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Kitty Hawk 1/32 scale F-86D Dog Sabre

Kitty Hawk’s big F-86D Sabre Dog kit looks great just sitting in the box. You get seven sprues of light gray plastic and one in clear, as well as a photoetched-metal fret with seat belts and some kind of shroud for the speed brakes (which I didn’t see in references, so I didn’t use them).

Options abound. The rear fuselage can be left removable to expose the exhaust, although that’s all you’ll see. The rocket tray under the chin can be posed open or closed, as can the canopy and speed brakes. The kit features complete intake trunking, engine, and exhaust can, and the cockpit assembly, nose-gear bay and rocket-tray bay all attach to it. All of those internal components complicate alignment.

Decals provide markings for six versions. Unfortunately, the decals have a flat finish that looks out of place on the mostly natural-metal finishes suggested.

The ejection seat looks great in the cockpit, especially with the photoetched-metal seat belts. The cockpit tub went together pretty well, but the rear mounting tabs that plug into the slots on the fuselage sides were not completely molded in my kit. This might explain some alignment problems I encountered later.

Decals provide instrument panel and side console detail, but the molded relief is so nice that I hand-painted them instead.

The intake trunking, nose-gear bay, and rocket bay went together without a hitch.

You won’t see most of the pretty-complete engine once the model is built, but core parts are required to align the other components.

Now, all of these subassemblies — cockpit, rocket bay, and engine — attach to the intake before everything is sandwiched by the fuselage halves. I suggest gluing these components together, then plugging everything into the fuselage before the glue sets, making sure all of the tabs are properly located. Don’t glue them into the slots, just place it in the fuselage and tape the halves together as the glue dries.

Install 1.15 ounces of ballast in the nose to keep the nose wheel grounded; there’s plenty of room in front of the cockpit above the intake trunk.

When you glue the fuselage together, let the core assembly float. That gives you some play during installation of the lower fuselage parts. I didn’t and ended up with alignment issues between the belly sections (parts C17 and C20). I clamped both pieces front to back to mate them. I don’t know what caused all this. It could have been because of the short-shot tabs on the cockpit tub or the fact that I glued the core assembly into the starboard side fuselage half first.

You get a detailed radar array, but there’s no provision for the radome to be removable. I skipped it and just glued the radome in place.

In Step 12, make sure you use the correct intake lip (C12), because the other part (F14) is for a yet-to-be-released F-86K. Sand about 1⁄16" from the end of the intake trunk or the intake will sit too far forward.

If you’re going to glue the front and rear fuselages together, like I did, there are a few things to keep in mind. Don’t use any of the bulkhead parts (D6, D18, and D19), because they just mess up the fit. I sanded 1⁄16" from the end of the jet tube (part D44) to get the fit right.

The wings and flaps were trouble-free. Trim the outside of the main wheel well ends (parts G25 and G26) to improve the fit of the wings to the fuselage in Step 18.

The speed brakes fit perfectly in the closed position. Four photoetched-metal parts are supposed to fit the brake hinges, but I didn’t see anything in my references.
The decals let the kit down, starting with the markings’ flat finish; it’s difficult to correct that look on natural-metal finishes, especially on clear-film sections between letters. The thin decals curl around the backing paper, complicating application.

The model matches photos in F-86 in Action (Squadron/Signal, ISBN 978-0-89747-282-1). Fighting Colors: F-86 in Color (Squadron/Signal, ISBN 978-0-89747-110-7) was useful for finishing information.

Kitty Hawk’s big Dog Sabre takes a little work — I spent 37 hours on it — but it looks great when finished.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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