Saturday, March 30, 2013

F-86A Sabre, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Kimpo AFB, South Korea, June 1951

This Matchbox kit is, to the best of my knowledge, the only one of a F-86A that can be found. It is basic, but comes together well. The decals are a bit thick, as Matchbox decals tend to be, but since I wanted to build this kit out-of-the-box, I used the markings that were provided. The aircraft is obviously mounted on the little stand that comes with the kit, and the reason for this is twofold: the landing gear was very basic, and since the kit doesn't come with drop tanks, it looked rather attractive as a clean F-86, all fresh and gleaming.

The 4th Fighter Group ("The MIG Killers") was formed on September 12, 1942, and it included the American pilots of the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons. It was re-formed in 1947 as apart of the Strategic Air Command, and it was the first unit to deploy Sabres in Japan in November 1950 after it was clear that the Chinese had committed MiG-15s against the UN forces in Korea. The 4th FIW was composed of the 334th, 335th and 336th squadrons and also the Royal Australian Air Force No. 77 Squadron. The 4th claimed 502 enemy aircraft during the Korean War, with 24 pilots becoming aces. The 4th FIW was the top-scoring fighter unit in the Korean War.
The pilots of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing included well-known aviators such as aces Colonel Frances Gabreski and Major James Jabara, the first jet ace. Future astronaut John Glenn flew his second tour with the 4th FIW as part of an interservice exchange program.

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