The North American F-86 Sabre, is a transonic jet fighter aircraft.
Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States’ first swept-wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history.
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.
North American F-86
three prototypes, originally designated XP-86, North American model NA-140
this was the first prototype fitted with a General Electric J47 turbojet engine.
554 built, North American model NA-151 and NA-161.
A few F-86A conversions as drone directors
11 F-86A conversions with three cameras for reconnaissance
188 ordered as upgraded A-model with wider fuselage and larger tyres but delivered as F-86A-5, North American model NA-152
original designation for the YF-93A, two built, 48–317 & 48–318, order for 118 cancelled, North American model NA-157
prototype all-weather interceptor originally ordered as YF-95A, two built but designation changed to YF-86D, North American model NA-164
Production transonic all-weather search-radar equipped interceptor originally designated F-95A.
The F-86D had only 25 percent commonality with other Sabre variants, with a larger fuselage, larger afterburning engine, and a distinctive nose radome.
Sole armament was Mk. 4 unguided rockets instead of machine guns.
F-86Ls were upgraded F-86Ds.
Improved flight control system and an, all-flying tail.
This system changed to a full power-operated control with an “artificial feel” 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.
It improved high-speed manoeuvrability, North American model NA-170, NA-172, essentially the F-86F airframe with the F-86E engine, 60 of these built by Canadair for USAF.
Designation for ex-RAF Sabres diverted to other NATO air forces
Designation for surplus RCAF Sabre Mk. Vs modified to target drones
Uprated engine and larger “6–3” wing without leading-edge slats, North American model NA-172, NA-176, NA-191, NA-193, NA-202, NA-227, NA-231, NA-238, NA-256, 300 additional aircraft in this series assembled by Mitsubishi in Japan for Japanese Air Self-Defence Force.
Sabre Fs had much improved high-speed agility, coupled with a higher landing speed of over 145 mph (233 km/h).
The F-35 block had provisions for a new task: the nuclear tactical attack with one of the new small “nukes”.
The F-40 had a new slatted wing with a slightly higher span, resulting in a slight decrease in speed, but also much better agility at both high and low speeds and a reduced landing speed of 124 mph (200 km/h).
The USAF upgraded many previous F versions to the F-40 standard.
One E and two Fs were modified for improved performance via rocket boost.
F-86F-30 (52-4608) had a Rocketdyne AR2-3 with 3,000–6,000 lbf thrust at 35,000 ft (10,668 m), giving a top speed of M1.22 at 60,000 ft (18,288 m).
Designation for 10 aircraft modified to carry the M39 cannon in place of the M3 .50 calibre machine gun “six-pack”.
Four F-86E-10s and six F-86F-1s were production-line aircraft modified in October 1952 with enlarged and strengthened gun bays, then flight tested at Edwards Air Force Base and the Air Proving Ground at Eglin Air Force Base in November.
Eight were shipped to Japan in December and seven forward-deployed to Kimpo Airfield as “Project GunVal” for a 16-week combat field trial in early 1953.
Two were lost to engine compressor stalls after ingesting excessive propellant gases from the cannons.
About 50 former Japan Self-Defence Forces (JASDF) F-86F aircraft converted to drones for use as targets by the U.S. Navy
Some F-86F-30s converted with three cameras for reconnaissance; also 18 Japan Self-Defence Forces (JASDF) aircraft similarly converted
Two F-86F converted to two-seat training configuration with lengthened fuselage and slatted wings under North American model NA-204
Extensively redesigned fighter-bomber model with deeper fuselage, uprated engine, longer wings and power-boosted tail plane, two built as North American model NA-187
Production model, 473 built, with Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) and provision for nuclear weapon, North American model NA-187 (F-86H-1 and H-5 blocks) and NA-203 (F-86H-10 block)
Target conversion of 29 aircraft for use at United States Naval Weapons Centre
Single F-86A-5-NA, 49-1069, flown with Orenda turbojet under North American model NA-167 – same designation reserved for A-models flown with the Canadian engines but project not proceeded with