F-86 Sabre pilot on fighting MiGs in the Korean War

In the August 2009 issue of FlyPast, Warren E Thompson takes a look at Sabre versus MiG and presents an American pilot’s account of fighting Soviet jets in the Korean War

Swept-wing technology, accelerated by what had been captured from the Germans, was alive and well in the late 1940s in design houses in both the USA and USSR. Both sides were doing everything they could to make sure they had the fighter that could hold its own against any adversary. The types that were to emerge were the North American F-86 Sabre and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot.

Checkerboard Sabres from the 16th FIS after turning back toward the south after a long combat patrol over ‘MiG Alley’ at 40,000ft.
Checkerboard Sabres from the 16th FIS after turning back toward the south after a long combat patrol over ‘MiG Alley’ at 40,000ft. Phil Hunt

Cold War’ tensions mostly remained just so, but the Korean peninsula was to become the venue for a ‘hot’ war. The USSR had been helping the North Korean military build up to a position that they could easily overwhelm the South and that day came on June 25, 1950. Without US and UN forces, South Korea could have been lost to communism in a matter of weeks.

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