The record breaking North American Sabre

On November 19, 1956 the North American F-86 Sabre set a new world speed record of 698.50mph.

North American Aviation XP-86 Sabre
A North American Aviation XP-86 Sabre circa 1947

Before the advent of airborne radar systems, aircraft sensors and missiles, the most desirable attributes in any fighter aircraft were manoeuvrability and outright speed.

Aircraft manufacturers the world over were constantly pushing the envelope to create fighters that flew higher, further and faster to secure sales with air forces keen to have the best aircraft available.

In the post-war jet-age there was also a burning desire to be the first nation to break the sound barrier. The speed of sound is around 760mph at sea level and Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to have officially broken the sound barrier on October 1947 in the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis.
However, the Bell X-1 was far removed from the aircraft operated by any of the world’s air forces at that time. Operational fighters were one thing, experimental aircraft were something entirely different and well, experimental.

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