Monogram Promodeler 1/ 48 scale F-86D Dog Sabre, Kit 5960

By John Cyganowski


When I heard that Promodeler was going to issue the F-86D, I knew that I would break my self-imposed limitation to WWI kits and snap one up instantly as soon as it was released. I have always been surprised by the lack of a modern quality 1/48 F-86D on the market, since the Air Force flew so many of them; some 2500 airplanes in 20 wings. Until now, modelers could search for the long extinct Entex kit, and pay collectors prices or buy the Collect-Air resin kit, which also boasts a hefty price tag. In fact, I continue to be surprised at the lack of F-86 variants (A’s, E’s & H’s) save for the F-86F, which has been done very well by Monogram, Minicraft & Tamiya. Finally the interminable wait was over. I admit that I tore the shrink-wrap open in the car and gave the kit a thorough inspection before leaving the parking lot.

The Kit

The kit consists of 119 pieces packaged in 3 sturdy poly bags; the fuselage, the wings & tractor with tow bar (a really nice touch for the diorama makers).

I was first drawn to the wings, as I wanted to see how the leading edge slats would be handled - a prominent differentiating feature of all early Sabres. The leading edge slats were a device to enhance lift at low air speeds. The Sabre’s slats moved in and out with aerodynamic forces and were not powered. The slats on this model are well executed. The slat supports should exit the top and bottom of the leading edge of the wing but these supports are molded into the top edge of the wing. This is a very minor deviation. It appears to have been done this way to facilitate modelers who would remove the supports and model the aircraft in flight with the slats in the up position. It saves the modeler from filling the exit ports on the bottom of the wings. The closed support slots are molded into the bottom wing. Very well thought out.

The recessed panel lines on the wings and the tooling are impressive. Very fine boundary layer fences have been molded on to the horizontal stabilizers and on parts of the fuselage. This enhances the accuracy of the model, but may be difficult to cover in foil if that is your preferred finishing method.

The wheel hubs are highly detailed. I have never liked the recent trend in flattened bulging tires. Attempts at molding this have never looked right to me. Thankfully Promodeler has omitted this feature on this kit.

As I was inspecting the wing sprues, I noticed another really nice touch. The sprues have pin & sockets molded into them.

This allows the sprues to be stacked so that parts do not rub against each other in the poly bag, avoiding scratches that would need to be removed for painting. Somebody in the design department needs a raise!

The fuselage section looks very nice.  I am particularly pleased with the presence of the nose landing light as a socket with a clear lens piece. The next thing that caught my eye was the very large trim-tab on the rudder. This did not seem to be standard for F-86Ds. I have since been told that this model was based on the example in the Air Force museum (markings for 52-3863 are included in this kit). This particular airplane was used for aerodynamic studies (originally serialed 50-477) and has an oversized trim tab that was not present on any other F-86D. It should be a simple fix, should you decide to model a different D. The modeler should also be aware that this kit represents Ds of production block 40 or earlier. Starting at block 45, a drag ‘chute and fairing was installed. Purchase the Revell-Germany release to model an aircraft from a later production block. I am told that it is a D-45 with the drag ‘chute housing (see the review on the Revell-Germany kit here). Alternatively, you could reshape the area between the vertical stabilizer and the exhaust. References will be helpful.

The cockpit looks like it will be a lot of fun.  A nicely detailed tub has been supplied as well the tubular seat support that should look great. The radarscope shroud has been supplied as well. The seat appears to be accurate according to my references, but I would prefer that the seatbelts not be molded in to the seat cushion. I will remove this detail and add my own belts and buckles.

The F-86D had a lot of stencils and the extensive decal sheet looks like it has every one of them. The sheet supplies 2 sets of markings one for 52-3863 of the 97th FIS “Dennis the Menace” as mentioned earlier. The instructions call out the second markings set as being from the 498th FIS “Gieger’s Tigers”. This is a common error that has propagated through the years and unfortunately some reference books. The markings actually belong to an aircraft from the 520th FIS.  The 520th FIS was later redesignated the 498th FIS, but there were some subtle changes to the markings – notably the number of stars on the canopy and the addition of a tiger’s head on the tail. I will not use either of these.  My Dad flew the “D” for ~ 6 years with the 4th FIS out of Misawa AFB in Japan and with the 49th FIS out of Hanscom Field, in Bedford, MA.  I will probably end up modeling both of these.

The instruction booklet is very well done featuring an aircraft history, stencil placement drawings, and lots of helpful photos from Bert Kinsey of Detail & Scale.

I have one suggestion for improvement. The kit does not naturally sit on its gear.  It will either require weight in the nose or that the modeler use the supplied clear plastic support rod to make the model sit correctly. I would like this fact to be called out more prominently in the instructions and a weighting recommendation.


This kit is a beauty. The molding techniques and overall quality are second to none. I paid $22.50 at my local hobby shop for this kit.  I feel I received a good value for my money and that the price is very competitive when compared to kits of equivalent size and quality from other manufacturers. I am definitely going to enjoy building this one.

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