Academy 1/48 F-86F Sabre Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Sweet Sabre kit
North American developed a derivative version of the USN's straight-wing FJ-1 Fury concept for the Army Air Force. This initial version, dubbed XP-86, was approved in May 1945. Due to the disappointing results in the straight-winged design, and North American's access to Messerschmitt design data after the end of the war, the straight-winged Sabre and Fury were scrapped in favor of a swept design. This redesigned prototype, the YP-86 first flew in October 1947.
The first production version, the F-86A, entered combat when the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group deployed to theater in November 1950. The following day, one of the 4 FIG Sabres scored its first MiG-15 kill. As more aircraft and trained crews became available, the Sabre was able to re-capture and maintain air superiority over the Korean skies.
Based on lessons learned in fighting the MiG-15, North American engineers incorporated improvements into the wings, tail, engines and avionics as supplemental F-86 versions. The F-86F incorporated the J47-GE-27 engine of 5,910 lb thrust and 200 gallon external tanks (compared to the 5,200 lb thrust and 120 gallon external tanks of the F-86E).
The F-86's wing also underwent a series of changes in its life. Most Sabres received the slatted short wing off the production line, and this was replaced with a wing of greater span and no leading edge slats. The performance improvement was dramatic. However, after further testing, the Air Force found that a long wing that included the slats was the best of all configurations.
When Academy first released this kit, it caused a pleasant stir in the community. Why? Too many people assumed that it was a copy of the Hasegawa kit released during the same timeframe. Not true at all!
While both kits feature finely scribed panel lines and details, the Academy kit features open gun bays, a load of weapons options, and a complete engine and engine stand. Not bad for a kit that is a few dollars cheaper than the Hasegawa version!
The Hasegawa kit represents the final slatted long-wing configuration, though the slats are molded up and locked. The Academy kit wing represents the earlier unslatted wing. There are a number of flashed-over holes in the bottom of the wing, which enables the builder to do an air superiority bird, or one of the fighter-bomber Sabres.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees (duplicates not shown), plus a single tree of clear parts. One thing that gets my attention is the nicely detailed J47 engine, intake duct, and the internal fuselage structure to mount the engine. In addition, an engine stand is provided should you wish to display your engine separately.
You can see in these photos that an interesting array of external stores including:
- Two types of external fuel tanks
- Early AIM-9 Sidewinders
In addition, the six 50 caliber machine guns are provided separately for your gun bays.
Decals are provided for two different examples:
- F-86F, 51-2910, 39 FIS/51 FIW, 'Beautious Butch II', the mount of ace Capt Joseph McConnell
- F-86F, 51-12958, 39 FIS/51 FIW, 'The Paper Tiger', the mount of ace Capt Harold Fischer
If you are allergic to bare metal paint schemes, then you are in luck! Leading Edge decals has issued set 48.10 which feature camouflaged RCAF Sabres. In addition, numerous other Air Forces around the world camouflaged their Sabres, so you can still feed your Sabre fix and avoid bare metal.
In any case, the award for best F-86F kit in 1/48 scale goes to Academy!
This kit is recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!