Building Classic Foes: The F-86 Sabre and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 | HistoryNet MENU

Building Classic Foes: The F-86 Sabre and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

By Dick Smith
6/11/2018 • Aviation History Magazine

The North American Aviation F-86 Sabres and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s that dueled in the skies over North Korea in the early 1950s were considered almost equally matched. The Sabres were faster, but the MiGs were more agile. The MiGs carried heavier firepower, with one 37mm and two 23mm cannons. The Sabres were armed with six .50-caliber machine guns.
 
Captain Joseph M. McConnell flew an “F” model of the famous F-86 in his clash with Russian Captain Semyon A. Fedorets. Academy’s 1/48th scale F-86F kit, #2183, is an accurate representation of the American ace’s fighter and comes with a decal sheet complete with a misspelled “Beautious Butch II” legend and 16 victory markings painted below the cockpit.
 
The cockpits of “F” models of the Sabre were painted “dark gull gray,” FS-36231, with a semi-gloss black instrument panel and side consoles. The seats had cushions of khaki green and headrests in flat red. Color drawings and photos of F-86F cockpits can be seen in the Squadron/Signal publication Walk Around, F-86 Sabre, No. 21, and a color painting of Captain McConnell’s fighter is featured on its cover.
 
After completing the cockpit, you’ll have to decide whether your model will be displayed with the jet engine exposed and the rear fuselage supported on a maintenance stand. I chose to show my model ready for flight. The cockpit sits on top of the forward portion of the engine intake duct. To counter the tail-heaviness of the model, epoxy some fishing sinkers or BBs in the space behind the instrument panel. This will keep the model from “tail sitting.” 
 
Paint the interior of the duct silver before gluing it together. Next assemble the rear portion of the engine to the jet exhaust pipe and align it with the aft portion of the fuselage. This may seem like a lot of work for parts that will be hidden, but failure to take these steps will result in a toylike see-through of the fuselage.
 
Carefully trap the cockpit, the front engine duct and the rear jet exhaust assembly into one side of the fuselage. Check the positioning of all the parts, and then cement the two sides together. Glue the wings together and attach them to the fuselage. Position the elevators in the slots provided and glue them into place, being careful to maintain the proper dihedral. 
 
The machine gun bays can be displayed open, with the six “.50s” in place. The basic construction is now complete. Check over your work and sand and fill any seams or joints. Korean War F-86s were delivered with an unpainted aluminum skin that served as a background for colorful personal and unit markings. To duplicate the aluminum finish, all flaws in the plastic and construction imperfections will have to be sanded smooth and the surface primed. Gunze Sangyo’s “Mr. Surfacer 1,000” and very fine (1,000 grade) wet and dry sandpaper will allow you to create a flawless surface on the plastic. (This grade of sandpaper can be found at auto supply stores.) 
 
To achieve the look of natural metal, I sprayed several light coats of Alclad II’s “aluminum” over the entire model. When that coat was dry, I masked off selected panels with pieces of adhesive strips from Post- it note pads and sprayed “duraluminum,” “magnesium” and “white aluminum” Alclad II onto selected areas to duplicate various shades of metal. 
 
Complete the painting of your model by spraying the inside of the air brakes and wheel wells with “interior green,” FS-34151, the fin cap “aircraft gray,” FS-15437, and the wheels “tire black.”
All of the markings for Captain McConnell’s jet are included on the kit decals. The yellow identification bands for the wings and fuselage will require several applications of decal setting solution to get them to settle down properly. 
 
Captain McConnell’s most notable adversary was World War II veteran Semyon Fedorets. For his aircraft we’ll use the 1/48th scale MiG-15bis kit from Tamiya. Construction starts with painting the tub and sidewalls of the cockpit light blue, Hellblau-RLM-76. The seat should be semi-gloss black with dark green cushions. Strips of masking tape make up the seat harness. 
 
Epoxy the metal cylinder, included in the kit, into place above the nose wheel well. This weight ensures the model stands properly on its landing gear. If you have decided not to display your model with the engine exposed, skip ahead in the instructions and cement the forward intake trunk and tailpipe into one of the fuselage sides. The wings and elevators fit easily into their slots in the fuselage. The instructions clearly outline the rest of the construction steps.
 
Information on the aircraft and the Russians who piloted it during the Korean War is extremely limited. We know that Captain Fedorets was assigned to the 913th IAP of the 32nd Fighter Division of the Soviet Far Eastern Air Force. Mushroom Model Publications Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 clearly shows on P. 112 that Fedorets’ MiG-15 was painted in a three-color camouflage scheme of sand, approximately RLM-79, military brown, approximately FS-30219, and dark green, approximately FS-34079. A color profile shows the camouflage was painted in an irregular pattern over the topside of the aircraft, while the underside was light blue, a close match to “French dark-blue-gray.” These colors are not exact matches, since—as sources point out—the paint was randomly mixed from materials on hand. An additional source of information on Fedorets’ MiG-15 can be found on the Web site www.acepilots.com/russian/rus_aces.html
 
Russian pilots flew their aircraft with the North Korean red star in six positions. The full color insignia came from AeroMaster, Korean War Aces, Part II, sheet 48-230. The “393” ID numbers on the nose came from a sheet of HisAirDec red letters and numbers. 
 
Complete your MiG by painting and attaching the landing gear, flaps and antenna. A light spray of Testor’s Dullcoat will seal the decals and give the model a “weathered look” resulting from the harsh North Korean climate.
 
A final suggestion: You might want to position your finished models head to head, for a miniature restaging of the Clash of Titans.
 

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