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F-86E "Sabre"

F-86A--the normally intervening F-86D was actually preceded in production by the E.

As a progressive development of the F-86A, the F-86E featured a new tail with both tailplane and elevators controllable and linked for coordinated movement. All controls were power-operated. The F-86E retained the F-86A's M-3 guns and the J47-GE--13 engine of the latest F--86As.

The Air Force accepted its first two F-86Es in February 1951, just a few months after the aircraft's first flight. The first aircraft were assigned to ADC's 33d Fighter Interceptor Wing.

The Air Force furnished FEAF whatever F-86s it could spare from air defense. Almost as soon as operational, F-86Es joined the F-86As in the Korean war.

Initial provisioning for the F-86 was based on peacetime consumption rates. Hence, the 51st Wing's unprogrammed conversion to F86Es severely strained logistical support. By January 1952, 45 percent of the war-committed F-86A and E fighters were out of commission for want of parts or maintenance. Theater supplies of external fuel tanks, without which the range-limited F-86s were badly handicapped, also were nearly exhausted. "Peter Rabbit," a crash project for buying a 1-year supply of all urgently needed items, solved most of these problems, but it took several months.

The F-86As, first deployed to the Far East, were flown by highly qualified, regular and reservist, career pilots. Most of these men were being rotated as 100-mission veterans by mid-1951, when the F-86Es arrived, and supplying qualified replacement pilots for service in Korea became a challenge. During the winter of 1951-1952 the 4th FI Wing (still flying a mixture of F-86As and Es) and the F-86E-equipped 51st received pilots whose previous experience had been attained in multi-engine transports and bombers. This problem persisted until March 1952, when large numbers of jet fighter pilots began to arrive from replacement training centers in the United States.

Largely outnumbered by an enemy favored by the odds of combat, F-86Es of the 51st FI Wing destroyed 25 MIGs during January 1952. Most of the kills were achieved by patrols that entered the combat area at 46,000 feet and made astern attacks on the elusive enemy aircraft, sighted at lower altitudes. Held to reduced flying rates because of logistical deficiencies, the 4th and 51st Wings could only claim the destruction of 17 MIGs during February, but impressive victories were recorded soon afterward. Although some MIG pilots continued to avoid action, enemy tactics changed and MIG formations were met at lower altitudes in March and April. In these months, at the cost of only 6 F-86s, 83 MIGs were destroyed.

The operational suitability tests that ended in July 1952, after the F-86E had already acquired some 12 months of combat experience, called for improvement of the aircraft's overall performance. This was particularly urgent because of the enemy's increasing capability. Yet, none of the several courses of action available to the Air Force appeared too promising. The F-86E could be retrofitted with the more powerful J47-GE-27 engine, for this possibility had been taken into consideration before production, but this engine was in short supply. As recommended by North American, the thrust of the F-86E's J-47-GE-13 engine could be boosted. This would alleviate the aircraft's most serious shortcoming by increasing its rate of climb. However, neither General Electric nor the Air Force favored this second solution. The former, because it would severely reduce the engine life; the latter, because it would pose a difficult, "if not impossible," supply and maintenance problem. After combat testing proved its effectiveness, a kind of expedient was adopted that later became a standard feature of subsequent F-86 models. Referred to as the "6-3 wing," the modification, credited with speed increases of several knots, gave the F-86E wing a slightly increased sweepback. This was achieved by extending the wing inboard and outboard edges by 6 and 3 inches, respectively, and by eliminating the slats of the wing's original leading edges. The "6-3 wing" modification kits were inexpensive, $4,000 each, but only 50 had been sent to Korea by the end of 1952; and they were not plentiful until mid-1953.

The Air Force took delivery of its last six F-86Es in October, 1952. The total F-86Es accepted were 456--396 for the Air Forces and 60 for the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Because of the Korean War demands on American production, 60 of the Air Force's 396 F-86Es were built by Canadair, a Canadian aircraft company. Like other F-86Es, they were powered by the J47--GE-13 engine. The 60 MDAP F86Es were also produced by Canadair, but they were fitted with the Avro Canada Orenda engine and the designation F-86J was applicable to this version.

Eighty F-86Es were accepted in FY 51, 218 in FY 52, and 98 in FY 53. Fifty-five of the 60 USAF F-86Es bought from Canadair were received in FY 52, the remaining five in FY 53. The 60 MDAP F86Es were accepted in 1963, 26 each in June and July, and 8 in August. This was done at a cost of $219,457.00-airframe, $145,326; engine (installed), $39,990; electronics, $6,358; ordnance, $4,138; armament, $23,645.

Like the F-86As, the F-86Es began leaving the Air Force operational inventory soon after the end of the Korean war. The ANG owned 140 F-86Es by mid-1956 and still flew a few of them in 1960. Also, several foreign countries received badly needed F-86Es through the Military Assistance Program--using them until the end of 1958.

The F-86E had many milestones. Flying a Canadian-built F-86E at Edwards AFB, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to fly faster than sound. She broke the international speed record for a.100-kilometer closed course by averaging 652.337 mph, also breaking the women's jet speed record.

Other countries also had and maintained F-86Es. The Canadian government decided to manufacture the F-86 under license in 1949 and in August of that year placed an order for 100 of them with Canadian Limited., Initially, it was planned to manufacture the F-86A but only one example, designated Sabre Mk.l, was completed, subsequent productions being built to F-86E standards as Sabre Mk.2s. A number of modifications, introduced by Canadair after the 353rd Mk.2 production, changed the aircraft's designation to Mk.4, of which 438 examples were built. The United Kingdom and West Germany, with the assistance of MDAP funds, acquired many Mk.2 and Mk.4 aircraft that were flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF) until mid-1956, when they were transferred to the Italian Air Force. A further 120 ex-RAF Sabre Mk.4s were also transferred to the Yugoslav Air Force. Former Royal Canadian Air Force Mk.2 and Mk.4 aircraft, after being retrofitted with extended-wing leading edges, were redesignated F-86E (M)s and allocated to the Royal Hellenic and Turkish air forces.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:31:38 ZULU