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Because of its remarkable record during the Korean War, the F-86 Sabrejet earned recognition as one of the most outstanding jet fighters of all time. The plane enjoyed a better than ten-to-one "win" ratio over the Soviet - built MIG-15 jet fighter, its main adversary during the war.
In the fall of 1944 North American Aviation, manufacturers of the P-51 Mustang that proved to be America's top escort fighter of World War II, was working on design for its first jet-powered fighter. That plane, designated as the XFJ-1 Fury, was being developed as a carrier based fighter for the U.S. Navy. However, when the Army Air Force asked North American to produce a land based jet fighter capable of flying at 600 miles per hour, the firm stripped the Fury of its Naval equipment and redesigned it as the XP-86 Sabrejet.
Relying heavily on wartime research conducted in Germany, North America canted the Sabrejet's wings back at a rakish 35-degree angle. Thus, the Sabrejet was capable of flying at speeds close to the speed of sound, but it also created a serious problem for its designers. Swept-back wings are highly efficient at high speeds, but at low speeds the wings lose much of their stability and lift. Again borrowing from the Germans, the North American design team built anti-stall slats in the leading edge of the Sabejet's wings, thus assuring that the aircraft could safely take off and land at low speeds.
The first Sabrejet flew on October 1, 1947 and, in 1950, entered combat in Korea, where it handily outfought the Russian MIG-15. In fact, armed with six .50 caliber machine guns and 24 rockets in a special retractable launcher and equipped with an after burner for quick bursts of speed, the Sabrejet soon became the most dangerous fighter in the world.
Before production of the F-86 in many different configurations ended in 1956, more than 8,000 had been constructed in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy and Japan. The Sabrejet had become the standard jet fighter aircraft for nearly 30 countries around the world with which the United States had mutual defense pacts.
The F-86 Sabrejet was finally withdrawn from service in 1967.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: November 28, 2006