1/48 Revell F-86D

Gallery Article by Jessica Cooper on May 23 2013



The F-86D was an all-weather interceptor version of the basic F-86 Sabre day fighter. Initially designated the F-95, it was re-designated in order to make it more palatable to the US Congress Budget Committee (It being easier to sell a “modification” of an existing aircraft in inventory than a new design. Both sides in the Cold War were plagued by this phenomenon). The “Dog Sabre” was equipped with a radar and autopilot system which was quite sophisticated for its day, and enabled the pilot to do the previously impossible job of flying the aircraft at the same time as operating the radar to track the target. The radar autopilot computed a “Lead collision approach” which flew the Sabre on a course which would ensure that the rocket armament would hit the target. Rocket launch was completely automatic, and occurred precisely at the optimally computed point in the approach.

The model is Revell USA's boxing of the late model F-86D, distinguished by its parabrake housing at the base of the vertical stab. In contrast to the Promodeler kit, the tow tractor is not included. The quality of the parts rivals anything from Japan or China; panel lines are very nicely engraved and the level of detail is excellent right out of the box. Aftermarket use for this kit is really unnecessary, apart perhaps from a set of seat belts. Markings are provided for two very colourful aircraft from the age when Western Air Forces reigned supreme and tactical camouflage was not considered necessary. The box top aircraft is the mount of Col. M.J. Quirk, CO of the 512th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based in Burtonwood, England during 1958. The markings I chose were for “Sweet Sue”, an aircraft of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing based on Formosa during 1955.


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I built the model straight out of the box, modifying only the ejection seat firing levers, which Revellogram moulded in the “fired” position. The firing grips should angle down to the front corners of the seat. Snipping out the vertical strut and gluing the firing handles bent downwards was the work of a few seconds. The rest of the cockpit was built as-is, even though the instrument panel is not completely accurate for this version. I won't tell anyone if you won't. In any event the differences are not huge and the finished cockpit looks convincing. I chose to leave the radar shield out for this build so the radar scope may be seen. Revellogram doesn't neglect the small details. There are some black boxes and a pressurized tank visible behind the cockpit, which are included on a shelf which must be fitted before the fuselage halves are closed.

The fit was very good, apart from the nose/radome join to the fuselage which needed a bit of sanding to cure the mismatch. Before gluing on the nose, I filled the radome with lead shot secured in place by superglue. I used Testors Light Gull Grey as a primer, which also doubled as the colour of the inspar area. Once that was dry, I masked and painted the anti-glare panel olive drab, then brushed Humbrol 85 satin black onto the radome. The brush streaks can be made to look a bit like streaks from rain with a bit of practise. Once dry, the nose, cockpit, inspars and wheel wells were masked for painting the overall silver finish.

The finish is Testors rattle can silver, given a slight buffing with SNJ powder when it was not quite dry. I find that this best reproduces a weathered aluminium finish which shows that the subject has been used, and isn't a showroom piece fresh from polishing. Once I removed all the masking, I could set about the eye-crossing task of placing all the dozens of stencil decals. When most companies sell aircraft, they include the operating and maintenance manuals in the sale. North American apparently decided to save paper by painting the manuals' text right onto the airframe. The stencils took 4 sessions, one for each surface of the aircraft; left, right, top and bottom. By contrast, the main markings of the colour scheme took only two, and that's only because I wanted to let the decals on one side of the aircraft dry before going on to the other. I had to use Solvaset to get the fuselage stripes to conform to the NACA intakes on the fuselage sides. This caused a bit of bother when the red stripe on the left side got a bit crinkled and out of position. I carefully prodded it back into place, but it didn't dry completely straight.

When the decals were dry, I finished final assembly of the landing gear, navigation lights, speed brakes, drop tanks and canopy. Even though the flaps were usually up on parked Sabres, I chose to leave them down for a bit of variety. I had forgotten to install the landing light transparency behind the intake, so I made a replacement from a punched disk of tinfoil which I rounded over the end of a paintbrush. I filled the opening with Microscale Krystal Klear and dropped in the light so it fit flush with the edges. I used more Krystal Klear to form the lens. Once it was dry, the model was finished.

Jessica Cooper

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Photos and text © by Jessica Cooper