Paul LeTourneau built his amazing Korean War jet fighter from a Tomahawk Aviation Kit. The huge 1/3.5-scale F-86 Sabre Jet is truly a sight to behold. Paul powers his 122-inch-span F-86 with a KingTech 260. Equipped with a Powerbox smoke system, the 118-inch-long Korean warbird eats up a lot of sky.
Model Airplane News: Paul, you really did an amazing job with the F-86. What is the material you used to cover the F-86 and how do you apply it?
Paul LeTourneau: The finish is made using aluminum tape from McMaster Carr and Flight Skin from Solo Props. The tape has PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) on the back so you just peel the paper backing off and apply it. I used my fingers and a burnishing tool to rub it down. I then used 0000 steel wool to dull and burnish the aluminum finish.
MAN: How did you create the rivet and screw details?
PL: I use a mix of brass tubes and other homemade tools to imprint the rivets and screw heads onto the aluminum tape. Some of the lap joints are the panel lines molded into the airframe, and I created others with an overlap of aluminum tape.
MAN: What paint and clear coat do you use?
PL: I am pleased how the finished Sabre Jet came out. Really the finish is not exotic; I masked everything off and then I use Rustoleum 2X spray paint (in a spray can). I then dulled it up some with a good scrubbing with steel wool.
MAN: What about the aircraft markings?
PL: The markings are painted on using paint masks as well as some rub-on dry transfer nomenclature markings from Tailor-Made Decals in Germany. The pilot is from Tailored Pilots (in my option, the absolute best pilots on the market).
MAN: What radio gear and servos did you use?
PL: I fly with a Spektrum DX18 transmitter. The onboard radio setup uses a combination of JR 8711HV and JR 8911HV. I also have dual Spektrum AR20310T receivers installed for redundancy.
MAN: How long did it take to complete the Tomahawk Aviation kit? How about the retracts?
PL: From start to finish, it took about seven months to complete, including the finishing and the engine installation. The retracts are beautifully designed and they are pneumatically driven. They are from Tomahawk.
MAN: And now for the big question… How does it perform? Is the Sabre Jet demanding or easy to fly?
PL: The Sabre Jet really performs creditably well; it’s extremely smooth during flight and is easy control In general terms. For landings, I setup with an overhead approach, I then perform a mid-field break to land. At that point I drop the gear along with the speed breaks and approach flaps. When I am established on downwind, I drop the remaining flaps and I begin to reduce the power to about 1/4-throttle. When I’m on the base leg, I reduce the power to idle and fly it to the ground. The F-86 lands extremely slow (but it will float), so you just need to be sure to reduce the power early enough; otherwise the plane will float right by your intended landing target.
MAN: Any advice for someone wanting to build and fly one?
PL: Obviously this not a beginner’s jet, however you should certainly work your way up and really learn how to land your jets in the intended spot and not “just where it decided to touch down.” Also you really have to be sure to be able to put the financial cost in the back of your mind to enjoy the plane and how it flies. Everyone who has flown mine has been extremely happy with its performance and flying characteristics. The plane really is a huge credit to the design work and construction quality from the Tomahawk Aviation team.
By Gerry Yarrish | Photos by Gerry Yarrish & Scott McClurg