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Trumpeter 1/144 scale F-86F-30-NA Sabre

Kit: No. 01320
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, distributed by Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $4.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 32 parts, decals
Pros: Good exterior and landing gear detail, good fit
Cons: Decals are translucent, landing gear legs a bit too long

Don't let the somewhat toy-like box art fool you. Despite its diminutive size, Trumpeter's F-86 doesn't give up much in the detail department. The gear doors and speed brakes are as detailed as those you would find in a current 1/72 scale kit, although they are about as thick. Panel lines are engraved but a bit overdone. The decals provide marking for one Korean War Sabre.

I flattened lead weights to pack below the cockpit to keep the nose down. Then I was ready to glue the entire airframe together which took only one sitting. I applied filler on the nose and on a line across the lower forward joint of the one piece wing. Be careful; the wing comes with the Sabre's characteristic bent pitot probe molded on - mine is now hiding in my carpet waiting to stab me later. A little trimming followed by filler blended in the tail. Trumpeter has molded the horizontal tail in one piece, eliminating the need to establish the dihedral. I left off the drop tanks, landing gear, doors and speed brakes to ease painting and decaling.

I finished my Sabre with SnJ Spray Metal, except for the landing gear and speed brakes, which are Testor steel. After polishing some panels, I added the decals. They went on well, but the yellow bands are translucent and too light. The Indian-head squadron badge is oversize. The numbers for each set of wing stripes are reversed top to bottom, and decal No. 10 which completes the fuselage band isn't mentioned, but once you get going it becomes obvious what goes where. It's easy to forget to put the turbine warning stripe on the fuselage prior to the stars and bars - ask me how I know.

After the decals dried, I painted and added the interior. The canopy fit like a glove, while the windscreen needed slight trimming. All the small exterior details came last. The landing gear appears too long, and the nose doesn't have the slightly crouched look that is a mark of the breed, but the detail is outstanding. It would be a fairly simple task to lower the gear to acquire the proper stance.

Although tiny (just 3" in span and length), Trumpeter's Sabre is an inexpensive, dimensionally accurate, detailed model. I recommend it to anyone not afraid of small parts and natural-metal finishes.

- Chuck Davis


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