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ProModeler 1/48 scale F-86D Dog Sabre

Manufacturer: ProModeler, from Revell-Monogram 8601 Waukegan Road, Morton Grove, IL 60053-2295, 847-966-3500
Kit: No. 5960
Scale: 1/48
Price: $22.65
Comments: Injection-molded, 119 parts, decals
Pros:Excellent recessed panel lines, cockpit interior, and landing gear, good fit, bonus tow tractor
Cons: Red in decals too dark
The F-86D is one of my favorite aircraft because of its ungainly radome and squat intake - real personality in the needle-nose world of 1950s jet fighters. The fact that it was crammed with the latest technology was admirable as well. Usually, radar-equipped interceptors of the day had a second crewman to run the complicated equipment, but the Dog Sabre pilot had to do it all: fly, navigate, and operate the radar and weapons system.

A modern kit of the Dog Sabre was needed in this scale, so this model's fine recessed panel lines, intricate detail, and good fit are welcome.

ProModeler paid attention to the cockpit interior, and has provided a fine rendition of the complex ejection seat. The harness is molded in, and the tube frame construction is well done. The instrument panel features raised detail, perfect for washing and dry-brushing. Sometimes kits of this quality leave out the throttle, but ProModeler not only provides one, but a radar control handle as well. The side consoles are well executed with all the switches and knobs in place. You also get rudder pedals and a good control column. I like the accessory panel behind the seat that is revealed when the canopy is opened; most other kits lack this detail.

The cockpit assembly fits above the intake trunking which, unfortunately, suffers from the pesky seams that usually afflict jet kits. Below the intake is the nose-gear well, which features a convincing arrangement of framing and plumbing.

This entire subassembly (cockpit, intake, and nose-gear well) fits into the fuselage better than any kit I've ever built. It literally snaps into place. Impressive. Some other parts, such as the exhaust nozzle and fuselage side scoops, also fit perfectly. There are two sets of side scoops: early NACA-style flush scoops, and long, raised ones. I used the latter, but the early ones should be used for the aircraft represented on the decal sheet.

There were a couple of areas that needed attention for a better fit. I had to use a little filler at the lower rear seam of the wing/fuselage joint. Smoothing out the seam at the top of the "sugar scoop" fairing above the exhaust was tricky; the compound curve shape of the fairing made flat spots obvious, so I had to sand carefully.

The wing goes together well and the separate slats and flaps are well done. The all-important wing-to-fuselage joint needed only a tiny amount of white glue on the upper right seam in my sample. I found that liquid cement seemed to "craze" the plastic a little more than usual; since this model would wear a natural metal finish, I had to use fine sandpaper and polish on all glued seams.

The landing gear struts, wheels, and doors are nicely detailed. The small mounting stubs on the main gear doors don't provide much gluing surface, so the tiny hydraulic actuator arms not only add detail, but reinforce the attachment of the doors.

ProModeler's rocket tray accurately portrays the original. On the Dog Sabre, the ventral tray was lowered to fire the rockets, and an aerodynamic fairing attached to the mechanism closed the "hole" in the fuselage. The kit tray simply attaches to the bottom of the fuselage, so whether you pose the tray lowered or raised, you are all set; glue the tray on or leave it off.

The clear parts are good, and ProModeler adds separate interior side panels to the clamshell canopy; a nice touch, since most other kits provide little detail there. The ProModeler issue of the kit comes with a nifty 19-part tow tractor (which I didn't build).

The decals are a mixed bag. Printing is clear and the colors line up, but the red used in the printing is too maroon. The decals seem thick, but go on fine. Setting solutions seemed to work slowly on the decals. Markings are included for "Dennis the Menace" of the 97th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (the example in the U.S. Air Force Museum), and a shark-mouthed Dog Sabre of the 498th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

Revell Germany has also issued the Dog Sabre. This kit uses the same mold with a few detail changes; it represents a later version of the fighter with a modified fairing over the exhaust that held a drag chute. The German issue of the kit does not include the tow tractor.

I spent about 25 hours building and painting my F-86D. The finished model looks right and measures out fine with dimensions published in several books. Though it was a long time in coming, I'm happy to add this state-of-the-art "Dog" to my collection of early jets.


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