Kit No. 07213
Decals: Two U.S. Air Force versions
Comments: Engraved panel lines, boxed in wheel wells, intake and exhaust, detailed pilot figure, poor cockpit detail for the scale
The North American F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter in the U.S. Air Force inventory. Sometimes called the Sabrejet, it flew for the first time on October 1, 1947 and was a transonic jet in that in could exceed the speed of sound in a dive. But the Sabre is best known as the first American jet fighter able to meet the swept-winged Soviet MiG-15 on more or less equal terms, in high-speed dogfights over the skies of Korea during the Korean War (1950–1953).
Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, Sabres emerged from the war and the dogfights of “MiG Alley” (the area of North Korea closest to Yalu River which forms its border with China), with a 10-to-1 kill ratio over the MiG. The F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940’s and was outdated by the end of the ’50s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable, and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.
Its success led to an extended production run of more than 7,800 aircraft between 1949 and 1956, in the United States, Japan and Italy. Variants were built in Canada and Australia. The Canadair Sabre added another 1,815 airframes, and the significantly redesigned CAC Sabre (sometimes known as the Avon Sabre or CAC CA-27), had a production run of 112. The Sabre was by far the most-produced Western jet fighter, with total production of all variants at 9,860 units.
Hasegawa’s F-86 features engraved panel lines, boxed in wheel wells and dive brake bays with full interior detail. The kit is unusually detailed in that it also features a complete, enclosed intake well, at the end of which there is an injection molded turbofan. The exhaust nozzle is similarly enclosed and includes the business end of a jet engine. There is a very well detailed pilot figure with a choice of two heads offering different oxygen masks.
Hasegawa clearly went to extra trouble with the detailed molding of this kit — right down to the raised detail on the main and side instrument panels — making it one of the better F-86’s available in 1/48 scale. So it is a mystery as to why the kit does not include a more detailed pilot’s seat, as the one provided is conspicuously lacking in this department. Also, for some reason a decal is provided for the instrument panel, although it is totally necessary. Those who will be drawn to this kit for its strong points may find the pilot’s seat disappointing.
Decals are provided for two U.S. Air Force versions: one is for the Wing Commander of the 21st Fighter Bomber Wing (featuring a colorful “Desert Rats” decal with a rat wearing a pilot’s helmet, apparently flying what appears to be a swept-wing desk; the second is “Miss Tena,” the Wing Commander’s aircraft of the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing.
I strongly recommend this kit, but also recommend the aftermarket Legend F-86 resin seat to complement it.