1/72 North American F-86F/E(M) Sabre from Airfix

1/72 North American F-86F/E(M) Sabre

Catalogue # A03082
Available from Airfix for £8.99


I have to admit that the last time I saw a 1/72 Airfix kit ‘in the flesh’, I was at the point where I was ditching models in favour of pursuing girls as a hobby. From that moment, my perceptions of said manufacturers new smaller-scale attempts have been perhaps sprinkled with a little nostalgia in wanting to see one, and a little trepidation in exactly what I was going to find.

When Airifx sent this kit along with a few other releases recently, I realised I was going to see for myself if this venerable manufacturer, would be able to step up to the mark in terms of the quality that modellers expect these days.

The F-86 Sabre is presented in a very attractive and highly glossy top opening box with some great artwork on the lid depicting the dragon endowed machine ‘ The Huff’, flown by Lt. Jim Thompson. The lid side shows the kits two schemes, and gives indication as to the paint colours you will need to have to complete this model. I see Airfix are still using the ‘Flying Hours’ labelling to indicate how long it will take to build this kit….for the youngster, obviously!




Inside the box, we are presented with four light grey styrene sprues, all packaged within the same bag. I’m not a fan of this approach as I’ve seen far too many scuffed and damaged kits, but in all fairness, no such damage has resulted here, anywhere. Within this bag, the single clear sprue is indeed bagged individually. My first impression of my first Airfix kit in almost 30 years is very, very good as I look at the plastic itself.

Both the moulding and the fine surface detail are exquisite. There is no sign anywhere of any sink marks, and flash is pretty much extinct. On the whole, ejector pin marks are intelligently placed and are very feint. There are a few exceptions though, notably the undercarriage doors and the cockpit floor and seat. Let’s go back to the surface detail. All panel lines are recessed, as are all access ports. There is no riveting anywhere on this model, which for this scale, would be correct. Gun channels are very nicely sculpted and look accurate in both shape and execution.



The cockpit is very simple, and may benefit from a little resin upgrade set, but in general, what you get is more than acceptable for the price that Airfix is charging for this model. A pilot is included also, as is customary with Airfix kits, and decals are supplied for both the side consoles and instrument panels. I do note, however, that no clear piece is supplied for the gun-sight lens, so I would suggest a little thin, clear plastic from a food packaging ‘window’ or similar, to fix this issue. The rear turtle deck is acceptable for this scale and price.

The wings, as with all other flying surfaces, don’t have separate elevators, ailerons or rudder. The definition of these, as moulded, is very good and well executed.

The forward wheel bay is assembled along with an upper, internal piece that has ‘3 GRAMS’ moulded into it; a subtle reminder that you need to add a little nose-weight. The wheel bay itself is crisply, but simply detailed, as are the wing mounted, integrally moulded main wheel wells.




The fuselage side airbrakes are supplied as separate parts which you may pose in either retracted or extended positions, and the detail on both the brakes and within the fuselage apertures is very good, and more than passable.

Despite the undercarriage legs being quite well moulded, the only real part of this kit I am disappointed with are the wheels. They are dire. The detail is not just soft, but with the main gear wheels, the detail is so poor that is lacks any real definition, and look plain awful. Also, there looks like there is a slight misalignment of the mould at this juncture, but nowhere else. Quite odd, but still, you will need to work hard with this area to make it look reasonable. Full marks for at least supplying the wheels to appear ‘weighted’, if not perhaps a little over-weighted.

The plastic itself looks to be of a very reasonable quality which holds detail very well. I’m not particularly pleased with the size of the sprue gates which hold the fuselage halves to the sprue. They are monstrously thick, and Airfix need to review this aspect with future releases.



The transparencies are also nice and crisply moulded with well-defined framing. The parts are a little thick, but not overly so, with the rear canopy suffering more from that issue than the more delicate forward canopy.


Anyone who remembers Airfix kits from many years ago will automatically recognise the style of instructions included. They are quite nostalgic for me, and left me looking for the ‘Airfix Modellers Club’ slip that used to be supplied. Actually, it IS indeed there, albeit very different in appearance to the one we remember from aeons ago. The instructions are clear, simple, and well-defined. They are also more than reminiscent of those issued all those years ago. Painting and decaling instructions are both clear and unambiguous.



I can’t tell who prints the decals, but I can see that they are not only printed in perfect register, but the colour is also solid, with good clarity. The dragon emblem is also wonderfully printed, and even its scales are nice and clear. A huge number of stencils are provided on the sheet, as well as those cockpit decals, and markings for the two schemes. These are:

  • F-86F Sabre, ‘The Huff’, flown by Lt. Jim Thompson, 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, K-13 (Suwon AB), South Korea, June 1953
  • F-86E(M) Sabre, 4th Stormo, Aviazone Militaire Italiana, Grosseto, Italy, 1958



So what do we think?
What a fantastic little kit, and any apprehensions I may have had prior to this review are now faded away. Yes, there are a few points which could have been improved upon, notably the wheels, but for what is tantamount to ‘pocket money price’, you can’t really complain too loudly. For the more serious modeller, a small resin cockpit would be all that’s needed to make a great kit. In general though, this is one kit you should definitely consider. Highly recommended.

Overall 8/10

Our sincere thanks to Airfix for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.