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F-86 Sabre, Airfix 1/72


opus999

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F-86 Sabre | Airfix | 1/72

Pakistan -- Muhammad Alam, Pilot

 

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I completed this kit in November of 2017 and felt I should post it because I mention it in a post about Alclad and Decal incompatibilities. I intended this kit to be a Norwegian F-86 as part of a project of mine to make a model of every major Norwegian fighter.  As such, I intended it to be an "Airshow" finish -- That is, like a mirror (which I'd done before on a Hasagawa Sabre). The Airfix Sabre plastic seemed kind of rough, so I sanded it with progressively finer paper down to 12000 grit. When the Alclad polished aluminum was applied, it didn't look like a mirror, but more rough or weathered. At that point I chose a different subject from the same decal sheet: the Pakistani ace Muhammad Alam.

 

Finishing: Seams filled with CA (superglue), entire surface sanded down to 12000 grit

Paints: (applied from base coat to surface):  Tamiya spray gloss black > Alclad polished aluminum  > Alclad Dark aluminum w/ a dusting of steel  > Alclad Aqua Gloss > Decals > Alclad Aqua Gloss > weathering (oil washes) > Alclad Aqua Gloss

Detail paints: Testors Model Master red, black, gray (don't remember the exact color) in cockpit, Testors MM Zinc Chromate in wheel wells, Alclad aluminum and Tamiya Nato Black for landing gears/wheels

Decals: Cutting Edge Decals F-86Fs & Sabers #3: foreign aircraft (ca. 1999) -- primary markings / Airfix kit decals -- stencils

 

I didn't have a WIP, so some building notes are at the bottom. Also, I have a terrible time getting good pictures of reflective models (imagine that!), so I'm not sure these quite do it justice.

 

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Building Notes:

  • This Airfix model was a joy to put together. I would tend to agree with critics that say the panel lines are too deep and too wide (although that seems to be improving), but for a $12 model, this is a super value. The only gripe I have is that the wing assembly was a little ill-fitting, requiring a little work on the seam on the bottom behind the landing gears.  It looked really good, but after I dropped it on the concrete patio (nice and wet from a coat of Tamiya black spray paint at the time 😲), I think I damaged the plastic, because I couldn't quite get looking the same.
  • To get different shades of Polished Aluminum, I masked panels that I wanted darker, sprayed a couple of coats uniformly over the whole aircraft, then removed the masking and sprayed a couple more coats uniformly over the whole aircraft. This way, I let the transparency of the Alclad show the black undercoat through to create different shades of the same paint.  Therefore, the center panels on top of the wings were masked for the first couple coats, and then were unmasked and painted with the rest of the wing for the next couple of coats.
  • Weathering was difficult, and ultimately inaccurate.  I found very good close up pictures of Alam and his aircraft after I was finished (of course :( ) and they showed that his Sabre was not nearly as reflective as I depicted it.  The weathering was very difficult on the slick Alclad Aqua Gloss surface, as you might expect, and seems kind of artificial to me.  I should've backed off on it, if the whole aircraft was going to be so shiny.

 

In the end, I'm very proud of the NMF, but disappointed in the weathering. Overall, the build was a ton of fun, with a good kit and great decals.

 

Hope you enjoy. Comments, constructive criticism, questions and tips always welcome!

 

 

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Nothing wrong with that NMF Opus, I'd be chuffed with your finish.:goodjob:

I haven't built the Airfix Sabre as yet but I have a number in the stash plus many others.

As an observation for future builds, I have been told that the wing fences and the tank pylons are too far outboard and need to move inboard (if you're worried out such things). Someone like @Tony Edmundson should help with dimensions. 

For interest, here are my NMF Sabres, not as good as yours: F-86A , F-86E , Canadair Mk2 & TF-86 Trainer

 

Stuart

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Great looking build!  I am in the middle of the same kit it is great to see what's possible.  Also, it helped to answer a question regarding the colour of the wheel wells.  

10 hours ago, opus999 said:

the wing assembly was a little ill-fitting, requiring a little work on the seam on the bottom behind the landing gears.

Aha!  So that wasn't me...😉

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6 hours ago, John D.C. Masters said:

colour of the wheel wells.

Glad that helped! I based it on some photographs I found and the instructions from a couple other Sabre kits (can you tell I like the plane? :) )

6 hours ago, John D.C. Masters said:

So that wasn't me...

Nope!  Now... once you get it fixed, don't drop it! It will look much better. ;)

 

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7 hours ago, Courageous said:

not as good as yours

On the contrary, I think they look great! Just not as reflective as mine. Maybe that's the difference between Alclad's and Humbrol metalcote's polished aluminums. I'm not sure if I can get Humbrol metalcote around here...

 

If I were to do this subject again, I would shoot for the same finish as what you have on  your Canadair Sabre Mk. 2 -- It looks just like the finish I saw in the close ups of Alam's aircraft. 

 

7 hours ago, Courageous said:

I have been told that the wing fences and the tank pylons are too far outboard and need to move inboard

Hey thanks for the info! That's what I like about being here. When I start my Academy F-86 (someday) I'll have to remember to look at the wing fences on that one. I just didn't think about it.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

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Opus, nice work on your Sabre;

a couple of things to add to the thread;

the real aircraft that Alam was flying was a F-86F-40 that did not have wing fences but had slats and the wingtip extensions,

the only kits 1/72 scale  Sabres that have the wing pylons in the correct position are the Airfix and Hasegawa kits of the F-86D,

the Academy kit is the ex-Hobbycraft kit and if it has wing fences, they are in more or less the proper position,

the other Academy kit is the Hobbycraft Sabre 6 with a slatted wing only the Sabre 6 ever had (not an F-86E).

 

Cheers, Tony

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Hello @opus999,

 

Very nice Sabre. I wish I could get a metal finish half as good as that. Can I ask how you get down to 12,000 grit? Is that some kind of whetting stone? I remember how hard it was just to find 3,000 grit wet-and-dry sandpaper!

 

You also raise an interesting point about the smoothness of plastic. I haven't noticed a problem with the surface of Airfix kits (other than the panel lines that I also think are too deep and broad, but I accept that's largely a style issue), but I've got a couple of Tamiya 1/72 kits (one of which is the highly vaunted new tooling of the AM6 Zero), that have extremely rough surfaces. They're like some old Arii kit, yet none of the reviews mention this.

 

Regards,

David

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2 hours ago, Dazey said:

Can I ask how you get down to 12,000 grit

You bet! I ordered something called "Micro Mesh" from Amazon.  I read about it on someone's blog. there's 9 sheets going from 1500 all the way to 12000.  Makes a huge difference! They're also pretty tough -- made of some sort of fabric -- so you can wet sand with them over and over again.  I've been really happy with them.

 

I've found that shooting gloss black enamel straight from a can provides a perfect finish to put Alclad polished aluminum on for a mirror like finish.  I then will tone down the shine by dusting on other "colors" of Alclad on.  The only trouble with this method is getting a thick enough enamel coat runs a very big risk of running. I've been experimenting with more reliable base coats (check out my CF-104 WIP in my signature line if you're interested), but they don't quite get as glassy smooth.  Which, for weathered birds, is OK.

 

As far as the roughness of the plastic goes... this was the only Airfix kit that I've done so far that had a roughness to it.  Figures that it's the one I want to put bare metal on! :)

 

I hope this helps! Thanks for looking...

Edited by opus999
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10 hours ago, Tony Edmundson said:

the real aircraft that Alam was flying was a F-86F-40 that did not have wing fences

Rats! When I read this, I wondered how I missed that fact? I went and looked through my reference photos, and they were all close-ups near his cockpit!  I was focusing so much on the weathering aspect that I didn't get a picture of the whole aircraft.

 

A case of not seeing the forest for the trees! :blush:

 

Thank you for the feedback though! I really do appreciate it -- half the fun is learning all of this neat stuff about the aircraft and their pilots.

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6 minutes ago, opus999 said:

I ordered something called "Micro Mesh"

The original use for micro mesh was to polish scratches out of Aircraft canopies.

It should be used with plenty of water, though spit does a good job too.

 

That's a good looking Sabre.

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34 minutes ago, opus999 said:

Rats! When I read this, I wondered how I missed that fact? I went and looked through my reference photos, and they were all close-ups near his cockpit!  I was focusing so much on the weathering aspect that I didn't get a picture of the whole aircraft.

 

A case of not seeing the forest for the trees! :blush:

 

Thank you for the feedback though! I really do appreciate it -- half the fun is learning all of this neat stuff about the aircraft and their pilots.

in this pic, you can tell there is slats behind him ;  and the lack of fuselage vent indicates it is not a Canadair built Sabre, therefore a F-86F-40

 

mm-alam-s-world-record-stays-unbeaten-ev

Edited by Tony Edmundson
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2 hours ago, opus999 said:

You bet! I ordered something called "Micro Mesh" from Amazon.  I read about it on someone's blog. there's 9 sheets going from 1500 all the way to 12000.  Makes a huge difference! They're also pretty tough -- made of some sort of fabric -- so you can wet sand with them over and over again.  I've been really happy with them.

 

I've found that shooting gloss black enamel straight from a can provides a perfect finish to put Alclad polished aluminum on for a mirror like finish.  I then will tone down the shine by dusting on other "colors" of Alclad on.  The only trouble with this method is getting a thick enough enamel coat runs a very big risk of running. I've been experimenting with more reliable base coats (check out my CF-104 WIP in my signature line if you're interested), but they don't quite get as glassy smooth.  Which, for weathered birds, is OK.

 

As far as the roughness of the plastic goes... this was the only Airfix kit that I've done so far that had a roughness to it.  Figures that it's the one I want to put bare metal on! :)

 

I hope this helps! Thanks for looking...

Thanks for the information, it's a big help. I'll look out for some Micro Mesh.

 

Regards,

David

 

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There is a great deal of incorrect information out there regarding Alam’s Sabre: mainly that its identity was “F-86F-40 s/n 55-4026”. 

 

First off, s/n 55-4026 did 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 their ‘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 (Alam’s kills range from 6 thru 16 September).

 

See photo, where you can JUST (thankfully!) see on the Tech Data Block ’52-5026’ rather than the incorrect ’55-4026’.

 

Unfortunately the decal sheet is incorrect and has perpetuated the error. Also below a couple of other photos of 52-5026 – one later in life when its black anti-dazzle panel had been removed etc.

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

Edited by Sabrejet
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@Tony Edmundson: Thanks for the photos.  I had the first one you posted, but not the second.  I see what you are saying now.  I was so focused on other details when I was looking at the pictures that I didn't even notice the wing details. Thank you very much for the info!

 

Just my luck, I always find the best references once I'm finished. :)

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