The F-86 is one of the most famous aircraft of the USAF, and internationally. First introduced into combat during the Korean war, in response to the Mig-15, the F-86 evolved as the war progressed. The F-86F version added a new engine with increased power and modified the wings, removing the leading edge slat found on the earlier version. It has proven to be a popular subject for modelers.
The history of the molds goes back to 1986, when HobbyCraft
released the kit. It has reappeared over the years, with Academy
first offering it in 2000. The molds have held up relatively well and the detail is nice for the scale. Particular to this kit is the large decal sheet, offering markings for three well known aircraft. The decals, from Cartograf
, offer a significant improvement over the thick and heavy decals Academy
used to provide.
The box is a typical top opening style with artwork depicting one of the aircraft, "The Huff". On the box sides are three full color side profiles of the markings provided. Inside you'll find a large plastic pouch containing the plastic sprues, with the clear parts inside a smaller plastic pouch to protect the parts. The decal sheet comes wrapped separately and is in the bottom of the box, below the instructions, providing additional protection.
are in a small, fold-out pamphlet form. A paint guide, found on the front page, can also be found on the side of the box, with paint call-outs for Humbrol, GSI Creos, Lifecolor, Testors Model Master, Revell and Vallejo paints
, in both acrylic and enamel paints depending on manufacturer. The basic colors are also provided by name.
The assembly guide is provided in 9 steps with line drawings. Parts count is minimal for the kit, with 62 in total. Two parts are unused leading edge slats from the F-86E version, another for the rear canopy of the earlier version. Two other parts should be inserts for the jet engine, but are not called out at any point in the instructions. Some of the parts are tiny and would be challenging for inexperienced modelers, yet overall the build is fairly simple. That is unless you choose to super detail or deviate from the instructions.
I did not see any heavy flash, only a slight bit on some parts that was easily removed. There were a few sink marks, but most were on the seat assembly and not in view. The landing gear doors had small marks that could be sanded or filled easily. There were no damaged parts or mis-molding issues. The canopy parts are thick but quite clear and look very nice. There were a few ejector pin marks on the landing gear doors inside face. There is some detail on the inside of the gear bay doors and inside the air brakes, as well as on the cockpit instrument panel and sides.
are quite legible, even in small print, and are neatly and cleanly printed. In addition to the particular aircraft markings, all data stencils are included. Markings provided are for three specific aircraft as follows:
- F-86F-1, 51-2897, 39 FIS/51 FIW, Suwon, Korea 1953, "The Huff", Lt. James L Thompson.
- F-86F-F-30, 52-4584, 25 FIS/51 FIW, Suwon, Korea 1951, "Mig Mad Marine", Maj. John Glenn.
- F-86F-5, 51-2941, 16 FIS/51 FIW, Suwon, Korea, 1953, "Little Rita", Lt. Dick Geiger.
I think the year for Maj. Glenn should be 1953 as he was assigned to the 25th FIS in mid-1953.
The build was mostly simple and straight forward. There were a couple of simple issues I noted right off the start.
In step 2
, the cockpit sides are shown as separate parts, but in the kit they are molded in place as one single piece. The rear canopy deck has some very tiny parts that are called out with a small side view box showing specific assembly points. On my build, the seat sits a little crooked, although I placed it as carefully as I could. I checked the previous F-86E build I had done, and the seat sits at the same crooked angle there, so at least there is consistency. There is no harness in the pilot's seat, and no pilot figure.
In step 3
, nose weight is called for. If this is not included, you will have a tail sitter. It can sit easily at the top of the intake inside the fuselage. I had a bit of trouble getting the fuselage to close up around the cockpit, particularly at the rear with the decking under the canopy.
In step 4
, you have the option to drill holes in the lower wing if you want to add the drop tanks. We had planned our build as a "wheels up" to be displayed in flying mode. It would have been much easier if we had installed the landing gear doors at this point as you can work the placement from both sides. The kit isn't designed for this type of display and there will be quite a bit of filling.
attaches the now complete wing assembly, nose, and tail planes. There was a significant fit issue with the nose piece, but the wings went on fairly well, with only a slight edge along the bottom of the model. Our choice was to fill along the edge or file down the protruding edges. We chose to file the protrusions down and polish everything off. I started to re-scribe the panel lines and promptly realized I placed them too high, following the original lines from the fuselage side.
In step 6
, we did a test fit of the canopy and the front piece lined up well. The back was not as neat due to the inside parts, but once trimmed were fine. The air brakes were closed, and again, fit was not good. I believe they were intended to be left in the open position. Once the clear parts for the landing light and gun sight were placed we went to close up the canopy, only to find the forward canopy piece was missing. We were able to install the drop tanks, and with the gear up the assembly was completed, with the only tasks left being to fill the gaps from the landing gear and find the missing canopy piece.
The aircraft were bare metal, so once things are cleaned up we can do a nice, shiny paint job. Ana likes the dragon and the shark mouth, so our decals may not be entirely correct, but we did this build for fun together, and not accuracy.
The kit is older and under close scrutiny show that the panel lines and detail are getting soft. However, for the scale, things aren't too bad, and this kit does have many aftermarket options and will serve as a good basis for super-detailing for those advanced modelers who want a simple palette to start with. For those who want a generally easy build, this also makes a good choice. I haven't seen a fit issue with this kit regarding the nose like I had, and it wasn't present in the F-86E I did earlier. The real bonus with this kit is, as mentioned above, the decal selection, which is really very nice and comprehensive.
The kit isn't too expensive, listed at $24.00 US, but most likely less online or at the LHS, if you are fortunate enough to still have one.
My only real complaint isn't specific to this kit, but general, in that kits aren't made for wheels up display, and frequently there aren't pilot figures included. How are you supposed to run around the room/house/yard flying the model with no pilot? You certainly can't do it with the wheels down, as it just seems wrong. I know, models aren't toys. Some people just want to play with them and have fun.
This sample was provided to me by AeroScale with special thanks to MRC and Academy.