F-86 Sabre, North American


F-86 Sabre

This was the first USAF swept-wing fighter, and the famous opponent of the MiG-15 in Korea. The swept wing was added to the design when it was found out that the straight-wing design (later built for the Navy as the FJ-1) was too slow. The early F-86A was inferior in some respects to the MiG-15: The Soviet fighter, lighter and with a more powerful engine, had avantages in speed and operation ceiling. But better US pilot training compensated that. More powerful engines and redesigned wings substantially improved performance of later types. The F-86H had a J73 engine instead of the J47. A radar nose and a 'beard' air intake characterized the F-86D, F-86K and F-86L single-seat all-wheater interceptors. The TF-86 was a longer trainer version and the RF-86 was a recce version; bulges at the wing roots and under the cockpit housed the photographic equipment. For the US Navy North American developed the FJ-2, FJ-3 and FJ-4 from the F-86.

Type: F-86A Sabre
Country: USA
Function: fighter
Year: 1948
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 23.13 kN G.E. J47-GE-13
Wing Span: 11.31 m
Length: 11.43 m
Height: 4.50 m
Wing Area: 26.75 m2
Wing Aspect ratio: 4.78
Empty Weight: 4780 kg
Max.Weight: 7359 kg
Max. Speed: 1089 km/h
Ceiling: 14630 m
Rate of climb: 36.8 m/s
Thrust/weight: 0.38
Max. Range: 2050 km
Armament: 6*mg 12.7mm, 2*bomb 454kg

Type: F-86D
Function: fighter
Year: 1953
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 3026 kg G.E. J47-GE-17
Wing Span: 11.31 m
Length: 12.27 m
Height: 4.57 m
Wing Area: 26.75 m2
Empty Weight: 6123 kg
Speed: 1115 km/h
Armament: 24 * 70mm rockets.

Type: F-86F (with "6/3" wing)
Function: fighter
Year: 1952
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 26.40 kN G.E. J47-GE-27
Wing Span: 11.92 m
Length: 11.44 m
Height: 4.49 m
Wing Area: 29.11 m2
Empty Weight: 5046 kg
Max.Weight: 6894 kg
Max. Speed: 1118 km/h
Ceiling: 15200 m
Max. Range: 2050 km
Armament: 6*mg 12.7mm, 2*bomb 454kg


The North American F-86 Sabre was a subsonic combat aircraft developed for the US Air Force. The F-86 was developed in the 1940s following the end of WWII and was one of the most-produced western jet fighters. Initial proposals to meet a USAAF requirement for a single-seat high-altitude day fighter aircraft/escort fighter/fighter bomber were made in late 1944, and were derived from the design of the straight-wing FJ Fury being developed for the US Navy. Performance requirements were met by incorporating a swept-back wing with a 5:1 aspect ratio into the design. Manufacture was not begun until after World War II as a result. The XP-86 prototype, which would become the F-86 Sabre, first flew on October 1, 1947.

The F-86 was manufactured as both a fighter-interceptor and fighter-bomber. Several variants were introduced over its production life, with improvements and different armaments implemented (see below). As an example, the J47-GE-7 engine of the F-86A produced a thrust of only 5,200 lbf (23 kN) while the J47-27 engine of the F-86F produced 10,000 lbf (44 kN) of thrust. F-86s were the primary US air-combat fighter during the Korean War, with significant numbers of the first three production models seeing combat.

The fighter-bomber version (F-86H) could carry up to 2000 pounds (900 kg) of bombs, including an external fuel-type tank that could carry napalm. Both the interceptor and fighter versions carried six Browning M3 .50 in (12.7 mm) caliber machine guns in the nose (Later versions of the F-86H carried four 20 mm cannon instead of machine guns). Guns were harmonized to converge at 1000 feet (300 m) in front of the aircraft with one tracer bullet for every five rounds. Most rounds used during the Korean War were API (Armor-piercing incendiary) bullets containing magnesium which were designed to ignite upon impact but which performed poorly above 35,000 feet. Unguided 2.75 inch (70 mm) rockets were used on some of the fighters in target practice, but 5 inch (127 mm) rockets were later used in combat operations. The planes could also be fitted with a pair of external jettisonable fuel tanks (four on the F-86F beginning in 1953) that extended the range of the aircraft.


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