Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Airfix 1/72 USAF F-86D Sabre "Dog"

Sometime in 1976 I sat down at my Dad's workbench in the garage, and with Paul McCartney & Wing's "Let 'em In" on the radio, I started work on my second Airfix model kit, the F-86D Sabre. I remember being impressed with the quality of this model; the parts seemed to fit better than most kits I had built up to that time. I hand-painted a few parts such as the radome and anti-glare panel, but left the rest in the natural silver-gray plastic.
When it came to rebuilding this kit 36 years later, I knew it had to be shinier than the dull plastic color. I wanted it to look like the one on the box art, so I sprayed it with Testors chrome; which in my opinion is the poor-man's version of Liqua-Plate or some such other esoteric hobby product intended to replicate bare aluminum. I think it looks good and somewhat vintage-like. After all, if one really wanted to stay within this kit's original context, that is, an English kid in 1975 would have brush painted it with Airfix or Humbrol silver, it would look a lot like my rebuild pictured below.
I really enjoyed building this model again, as I have with most of the others. Maybe it's because my memories of doing so the first time are still so vivid. One thing I did differently the second time was to build it 'gear up' like the one on the box top. One reason for this is the nose wheel piece is famous for its weak strut, which breaks very easily. I remember my original breaking several times right where the nose wheel forms with the compression cylinder. I say this is "famous" because it's mentioned in the review of this model in a 1976 issue of SCALE MODELER magazine. Another reason is I like the way the Sabre looks in flight mode with the wing tanks. So why not forget the gear this time? I know there are modelers out there who absolutely have to have a wheels-down model every time. But for me, it's nice not to have mess with the extra assembly and painting every now and then.
This is one of my favorite Airfix kits because it was still pretty new when I bought it the first time, and is an excellent quality kit. This rebuild may not be the last time I'll build one of these.  

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