Special Hobby 1/72 F-86K Sabre

KIT: Special Hobby 1/72 F-86K Sabre
KIT #: 72146
PRICE: $26.40 at GreatModels
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit with photo etch fret, resin wheels, and vacuformed canopies

The F-86K  was the NATO version of F-86D. In place of the rocket tray, four 20mm guns were installed in the nose. This required lengthening the fuselage to maintain proper center of gravity with the majority of the lengthening taking place in the area just behind the cockpit section. Many F-86Ks were outfitted with Sidewinder missile rails to add to the guns.
120 were built by North American and 221 kits for assembly by Fiat, North American model NA-222 (first 50 as F-86K-NF), NA-213 (F-86K-13 through K-19 blocks) and NA-221 (125 F-86K-NF assembled by Fiat) and NA-242 (final 45 F-86K-NF assembled by Fiat). Since the rockets were powerful, but really inaccurate, except for a short range firing against bombers, the NATO night interceptor units needed a different machine. It had MG-4 fire control system coupled with four 20 mm M-24A1, with 132 rpg each. It retained, despite being simpler, the same APG-37 "Sabre-dog" radar.

Many of us were hoping that someone would produce a version of the gun nose Sabre Dog and when Special Hobby issued its somewhat troubled F-86H, there were many who felt that the F-86K was not long in coming as it shared many of the same parts.

Well, though it has been less than easy to get here in the US, Great Models finally got some in stock and so one was ordered.

Packaged in their usual letter box that few really like, the kit as well as the decals and photo etch and resin bits were in a pair or resealeble poly bags. I'm glad that many companies are using these as it allows one to fondle plastic without worries about losing pieces.

As expected, one of the three major sprues is a carry-over from the F-86H kit. This one has the wings and landing gear and drop tanks on it. A new sprue for the fuselage halves is given and I'm going to assume it has been properly lengthened to match the real aircraft. A third new sprue contains all the rest of the parts. This sprue has very slick plastic (as in shiny and looks wet). It also has a considerable amount of flash on it; especially on the smaller and more delicate parts. A few of the parts, like the cockpit tub, show definite flow lines so it will be interesting to see if these are visible under the paint.

Couple of things of interest. First is that after the major boo-boo regarding the F-86H canopy, Special Hobby reverted to vac canopies for this one and they are the proper shape and design. Secondly, the photo etch fret includes the drop tank fin end plates that were missing from the F-86H kit. This fret also has color instrument and console panels, something I very much like to see. It also has the zillion small photo etch vortex generators that probably one in a thousand modelers will be able to actually install. As nice as those are, I'd rather have these molded on the stabs. The aircraft are also all armed with Sidewinders. The wing for all of these is the long F-40 slatted wing. Since Special Hobby is also kitting an F-86L, you'll see all these bits save the fuselage halves in that boxing as well.

Instructions are well done and show all the construction steps in crisply drawn illustrations. You'll notice, as did I, that there are no locator holes or positions for the drop tanks or sidewinder pylons. One must measure x millimeters from the root to find where they fit. Markings are for three NATO aircraft, all in unpainted metal. The box art plane is from 700 Squadron of the Dutch Air Force in 1962. An Italian version from 23 Gruppo, 51 Aerobrigada (cat and mice) is provided as is a Norwegian plane from 337 squadron in 1965. Decals are superbly printed and have a myriad of data markings. The color and markings guide is in full color with Gunze paint references


Though not for the beginner, if one has several short run kits under one's belt, this one will make an excellent addition to any F-86 Sabre collection.



April 2008

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