Media: Injection Plastic
The North American F-86 Sabre is a single-seat swept wing transonic jet fighter aircraft. First entering service with the USAF in 1949, the F-86 was one of the best and most important fighter aircraft during the Korean War. Armed with 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning machine guns and rockets, it proved itself against the similar Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights over the skies of Korea, accumulating a record of approximately 566 Mig-15s shot down for 104 F-86s lost to combat.
The F-86F variant is the most produced type at 2,239 built. It has an uprated engine and a larger wing without leading edge slats compared to previous versions. The Fs had much improved high-speed agility and higher landing speeds. Production of the Sabre would reach 9,860 units and the F-86 and its various variants would go on to serve in 31 different air forces. Although considered outdated by the end of the 1950s, it would continue to serve in various air forces until 1994.
Info adapted from Wikipedia
Originally issued by Hobbycraft in 1986, this is a rebox released by Academy in 2000 with different marking options. Panel lines are recessed that are nicely done and consistent although a bit heavy by standards set by Tamigawa. The cockpit details are all of the raised variety with a simplified ejection seat which doesn’t have restraints. The kit also comes with a long intake without a compressor face and a short exhaust with a burner. Landing gear is simplified and the only stores available are 2 underwing mounted fuel tanks. The kit also comes with parts for the F-86E Sabre which aren’t used here. Instructions are of the folding variety and lacks details in some spots (notably the cockpit). 2 markings are provided in the kit and both are for USAF bare metal finished units fighting in the Korean War. The decals look good: glossy and well printed.
So, a decent kit by all accounts but it’s not without its problems as we shall see.
I began with the cockpit and I had to make a few guesses to where everything goes as some parts needed to be attached at angles which neither the molds nor instructions are clear about. Still, the details are quite nice here for 1/72 and it was a simple matter of spraying Black Grey and drybrushing with Dead White to bring them all out. The headrest on the seat was painted Bloody Red and I added 1mm masking tape to simulate restraints.
The cockpit sits above the intake trunking which is made up of an upper and lower half. The instructions called for some weights up front and I had to flatten the fishing weight before it fit into the space. The cockpit, intake and exhaust are all supposed to be fitted between the 2 fuselage halves. I went through some dryfitting and decided to add a sprue washer to angle the front of cockpit+intake assembly downwards so the gearbay will meet the bottom of the fuselage. I also decided to cement all three onto the right fuselage before fitting the left side. Turns out this was a mistake. I should have just trapped the cockpit+intake between the 2 fuselage halves and then adjusted the fit that way. Now there’s a step if you looked into the intake.
I then deviated slightly from the instructions by fitting the bottom wing assembly onto the fuselage first before fitting the top sections of the wings. Even so there are still minor gaps on the joints up top that requires fixing. Gaps in general quite easily fixed. There were however quite a few sink marks that needed to be fixed. It was especially bad on the bottom behind the MLG bay. I just did the best I could and moved on.
To fit the fuel tanks, holes needed to be opened up on the wings. The curve on the pylons looked different from the curve on the wings so obviously the fit aren’t good. I ended up going through a few rounds of scraping, sanding and dry fitting before it was acceptable. The holes were also smaller than the connectors on the pylons so these needed to be enlarged quite a bit. The external tanks themselves are split into top and bottom halves and they don’t fit well so they also went through quite a few rounds of fixing.
I then cut out all the landing gear parts, cleaned them up and set aside for painting. There is an error in the mold with the right landing gear having no attachment point for the tire. I drilled a hole and added a short pin in it with brass rod. The canopy is made of 2 parts and these were cleaned up, dipped in Future, masked off and glued to the kit.
Painting and Markings
First up I painted the gear and speed brake bays with German Cam Bright Green (which is apparently close enough to FS34151). Then I covered these up with blutack to prepare for the Bare Metal Finish (BMF). I also stuffed the intake and exhaust with tissue paper. This being my first ever BMF build and first ever use of Vallejo Metal Colors, I proceeded slowly. I first base coated with Gloss Black and let cure for 24 hours. Then I sprayed Aluminium in multiple coats. The paint is surprisingly easy to use and coverage was excellent. After drying for only an hour, there’s no residue on the finger after rubbing the finish. I then let this dry for 24 hours. After that I masked off the exhaust and gun barrel panels and sprayed Exhaust Manifold. The gun barrel panels are actually a lighter shade than Exhaust Manifold so after this has dried I carefully lightly airbrushed on more Aluminium to tone it down.
One nice thing about BMF finishes is that almost everything on the aircraft is the same color, so I proceeded to basecoat and color the other parts. One challenging thing about BMF finishes however is that the prep work needs to be neat as any scratch, gaps or mistakes on the surface can be clearly seen once the metallic color is sprayed on. Because of this, I ended up going back to fix visible mistakes, especially on the fuel tanks.
Then it was time to remove the blutack masking from the gear and speed brake bays. Disaster struck when in trying to remove the blutack residue I managed to push the gearbay hard enough for it to break off from the base and fall inside the kit. After about 10 minutes of swearing, I stared at my problem for another 10 minutes and decided that I can live with some extra panel lines on the bottom. So i cut off the middle spar to open up enough space to pull out the part, then carefully cemented the part back by grabbing it with a tweezer and holding it in place. Then I cemented the spar back in place. Now that area has 2 extra ‘panel lines’ but since it’s the bottom, I choose to accept it. I then handpainted German Cam Bright Green to patch any overspray.
Korean War F-86s had very colorful markings, and out of the 2 I decided on ‘Mike’s Bird’ piloted by Capt. Charles McSwain. However it turns out that the nose needed to be painted yellow and it needs to match the other parts in yellow which are provided as decals. I decided to go with Sun Yellow not knowing if it will be a match at all. I first basecoated Dead White then sprayed on the color. Luckily it turned out to be a close enough match.
I wasn’t sure how the metal colors would react to the Metal Gloss Varnish so I did a test first with the MLG doors. There is a tendency for gloss coats to change the tones of the metal colors but this varnish actually glosses up the metal colors more, smoothens the texture and somewhat hides the grain in the paint (which are quite obvious if you looked very closely). Nice.
And then naturally, disaster struck. When I went ahead and sprayed the Metal Varnish on the main kit itself, it started to spatter and to exhibit a pebbly orange peel effect. Then while trying to scrape off some the spatter, the Varnish literally peeled off! I tried sanding away the residue of the peeling but no luck there. So I ended up doing something quite drastic: I decided to strip off a whole section of the varnish. I limited the fix to a section bordered by panel lines. I slowly peeled off the varnish using a chisel. I ended up taking off some the paint and primer so I sanded and buffed off the unevenness and resprayed Aluminium over a black base. The fix is far from perfect but I’ll move on. My streak of disasters at the point of finishing is intact.
Now I had to redo the gloss again. This time I thinned it with Airbrush Thinner at a 3:1 ratio. The gloss went on much smoother with a less pebbly texture this time. Even after an hour the surface felt tacky though.
Decals was next and this is the first time that I’m using Academy’s house printed decals so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They turned out to be quite a bear to use. They take forever to detach from the backing, are quite fragile and don’t react well to Mark Softer at all. This stage ended up taking up a lot of time with most of it just waiting. I also ended up cutting some of them and joining them back on the surface. I also used Future in lieu of Mark Setter to force the more stubborn decals to stick. Quite a few of them also tore which I had to go back with handpaint and fix. I couldn’t really fix the yellow chevrons that were off-register though. Color fidelity is nice and definitely very sharp details and for the most part, look very good once cured. Otherwise, not much fun to use. As per usual, I did not put on all the tiny stencils. In this case, it’s because I really value my sanity.
After an additional gloss coat over the decals has dried, I proceeded to attach all the landing gear and doors with superglue. Hobbycraft originally molded the nosegear door for the wrong side. Academy’s instruction simply says to cut off the mounting points and butt join on the correct side. They didn’t bother to fix the mold. I ended up cutting off the mounting points, adding my own with 0.5mm plastic card and attached the door to the correct side. The Sabre’s speed brakes are supposed to sag when they are open but the ones here don’t. I simply shorten the lower braces to make them sag a bit.
The external fuel tanks were attached with superglue. I used Gator Glue for the braces. I only guessed how the braces attached as the instructions is vague on this. The fuel dump pipe was then attached and quickly handpainted in Bloody Red. The pitot tube/antenna on the starboard wing was also attached at this point. There’s no provision for wingtip lights on the wings and the instructions don’t indicate their existence either.
Another gloss coat was then sprayed over the kit to seal everything in and try to level the paint with the decals. I decided not to do panel lining as I’m not sure how the decals will react to the wash. Then last to come off as usual is the masking on the canopy. The edges were cleaned up with toothpicks and I’m done!
I’m glad that my first BMF kit turned out this well. In fact, the paintjob was the most problem-free aspect of this build. This bodes well to more BMF builds.
Number 8 of 2016
Finally onto decaling stage and the Academy decals are… crap. They take a long time to detach from the backing, are quite fragile, and doesn’t really react to Mark Softer. Since I don’t have Mark Setter I resorted to Future to stick some errant decals onto the surface. There were quite a few tearings so I’ll need to patch these up with paint. Color fidelity is nice and the details are very sharp but the yellow chevrons were off register.
As usual, I skipped some of the smaller stencils. At this point, I’m not sure I will be doing panel lining for this build…
While I struggle with bad fits on other builds, this particular bad fitting kit is finally up for painting. This 1/72 Academy F-86F will be my first ever BMF build. First up is base coating with gloss black. And since there’s no easy way to add a handle for easy er… handling, I decided to just base coat in stages. First is the bottom. This gloss black base is Vallejo Gloss Black Surface Primer sprayed at 15psi through a 0.3 airbrush without thinning. The result is not too bad I think.
Media: Injection Plastic
The Vought F-8E Crusader was a single-engined, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft which replaced the Vought F7U Cutlass in the US Navy and Marine Corps fleets. Known for its distinctive variable-incidence wing which pivoted by 7° out of the fuselage on takeoff and landing, it served principally in the Vietnam War and was the last American-designed fighter with guns (4 x 20mm Colt Mk.12s) as the primarily weapon. Due to this, it earned the title of ‘The Last of the Gunfighters’. 1,219 would eventually be built serving with the US Navy, US Marine Corps, Philippine Air Force and the Aeronavale (French Naval Aviation).
Despite the moniker however, F-8s only achieved 4 victories with their cannon out of the official 19. The rest were accomplished with the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile as the cannons had a tendency to jam during high-speed maneuvers. The F-8 would serve for 2 decades and would be retired by the US Navy in 1976 with the reconnaissance variant serving on for another 11 years. The last F-8 in service would retire from the Aeronavale in 2000.
On 12 June 1966, VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ squadron CO Harold ‘Hal’ Marr would claim the first air-to-air victory for the F-8 over the skies of Vietnam. Flying Nickel 103 on Combat Air Patrol northwest of Haiphong, Marr and his wingman engaged 4 Mig-17s and he would get his first victory with an AIM-9D Sidewinder. He would proceed to get an unofficial 2nd ‘kill’ using his guns in the same engagement. The model depicted here carries the markings of this particular F-8E.
More info on Wikipedia.
‘Nickel 103’ info from Wolfpak Decals.
My first memory of the F-8 is the aircraft piloted by the main character of the anime/manga Area 88. I didn’t know much about the series but it was about combat aircraft so I was automatically sold. The Academy release of the F-8E is currently the best (as of 2015) and most modern in the market.
This is another shelf queen from 2012 that I’m finishing OOB. The build was straightforward without much fitting problems besides the size of some of the parts. As per usual with modern subjects, there are a lot of small parts that need to be attached to the kit and they can be quite fragile. The only part that proved more challenging is the fit of the main wing. It’s made up of a top and bottom half which requires some sanding down to fit together. I didn’t do this properly so there is a step at the bottom of each wing. The other issue is the canopy which fit fine only if I left out the back section on the inside. There’s also no option to leave the canopy open. The surface is very detailed with fine rivets everywhere. Sure, they make for very nice details but are a pain to sand around. I managed to obliterate a lot of them. I didn’t bother redoing the rivets as I value my sanity and eyesight.
I originally wanted to use the VF-111 markings included in the box but after seeing Wolfpak Decals’ offering of the historic VF-211 F-8 I decided to switch. The VF-111 had an interesting sharkmouth on the intake but the tail looked boring.
Some things to mention about Wolfpak Decals: The historical research on each subject on their sheet is simply amazing. Each subject is fully described with type history, specific subject history, mods required on kits and weapons data (if any). However, they only provide the main markings for the aircraft. The markings are not numbered, there are no stencils at all and the placement sheets aren’t very clear so there were some eyeball 1.0 guesstimates needed.
I used the following paints for this kit:
Some notes for my reference for future projects:
All in all, I’m very satisfied with this build. It was quite pain-free and the kit is surprisingly big, sleek, fine detailed and with the colorful markings, looks very good on display.
I spent some time fiddling with the canopy to get it to fit flush with the fuselage but it seems like the tolerance is very tight and the Future coat actually made the canopy thicker. I ended up resorting to some sanding and leaving out the back section of the canopy.
And then it was time for the decals. I decided to use the F-8E Crusader markings from the Wolfpak Decals 72-039 ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ sheet. These were the markings worn by an F-8E from VF-211 ‘Fighting Checkmates’ which claimed the first air-to-air victory by this aircraft. Ironically it achieved this with a missile and not with its guns.
The Wolfpak decals proved a bit resistant to Mark Softer and I had to use several passes before they really snuggled down the panel lines. Otherwise though, they are pretty easy to use. I think the blue on the stars and bars are too light but went ahead with it since I’m no expert and the kit provided ones are sized differently.Â the ‘NP 103’ markings on the starboard wing silvered but that is due to my less than smooth gloss coat. Chalk that one up to my usual challenge with Future.
As for the stencils I decided to put on all the major ones and skipped all the ‘no steps’. It makes for a cleaner looking plane and less of a headache on the modeler. The stencils are from the kit and are designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograph. Very nicely done and easy to use.
After a day of curing and wipedown with a wet cloth to remove decal residue, I then sprayed on another layer of Future over the decals. A minor disaster struck: the Future spattered and I ended up with some orange peel. I fixed whatever I could with a Windex-soaked cotton bud and hope that the final finishing flat coat will hide it.
After this last layer has cured, I then proceeded to do the wash and panel lining. The wash inside the speed brake revealed injection pin marks but luckily all will be hidden by the speed brake itself. 🙂
For the main fuselage panel lines, I tried to do pin washes but the Vallejo Wash didn’t travel down the panel lines as smoothly as I hoped. This was even though I have thinned the wash quite significantly. I probably need to add something else to break the surface tension. But that’s for a different project.
So for this kit, I simply brushed roughly on all the panel lines. Leave to dry a bit, then wipe away with a Windex soaked tissue paper.
I originally used water for wipe down but it’s not as effective, especially when the wash has dried. I had to be careful with the Windex though as it can dissolve Future. Anyway, maybe it’s time to consider something else for the gloss coat before panel lining.
So panel lining is quickly over and done with. Next is putting everything together. First up are the landing gear. The gear doors took some finessing due to their small size but stayed put with some extra thin cement running down the joints. I managed to launch a part of the nose gear into the ether but found it on the floor a few hours later. Ding! Disaster #1 averted.
The main landing gear were attached with the help of both cement and super glue. The dive brake looked like it would clear the bottom of the main landing gear but it turned out OK.
Then I attached the pitot tube with extra thin cement. The front canopy is actually framed with yellow which Academy provides as decals. I’ll have to add them after my final coat.
Next are the tiny clear parts on top and bottom of the fuselage. I attach these with PVA glue. The top part went on fine and was painted clear red but I managed to catapult the bottom clear part into the jungle that is my room. Ding! Official Disaster #1!
Thankfully, the wing lights didn’t come in separate clear parts so all I had to do is paint silver as a base then clear blue on the starboard wing and clear red on the port wing. Much much easier than having to fiddle with the really small parts. Note the problem with the decal on the wing there. Oh well.
The paint on part of the port horizontal stab chipped off. No big deal there so I sand it down and respray the white color (which is actually just white primer). And… the colors don’t match. Much gnashing of teeth followed. Ding! Disaster #2!
The solution I came up with is simple: I cheat. I masked and sprayed white primer on the whole panel on both stabs. And since they are at the bottom, it’s easy enough to get away with. They were then very carefully pushed into the fuselage.
The fit was very tight so I didn’t use cement. There is a slight dihedral of the stabs but otherwise, both are exactly the same. I also added the engine into the exhaust which also fit without need for cement.
Hi-viz aircraft were apparently glossy in real-life so I went with a satin coat for the final clear layer. This time, I tried out Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish. Even thinned 50% with water it refuses to be sprayed by my 0.3mm airbrush. I ended up using the 0.5mm airbrush and it went on very smoothly and easily.
Once that has cured I removed the masking on the canopy (not perfect but not disaster worthy) and finally add the canopy frame decals. The main canopy frame is made up of 4 separate decals. While very small, they went on without much problems. The IRST ball and the lights were then given a brush of Future to shine them back up.
Last on were warning decals on the exhaust and I’m finally done! 😀