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Airfix 1/48 scale North American F-86F-40 Sabre plastic model kit review

Plenty of options, but a few fit issues, too
Kit:A08110 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$50
Nice detail; well-written instructions; optional variants
Fit issues with wings; thick parts; no seatbelts; grainy surface
Injection-molded plastic (blue-gray, clear); 154 parts; decals
The Airfix 1/48 scale F-86F-40 plastic scale model kit includes many options, like markings for the Norwegian “Flying Jokers” and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 1st Air Wing, open or closed gun bays and speed brakes, deployed or stowed landing gear, open canopy, two different ejection seats, engine covers, and a pilot figure. Whoa!

[[The F-86F-40 was built for the Japanese Air Defense Force with a longer wing, which the U.S. Air Force adopted as the standard for its F-86F fleet.]]

Upon first inspection, the surfaces of the fuselage and wing parts appeared grainy, so I primed them in preparation for light sanding to smooth them out.

Building the F-86F-40 starts with the intake trunk, to which I glued the cockpit. Deciding to make the Norwegian “Flying Jokers” jet, I chose the Martin Baker ejection seat rather than the North American version, as the former was in a photograph of the plane. I opted to have the port side of the gun bay and speed brake open to display the interior detail, but I closed them on the starboard side.

The intake and exhaust pipes are installed in one fuselage half before gluing the remaining half into place. I found that the halves were offset and that they needed to be sanded and blended together.

The Sabre’s wings build up from many parts. I found the top and bottom wing halves would not mesh well with the wing extensions, noting thickness differences and a gap that needed filling and sanding.

The filler piece (No. E15) is thick and does not blend with the fuselage. If sanded down, it does not match up to the tail piece. I sanded the top surface to blend the edges in. Inspection hatches (parts E13 and E17) were also thick but could be sanded down to fit flush with the fuselage.

I painted the fuselage Tamiya Bare Metal (No. AS-12) with Medium Grey (No. XF-20) for the center wings and tail. To mask the gold on the sides of the nose, I photocopied the decal sheet, cut out the pinstripe, and taped it to the sides before applying Revell Email Color Gold (No. 94).

The decals went down without any solvent. The wingtip decals do not wrap around the front and sides. I painted the edges with Testors Flat Cherry Red (No. 1197).

Airfix’s new 1/48 scale F-86F-40 Sabre kit has lots of possibilities. There are some fit issues, but none of them are insurmountable as long as you have patience and basic modeling skills. I spent about 30 hours building my Sabre, with much of that devoted to fitting and masking. The Haynes North American F-86 Sabre Owner’s Workshop Manual by Mark Linney (Zenith Press, ISBN 978-0-760-34292-3) proved helpful. The Norwegian Aviation Museum has this aircraft on display, and you can find images of it online.
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