Sunday, September 6

Building a Geiger Tiger - Kitty Hawk’s F-86D Sabre Dog W/ Zotz Decals & PJ Productions pilot figurine…

Kittyhawk have given us yet another kit a lot of people wanted in the form of the 32nd scale F-86D “Sabre Dog” and today our man Nic takes this kit on in the review build  with the help of a pilot from PJ Productions to populate it and some alternative decals from Zotz to colour this bird. Let's see how he went in Part I...

Build Review PT I:
1/32 scale “F-86D Sabre Dog”.
Kit No: KH32007
Kit type: injection moulded
Scale: 1/32
Sprues: 7 styrene + 1 clear + Photo etch
Part Count: 304
Kit Decals: The kit provides 6 markings in the box:

A Sabre Dog in 1/32 … at last! And we have Kitty Hawk to thank for it. But once our excitement of the new release was over – I mean, it’s the first time an injection moulded of this aircraft is available, aaaahhh !! – We wanted to know how it would build. Only seconds after the kit was released, Zotz Decals announced a sheet with seven more spectacular Sabre Dog liveries, one of which a Geiger Tiger, an F-86D of 498 FIS, based in Yuma in 1956. It has a big tiger mouth on the air intake and a pin-up on the side. I remember building a very old 1/72 Airfix kit with this livery as a kid, so this is the one I’ll be doing!
First, let’s have a look of what’s inside this box. It is an impressive sight when you open the box: lots of parts (over 300 of them), a very impressive decal sheet, a nicely done instructions booklet and a cardboard box containing the transparent parts of the kit.
I like the instructions Kitty Hawk provides, they get better and better. They are easy to follow, the steps are very logic. They should spend a little more attention to the colours, though. For some parts, you have to check reference material in order to know what colour it needs. The profiles in the instructions are nicely designed. One of the six is on a big fold out.
The markings inside the box are very colourful – and all are very good choices…

-F-86D, 82nd FIS
-F-86D, 325th FIS, USAF “Sabre Knights” aerobatic team
-F-86D, 181st FIS, Texas Air National Guard
-F-86D, 84-8120 JASDF
-F-86D, 210011 ROKAF
-F-86D, 16245 ROCAK
The transparent parts are well protected in the cardboard box. They are thin and very nicely moulded.
The parts in this kit look pretty good to me. The panel lines and rivets are very impressive, I like these new engineered kits. Long gone are the days that you have raised panel lines!
Here you see some parts of the retractable rocket launcher. That’ll look good with some wash! The front panel that goes over the cockpit instrument panel could use some extra detail though…
A lot of attention went into the individual parts. Look at the nose gear door and the details on both the outside and the inside. That part will be one of the eye catchers, I think!
On to the wings: these have a very simple build up, with flaps and slats separated. The details are impressive. Just a matter of good painting, a wash and some good careful weathering.
The cockpit sits high upon the Sabre Dog, so is very visible on the finished model and detail is important in this area. The cockpit tub is just the base of the construction, to which 23 parts need to be glued.
The seat of the Sabre dog is complex and built up out of 10 parts and some photo etched seat-belts. It’ll be a good base, but I’m planning to have this kit manned!
The nose cone is in one part and I hope it’ll fit well. Kitty Hawk also provides the radar in the kit, but I’m not going to use it in this build.
The aft fuselage is very nicely detailed. I don’t want sound too positive, but just looking at these parts, I can’t wait to get started on this kit. If the fit turns out to be good too, Kitty Hawk might have a winner here.
The intake tunnel consists of 4 parts and I just hope they line up good. Thing is: it’s going to be some work to get those parts lined up… The lower front part also houses the front landing gear bay and the top part the supports for the cockpit.
It isn’t all good news though… The problem I have had with some other Kitty Hawk models comes back in this kit: huge ejector marks, both positive and negative. It isn’t the end of the world, but it just gives you a lot of unnecessary work. Look at the inside of the front air intake parts. Those‘ll be at least a couple of hours of work!
The main gear bays on the other hand: little gems!
How ‘bout those gear doors?
The Sabre Dog is a surprisingly big aircraft and to give an idea of its size, I wanted to place a pilot in the cockpit. For this, I got a resin pilot from the Belgian manufacturer PJ Production. Pretty nice kit, just 4 parts to glue to the torso…

PJ Productions
NATO Pilot seated in a/c (60')

Reference:  321115
Multipose figure
5 parts in grey resin
Product Link
Right, time to get started! I read on some websites that the kit might have some fit issues, so I first started to do some test-fitting (Test fit Nic). One thing I noticed, was that when you align all the internal parts, the outside parts fit rather well. 
So, my advice: follow the instructions, test fit and trim a little here and there, and you’ll be just fine!
And here are all the major parts test fitted. In order to get everything lined up nicely, all the interior parts are necessary; the engine supports the outer fuselage parts. The forward fuselage and the nose cone line up great, some care needs to be taken with the aft fuselage.
On to the cockpit: A little detail added on a few places, but since I’m building it with a pilot, not too much of it will be visible…
The seat and pilot on the other hand will be very visible, so these got a lot of attention. The seat received some extra detail and after a little surgery on the pilot (it was too wide for the seat) they were both treated with a coat of primer. The PJ Production figurine is quite nice and actually looks better than on the picture on the box.
He looks good in primer - but very convincing when painted!
This is the first time I’m building a kit with a natural metal finish and I’m a little nervous about that. So, I tested first on the slats and the drop tanks. Not too bad.
Next came the air intake. As expected, it took some putty and time to get right…
The aft fuselage also needed some putty.
With the interior installed, the next step is to close up the front fuselage. Not too much trouble here, I just used a little putty on the lower fuselage and the intake lip. After this, it’s time to mask the cockpit and the gear bays. I’ll do the wings later.
While test fitting, I noticed that the kit had a tendency to drop on its tail. Just to make sure, I glued a couple of left-over Ikea bolts in the nose.
Stage 1 of painting: BMF all over. Next, I added some gloss black to the chrome and sprayed the panel lines which I masked with some post-it notes on one side. It gave a nice different shade and depth to the panels. And because I couldn’t wait, I masked the nose and sprayed it with a couple of shades of olive green.
The pilot is looking even better now…
I started with the shading of a few panels, but there’s still more to come. For this I used a home-made mix of chrome, steel and black gloss.
Let’s do another test fit. The wings fit very to the fuselage. This is going to be good. She really starts to look like the real thing here! The Sabre Dog I have in mind is “Big Viv”, which has a nice looking pin-up in a red bathing suit. Look what’s on the droptank… she’s gonna be wearing a red bathing suit! The black nose is just taped on for a … test fit.
Here’s the work that still needs to be done on the fuselage before I can get to the wings:
One thing in the kit that needs to be modified is the position of the speed brakes. If you build it out of the box, the speed brakes stay aligned with the fuselage. Photos show that when they are open, they are positioned downwards. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix: just cut the opening for the speed brake arms at the right angle below and glue a plastic triangle cut plasticard above.
Here is the result with the left speed brake in the correct angle (I positioned the one on the right the way it would have been without modification):
Right, it’s about time to show you the livery I’ve picked from the Zotz decal sheet: a Geiger Tiger called “Big Viv” !

Zotz Decals:
“F-86D Sabre Dogs”
1/32nd scale
$35 + P&P
Seven USAF subjects plus one Hellenic example

The Zotz Decal sheet for the Sabre Dog is pretty impressive: it consists of 3 large very colourful decals, good for 7 aircraft. And as we have come to know from Zotz Decals, accompanied by some good looking artwork (as always).
Here’s a look at what you get in the decal sheet:
Here are some of the decals I will be using for “Big Viv”. I hope those big teeth will go nicely in all the panel lines, rivets and details that make this kit so nice!
You can pick plenty of colourful Sabre Dogs from this Zotz sheet, like “Miss Minooky”, a 25 FIS Sabre Dog, based at Okinawa in 1955. On a small 4th decal sheet, Zotz provides an alternative pin-up, with light grey outlines instead of light brown ones on the big sheet.
The set offers two F-86D’s of the 94 FIS, real eye catchers with bright yellow markings (I remember one of those in the very nice 1/48 kit by Revell).
Here’s a close-up of the nose art on those two 94 FIS Sabre Dogs, “Ol’Rover” and “El Flying Wetback”:
There are 3 more F-86D’s to be found in this set: one of the 339th FIS, based in Japan (and with a huge black and red arrow on its fuselage), another of the 526 FIS, based in Ramstein in Germany and finally a Greek Sabre Dog of 343 AWI Squadron.
So, here we are: most of the fuselage is painted and the wings are ready to get their coat. After this, the tail, stripes on the wings and the canopy framing will have to be painted dark blue. After this, the decals can go on. The canopy framing still has to be detailed and the very nice Sidewinder missiles will need to be built. And painting “Big Viv” of course!
Nicolas Deboeck

Part two of this build will follow soon. My thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for the kit, to Zotz Decals for the decals and PJ Productions for the pilot figure. (he has already got an admirer....)