Academy F-86F Sabre, in 1/48 (WIP)


One of the most celebrated Cold War jets, the F-86 Sabre gained fame during the Korean War, where it defeated the MiGs in a 1:8 ratio (or 1:10 for that matter) in an air battle over the famous MiG Alley. It soldiered on defending the Free World until the last Bolivian Air Force F-86s were retired in 1994 (Wikipedia)

Academy’s Sabre

This Academy version has been in the market for a while and has gone through several re-boxing. A time line in ScaleMates shows the boxing evolution this kit and a review is available in ModelingMadness. Bottom line is, the Sabre is an overly popular subjects and manufacturers from past and present has produced literally an assortment of version of this jet fighter from 1/72 to 1/32 scale.


The Objective

The reason behind building Academy’s Sabre is because (a) it is a simple model, (b) a popular aircraft, and (c) Academy kits are available at many stores.  Above all, it’s because I have the kit in my stash! My objective was to build the model out of the box (OOTB) with natural metal finish using a locally brand chrome silver.

The Construction

The Academy kit gives you a two pilot figures, a nice cockpit interior as well as the engine.  Check out this nice construction feature that is available at ModelingMadness.


I have assembled some of the major parts that were needed before the two fuselage halves are glued together. They include the air intake ducts, the cockpit tub, engine, and the exhaust pipes. My preferred colour is XF-19 Sky Grey with a base coat of XF-1 Flat Black.

15309544044_cd88ba9571_bThe basic cockpit is good, with nice raised surface details on the side consoles and instrument panels. this is definitely a good base for dry-brushing.


The ejection seat has a reasonably correct look and feel but is a bit bare. I added some masking tape to stimulate seat belts and painted them with a base coat of Tamiya XF-49 Khaki and topped with Tamiya XF-57 Buff to give extra depth.


I have glued all the interior components in its place. I wanted to make this a ‘speed build’ so I won’t bother with painting the engine supplied in the kit.

Tail sitter beware! its important that you add some lead weights in the nose to avoid the plane being a tail sitter. Here, I have glued three fishing leads.


Dryfitting the two fuselage halves together. It’s really important that you dry fit EVERYTHING before you use glue, even for kits that are considered almost perfect like Tamiya. Particularly so because modelers’ tend to take them for granted not knowing what’s in store for them (surprise! the fuselage doesn’t fit properly).


After half a days work between answering questions and socialising with other visitors at the bazaar, here is what the Sabre looks like before the day ends.


The fit is almost good, but still, it leaves some nasty seams lines that needed filling and sanding. and you know pretty well that some of the panel lines will go missing. I am using one of my curvy stainless rulers to do some re-scribing of the lines. This ruler came from Tuner Models.

There are many tools to help you get the best out of rescribing work. The most famous of all are the Hasegawa PE Tri-Tools ruler template set. But other brands like Tuner Models have a great line of useful template sets.


Here is what the Academy F-86 looks like from under the fuselage after some filling and sanding. There are gaps, but I think its safe to say that they are still within “normality.” You can spend countless hours on just sanding every step of the way, but no with this kit.


Painting & Masking

So the F-86 will get a proper Korean War look. that means natural metal finish (NMF) body with yellow and black trimmed stripes. how do we move on, what’s the best way of doing this? is it the yellow bands or the NMF first?


My experience tells me that unless you are spraying true metalizers like Alclad, then better to work on the colours-bands first, and do the NMF later.


Don’t get me wrong, there are metallizers out there that look good but do bad when masking. I had problems with Gaia metallics where they simply chipped off a block of paint after masking. Seriously. Another one, a local brand call RJ London Chrome also gives a convincing metallic look, BUT, performs badly under ANY kind of masking, where it leaves visible marks of the masking tape that was used. This is very annoying and it ruins the whole appearance.

RJ London is a locally-produced spray can that has been popular among Indonesian modellers because of their easy availability at local hardware and automotive stores. They have a large range of colours, but the most popular ones are their chrome, clear and matt coats.


Th exceptions are if you are just spraying “paints that look metallic” like Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminum or Tamiya X-11 Chrome Silver. These are not ‘real’ metallizers and for these you can spray them first, and do the masking for the coloured-bands later on.


So for this exercise, I am using the local RJ London ‘Chrome’. for that, I will have to spray the Tamiya XF-3 Flat Yellow for the different fuselage band, which is a tell tale of Korean Sabres.

A note about masking: make sure you use the best quality mask that you can afford. All that hard work and time spent will go to waste if the results is sloppy (bleeding paints, jagged border lines) just because you decided to use a cheaper material.


This final results of the Sabre after 30 minutes of spraying the RJ London Crome. at a glance, RJ London’s chrome pretty much looks similar to Alclad AL101.


Give it a few good hours to dry itself. If you are satisfied, then its time to open the mask carefully. Remember… you have plenty of time. So do it carefully. Slowly but sure, all that masking is going go and you can then enjoy the results of your hard work.


A few more masking on the wheel wells and this should wrap up the major painting and  masking session. The wheel wells got a coat of a mix of Tamiya XF-4 Yellow Green + XF-5 Flat Green with a 3:1 ratio.


Decal Work

The decal are exceptionally thin and can say that this kit is one of Academy’s better offerings. And with a little help from Revell Decal Soft, I was able to add on the necessary decals onto the model without any problems.


You can see that the yellow fuselage and wing bands that are included in the box (which is now redundant as I have masked and spray painted all of them!)

Clear coats: yes or no? It really depends. if you use metalizer paints as mentioned above, and you clear coat the model with say ordinary clear finishes, then the coat might ruin the natural shine from metallic properties.

A great product that i highly recommend is Alclad Aqua Gloss Clear ALC600. It protects the decals as well as preserve the natural shine of the metallics. Some good constructive discussions are available at the Finescale forum here and Largescalemodeler forum here.

Finished Model





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