North American F-86 Sabre or most commonly known as “Sabrejet” is a transonic jet fighter aircraft developed by NAA (North American Aviation). This aircraft is known to b the first of the USA’s swept wing fighter jets that were able to counter against the Soviet Union’s swept wing MiG-15 in the high-speed dogfights that occurred during the Korean War from years in between 1950-1953.
This aircraft as known to be one of the most important fighter jets of the Korean War era while it was also highly comparable to fighter jets of other eras as well.
The aircraft was developed in the late 1940s but by the end of the 1950s, this aircraft was already outdated. The North American F-86 Sabre served in the military services of many of the world-renowned Air Forces until the last of the North American F-86 Sabre was relieved from service by Bolivian Air Force back in 1994.
In between the years 1949 to 1956, more than 7800 of these North American F-86 Sabre aircraft were produced in countries like the USA, Japan, and Italy. Many variants of this aircraft were built by countries like Canada and Australia.
The North American F-86 Sabre is regarded as one of the most produced Western Fighter Jet in the world with nearly a production number with its entire variants to reached at 9860 units.
It was inspired by a German design:-
The initial design of the North American F-86 Sabre was to be a straight-wing jet. However, aerospace engineers working on that NAA decided to change its design midway to add swept back wings.
This change was incorporated in the design after the engineers were granted permission to access the data of Germany’s test on the Messerschmitt 262, which was the world’s first operational fighter jet.
The first real challenger to Soviet Union’s MiG-15:-
The very first fleet of North American F-86 Sabres was deployed to take part in the front line of the Korean War where the Russian jets appeared over the 38th Parallel. MiG-15s were easily able to intercept US fighter jets like P-51 Mustang, F9F Panther and the F-80 Shooting Star.
With the presence of Sabres, the balance of the war shifted in the favor of West. The first ever MiG -15 aircraft shot down by a Sabre was back on December 17th, 1950. The pilot of that aircraft was Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Hinton.
America’s best pilots flew North American F-86 Sabre:-
Many of America’s best pilots flew the North American F-86 Sabre. Few of the top pilots to list here are as follows.
- Future Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
- Robert Hoover; the chase-plane pilot present when ‘Chuck Yeager’ broke the sound barrier
- Two highest scoring aces of the Korean War, Captain Joseph McConnell, and Colonel James Jabara
Majority of the Sabre’s variants had six .50 caliber machine guns mounted on them, which was a standard weapon for a standard US aircraft during the World War II. Later, some models in both USA and other countries also had on the following weapons.
- 30-millimeter cannons
- Unguided Rockets
- Sidewinder Missiles
- 24 Mighty Mouse unguided rockets
The North American F-86 Sabre was nicknamed as “Dog Sabre” and “The Sabre Dog”. The reason for these nicknames was that it was equipped with collision-course radar’ along with a ‘fire control system’ in its large nose.
Soviet Union copied designs of North American F-86 Sabre:-
The North American F-86 Sabre was able to gain the praise of the Soviet Union after this aircraft proved its mettle against the front line of Russian MiG-15 aircraft during the Korean War. They were so impressed that they even hoped to capture an intact F-86 Sabre to study its design. Due to this US air force made sure to destroy any fallen F-86 Sabre to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Soviet Union.
Back in October 1951, Soviets were able to capture a lone Sabre aircraft which was forced to land on the stretch of the North Korea’s coast. The parts of this plane were sent down to U.S.S.R. for study and research purposes. They copied the components like the ‘coveted gyroscopic gunsight’. This technology was then incorporated in the production of the Russian fighter jets like MiG-17 which fought the American aircraft’s later in Vietnam War.
North American F-86 Sabre fought in many wars:-
Although North American F-86 Sabre is known for its service in the Korean War, it was also used in many other conflicts as well. Some of these are as follows.
- Taiwanese North American F-86 Sabre fought against the Chinese MiG-15s and MiG-17s in 1958
- North American F-86 Sabres from Portuguese Air Force fought in the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence, which took part in between years 1963 to 1974
- Pakistani North American F-86 Sabre models fought in 1965 against the Indian Gnats during the Indo-Pak War of 1965. These same aircraft fought each other again in the war of the region in 1971.
Served for nearly 6 long decades:-
According to production data, nearly 9800 of these North American F-86 Sabres were produced before the production line was finally halted. This aircraft served in the Air Force of more than 26 countries. The last of the North American F-86 Sabre was relieved from the service by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.
All in all, this was one of the best fighter jets of the post World War II era that served their fighting prowess to nearly all the great military forces o the world. Its design allowed many nations to build their own variants of the North American F-86 Sabre. The aircraft after being relieved from the service is now mainly lying either in the Aviation Museums across the word or are being used in the air shows across the globe. The aircraft to this day shocks the audience with its razor-sharp swiftness.