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Old 12-19-2013, 01:35 AM   #1
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REVIEW: Hobby Master HA4303 RCAF "Golden Hawks" Canadair Sabre 5, #23037,F/L McCombe

Hobby Master 1/72 Air Power Series
Canadair Sabre Mk.5 #23037
Royal Canadian Air Force "Golden Hawks" 1960 Aerobatic Team
Flight Lieutenant (F/L) McCombe - Right Wing Position
Limited Production 1000 Units

September 2013 Release

The Team
The Royal Canadian Air Force's Golden Hawks was perhaps one of the World's best Aerobatics teams.

The Team was formed in 1959 to commemorate the 50th (Golden) Anniversary of Powered flight in Canada and the 35th Anniversary of the RCAF.

At the time Canada had eight squadrons of Canadair F-86 Sabre 6s and four squadrons of Avro Canada CF-100s serving in Europe as part of Canada's contribution to N.A.T.O. In Canada nine squadrons of CF-100s were part of Canada's contribution to N.O.R.A.D and five squadrons of Sabre 5s continued with the RCAF's Auxiliary squadrons. These truly were the "Golden Years" of the RCAF!

The Golden Hawks flew the Canadian manufactured Canadair Sabre Mk. 5 and later the Sabre Mk.6. These marks were powered by much higher thrust Canadian Orenda Engines and as a result had superior performance compared to other F-86s.

The Golden Hawks performed at Airshows across Canada and often in the U.S. in company with the USN Blue Angels or the USAF Thunderbirds. More than once the Golden Hawks were threatened with discipline during their U.S. performances by the FAA because the show routine was so spectacular (and low!).

The team flew until 1964 when the team was disbanded due to somewhat dubious Military defence cuts.

Golden Hawks in Formation in 1959 (#23037 is second closest aircraft to the camera).

The Golden Hawks wearing their Team Uniforms introduced in 1960.

The Model

When Hobby Master first announced that they were going to produce a RCAF "Golden Hawks" Sword I would have to say I was a bit surprised, especially since Corgi had previously released a version of this model (#23353). However, the far superior Hobby Master tooling as well as some errors on the Corgi model make this model worth picking up.

At first Hobby Master was going to do aircraft #23064 from 1959. I happened to have a good detailed photo in my personal collection of #23037 from the 1960 Season. This aircraft was flown by F/L Jim McCombe who flew the right wing position 1959-1960 and later went on to lead the team for the 1961 Season. 1960 was the second year for the team and was the first year when the Pilot's and Crew Chief's names were painted on the nose. This was also the first year the team received their own team uniforms consisting of red jackets and very light blue flight suits added to their Gold Helmets. So after listening to my suggestion, William at Hobby Master agreed to make F/L Jim McCombe's aircraft.

As per the previous Hobby Master F-86 Release (USAF "The Huff") the tooling continues to be a significant cut above the previous Corgi and Matchbox offerings. All the parts fit well and Hobby Master's fully assembled landing gear "modules" continue to set the engineering standard for diecast models. The speed brakes come moulded as separate pieces to display either open or closed. The paint is of the usual high quality we have come to expect from Hobby Master. Even the 1950s style Pilot figure is correctly painted.

Further Improvements

There have been some further improvements with this release. The interior of the nose gear door has had detail added and squared off pylons for the exterior fuel tanks have been tooled (this was the only version used by the RCAF). Also for the first time on a mass produced model (including plastic kits) the additional engine cooling intakes (Sugar Scoops) under the rear of the fuselage (unique to late model Orenda engined Sabre 5 and Sabre 6 aircraft) have been added by Hobby Master. The size of the radar ranging radar has been further reduced in size compared to the first release.

The Gold Colour

As far as the Gold Colour is concerned I believe that Hobby Master has got the colour completely correct. In 2009 Vintage Wings Canada painted up a flying replica for Canada's 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight and appeared at Air Shows all over Canada that year. If you do an internet search most of the photo results will be of this aircraft. Unfortunately the colour gold used was too pale. This was evident in a rarely seen photograph (seen below) that was taken when the Vintage Wings aircraft (seen on the right) was parked next to the Canadian Warplane Heritage's museum example (a Mark 6 that still has the original Gold paint from its days with the Golden Hawks).

Avoided Errors

As I was involved in researching this model - there were several errors that were avoided at both the Artwork and Pre Production stages.

1) The "Hawk's Head was moved further forward to begin at the lower gun port.

2) The Red Ensign Flag was originally reversed on the starboard side (a common mistake on Canadian models).

3) The fuel dump mast was incorrectly painted red - corrected to gold.

4) The Cheat line was raised and the roundel properly centred on the speed brake.

5) The leading edges of the wings, fin, tail planes and external fuel tanks corrected to silver (in 1960 the wing's silver leading edges were painted further back compared to 1959).

6) Black trim was added around the sliding canopy.

7) Speed brake and wheel well interiors all corrected to interior green in colour.

8) Wing tips partly painted silver but corrected to be entirely gold (The team's later Sabre Mark 6s had them partly painted silver).

There were also some errors on the Pre Production example that included some major spelling errors. The pilot's name and crew chief names were printed too low and the wing leading edge fences were partly painted silver in error. Also the speed brake hydraulic actuator arm was corrected from being painted Gold to the correct Silver. All of these errors were caught in time and were corrected before the Final Product was made.

Overall another worthy addition to the Canadian collection and very highly recommended.


Hobby Master and Corgi (background) releases together. Besides the nose shape being wrong, the Corgi version has the pilot sitting too far aft. Corgi's maple leaf roundels are too modern in style and are not properly centred on the speed brakes or positioned correctly on the wings. The Corgi's interior of the speed brakes and wheel wells are incorrectly painted gold. The fin is missing the silver leading edge and the gold colour is too yellow in my opinion as well.
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