F-86 SABRE JET

The North American F-86 Sabre, sometimes called the Sabre-jet, was a transonic jet fighter aircraft produced by North American Aviation and best known as the United States’ first swept wing fighter that 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 that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras and although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the ‘50s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational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 Australian 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 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-86A set its first official world speed record of 671 miles per hour on September 15, 1948, at Muroc Dry Lake flown by Major Richard L. Johnson, USAF.

Produced as both a fighter-interceptor and fighter-bomber, there were several variants introduced over its production life, with improvements and different armament implemented. The XP-86 was fitted with a General Electric J35-C-3 jet engine that produced 4,000 lb of thrust. 

The fighter-bomber version (F-86H) could carry up to 2,000 lb of bombs, including an external fuel-type tank that could carry napalm. Unguided 2.75 in rockets were used on some fighters on training missions, but 5 inch rockets were later carried on combat operations. The F-86 could also be fitted with a pair of external jettison-able jet fuel tanks (four on the F-86F beginning in 1953) that extended the range of the aircraft. Both the interceptor and fighter-bomber versions carried six 0.50 in M3 Browning machine guns with electrically boosted feed in the nose cannons instead of machine guns. 

Firing at a rate of 1,200 rounds per minute, the .50 in guns were harmonised to converge at 1,000 ft in front of the aircraft, using amour-piercing and amor-piercing incendiary (API) rounds, with one amour-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) for every five AP or API rounds. The API rounds used during the Korean War contained magnesium, which were designed to ignite upon impact but burned poorly above 35,000 ft as oxygen levels were insufficient to sustain combustion at that height. 

The F-86 entered service with the United States Air Force in 1949, joining the 1st Fighter Wing's 94th Fighter Squadron and became the primary air-to-air jet fighter used by the Americans in the Korean War. While earlier straight-winged jets such as the F-80 and F-84 initially achieved air victories, when the swept wing Soviet MiG-15 was introduced in November 1950, it outperformed all UN-based aircraft. In response, three squadrons of F-86s were rushed to the Far East in December. Early variants of the F-86 could not outturn, but they could out dive the MiG-15, although the MiG-15 was superior to the early F-86 models in ceiling, acceleration, rate of climb and zoom. 

With the introduction of the F-86F in 1953, the two aircraft were more closely matched, with many combat-experienced pilots claiming a marginal superiority for the F-86F. The heavier firepower of the MiG (and many other contemporary fighters) was addressed by fielding eight cannon armed Fs in the waning months of the war. Despite being able to fire only two of the four 20 mm cannon at a time, the experiment was considered a success. The MiGs flown from bases in Manchuria by Chinese, North Korean, and Soviet VVS pilots were pitted against two squadrons of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing forward-based at K-14, Kimpo, Korea.

Many of the American pilots were experienced World War II veterans, while the North Koreans and the Chinese lacked combat experience, thus accounting for much of the F-86's success. However, United Nations pilots suspected many of the MiG-15s were being flown by experienced Soviet pilots who also had combat experience in World War II.

The Australian Connection... 

In 1951, the Australian Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) secured a licence agreement to build their own F-86 Sabre but with the more powerful Rolls-Royce Avon RA7 engine rather than the US built General Electric J47.

With almost double the thrust of the RA7, the new engine required a radical modification of the Sabre’s fuselage together with an enlarging of the air intake. The original 6 machine guns were replaced with two 30 mm Aden cannons and larger fuel tanks were also added.

Known as the CAC Avon Sabre, the RAAF deployed the aircraft from 1954 to 1971 with CAC Sabres of No. 3 and 77 Sqn undertaking a number of ground attack missions against communist insurgents during the Malayan Emergency. Following the conflict, the aircraft remained in Malaysia at RMAF Butterworth where, armed with the US designed Sidewinder missiles, the Sabres were responsible for regional air defence during the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia from 1963 to 1966.

In 1962 a detachment of 8 CAC Sabres were sent to Thailand to assist the Thai and Laotian governments in actions against communist insurgents spilling over from the escalating conflict in Vietnam. The Sabres took over the role of local air defence where the USAF bomber and attack aircraft were based although they never engaged North Vietnamese aircraft or ground forces.

Replacing the popular RAAF aerobatic ‘Black Diamonds’ with their striking, engine-red air intakes, wingtips, striped fuselage and matching fuel tanks, a new display team, the ‘Black Panthers’ was formed and operated around Australia from 1965 to 1966.
In late 1964, the RAAF began re-equipping with the French designed, Dassault Mirage III with the last Sabres in Australian service, operated by No. 5 Operational Training Unit RAAF being retired in July 1971.

This F-86 Sabre jet collectable comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit. 

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