The chequered-tailed Sabre, piloted by Francis Gabreski of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, has just scored a hit on a North Korean Mig-15. Gabreski attained 6.5 victories in MiG Alley, becoming the 8th jet ace. Gabreski had over 25 aerial victories in WW II flying the P-47 before becoming a prisoner of war. At the onset of the Korean conflict the bulk of the U.S. Air Force consisted of technically obsolete WW II vintage aircraft.
Early in the Korean conflict the U.S. military successfully utilized these piston driven aircraft, against the small and ineffective North Korean Air Force. However, in November of 1950, things changed dramatically with the first appearance of Mig-15 fighters flown by both North Korean and Chinese pilots. The F-86 was the most important air combat fighter flown by the American Air Force during the Korean Conflict, and the first swept-wing military jet produced in the United States.
The first prototype flew in 1947 and its design was influenced by German research data captured near the end of World War II. The Sabre was powered by a General Electric J47-GE-27 turbojet engine and was capable of speeds of 690 MPH at sea level. The F-86 had an operational ceiling of 50,000 feet, and was armed with six machine guns. The Sabre could carry 2000 pounds of bombs or externally mounted fuel tanks to increase its range beyond the 785 miles obtained without external tanks.
The Mig-15 was produced by Mikoyan-Gurevich and became the F-86's main adversary in Korea. The Mig-15, known as the "Fagot," carried superior armament consisting of one 37mm and two 20mm cannons. It was also slightly faster at altitude and more maneuverable than its American adversary, despite its tendency to snap-roll into an uncontrollable spin during high-speed turns.
A later variant, the Mig-17 utilized a 45 degree swept wing to eliminate this nasty tendency. Sabre Jets and Mig-15's tangled over Korea on countless occasions with dogfights reminiscent of high speed versions of the battles waged a decade earlier between British Spitfires and German Bf-109's in the skies of Britain. With pilots of superior skill and experience the Sabre Jets performed well in these encounters, and during the conflict 792 Mig-15's were destroyed, with a kill ratio of over ten-to-one in favor of the USAF and USN.
Signed by the Artist
Overall Print Size:
16" x 11"
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