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Paper Tiger - 1/48th Academy F-86F Sabre

Updated: Mar 30

The 1998 Academy F-86F kit release was a nice add-on to the Sabre offerings of the time. Hasegawa had released their Sabre a couple of years earlier. Nice features were included in this Academy kit, offered at a reasonable price. Academy's version represents the earlier non-slatted wing Sabre.


Notable Kit Features:

  • Nice cockpit

  • Finely recessed panel lines and details

  • Intake duct

  • Nicely detailed J47 engine (engine stand also included)

  • Open gun bays option

  • Bombs, Early AIM-9 Sidewinders, Two types of external fuel tanks

  • Two pilot figures (standing and sitting)


Build Inspiration:

I put this build together to feature Harold E. Fischer Jr.'s "Paper Tiger" Sabre jet (in which he achieved double Ace status during the Korean War). Fischer achieved a remarkable combat record during his 105 missions. He was credited with shooting down 10 MiG-15 fighters, making him the youngest double ace. In his last dogfight before his F-86 Sabre Jet was hit by a Chinese fighter pilot, Fischer downed his 11th MiG. On April 7, 1953 he parachuted into enemy territory just north of the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from China.


Fischer was taken by Chinese soldiers to a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria, where he would spend the next 25 months. Three other American pilots were being held in the same prison. Nine months into his captivity, Fischer used a nail to dig a hole through the wall of his cell and escaped. Intent on stealing a MiG to make his escape south, his plans were foiled and he was recaptured and placed in solitary confinement. His imprisonment continued months past the signing of the armistice and cease-fire that stopped the fighting July 27, 1953. He and the other pilots were released May 31, 1955.


Heads-Up Report:

  • Poor decals (thick and tend to silver and not in a NMF way ;)

  • Weak main gear


Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Added nose weight

  • Made seatbelts from painted tape strips


End Result:


This was rather a half-hearted attempt at a Natural Metal Finish (NMF), followed up by the mistake of deciding to use the kit decals instead of painting the FEAF recognition markings on the aircraft. The end result is less than I was hoping for mainly due to a rushed project. The weakness of this kit version release was definitely the decals, so in this case you may want to source some aftermarket markings.


The After-Build Report:


Both the Hasegawa and Academy products are typically highly thought of kits. Eduard have taken Hasegawa's plastic from their F-86F-30 kit and added two small sheets of Photo-etch, a sheet of masks, and a Brassin Ejection Seat. There is also the new the Airfix 1/48 offering to choose from. All in all some nice options for Sabre builders.



Completed build #114 - August 2009 using the 1/48th Academy F-86F Sabre kit (2183)


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