1/48 Hasegawa RF-86F Sabre

Gallery Article by Mark L. Rossmann on Oct 9 2013



The F-86 Sabre was the U.S. Air Forces successor to the P-51. The F-86 was manufactured in several countries most significantly after the U.S. was Canada, via Canadair, and by Japan via Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (creator of the Zero) under license, from 1956 to 1961.

Under the Military Assistant program started in 1954, the new JASDF received 29 former USAF F-86F-25 and -30 aircraft. The first JASDF Wing was activated in October 1956 using T-33A trainers and F-86Fs. A total of 135 former USAF F-86Fs, mostly Korean War veterans, were received until early1957.

The F-86F-40 was like the F-86F-25/30, but with a modified wing, featuring a 30 centimeter (1 foot) wingtip extension on the "6-3" wing, and having restored the leading-edge slats. This wing was called the "F-40". The first F-86F-40 was produced at the Inglewood plant in October 1955. Performance characteristics were the same as the F-86-25/30, while the F-86-40 had eliminated the “hot” landings. 

The USAF was in need for new fighters and bought 280 NAA F-86F-40s. Also a large number of "F-40" wing kits were ordered to retrofit to older F-86Fs via the IRAN program with many being supplied to US allies. The F-86F-40 was the final production variant of a total of 2,538 F-86Fs built

Kits were sent to Japan in August of 1955, with the first JASDF F-86F-40 coming off the Mitsubishi line one year later becoming the first users of the -40. Mitsubishi would assemble a total of over 300 F-86F-40s.

Late Japanese production would equip the Sabre to carry the "Sidewinder" heat-seeking air-to-air missile (AAM). These first Sidewinders needed to be accurately bore sighted on the target's exhaust to be effective. The pilot would hear through his earphones, a growling tone that grew louder as the missile confirmed a lock for firing.

JASDF Hikotais 1 to 10, plus the "Blue Impulse" aerial display team flew the F-86-40’s. 


Click on images below to see larger images

In December 1961 Mitsubishi modified eighteen former USAF F-86F-25s and -30s to an RF-86F recon version, by adding three cameras near the cockpit and underneath, most identifiable by the bulge’s it created. Besides Japan, the only other country I am aware of that used the RF-86F was Korea, correct me if I am wrong. The U.S. was already committed to the RF-84F and new recon aircraft were coming on-line, therefore did not take delivery of these units, thus closing out its run of -40 Sabres’.

RF-86F-40’s were flown by the 501st SQ. (Iruma AB) and A.D.C. Headquarters SQ. (Iruma AB).

The Hasegawa RF-86F-40 model is well designed and crisply manufactured, providing the correct -40 wing assembly. Additional camera port parts were provided to glue to the side of the aircraft. The underside cameras required you to cut a portion of the model from just behind the front wheel well to where the wing attached across the center of the model. This was a bit tricky insert as it pressed against the bottom of the cockpit tub. A bit of sanding and cutting cleared that up. On some of the RF-86F’s the guns were removed and the openings faired over, I choose to do that, on the actual aircraft they painted on the gun ports to simulate the aircraft had them, I used the decals to do the same. 

The decals provide you with the 2 recon squadron markings, I chose the 501st Squadron. I built this model about 3 years ago, some of the decals yellowed. I had extras and recently did some work taking off the bad ones… had a couple of issues as some lighter silver coloring is evident on the pictures. 

The F-86F-40 aircraft pictured with it are from the 10th SQ 8th AW.


  • Hasegawa Instruction sheet, 

  • Encyclopedia of Worlds Combat Aircraft a Salamander Book 

  • Greg Goebel’s (Mr. G) website: www.vectorsite.net

Mark L. Rossmann


Photos and text © by Mark L. Rossmann