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  1. Following the posting of a recent 'Ready for Inspection' F-86F (the 1/72 Airfix kit painted to represent Pakistan AF Muhammad Mahmood Alam's famous Hawker Hunter killer from 1965), I realised that a major error had been made by the decal manufacturer. Looking at other references I realised that this error has become widespread. The RFI is here by the way (nice job!): I won't go into the controversy surrounding Sqn Ldr Alam's kills, but for information the Pakistan AF states that on 7 September 1965 he shot down five Indian AF Hawker Hunters in less than a minute. Alam's final tally for a short period was nine aircraft shot down, plus two probables from 6 to 16 September 1965. You can find more on Wiki etc. The error with the decals? Well it turns out that Cutting Edge in its sheets CED48023 (1/48) and CED72025 (1/72) had the aircraft's serial number as 55-4026 (tail number 54026): Also the Hobby Master diecast has the same s/n: And Kits World 1/72 KW172143 decal sheet: Plus a number of side-views on the internet (credits Wings Palette and unk) - both this time showing Sidewinder missiles mounted: Before I go further, here are a few photos showing Alam and the F-86F which was painted with his nine + 2 kills (though I cannot confirm that it was this Sabre in which he scored all or any of his kills): And a none-too-good shot of the aircraft on its own: So yes, for sure it's '026 - so the decals are correct right? Well no. First of all, the s/n shown in the references above (55-4026) did actually serve with the PAF, but only after it had been one of those initially delivered to the Japan Air Self Defense Force (in 1957), not used and then returned to the USA in February 1959. It was delivered on to the PAF circa 1965. But the PAF operated two F-86Fs marked with the ‘last three’ of ‘026’ on the nose. The second machine was Alam’s aircraft – and its correct s/n was 52-5026. This aircraft started life as an F-86F-30 (and delivered with the 6-3 wing) which served with 3595th Combat Crew Training Wing at Nelis AFB, then a series of other CCTW until transferred to the Royal Norwegian AF in January 1961; at this point it gained the long-span, slatted F-40 wing and also received TACAN equipment. It served there with 336 skvadron marked variously as ‘PX-2’; ‘PX-11’; ‘PX-B’ and ‘PX-Z’ before being struck off in March 1965 and transferred to the Pakistan AF just in time to see action during the April-September conflict. See these close-ups of the aircraft's Technical Data Block (TDB). The TDB provides the unique identity for USAF and ex-USAF aircraft types and is usually present even after aircraft are transferred to foreign air forces. These views prove the aircraft to be 52-5026: Though note that the TDB stencil has this Sabre as an F-86F-35, whereas it is in fact an F-86F-30. Ah well - no-one's perfect! The photo below shows 52-5026 just prior to transfer to the PAF: markings were removed but the anti-dazzle panel was retained along with stencils etc. Note that the RNoAF Martin-Baker ejection seats in some Norwegian F-86Fs were replaced with the original NAA seat before going to Pakistan. And this view shows the unusual ejection seat marking/arrow seen on Norwegian F-86Fs and visible on Alam's jet: Finally, when Sargodha Air Base at Mianwali in Pakistan was renamed to honour Sqn Ldr Alam, the base's Sabre gate guard was repainted to represent 'his' F-86F. They almost got the tail number correct, though the 'long' serial number is the right one for this historic machine (credit: History of PIA.com): Why the error? Well having two '026s in the same air force doesn't help for sure. But hopefully the above will go some way to setting the record straight. I've tweaked the side-view above and this is my best attempt at addressing the errors in various of the sources: And here is a photo of 52-5026 later in Pakistan AF service, looking nice and anonymous:
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