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BVM F-86 Sabre

THE F-86 SABRE             By Don Giandomenico
                                                                                                   October 13, 2003

       Not too long ago I set out to research the ducted fan jet and what they were all about. I had heard about them but had never seen one fly so I purchased an A-7 Corsair ARF kit that was being discontinued from a hobby distributor. After a few hours of building, the .18 size ducted fan jet was ready so I carted it off to MARKS field (a local AMA field) for a test flight. I taxied the A-7 to the end of the runway, throttled her up and she rolled out at a breakneck speed of 12 MPH. After rolling to the end of the runway it was do or die so I peeled her off the runway nose high and she “flew” just long enough to touch back down and make the conclusion that there must be a better way to fly a ducted fan.

This is the Hot Bodies A-7 Corsair ARF

       After some modification I got the jet to fly a little faster but it was only making me want more. Inevitably the A-7 ran out of fuel on a low fly-by and acquired the aerodynamics of a laundry basket. The Corsair fell out of the sky so I retired the jet and started looking for a replacement. I had developed a “need for speed” and started browsing the internet for ducted fan jet kits. I had found a lot of attractive kits from different kit manufactures like Yellow Aircraft, Jet Hanger Hobbies, Top Gun Aircraft, Century Jet Models, Jet Model Products and Bob Violet Models to name a few. The price range on a decent ducted fan Jet, scale or sport is anywhere from $1000 to $5000 depending on how many bells and whistles you want.
       I was going from a $300 ARF (A-7) to a $1500 kit which really surprised me. I wanted a better performing ducted fan but it was not going to come cheap. If I was going to get anything worth flying I was going to have to shop around. After a few weeks I placed a bid on a Bob Violet Models 60” F-86 Sabre “Ready to Fly” on eBay. The owner of the Sabre had never flown the model and wanted to find a home for it. The auction ended and I had adopted a project. The Sabre arrived in good condition but was not ready to fly and needed to be gone through. The jet was painted with some cheap enamel and the wings were in Monokote so I stripped all of the covering off and used Acetone to strip the paint off the fiberglass fuse. I tuned up all of the mechanics from the retracts to the BVM 91 powered Viojett fan unit and cleaned up the radio installation.

The Sabre came with this orange and white paint scheme but I wanted to personalize the jet with my own style.

       I had test fitted all of the parts together and then disassembled the jet for painting. Using an automotive “High Fill” primer, I filled all the imperfections and then sanded with 320 grit till smooth. I picked a non-scale military type scheme that would be visible at 160 MPH and started masking for my base color. I used Chevron Hobbies polyurethane paint for my color and after a couple weekends I was ready to wet sand the color. After sanding, I applied an automotive clear coat made by Nason (Dupont) called “Select Clear”. The two part, low VOC clear coat was ready to handle in 8 hours so I didn’t hesitate to bolt the goodies into the airframe and set my control throws. I was now ready to fly the Sabre and she was looking good.

       I had taken a trip to Rabbit Dry Lake with George Manning (fellow pilot and good friend) to test fly the Sabre and a BVM Viper (ducted fan sport jet) that George had acquired recently. I was nervous at the least but I fired up the 91 and taxied the jet out for a go at it. I dropped the flaps 17 degrees, throttled up the fan and the little Sabre quickly rolled out 100’ before I lifted her off. I pulled up the gear, gained some altitude and raised the flaps. I flew the Sabre at ¾ throttle doing lazy figure 8’s and she tracked beautifully at about 140 MPH (estimate). When it was time to land (about 8 minutes) I dropped the flaps to 40 degrees and she slowed down quickly. After lining her up, she settled in surprisingly slow and nose high. After touch down, I applied the brake and she rolled to a stop. The second flight, George took the wheel so I could video tape the Sabre and he got her up to around 150-160 MPH in some low fly-bys.
       It seems that I am hooked on jet models for the time being and maybe we will see more of them at MARKS Field as time goes on. The next step for me is to get more stick time on the Sabre so I can justify building a turbine powered kit :0)

                           To watch video of Sabre flying see: BVM F-86 Video

  Questions or comments ? Feel free to contact me - Don Giandomenico

 

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