up in civilian hands for those wealthy enough to afford a jet warbird.
The Fujimi Sabre series was probably the first modern F-86F series of kits. Engraved panel lines and nice molding made these the darling of Sabre modelers for decades. Even today, many modelers prefer these over the Hobbcraft or Airfix kits. The Hobbycraft kits are blatant knock-offs of this kit without the decent fit. Fujimi basically did three boxings depending on the wing and are the only ones to do a -40 if you discount the horrid Hasegawa offering of the early 1970s.
The cockpit tub is also part of the intake trunking and the lower trunking piece has the nose gear well. Decals are provided for instruments and side consoles though there is raised detailing on both of those if you'd rather paint. A fair representation of the seat and a control stick completes this assembly. There is also an initial compressor stage that fits behind the trunking.
3 grams of nose weight is required prior to closing the fuselage haves and trapping the cockpit assembly and the exhaust. This latter item is fairly short compared to what Airfix provides but is fine for most of us. Fujimi molds the canopy glass and frame separately which I don't like, but there it is. A separate windscreen is provided and you could pose the canopy open if you wish. The nose intake piece is separate and you will need to carefully attach the UHF antenna to it. I'd wait until later in the build to attach this antenna.
You can also pose the speed brakes open or closed and so you can do the photo recon version, the gun trough pieces are separate. Gear and wheels are well done and you are provided with the later spoked nose wheel which is accurate for the Japanese F-40 version. When assembling the wings, you need to open holes for the drop tanks and missile pylons if you are using those. You can build this gear up if you wish though you'll need to provide your own stand. The result of this is that the forward nose gear door needs to be cut for gear down. The missiles are early AIM-9Bs and the tanks are Japanese style with no fins. I like that Fujimi provides intake and exhaust covers as that long intake trunk is a bear to remove the seams.
The decal sheet allows you to build a Sabre from any JASDF unit except for 501 squadron, which had RF-86s. The large decal sheet is very nicely done and being a fairly recent release, these decals should offer no issues. This is a Value Set, which means that it also includes a sheet for the Blue Impulse display team. In addition there are sprues for the USAF drop tanks and a sprue for the RF-86's camera bulges and gun blanking plates.
As mentioned this should be your first choice for a long wing F-86F. The shorter wing -25/30 kits from Fujimi are also a good replacement for the currently difficult to find Airfix offering. It would have been nice if the kit were not molded in white and had separate slats, but it isn't a deal breaker by any means. For those who are going to use this kit for a North American built plane, there is a fairly prominent scoop on the right fuselage half that was only on the Mitsubishi built planes and that will need to be removed. Otherwise, this is a very nice kit and is fairly available.
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