Special Hobby 1/48 F-86K Sabre

KIT #: SH48126
PRICE: $25.00 'used'
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken



The North American F-86D/K/L Sabre, initially known as the YF-95, and widely known informally as the "Sabre Dog", was an American transonic jet fighter aircraft. Developed for the United States Air Force in the late 1940s, it was an interceptor derivative of the North American F-86 Sabre. While the original F-86 Sabre was conceived as a day fighter, the F-86D was specifically developed as an all-weather interceptor. Originally designated as the YF-95 during development and testing, it was re-designated the F-86D before production began, despite only sharing 25% commonality of parts with the original F-86. Production models of the F-86D/K/L differed from other Sabres in that they had a larger fuselage, a larger afterburning engine, and a distinctive nose radome. The most-produced Sabre Dog variants (the D and L models) also mounted no guns, unlike the Sabre with its six M3 Browning .50 caliber machine guns, instead mounting air-to-air rockets.

The F-86K was the NATO version of F-86D; MG-4 fire control system; four 20 mm M24A1 cannon with 132 rounds per gun; APG-37 radar. 120 were built by North American, 221 were assembled by Fiat. The K had the forward fuselage extended to fit the cannon.


When Monogram released its superb F-86D kit in 2001 under the ProModeler label, it was hoped that the gun-armed F-86K would follow. This did not happen so it was up to aftermarket to provide this variant. That is until Special Hobby released this kit in 2014. Two boxings were produced. One had Dutch, Italian, and Norwegian markings. The other, this boxing, has French and German options.

Special Hobby also released a 1/72 version of this back in 2008. It is not surprising that there are similarities in the engineering of the two kits. One is a photo etch fret that includes a large number of very small brass squares to be used as the vortex generators that were on the stabilizers. While the p.e. is a more accurate representation, attaching all those is beyond the ability of most modelers. A recommendation would be to attach a very thin section of plastic card to the area, then cut the card, leaving the small squares. This would still be a bit time consuming, but nothing like attaching dozens of brass bits using superglue. This fret also includes the base plates for some of the vortex generators, fins for the drop tanks and some items for the interior.

You are also provided resin for the exhaust, the cockpit seat, and replacement parts for the main gear well. As with all Special Hobby kits, you have to build up any items that will eventually be boxed structures like the cockpit, nose gear well, and main gear well. With the nose gear well, you have to install the nose gear during construction or it will not fit later. This is not the case with the main gear well.

The wings have separate slats and all of the slat tracks are separate items that will need to be attached. The nose radome/intake front piece is separate, which is a good thing as you'll need nose weight with this one. While nothing is listed in terms of weight, I'd use at least 7-8 grams and maybe more just to be sure. There will be room for it.

Back at the landing gear, many of the doors include the little actuator hinges so care will be needed when attaching these. Looking at period photos of F-86D/K aircraft, it seems the inner main gear doors were lowered as much as they were closed. Museum planes generally have them closed, so your choice for this. For things under wings you have a pair of drop tanks and a pair of Sidewinders. Pylon attachment for both is a butt join. The Sidewinders were only appropriate for the French plane as apparently the German Sabres did not carry them.

Instructions are well done with Gunze paint references. There is an addendum sheet for the use of the resin main gear well pieces. Markings are for four aircraft. Two French planes from ECTT 13 in 1960. These planes are in unpainted metal. Two German planes are from 3.WaSLw in unpainted metal and from 2./JG 74 in camouflage. The decal sheets are nicely printed and should be nice and thin.


One rarely sees this one built and I'm sure it is due to all the tiny etched vortex generators. I also wonder if Special Hobby managed to get the fuselage length increased. Regardless, those who do end up building this one will have a very nice addition to their Sabre collection.  



November 2021

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