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Airfix 1/72 scale F-86F/E(M) Sabre

One can afford to buy several of these easy-to-assemble model kits and fix their shortcomings in short order.

Kit:No. A03082 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$10.99
Airfix, 44-1428-701191, available from Hornby America, 253-922-7203
Good exterior detail; separately molded opened and closed gear and ammo doors; sliding canopy; very good fit; excellent instructions; great decals
Simplified interior; no gunsight reflector; sink holes; canopy frames too thin
Injection-molded, 64 parts, decals
Welcome to the new Airfix! Lately, dozens of fresh-looking boxes have been hitting the hobby-shop shelves. Among them are some of Airfix’s evergreen staples, as well as some brand-new kits.

The Sabre is one of Airfix’s newest: In the box, you’ll find velvety-smooth injection-molded castings, excellent instructions, handy options, and beautifully printed decals. Surface detail is recessed and sharp. The cockpit interior is basic, with decals providing the detail on the instrument panel and consoles, and there is no clear piece for the gunsight reflector. The pilot’s seat is simplified, with its headrest molded in. A decent pilot figure is included. The two-piece canopy is well molded, but the engraved frames on the sliding portion are too thin. The intake trunk is only an inch deep, but that’s sufficient for this scale. The wheel/tire castings have flat spots molded in for a realistic stance.

There are a couple of firsts for Sabres in this scale. The canopy can slide open, as long as you remember to install its base before closing the fuselage. Airfix has molded both ammunition access doors separately so they can be posed open, as often seen in vintage photos. However, the little apex of the leading edge of the wing is molded onto the doors, while in reality they were separate units that had to be removed before the doors could be opened.

The kit provides some handy options, with a choice of nose wheels and separately molded open or closed landing gear doors and speed brakes. The speed brakes are formed to fit into the fuselage in the opened position, but the actuator arms are molded too short to fit as shown in the instructions.

I was impressed by the fit of the wings to the fuselage, much better than other Sabres in this scale. The only place I needed filler was a sink hole on the bottom of the rear end of the fuselage. I liked the mounting tabs and holes for the tiny drop-tank stabilizers and fuel-dump pipe. The kit comes with a pair of bombs for an Italian Air Force jet, but they are poorly molded.

I chose to model The Huff, a colorful USAF Korean War Sabre with dragon artwork that dominates the left side of the fuselage. This aircraft, flown by Lt. James Thompson, also had artwork on the right side of the fuselage, but that was not included in the decals.

I painted my Sabre with Alclad aluminum, then accented with Testor Metalizers. After a sealing coat of Metalizer sealer, I added the decals. They went on fine, but the buzz numbers on the rear fuselage were a bit too large. The black-bordered yellow bands for the wings and fuselage are opaque and fit well.

Perhaps the best thing about Airfix’s new Sabre is its down-to-earth price. One can afford to buy several of these easy-to-assemble kits and fix their shortcomings in short order. I spent only 13 hours on this model, and it’s simple enough for beginners to tackle.
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