Hobbycraft 1/72 Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV/F-86E(M)
AMI Sabre 4
by Vince Tassone

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The Canadair Sabre was a jet fighter built by Canadair under licence from North American Aviation. A variant of the North American F-86 Sabre, it was produced until 1958 and used primarily by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) until replaced with the Canadair CF-104 in 1962. Several air forces also operated the aircraft.

Canadair produced six versions of the CL-13 Sabre (Mk.I-VI [Mk.1-6], also referred to as the Canadair Sabre 1-6). The sole Sabre Mk.1 was essentially the same as the North American Sabre F-86A. It had a General Electric J47-GE-13 turbojet of 5,200 lb thrust. The Sabre Mk.2 had the same engine, although after the first 20 aircraft were produced, the remainder of the production run was distinguished in having power-assisted controls and an "all-flying" tailplane. The sole Sabre Mk 3 was the first of the Canadian Sabres to use the Avro Canada Orenda turbojet (Orenda 3 with 6,000 lb thrust). The Sabre Mk.4 (F-86E) retained the General Electric engine (because of delays in the procurement of the Orenda engine) and was destined for the RAF and was later passed on to other overseas air forces. The Sabre Mk.5 (F-86F) was the next production version and was equipped with an Orenda 10 with 6,500 lb thrust. A change to the Orenda 14 with 7,440 lb of thrust powered the Sabre Mk.6 and the plane was able to reach in excess of 710 mph at sea level making it the fastest Sabre variant, a full 40 mph faster than the F-86A. The rate of climb was 11,800 ft/min, some 1,700 ft/min greater than the MiG-15 [3].

In mid-1952, the Sabre Mk.4 went into production with the first one flown on 28 August 1952. Apart from some minor structural and systems changes, including improved air-conditioning and gun sight, the Mk.2 and the Mk.4 were identical. Of 438 Mk.4s built, approximately 70 were used temporarily by the RCAF, all surviving examples being passed to the RAF. The other Sabre 4s went directly to the RAF under a mutual aid program, equipping 11 RAF squadrons. The majority served in West Germany with NATO with two squadrons being based in the UK as part of RAF Fighter Command. The Sabre Mk.4 served with the RAF until mid-1956 when they were replaced by Hawker Hunters. The survivors were overhauled in the UK fitted with '6-3' wing modifications and handed to the USAF (which had funded the project) which in turn passed them on to other NATO members, with the majority going to Italy and Yugoslavia known either as the F-86E(M) or F-86E-6-CAN.

The Mk.6 armed with AIM-9 Sidewinders was used by Pakistan as the backbone of its air force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. These planes racked up an impressive kill ratio over their Indian counterparts which lacked missiles. A single Mk.3 was flown by Jacqueline Cochran (an American) in 1953 and set several speed records including becoming the first woman to break the sound barrier. A total of 1,815 Canadair CL-13s were built.

1) The History and Heritage of Canada's Air Force; www.rcaf.com
2) L. Davis and D. Greer, F-86 in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications, Aircraft No.33, 1978.
3) L. Davis T. Tullis and D. Greer, F-86 in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2nd Revised Edition, Aircraft No.126, 1992.
4) M. Spick, Illustrated Directory of Fighters, Osceola, Wisconsin, Zenith Press, 2002.

Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV/F-86E(M), 19577, 4-84, 12o Gruppo, 4a Aerobrigata (4o Stormo), Grosseto AFB 1960. Fonte Archivio Storico Aeronautica Militare Italiana.


I've always wanted a F-86 in my collection, together with the F-84, the F-86 was an iconic US jet fighter that with the MIG-15 dominated the skies over Korea in the early 1950s, yielding many aces.

This is Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV/F-86E(M), 19577, 4-84, 12o Gruppo, 4a Aerobrigata (4o Stormo) at Grosseto AFB in 1960. The Aerobrigata was short lived in the AMI, the AMI returning to the Stormo (wing) shortly after its introduction. For this build I used the Hobbycraft USAF F-86F-10 HC1383 – more on this later. I became interested in this project when I was working on an Italaerei 1/72 Republic RF-84F in 2017/2018. I purchased the kit many years ago from Uncle Rick's in Calgary for $7 CDN. No other kit manufacturer provided more bang-for-your-buck than Hobbycraft Kits, not then or now - Hobbycraft kits were great for the hobby - I enjoyed building their kits which are sadly absent from the shelves of today’s hobby shops. I choose HC1383 because it was in my stash but also because I could make the necessary changes to turn it into a Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV and also, it includes the 120 gallon combat tanks. Chatting with Jim Bates in Vancouver, Hobbycraft only ever made two Sabres, a Sabre 5 and a Sabre 6. Hobbycraft also boxed these offerings (incorrectly it should be noted) as Sabre 4s, F-86Es and later F-86Fs. Jim has both the Hobbycraft Sabre 6 and Sabre 4 boxings and they are identical outside the decals. The Sabre 5 and the Sabre 6 were later reboxed by Academy (and then Italeri from Academy for its Frecce Tricolori Triple kit) with some changes, for example in the early Hobbycraft boxings the cockpit floor and consoles are separate parts (as in HC1383), whereas in the Academy kit these parts are one piece.

 Academy single piece cockpit

HC1383 builds into a Sabre Mk.VI. The thing we need to know is that the Mk.VI was distinguished by having a short span slated '6-3' wing – no other variant carried this wing including USAF aircraft (US aircraft used the F-40 wings on later variants). The Mk.IV was a F-86E that left the factory with a short chord slated wing. The Mk.IV was later retro-fitted with the hard-edge/non-slated '6-3' wing as in the Mk.V and hence the F-86E(M) designation - M for modified.
 Copyright © 2009 J.R. Heilig

These planes were then passed to the Yugoslavian and Italian Air Forces (AMI Aeronautica Militare Italiana) under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act funded by the US. So the slated arms in HC1383 need to be removed and the slates mounted in the closed position and a fence added to the leading edges of both wings approximately 40 mm from the wing root and 1.76 mm height x 5.3 mm length. There's also some shape issues with the fuselage and the wheels, however I couldn't find replacement wheels and I couldn't get more information for the fuselage, and likely nothing could be done about that anyway. There are some shape issues also with the airbrakes. A removable section over the ammo bay near the wing root needs to be added. A good discussion of the various F-86 wings is provided in Duncan’s Sabre Website as well as a nice graphic "Sabre Wings Demystified" by J.R. Heilig (see above).

The Kit
HC1383 was first issued in 1989 and itself was a rebox of the Sabre 6 issued in 1988. The kit comes with three light-gray plastic sprues A, B, C and one clear sprue D for the canopy and gun sight. The three gray sprues are well molded with no flashing and crisp detail. Although the boxing indicates the plane is a F-86F-10, the kit is in fact a Canadair CL-13 Sabre 6 (Mk.VI) with a one and only short span slated '6-3' wing that was present only on Canadair built machines. The instructions are Italeri-like with 9 panels, easy to read with instructions for painting either a US plane or a Canadian Golden Hawks (aerobatic) plane. The color instructions do not apply to AMI machines in regard to the interior cockpit.

 Hobbycraft HC1383 first issued in 1989

The cockpit was a little tricky to assemble but not hard. As mentioned above there's no cockpit tub, so the left and right consoles and floor need to be glued into place. I first assembled the cockpit floor and intake tube C20+C21 to the port side fuselage halve, this made it easier to align the intake tube to the nose wheel well/bay. Interestingly the Academy instructions indicate to add a 10g weight to the nose but I found 3g-4g is enough (10g is too heavy and there isn't enough room for 10g anyway). The Hobbycraft instructions say 3g-5g. Anyway, I used small copper BB 4.5mm pellets as weight – use cyanoacrylate to glue into position. I then glued C24 into place while minding the fit with the other fuselage halve which was tight, there are no gaps. I then added the port side console and then the starboard side console with the fuselage halves taped in place for an ultra-tight fit – again no gaps. A splendid fit, I think this is what HC had in mind when it designed this kit. Academy later used a single cockpit tub but I don't know if you can get the same fit as the HC kit when assembled correctly. To glue the consoles in place I used a small amount of tissue and masking tape to position the consoles correctly. The Instrument panel was then glued into place last. Using cockpit decals from STRM72001 enhanced the look of the cockpit.

 Cockpit enhanced using decals

I sprayed the inside of the fuselage around the exhaust tube as well as the inside of the exhaust itself black and the exterior of the exhaust C42 steel, and then glued the exhaust/after burner to the starboard side of the fuselage halve while dry fitting the other halve to be sure the exhaust was centered. There's an indentation that allows the exhaust to fit neatly into place.

 Exahust tube assembly
I then glued the fuselage halves together and glued the nose piece C37 to the front fuselage. The nose piece and intake tube align almost exactly.

Wings and Stabilizers
To build a F-86E(M) using HC1383 you need to remove the slat arms and glue the slats into the closed position. I measured 40 mm from the wing root to the leading edge and added a fence made from photo etch fret. The wings were then glued to the fuselage almost clicking into position, a tight fight with no gaps. Take note that the horizontal stabilizers are at 80o degrees. There was a hairline gap 1/2 mm that appeared on the starboard side stabilizer, it appeared because I didn’t clean the part thoroughly so I used two applications of paint (Tamiya Flat Black) as filler and some light sanding that fixed this. Take note the pitot tube C43 faces outward of the wing, the Hobbycraft instructions incorrectly indicate inward.

Some light sanding was needed along the fuselage halves after gluing and the panels lines were restored along the spine and ventral halves. No filler was needed.

The painting instructions in HC1383 are for a USAF F-86F and a Golden Hawks plane which was painted with a gull gray cockpit interior, however AMI F-86E(M) cockpits were painted black, although some may have reverted to gull gray after retrofit but I found no sources to confirm this, and to which planes this may have been done. I painted the upper outside edges of the cockpit black but take note that the thickness of the edges exceeds the width of the canopy and need to be masked and measured properly. The tip of rudder and antiglare panel are black with Olive Drab FS.34087 (Model Master enamel) side panels just ahead of the cockpit as well as the exterior canopy. Top of rudder in Light Gray FS.36495 Gunze H338. I noticed while applying steel to the gun panel on the nose of the plane that there's a missing panel line forward of the gun panel and one underneath the gun panel that shouldn't be there. I just masked the gun panel but a panel line should be added/scribed. It's interesting to note that the old 1/48 Esci/Italeri F-86E kit also has this area as a single panel, although in the Esci/Italeri kit it was likely meant for detailing the gun bay. There's also a missing rectangular panel in the mid-upper fuselage with rounded corners that should be scribed.

Humbrol Metal Cote Colors
I wanted to give Humbrol Metal Cotes a try. I've used Metal Cotes in the past as primers for Testors Metalizers but I wanted to use them in this project as the primary finish. I started with Humbrol Metal Cote 27001 Matt Aluminum and added 27003 Steel to get a darker shade but it sprayed on grainy (they don't mix well) and buffing it resulted in the paint being removed. I then thinned (30%) 27002 Polished Alumium using Testors enamel thinner and it sprayed on fine (use a high pressure) but do note that Metal Cotes spray on thicker than Testors Metalizers and Alcad and the finish is enamel-like. The final finish is not comparable to Testors Metalizers or Alcad. Metal Cotes give an acceptable finish but are not superior.

 Humbrol Metal Cote 27002

Also keep in mind because Humbrol use tinlets, Metal Cotes are messy to work with. Let dry for 1 day and can be buffed with a soft clean cloth with little wear - these paints are durable. I used Humbrol Metal Cote 27003 Steel for the gun panels and exhaust, it sprayed on well and looks accurate. Humbrol 27002 finishes with an aluminum-foil like sheen and spraying a flat gives a more realistic finish. I noticed that spraying 27002 unto bare clean plastic produces no graininess while using a flat black primer produced a very slight graininess to the finish - use a gloss primer. I used Testors acrylic flat which I believe is the old Polly Scale product (which is an excellent flat). You only need a very small amount of this flat thinned almost 100% - one thin coat is enough.

Testors Model Master Metalizers
Next I masked the various panels that exhibited tonal differences on the real planes and sprayed on Humbrol 11 Metallic Silver for a darker shade of Aluminum, but it wasn’t much different from 27002 so I used Testors Model Master Metalizer Aluminum Plate Buffing (Lacquer). Note that Aluminum Plate sprays on powdery but buffs out nicely. I then sprayed Testors Model Master Metalizer Sealer.

Do note that masking the various panels takes quiet allot of time, especially in this scale.

 Testors Metalizer 1401

V-Shaped Windscreen
There's some debate as to whether the Canadair CL-13 incorporated the v-shaped windscreen however all sources indicate the v-shaped windscreen was only present on US manufactured planes and often removed in the field because it affected view. The rounded windscreen D4 provided in HC1383 is correct.

Source: F-86 in Action, Squadron/Signal Publications, Aircraft No.126

Wheel Well Bays and Air Brakes
Interior green Gunze H58 with steel and aluminum interior detail, dry brushed. The air-brakes of the F-86 A/E/F were often left open on the ground for pre-flight inspection purposes. Trim the lower 'hinge tab' of the air-brakes C1/C2 while leaving the top ones as is to get a sagged open brake supported by the actuator.

I used Stormo Decals Canadair CL-13/F-86E(M) 72001 and began with the cockpit instrument panel and consoles during construction (see Cockpit construction above). I applied the decals to the port and starboard side consoles and the instrument panel. I applied gloss over the cockpit, then a coat of Mr.Mark Softer and applied the decals without removing the raised detail of the consoles and instrument panel to give a realistic 3D appearance, allowing the decals to recess into the raised detail which worked well. I applied another coat of Mr. Mark Softer after 30 mins. After one day I applied a coat of gloss and then a flat. The decals enhance the cockpit (see cockpit construction photos).

I then applied a gloss over the whole model which also sealed it and applied the decals. The fuselage roundels (5) need to be separated into three parts at the airbrake, what I did was use the airbrakes C1/C2 to draw the outline and cut the decals to fit using an exacto knife.

Decal Application – Steps:
1) Remove decals from decal sheet - apply one decal at a time. For decals that are close together on the decal sheet use an exacto knife to cut out the decal.
2) Dip decals into water: 45s (warm), 1min 30s (cool)
3) Remove water from decals before application, slowly run along a clean newspaper
4) Apply one coat of Mr.Mark Softer onto the model where the decal is to be applied using a brush
5) Apply the decal over Mr.Mark Softer
6) Let dry for 20-30mins
7) Apply a second coat of Mr.Mark Softer over the decal (don’t over apply Mr. Mark Softer since it’s a strong solvent). Two coats are usually enough. Use a cotton swab to remove excess solvent. For larger decals such as the roundels 4 and 5, you can apply a second coat of Mr. Mark Softer over the decal immediately.

If you get water bubbles, use the tip of a sharp exacto knife and gently tap/press the bubble and apply a drop of Mr.Mark Softer over the area. When dry, use a moist clean cloth and gently wipe the decal to remove any residue. The basic idea behind using Mr.Mark Softer is to dissolve the carrier film leaving only the paint pigment so that the decal looks painted on. Water decals are the only way to obtain fine detail markings, masks cannot do this.

The circumference of the aft-fuselage red band is 6.4 cm, use decal 120 (3.5 cm) and cut a 2.9 cm strip from spare 120 decals included in the sheet. Do note the kit is missing scribing for footsteps, hand grips and cabin pressure checks on both sides of the cockpit. Because of the amount of stencilling on F-86s, it took some time to decal this model.

Landing Gear Assembly
Take note that the forward landing gear door C3 needs to be mounted on the port side and the hinges removed and replaced on the other side of C3. The instructions indicate (incorrectly) starboard side and the part itself is molded incorrectly. Assemble the landing gear struts C39/C45 and wheels C17/C18 and attach to wheel well. Then attach the landing gear doors C11/C12. There are various panel lines and hatches missing on the ventral side of the model. Interestingly there's a second hole in the front wheel well, likely meant for a different (and more accurate) landing gear arrangement as seen in some later Academy kits.

No doubt this build was made more complex by using Hobbycraft HC1383 and unless you already have the Hobbycraft/Academy/Italeri kit in your stash and would rather build something in front of you with a few changes, I recommend purchasing the Airfix 1/72 Canadair Sabre F.4 / North American F-86E(M) A03083 which is a relatively new mold and is the most accurate representation of the F-86E(M), representing the later plane retro-fitted with the hard edge/non-slated short-span '6-3' wing – it’s exactly the kit you need to build an accurate AMI Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV/F-86E(M). You can also use the Italeri 1/72 scale Sabre in the Frecce Tricolori three pack which also has the correct wing MB-339 / G-91 / F-86 - 1/72 - IT1297 (Hobbycraft/Academy reboxing of the Sabre 5) or if you can find the Hobbycraft Sabre 5 HC1386 – keep in mind that the Mk.5 used the Orenda engine while the Mk.4 retained the GE unit. Would I build this kit again? Yes I would, it's a great kit of a beautiful plane especially considering it's a 1988 tooling. This build checked allot of boxes: a Canadian manufactured kit of a beautiful Canadian built aircraft of an AMI subject. Recommended.

 Technical Data

Aircraft: Canadair CL-13 Mk.VI
Manufacturer: Canadair Ltd.
Type: Fighter
Year: 1950
Engine: One Avro Canada Orenda 14 turbojet, 7,275 lb (3,300 kg) thrust
Wingspan: 37.12 ft (11.31 m)
Length: 37.54 ft (11.44 m)
Height: 14.74 ft (4.49 m)
Weight: 14,613 lb (6,628 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 697 mph (1,122 km/h) at sea level
Ceiling: 54,100 ft (16,500 m)
Range: 1,481 miles (2,384 km) with 2 x 200 gal drop tanks
Armament: 6 x 0.50 cal machine guns
Crew: 1

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February, 2022
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