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 of the F-86 Sabre way back from 1979 was by far the best 1/72 kit by the time. It appeared in several releases with different boxes a decals.

It appears to be a F-86F. The wing is for the narrow chord version with slats, recognizable being fitted with the cranked pitot tube. First, the Sabre like the F-86E had the original F-30 wing. Later a larger ‘6-3’ "F-40" wing was introduced and often retro-fitted on existing Sabres. This wing has enlarged chord in front of the forward spar in the wing slat area and also extended wing span. A wing type can be distinguished quickly looking at the pitot tube: the later "F-40" wing has "straight" pitot tube that sits a bit more inboard than on the old smaller "F-30" wing. The F-86F had first the F-30 wing but later introduced the lagere '6-3' F-40 type wing. 

heller -86 parts

Within the Heller kit is the smaller first F-30 wing. 

The kit has raised panellines 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

Decals in this kit were for a West German and a USAF aircraft used in Korea with nickname "Mig Mad Marine". (I have also seen later releases that also had Norwegean F-86 decals). 


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

At the time, I used small paint 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 with the old style wing sat 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 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 old style 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. 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 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. 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-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; updated 2022