North American F-86 Sabre
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F-86 Sabre in 1/72 scale: kit modelling reports


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heller f-86

The good old Heller kit #277 of the F-86 Sabre way back from 1979 was by far the best 1/72 kit in its time. It appeared in several releases with different boxes and decals.

It appears the kit has the early wing with the narrow chord version with slats, recognizable being fitted with the cranked pitot tube.  

heller -86 parts

The kit has raised panel lines but they are very fine. Also, the interior details are nice including the option to set the airbrakes open and rear sliding canopy open. 

heller instructions 

heller instructio

The first decal option in this kit is for a West German Canadair manufactured CL-13 Sabre of the Luftwaffe JG71 Richthofen. I think that the CL-13B mk6 had indeed the bigger 6-3 non-slatted wing so the kit seems correct. But check it out if you built this kit.  

The other decal option is for a North American USAF F-86F-30-NA aircraft used in Korea with nickname "Mig Mad Marine" "52-4584". It had the bigger 6-3 non-slatted wing so seems correct. 

The instructions though do not show for the 6-3 wing the small wing fence and the straight pitot tube. 


Assembly was done many years ago straight out of the box. There is a long intake which is fine. You will need to put in a large amount of weight in the nose to prevent tailsitting.

At the time, I used small paint rattle cans from Revell for the aluminium finish. The spray cans came on the market in those days and were a simple alternative for the airbrush. Some panels were than hand painted in a slightly different metal colour. 


This F-86 model sits nicely on the shelves for many years as USAF Mig Mad Marine. After decades, the applied Heller decals for "Mig Mad Marine" were not in a good state on my model. I could remove these and add others. I forgot the small wing fence and pitot tube. 


I opted for a model to represent a South America Bolivia Sabre. 

I had difficulty to see what type of wing was used on their F-86F. But the vague photo below suggests both types of wing were used, the lower aircraft suggesting a kinked pitot tube though I am not sure. So I assumed the slatted wing was also applicable.

 real f-86

The roundels were composed using several decals from the spare box. The green dot was punched with a Waldron set from a green decal.

waldron punch and die set

bolivia roundel

The rudder decals were also made from several spares found in the decals spares box. The result looks good despite the very old made kit.


map of bolivia bolivia lag  bolivia roundel 

[area: 1,100,000 | population: 11,6 million | capital: Sucre with La Paz executive | GDP USD 3,700 nominal per capita ]   

Bolivia became a republic in 1925. Many revolutions and government changes have happened over the years as well as local conflicts with its neighbors. A military air arm "Cuerpo de Aviadores Militares Bolivianos" was established in 1924 just before the Republic was declared. Over the years, equipment came from the USA. In 1930's the air force obtained Curtiss Wright aircraft operated from Chaco and Fairchild PT-19. After the Second World War Fokker S-11 trainers were acquired. The 15 T-33 jets obtained from 1973 Canadian T-33 mk.3 Silver Stars. From end 1980s some 18 ex-French T-33SF were acquired and modernised by the Canadian Kelowna company. But also the air force acquired 10 F-86Fs ex-Venezuelan Sabre fighters around October 1973. The Sabres were assigned to Brigada Aérea 21, Grupo Aéreo de Caza 32. Later the Sabres got a camouflage scheme. Probably they were retired from service in 1994, making them the last Sabres on active front line air force service anywhere in the world!  
Currently there are a dozen of air bases and used aircraft included types like still the good old T-33 and PC-7. In 2011 some K-8 Karakorum jets were acquired. 

Transports are types like the F-27 and C-130, BAe 146, DC-10, C-212 but also few Antonov AN-26 (MA-60). Several helicopters are also used and recently K-8 trainers were obtained as well. Some Diamond DA40 aircraft are used for training.     

f-86 bolivia

  F-86F, FAB-652

f-86 bolivia

f-86 bolivia

bolivia f-86

This old restored F-86 Sabre model now sits nicely in the World Air Force collection. 


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Created this page 
June 9, 2017