I only deal with RCAF Sabres, so I don't know much about F-86Ds, Hs, and Ls, but I've seen lots of comments on 1/72 Sabres recently on some of the boards after the recent issue of the new Airfix kit. Much of it I find a little odd...so Sabres for discussion.
Fujimi: Issued as both a F-86F-30 and F-86F-40. Really nice kit with great scribing and good detail. However, it has always looked really fat in the nose and cockpit area to me, almost like a cross between a F-86F and F-86H. Speed brakes are square, which they aren't in real life. It also has a intake on the rear fuselage which I believe is a JASDF only addition, remember to remove it for a Korean War bird. Tanks and Sidewinders for under the wings. Closed slats only on the F-40 wing. Probably the best place to start for a F-86F even with the fat nose area.
Hobbycraft/Academy: This is the kit I get most frustrated about when it is discussed online. No matter what Hobbycraft or Academy say, or for that matter "the experts," neither of these kits can be built as any USAF F-86. These kits are Orenda engined Sabre 5s and Sabre 6s. When Canada changed engines, vents and panel lines were altered for the Orenda engines, and these kits capture most of those changes. Also, the slatted 6-3 wing was used on no USAF Sabre. Both kits are missing the sugar scoops that were retrofitted to RCAF Sabre 5s and 6s. As for the kits themselves, they are not quite as nice or as detailed as the Fujimi kit, and the scribing is a little less crisp. They also have those square airbrakes and at times seem "inspired" by the Fujimi kit. The slats are separate in the Sabre 6 boxing, but the area under the slats is not correct being recessed. Another interesting anomaly with this kit is that Academy modified it slightly when they started reboxing it. The canopy was retooled to include scribing for the ADF antenna, while the nose gear and cockpit assemblies were modified to make assembly easier. (Good.) Obviously the best place to start for a Sabre 5 or Sabre 6.
Hobbyboss: It appears from some online builds, that something is off with the shape, and it sits way too high on its landing gear. Issued as a F-86F-30 with the 6-3 hard wing and a F-86F-40 with the slatted 6-3 wing with extensions. Basic easy build kit. Looks like a fun weekend project kind of kit.
Heller: Old school with raised lines. I'm not sure what Heller was going for here, it is sold as a F-86F, but the kit is a mishmash of Sabre 6 and F-86F features. Oddly the wing chord is a little short, so while not 100% accurate, it is the closed we have out of the box to a Korean War F-86E. It also is much slimmer then the Fujimi kit, which I think is correct, but the tail is substantially shorter then the Fujimi and Hobbycraft/Academy kits. I'm not sure whose tail is correct. No underwing stores other then tanks. Detail is actually pretty good for a 70s kit, I've always believed that during this time period Heller's kits were way head of their time.
Airfix: Have one on the way, but the online sprue shots look promising. Bombs and pylons are included which is a first in 1/72. Another 6-3 hard winged F-86F-30. Arg. (It will also be issued in the new year as a 6-3 hard winged Sabre 4.) No matter how good this kit is, I feel this is a major missed opportunity for Airfix. I get why they want a Sabre in their line, but if they had done a slatted wing F-86E/Sabre 2/4 they could have cornered the market, rather then having just another 6-3 hard wing Sabre. And it doesn't make sense, as the F-86E would have allowed for a Korean war boxing, and the Sabre 2 would have allowed for a RAF boxing... But the good news is that it may be possible they tooled other wings based up on the breakdown of the parts... More comments when I get the kit.
"However, it has always looked really fat in the nose and cockpit area to me, almost like a cross between a F-86F and F-86H."
This is the best piece of minutiae I've ever read.
I think we have found the next Cranky Canuck column. (Say that three times fast!) Stolen!
Slatted wing would have been fine for an early Sabre 4 as well
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