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Cavallino Rampante
Academy's 1/48 scale F-86F-30
converted to F-86E(M) Sabre

by Craig Sargent


F-86E(M) Sabre


Academy's 1/48 scale F-86F-30 is available online from Squadron.com




This project was built for our club’s “Build The Same Kit” competition, where members voted on the kit they wanted to build, and then had a two-month timeframe in which to complete the chosen models, with no limit on what could be done to the kit in that time. Judging was by members’ popular vote, not IPMS standards to give all comers a fair chance. The kits chosen were the Academy Sabres in 1/72 and 1/48.

I wanted to find a subject that fitted in with my modelling interests, and was different from the run of the mill NMF Sabres. After some research, I came across a couple of interesting Italian aerobatic Sabre schemes, and a set of matching decals from Tauro in Italy. The final scheme chosen is that of the Cavallino Rampante. The other decision was how to build this aircraft, and what to do to it, in the 2 months allotted timeframe.





Construction Commenced

The easiest way to cover up the lack of detail in the gun bays and shallow speed brake wells (once again trying to limit resin costs) was to close them up. The first thing was to Dremel out the speedbrake wells and gun bays, which allowed me to easily fit the gun bay covers and speed brakes closed, before joining the fuselage halves.

Also being an airshow aircraft, and wanting to keep down the tasks associated with the build due to the timeframe, I elected to use the very nice intake and exhaust blanks supplied in the kit. This meant being able to leave out the intake ducting, and the engine, which would have added time to the build. The Aires cockpit set was purchased to dress up the cockpit, as this would be the most prominent part of the kit that needed improving.


The first step in main construction was to join the fuselage halves. I discovered that the exhaust on the Academy Sabre sits too far inside the tail, so simply removed the mounting pins, and pushed the exhaust pipe as far back into the tail as it would go, being careful to get the alignment correct. With an application of thin glue, the pipe was in just the right place.

The wings were assembled next, but I found a 10 thou styrene shim was needed between the wing root and fuselage on each side to fill a gap. This appears to only be a problem with later batches of the kit as comparisons with others who had an earlier batch did not have this problem. It was also pointed out to me that Canadair-built Sabres did not have the box like panel at the root of the fin, as was found on the NA Sabre depicted in the kit. This was duly shaved off (red-outlined box in image below).




Attention was then turned to the cockpit and seat.

The Aires set is very nice. The only problem is that it lacks sidewalls, and therefore a few problems were encountered. Fitting the cockpit is not straightforward either. After some experimenting (and a lot of cursing), I found the easiest way to fit the cockpit tub was to remove the rear of the resin part at the rear bulkhead. This included the rear decking and part of the side consoles beyond that point. Rear deck details were scratchbuilt onto the fuselage halves - copied from the Aires resin.

A new rear bulkhead was made to fit the cockpit at the right height below the decking, and prevent a see through look from the cockpit. Sidewalls were also added from 5 thou Evergreen sheet. These were made taller than needed so they could be trimmed after the cockpit was glued in place. The base was removed from the kit instrument panel and fitted to the Aires tub along with the throttle. The Aires etched and acetate panel was added on top of the pedestal after painting. This method of assembly allowed me to finish all fuselage assembly quickly, and still gave me time to work on the cockpit.

The cockpit, seat and rear deck were painted with Gunze acrylics and installed. The picture of the seat shows the finished construction with the etched seat belts, but with painting and weathering yet to be finished. A Cutting Edge resin gunsight was fitted after removing the corresponding part on the fuselage halves. I used the kit gunsight glass, sanded it thinner for a scale thickness, polished it and added a clear green tint painted on the sides only. After that was all painted and installed, I found another defect only present in later batches of this kit. The windshield is deformed on the lower front corner. It actually curves inwards 1 – 2mm too much in that corner. I duly swapped mine with that of a friend with an earlier boxing of the kit.



Painting, Decals and Weathering


Canopy and windshield were masked with Tamiya tape and the model preshaded with thinned Gunze flat black acrylic. I removed most of this again with a rag and thinner, as it would be too hard to cover under the lighter colours of the scheme. The black was left around the transparencies to form the inner colour of the canopy/windshield framing. The main parts of the fuselage and upper wings were painted with Gunze H21 Off White mixed with some tan to get the FS 17778 match suggested by Tauro for the ivory. This is only approximate, as apparently the real aircraft was painted with a colour from Lancia cars. The areas to be painted red were then masked and Gunze H327 Red (FS 11136) was airbrushed to give the striking red scallops and canopy framing.

The grey and black fin tip was painted and masked, as was the ivory, and blue was airbrushed on to the tail surfaces, outboard upper and lower wings. Each of the three main colours, when dry, was lightly sanded with 4000 grade polishing cloth to give a nice even finish. Finally, the wheel wells were masked and airbrushed Gunze silver and details in the wells picked out. Everything was then given a coat of Gunze gloss varnish in preparation for decalling (can you tell I like Gunze acrylics?).


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The Tauro decals were VERY thick and don't seem to react to any known chemical solution - I imagine concentrated acids wouldn't harm them. The film was still quite noticeable even after multiple applications of MicroSol, and some silvering occurred despite the glossy surface. I also found that there are not enough stars provided for the scheme, and so I had to cut all of the stars for the lower wings (10 in all) from white decal film. One wing roundel went to the dogs and was damaged beyond recognition after applying - luckily I had a whole sheet of them (you have to buy them SEPERATELY from Tauro). The decals were then glossed over for weathering.

Weathering was a wash using a mix of 80% white, 10% Payne's grey and 10% raw umber oil paints thinned with mineral turpentine to a dirty thinner consistency. The same wash colour was applied to the whole model, appearing dark on the ivory and pale on the red and blue.


The final assembly involved installing the finished seat, attaching the canopy, gluing the painted intake and exhaust blanks in place (which had copper wire handles added), and gluing Cutting Edge’s tinted clear resin red, green, white and orange navigation lights in the appropriate places (wingtips, tail, lower fuselage). I mixed up some 5-minute clear epoxy glue and filled the two under nose lights to represent the landing lights there. I also attached the landing gear, painted the tip of the pitot tube, and added some oil streaks using thinned raw umber under the rear of the fuselage and in the gear bays.





I got the kit finished in time. Doing an aerobatics scheme meant no pesky stores or pylons and preserved the nice clean lines of the aircraft. My argument is that the aircraft has just shut down, hence the speed brakes have not bled open and the intake and exhaust blanks are fitted. The Academy kit is a very nice build, and certainly cheaper than the Hasegawa kit. And I still have enough decals left over to build a Sabre from the Lanceri Neri aerobatic team…



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Craig Sargent
Page Created 18 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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