North American F-86 Sabre
North American F-86 Sabre
More than 6,000 F-86s were manufactured by North American Aviation’s Los Angeles, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, divisions.
The first swept-wing airplane in the U.S. fighter inventory, the F-86 scored consistent victories over Russian-built MiG fighters during the Korean War, accounting for a final ratio of 10-to-1. All 39 United Nations jet aces won their laurels in Sabres.
Four models of the craft (F-86A, E, F and H) were day fighters or fighter bombers, while the F-86D, K and L versions were all-weather interceptors.
Successive models of the daylight versions — all designed to destroy hostile aircraft in flight or on the ground — were equipped with more powerful engines and armament systems that ranged from bombs and rockets to machine guns and cannon. All were rated in the 650-mph (1046 kph) class with a 600-mile (966-kilometer) combat radius and a service ceiling of more than 45,000 feet (13,716 meters).
The three interceptor versions sported black radome noses, replacing the yawning jet intakes of the other models. The K model, manufactured in Turin, Italy, by Fiat, was flown by NATO forces. The F-86L had added equipment for use in conjunction with the U.S. Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defense system.
Forerunner of the operational Sabre was the XF-86, first flown Oct. 1, 1947, by North American Aviation test pilot George Welch. A few months later, Welch became the first pilot to fly the plane at Mach 1 in routine flight. Although technically rated as subsonic, the Sabre was no stranger to supersonic speeds.
Various models of the Sabre held world speed records for six consecutive years, setting five official records and winning several National Aircraft Show Bendix Trophies.
In September 1948, an F-86A set the Sabre’s first official world speed record of 570 mph (917 kph). This mark was bettered in 1952 by an F-86D that flew at 698 mph (1123 kph). The D became the first model of a fighter to better its own record, in 1953, with a run of 715 mph (1151 kph).
The F-86E and subsequent models incorporated a unique control system, developed by North American, called the “all-flying tail.” The F-86A contained a booster control system that called for the pilot to do part of the work of controlling the aircraft, whereas the newer system added full power-operated control for better maneuverability at high speeds. An “artificial feel” was built into the aircraft’s controls to give the pilot forces on the stick that were still conventional but light enough for superior combat control.
U.S. production of the Sabre Jet ended in December 1956
- Crew: 1
- Length: 37 ft 1 in (11.4 m)
- Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.3 m)
- Height: 14 ft 1 in (4.5 m)
- Wing area: 313.4 sq ft (29.11 m²)
- Empty weight: 11,125 lb (5,046 kg)
- Loaded weight: 15,198 lb (6,894 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 18,152 lb (8,234 kg)
- Fuel provisions Internal fuel load: 437 US gallons (1,650 L), Drop tanks: 2x200 US gallons (760 L) JP-4 fuel
- Powerplant: 1 × General Electric J47-GE-27 turbojet, 5,910 lbf (26.3 kN)
- Maximum speed: 687 mph (1,106 km/h) at sea level at 14,212 lb (6,447 kg) combat weight
also reported 678 mph (1,091 km/h) and 599 at 35,000 feet (11,000 m) at 15,352 pounds (6,960 kg). (597 knots (1,106 km/h) at 6446 m, 1,091 and 964 km/h at 6,960 m.)
- Stall speed: 124 mph (power off) (108 knots (200 km/h))
- Range: 1,525 mi, (2,454 km)
- Service ceiling: 49,600 ft at combat weight (15,100 m)
- Rate of climb: 9,000 ft/min at sea level (45.72 m/s)
- Wing loading: 49.4 lb/ft² (236.7 kg/m²)
- lift-to-drag: 15.1
- Thrust/weight: 0.42
- Guns: 6 X 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns (1,800 rounds in total)
- Rockets: variety of rocket launchers; e.g.: 2 Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets per pod
- Bombs: 5,300 lb (2,400 kg) of payload on four external hardpoints, bombs were usually mounted on outer two pylons as the inner pairs were plumbed for 2 200 US gallons (760 L) drop tanks which gave the Sabre a more useful range. A wide variety of bombs could be carried (max standard loadout being two 1,000 lb bombs plus two drop tanks), napalm canisters and could have included a tactical nuclear weapon.