by: Darren Baker [ ]
The history of Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski is a long and distinguished one in terms of achievements. He was born on January 28 1919 and died on January 31, 2002 aged 83. Gabreski Joined the USAAF in 1940, and during World War 2 he became the leading American ace in the European Theatre of Operations with 31 enemy aircraft credited to him. He may have obtained more kills but on July 20, 1944 he crashed and became a POW until Wars end.
Gabreski Left the Air Force in 1946, but returned in 1947 and went on to see combat in the Korean War where he went on to become a jet ace during that conflict. Gabreski may have been a good pilot, but he was not a popular one, there were many complaints about him and his not playing well with others; he is even accused of breaching the rules of engagement during the Korean War by attacking aircraft on the ground in China.
The two aircraft in which Gabreski became an ace have now been released by Academy as a two model offering. This set of two models are both 1/72nd scale offerings.
The product is packaged in a card tray with separate card lid. The two models are packaged in separate plastic bags with the clear parts for both individually packaged. The contents break down as follows;
3 grey sprues for each model
1 clear sprue for each model
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A decal application sheet
Various advisory sheets
Looking closely at the sprues in this offering, I am pleased to say that they are very cleanly moulded. There is no flash present that I can see on this offering and while there are of course ejection pin marks, they are all very well placed to avoid making work for the modeller. Despite the low parts count I am pleased with what I see so far.
As I have already said the model is basic as regards parts count and assembly, but that does not mean weak. The cockpit is reasonably detailed for the scale of the model, Academy has moulded on detail on the inner face of the fuselage halves. The instrument panel has moulded dial detail and the floor and rear wall also having reasonable detail present. The seat is reasonably shaped, but is in my opinion the weakest area of the cockpit as there is no attempt to replicate any form of harness detail.
The engine in this offering has promise as both banks of cylinders for the radial engine are presented; the detail presented in the model could be further improved via the addition of after-market resin and photo etched parts. There are two propellers offered in this kit. Now I can see the difference in the shape of the propellers, but I do not know which is the more accurate over what we are instructed to use. The undercarriage is quite well detailed overall, the wheels are not weighted, but that is easily fixed if desired. The undercarriage legs could do with wire being added to improve accuracy, but that is about all that is required.
The fuselage and flight surfaces of this model are nicely detailed; the panel lines and those marking out control surfaces are nicely recessed and very fine. None of the control surfaces are supplied as separate parts, but due to the thickness of these areas they could be cut free and repositioned as desired. The model has been supplied with two types of drop tank and 500ib bombs which are up to the modeller if they use them or not. The prominent wing guns have been moulded as part of the wings and that has made the detail poor on them.
The F-86E starts with the cockpit and jet intake. I am very pleased with the effort put into the cockpit and specifically the seat, but again no effort has been made to replicate the harness detail. The jet intake onto which the cockpit is assembled has good depth to it, but no effort has been made to provide the face of the compressor. The detail on the jet exhaust is also weak in this offering.
The fuselage and flight surfaces of the model have good recessed panel line and control surface detail, but again the flight controls are not provided to be set by the modeller. The leading edge of the wings is especially nice on this kit. The undercarriage wheel bay detail has been provided separately and is nicely done. The modeller also needs to remember to open up holes in the lower wing if they intend to use any of the stores.
The undercarriage has a reasonable level of detail on the inside of the doors and the struts, the struts will benefit from the addition of some cable detail to lift them, the wheels could do with a weighted look being added, but otherwise this area is fine. I like the detail provided for the airbrakes which have the option of being open or closed. The canopy detail is very good and I believe can be depicted open or closed.
The decals for both models are excellent for the scale. The thickness of the decals is very good and the colour definition is also good. The instruction booklet is easy to follow and there should be no issues here regardless of experience.
These two models from the box are of an acceptable standard and of an ideal quality for modellers of all levels. The more advanced modellers may want to go to the effort of some scratch work on the undercarriage and cockpit to lift them to a higher level. The addition of resin and photo etched upgrades will also lift these two models to a much higher level. The base models are I feel of a quality that upgrading is worthy of consideration.