PM 1/72 F-86E Sabre






One aircraft


Steve Mesner




When I was a kid, 1/72 model fighters cost 50 cents, 1/48 fighters and 1/72 twin-engine bombers cost a dollar, and Revell’s 1/72 B-17 and Monogram’s 1/48 P-38 were $2.00. The jillion-piece Monogram Phantom Mustang in 1/32 retailed for a breathtaking $5.00. That was then, this is now, and the horrible truth is that $3.00 doesn’t buy much of a model airplane anymore.

Squadron Mail Order lists the Turkish-made PM (Plastic Model) F-86E at $4.96, but regularly offers it on sale for $3.00. I added one to a recent order, figuring “For three bucks, how bad could it be?” I was soon to find out.

The box art is nice, showing a pair of Turkish Sabres in flight. On the back of the box is a full-color painting and marking guide. The box is the best thing about the kit. Don’t open it if you want to stay happy. Inside, the horror begins. The kit itself resembles nothing so much as some of Lindberg’s crude and simple 1/72 kits from the mid-1950s. For all I know, it might in fact come from old Lindberg tooling, though I have never seen or heard of a Lindberg Sabre in 1/72.


Overall shape is somewhat Sabre-like. Compared to 1/72 drawings in the Squadron “Fighting Colors” F-86 book, the fuselage is a bit short somewhere, and the wings seem to be in the ballpark of the correct size and shape. The wings have the 6-3 fences. My limited references on Turkish Sabres state that they were F-86E(M)s, the “M” meaning “modified” with the 6-3 (fenced) leading edge.

A closer look at the parts finds little if anything to like. The canopy and windscreen are molded as one piece, and it’s wrong in cross-section (too pointy at the framing line). The rear of the fuselage is more like an “A” Sabre than an “E.” There is no representation of the distinctive fairing onto which the horizontal stabilizers mount. This fairing was small on the A, enlarged on the E, but it’s just nonexistent here. I can’t think of any easy way to fix this.

Panel lines and control surfaces alike are delineated with sturdy raised lines, some of which are wrong. There is no cockpit or wheel well detail. There are no wheel wells! The wings are molded as a single piece each, and it’s very wrong in cross-section, being little more than a flat piece with rounded edges. A hole in each wing is intended to mount the rudimentary landing gear. The wheels are undetailed. The nose gear well is solid in the fuselage, as well. Also featureless are the landing gear doors--they are just thick slabs of styrene.

There are no wing drop tanks, or pylons for them. There is, however, a clear plastic display stand that is about the cheesiest looking such device I’ve ever seen. Decals are given for one Turkish aircraft. They look a bit thick, and the white in them is already starting to yellow a bit. If you really want to build a Turkish F-86, try to round up a set of decals from the Hobbycraft F-86E kit and put them on a Sabre model with the fenced 6-3 wing (Heller, Fujimi, etc.).


With better F-86 kits available from Fujimi, Heller, Hobbycraft, and even Matchbox, there’s little reason to spend any time at all trying to improve this one. (It’s even worse than the ancient Hasegawa stinker, except in the shape of the nose.) As I see it, there are only two possible uses for this kit: One, give it to a kid. The kid should be a young one who has never built a model before, or he’s likely to have bad thoughts about you. Two, glue it together in flying attitude, sand the surface completely smooth, and try to make it look like one of the old solid-wood Strombecker desk models of the 1940s and ‘50s. That’s what I’m going to do with mine, if I ever do anything at all with it.

Please don’t take this review as a blanket indictment of all PM kits. Their Sea Furies and their Fokker D. XXI (also sold under the Pioneer brand name), while not great, can at least be built into presentable models. But the PM Sabre is a complete waste of your time and money. (Your editor suggests staying away from the PM  1/72 F-100, Ta-154, and Mirage as well.)

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