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North American F 86 Sabre John Glenn
Photograph - Mixed Media
North American F86, Oshkosh, 2003. The "Mig Mad Marine" painting scheme imitates that on the F-86 flown by John Glenn (later famous as an astronaut) during the Korean War.
Author: Paul Maritz
The North American F-86 Sabre (sometimes called the Sabrejet) was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in the Korean War, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable, and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.
Its success led to an extended production run of more than 7,800 aircraft between 1949 and 1956, in the United States, Japan and Italy. Variants were built in Canada and Australia. The Canadair Sabre added another 1,815 airframes, and the significantly redesigned CAC Sabre (sometimes known as the Avon Sabre or CAC CA-27), had a production run of 112. The Sabre was by far the most-produced Western jet fighter, with total production of all variants at 9,860 units.
The North American F-86 Sabre was the first American aircraft to take advantage of flight research data seized from the German aerodynamicists at the end of World War II. This data showed that a thin swept wing could greatly reduce drag and delay compressibility problems which had bedeviled even prop-powered fighters such as the Lockheed P-38 Lightning approaching the speed of sound. By 1944, German engineers and designers had established the benefits of swept wings based on experimental designs dating back to 1940. Study of the data showed that a swept wing would solve their speed problem, while a slat on the wing's leading edge which extended at low speeds would enhance low-speed stability.
Because development of the XP-86 had reached an advanced stage, the idea of changing the Delays caused by the major redesign meant that manufacturing did not begin until after World War II. The XP-86 prototype, which would lead to the F-86 Sabre, was rolled out on 8 August 1947. The maiden flight occurred on 1 October 1947 with George Welch at the controls, flying from Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards AFB), California.
The United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command had F-86 Sabres in service from 1949 through 1950. The F-86s were assigned to the 22nd Bomb Wing, the 1st Fighter Wing and the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing. ] The F-86 was the primary U.S. air combat fighter during the Korean War, with significant numbers of the first three production models seeing combat.
The F-86 Sabre was also produced under license by Canadair, Ltd as the Canadair Sabre. The final variant of the Canadian Sabre, the Mark 6, is generally rated as having the highest capabilities of any Sabre version made anywhere.
The F-86A set its first official world speed record of 670 miles per hour (1,080 km/h) in September 1948, still some 32 miles per hour (51 km/h) short of the 702 miles per hour (1,130 km/h) unofficial rocket-powered aircraft speed record set with an Me 163B prototype in early July 1944 tests, which itself had a 23.3 wing sweepback angle.
Several people involved with the development of the F-86, including the chief aerodynamicist for the project and one of its other test pilots, claimed that North American test pilot George Welch had unofficially broken the sound barrier in a dive with the XP-86 while on a test flight on 1 October 1947. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on 14 October 1947 in the rocket-propelled Bell X-1 during level flight, making it the first true supersonic aircraft. Five years later, on 18 May 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, flying a "one-off" Canadian-built F-86 Sabre Mk 3, alongside Chuck Yeager. Col. K. K. Compton won the 1951 Bendix air race in an F-86A with an average speed of 553.76 mph.
The F-86 was produced as both a fighter-interceptor and fighter-bomber. Several variants were introduced over its production life, with improvements and different armament implemented.
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May 4th, 2014
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