The F-86 Sabre jet fighter was built by North American Aviation in the late forties. In the Korean War (1950 - 1953) it was claimed to have shot down Mig15s with a kill ratio of 1.8 to1. My interest in the aircraft started when in the late fifties the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) based two squadrons of the Australian-built version of the type at the air base next to my school in Butterworth . I saw the aircraft flying in, out of and around the school daily. On its base leg, the distance from a Sabre to me sitting in my classroom is so close that it fills up almost half the window. I could see the pilot turning his head in the half open cockpit. The interior of the sun-heated bubble cockpit was so hot that he slid back his canopy to let in some cool air. On one of the arranged school visits to the base, I was shown the cockpit controls and instruments. The memory lives on.
Fifty years later, I saw an Italieri plasmo kit in a hobby shop and decided that I must build one. The 1/32 scale was perfect as I already had a similar-scaled ready-built Messerschmitt Me262 Swallow in my "hangar". The two aircraft would make good size comparison. Below is a brief history of the construction process.
The last time I had built a plasmo was probably more than ten years ago. It was a 1/48 scale Airfix Panavia Tornado GR1 but I broke it when moving house. Brushes, paints and other equipment had long been disposed off, so I had to start buying afresh.
I opted for the F-86F-30 version depicting the aircraft known as "The Huff" flown by Lt. James Thompson of 39th Squadron operating in Suwon, Korea in 1953. A large dragon was painted on the right fuselage of his aircraft after he had shot down a MiG-15 which had a dragon painted on it.
THE INSTRUCTION BOOKLET
THE JET INTAKE TUNNEL
The right and left halves of the jetpipe were glued together, joint lines filled with putty and sanded smooth to hide the line.
UNDERWING FITTINGS AFTER PAINTING
FUSELAGE & ENGINE ATTACHMENTS
EJECTION SEAT & NOSE WEIGHT INSTALLED
Forty grams of nose weight are recommended
THE INSTRUMENT PANEL, JOYSTICK & RUDDER PEDALS ADDED
Note the weathering done on the seat and floor.
JETPIPE, WHEELS, MACHINE GUNS, ENGINE PARTS & SIDE CONSOLES PAINTED
The right and left halves of the jet exhaust pipe and compressor housing were glued together, the gaps filled with putty, sanded down to hide the line and painted. I had snipped off the axle for the nosewheel which I mistakenly thought was an injection channel, so now I had to glue the lower part of the nosewheel leg directly onto the side of the nosewheel with the hope that the assembly will later be able to take the aircraft's forward weight.
THREE STARBOARD SIDE O.50" BROWNING M2 MACHINE GUNS
The pins behind the machine guns did not match the holes in the side panel. I had to truncate the rear part of the machine gun butts to align them.
PORT SIDE PANEL WITH THROTTLE LEVER
BOTH SIDE PANELS INSTALLED & INTAKE PIPE PAINTED
THE J47-GE-27 TURBOJET
FRONT VIEW OF THE ENGINE
CLOSE UP OF THE COMPRESSORS & COMBUSTION CHAMBERS
TOP & BOTTOM HALVES OF WINGS CEMENTED
I forgot to install the navigation lights in the wingtips, so I had to prise apart the two halves later on, inserted the nav lights and re-cement them.
RIGHT & LEFT REAR FUSELAGE HALVES CEMENTED
The inside surfaces were painted prior to joining. The joint line was filled with putty and sanded down to hide the line.
RIGHT & LEFT FORWARD FUSELAGE SHELLS CEMENTED
The joint line was filled with putty and sanded down to hide it.
NOSE RING, SIDEWINDERS & TAILPLANES PAINTED
THE WING ASSEMBLY PRIOR TO PAINTING
The top and bottom wing halves were not properly aligned by me when cementing them together, causing obvious unevenness in the edges. I had to fill in the gaps and open ends with putty and then sand them down into smooth edges that leave no evidence of the joined halves. I left the flaps out at this stage to avoid them being detached accidentally when continuing to work on the wings.
After installing the nose ring, there were wide gaps in the joint and the inner wall of the nose was wider than the ring at the front. I used a lot of putty to smoothen the inside wall of the nose. Applying putty and then sanding down the wall was a difficult task due the restricted room available
. FLAPS & DROP TANKS
The flaps and underwing drop tanks came in upper and lower halves. These were cemented, the gaps filled with putty and then sanded down to hide the joint lines.
Because the sanding of the various surfaces had also removed the factory-engraved panel lines, I had to put the lines back by rescribing. There are many manufacturers of this tool. I bought mine from RB Productions in Ireland.
PANEL LINES RESCRIBED
Sanding down the model's surface also removes the rivets that hold aircraft skin panels in place. To put back these rivets onto the model, a rivet tool is used. It is just a wheel with sharp teeth on the edge that mark holes as the wheel is dragged in a line.
RIVET HOLES CREATED BY A RIVET TOOL
A poor job was done by me in restoring the rivet holes across the nose.
SIDEWINDERS & DROP TANKS WITH DECALS ON
SETTER & SOFTER
I have never tried the above products before, so it was a discovery indeed. The setter is applied on the surface where the decal will go. This is supposed to eliminate bubbles under the decal and also make the surface "suck" onto the botom of the decal. The softer is applied on top of the decal and softens it so that it will cling to the model's surface especially where there are indentations, protrusions, bends and corners. the result is that the decal will appear as if it was painted on rather than stuck on. When the softer is first applied, the decal will wrinkle considerably but after ten minutes or so it will shrink tight and blend with the surface.
To make the model appear more realistic, I decided to paint the aluminium panels in two different colours as seen below.
PAINTING THE CANOPY FRAME
THE MONTEX MASK INSTRUCTION SHEET
To paint the canopy frame in aluminium, I purchased a set of masks made specially for this model from A2Zee Models in UK. The self-adhesive masks are stuck onto the inner and outer surfaces of the canopy blocking the clear areas of the canopy from being painted on.
PAINTING THE INSIDE OF THE LEFT SPEED BRAKE COMPARTMENT
AND THE RIGHT
THE CANOPY & TURTLEDECK TOP PAINTED
REAR FUSELAGE DOLLY
The model comes with an option of separating the rear section for maintenance purposes. This requires that the section be mounted on a dolly. The dolly's parts are rather pliable, so I assembled them into two halves to achieve rigidity before painting and joining them together.
THE REAR SECTION WITH DECALS AFFIXED SITTING ON ITS DOLLY
The tailplanes' tabs were too thick for insertion into the slots on the fuselage. Having broken both in the process, I had to glue the tailplanes' inner edges flush with the fuselage sides, which then resulted in the dihedral angles being less than symmetrical.
REAR VIEW OF EMPENNAGE
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE REAR SECTION
THE FRONT BULKHEAD OF THE REAR SECTION
The wings were painted in different aluminium colours for realism. The yellow bands on the wings are decals that are too long. I failed to trim them to fit the wing chord as a result of which the ends overlap. Painting the black ends yellow did not work as the paint was of a darker yellow.
PATCHED YELLOW BAND
Patching the overlapping black area with parts of a decal meant for an alternative livery was the next best solution.
SIMILAR OVERLAP ON RIGHT WING
OVERLAP COVERED WITH PORTION OF SPARE DECAL
"THE HUFF" DECAL APPLIED TO LEFT FUSELAGE
One thing I learned from this project is that it is better to cut long decals into short parts and apply them separately. The long ones tend to roll up into a mess or just tear off at the narrowest part when wet.
DECALS APPLIED ON THE RIGHT FUSELAGE
UNDERWING DECALS & ATTACHMENTS
The underwing decals were applied before joining the wings to the fuselage. After that the flaps were installed and painted. Decals on the flaps were affixed and then the undercarriage were installed followed by the Sidewinders and drop tanks.
THE FUSELAGE YELLOW BAND
The yellow band circling the mid-fuselage actually straddles both the front and rear sections. The band decal however came in only one piece, unlike the speed brake decals which came in two parts for each side. I had to cut the decal into three sections - one for the front fuselage and two for the rear fuselage. It was not precisely done by me ending with the rear fuselage portions being not symmetrical. The cockpit canopy is now in place.
THE REAR ENDS OF THE FUSELAGE YELLOW BAND APPLIED
REAR VIEW OF THE FORWARD SECTION
CLOSEUP OF THE GUN COMPARTMENT WITH ITS COVER ON THE GROUND
CLOSEUP OF THE RIGHT MAIN UNDERCARRIAGE
CLOSEUP OF THE NOSE UNDERCARRIAGE
THE DRAGON, SIDEWINDER & DROP TANK ON THE LEFT SIDE
VIEW OF THE AIRCRAFT & ENGINE IN THE HANGAR
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