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Special Hobby 1/72 scale F-86H "Sabre Hog"

Kit: SH72120
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Special Hobby from Czech Republic, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $27
Comments: Injection-molded, 127 parts (68 photoetched), decals
Pros: Good fit, needed subject
Cons: Some parts need to be modified or scratchbuilt
After some teething troubles, the F-86H performed up to its specifications, but the lack of a war for it to fight and the advent of supersonic and more capable successors (including North American's own F-100) relegated the aircraft to minimal Cold War duties with USAF and Air Guard units. After their USAF phase-out, the Navy employed them as drone targets, and the F-86H passed into relative obscurity. Called "The last of the sport models" by its pilots, the H has been largely ignored in model form - until now.
Special Hobby's kit, molded in gray plastic with recessed panel lines, is a moderately easy build, and includes optional late-model, externally-ribbed stabilizers as separate parts. The photoetched instrument panel features a film backing for the gauges, but needed trimming to fit, so some detail was lost around its edges. Photoetched parts enhance the injectionmolded seat and cockpit tub; both look great when finished.
Some of the photoetched parts were impossibly small for my modeling abilities. I omitted the 26 tiny vortex-generator vanes for the stabilizer and aft fuselage, and inserted the wing fences into slots which I cut into the wings, rather than trying to build them into two-piece assemblies as instructed.
Assembly was straightforward with only minor filling and fitting needed. No parts-locating pins are provided, so take care aligning the 200-gallon drop tanks and pylons with each other and with the wing. The drop tanks' vertical fins also need to be fabricated by the builder. The landing gear is sturdy and well-executed.
The injection-molded transparent parts are a little thick, but are nice and clear; the windshield is slightly wider than the fuselage where it fits, so prior to final sanding, I glued it in place and carefully filled in around its edges. The F-86H canopy was the "clamshell" type, but on the model, you'll have to cut and separate the parts in order to pose it open.
The decals worked great and give three choices of colorful markings. Though the 413th FDW decal option which I chose includes Lt. Col. George Laven's name on the canopy, the photo of this aircraft in Earl Berlin's Ginter-series book on the F- 86H show other stenciling there. The green band, slightly too short to completely encircle the nose, needed some slicing and lots of decal solvent to conform; I cut the full-fin decals apart and applied their individual parts separately.
I used Gunze Sangyo acrylics and Testors Metalizers for finishing and spent 22 hours on the build, several with the metal bits and the decals. The average builder can make Special Hobby's F-86H into an attractive model, but the tiny photoetched parts put a detailed replica into the "experienced builder" category.
This was one of those miracle projects which came out lots better than I'd envisioned. The closer the model came to completion, the more I kept thinking, "Yeah, baby!" with each added step. Special Hobby's F-86H was a pleasure to build and nicely fills a void in model jet collections.
- Walt Fink


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