North American F-86 Sabre

The Sabre became the main USAF fighter during the Korean War. Although it was not as capable as its rival the MiG-15, better training gave US pilots the edge, resulting in 10:1 kill ratios. The Sabre was later widely exported to numerous countries.

The F-86 profiles were among my first profiles, and the entire set was improved in 2012. Both versions are presented here.


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F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

1. This aircraft is S/L Mohammed Alam’s F-86F-40-NA, of the 32nd Air Wing, 11th FS of the Pakistani AF based at Sargodha AB in September 1965. Alam became a hero during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War by claiming 9 IAF Hawker Hunters, including five on September 7, 1965. This would make him the only jet fighter “ace in a day”, but his actual score is debated, researchers crediting him with 4 to 8 kills.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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1. F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, flown by Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. Jabara was the second USAF ace in Korea with 15 victories. He also had scored 1.5 victories in World War II.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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3. F-86A-7 (formerly a F-86A-5-) #49-1131 was used as target tug by the Utah Air National Guard.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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4. F-86F-25-NH 52-5333 was used for camouflage tests in Europe in 1965 by the 461st FDS. It is one of the few US Sabres to have been painted with camouflage, most F-86 having been flown in a natural metal condition. However, the Sabres presented here have generally been chosen for their unusual and/or colourful paint scheme.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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5. Yugoslavic Canadair CL-13 Sabre F. Mk 4, an ex-RAF plane refurbished to F-86E(M) standard shortly after its delivery, Batajnica airbase, 1959. The decision to sell Sabres to a Communist country was hotly debated in the US.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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6. Canadair CL-13 Sabre F. Mk 4, an ex-RAF plane refurbished to F-86E(M) standards. This colourful aircraft was part of the aerobatics team of the Yugoslav AF, Batajnica AB, 1960.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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7. F-86F of the Japanese Self-Defense Air Force “Blue Impulse” aerobatics team.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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8. Canadair CL-13A-2 Sabre of the Elliniki Floga (Hellenic Flame) display team of the Hellenic Air Force. This is aircraft #19235, preserved in Tanagra, Greece.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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9. F-86 Sabre of the Patrullia Ascua of the Spanish Air Force. This aircraft is preserved at the Madrid Cuarto Vientos airbase.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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10. F-86F-25-NH #51-13468 of the ‘Blue Diamonds’ display team of the Philippine AF. This was the lead aircraft of the team, while the unit was flying Sabres. In the 1960s three units of the PhAF were equipped with F-86s.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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11. F-86E-10-NA #51-2738 “Four Kings & A Queen” of the 16th FIS, 51st FIW, flown by Capt. Cecil G. Foster, Korea, 24 January 1953.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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12. F-86E-10-NA #51-2746 ‘Michigan Center/Lady Frances’ of the 25 FIS, flown by Col. Francis Gabreski, 2 October 1951. On that day, Gabreski shot down a MiG-15 from 17 IAP (Russian Fighter regiment), flown by I. Morozov.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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13. F-86A #49-1195 of the Alaska Air National Guard. It is exposed on a pylon at Kulis AFB, Anchorage, as ‘12807’. Notice the Artic conspicuity markings, meant to help locate an aircraft wreck in the snow.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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14. Canadair Sabre Mk 2 of the Turkish AF. Unknown unit & period.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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15. Canadair Sabre F. Mk. 4, 112 Squadron, RAF, Bruggen, Germany, 1956. 112 Sqn flew Sabres from January 1954 to April 1956. The camouflage is standard as applied to RAF fighters outside the UK from about 1952 until the introduction of the Hunter in the mid 1950’s, namely Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey on the upper surfaces with PRU Blue undersurfaces.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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16. F-86F-30-NA flown by the Republic of Korea Air Force’s aerobatic team based in Suwon, Korea, during 1961.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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17. Canadair Sabre MM 19865 of the ‘Cavallino Rampante’ aerobatic team of the 4° Aerobrigada, Italian AF. The team flew in 1956-1957. This aircraft is preserved in Rome Da Vinci Airport.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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18. F-86 Sabre of the official Imperial Iranian AF aeobatic team, the Golden Crown, which flew between 1960 and 1970. It was based in Mehrabad AB and was part of the 1st FIS, 1st FIW.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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19. F-86E(M) Sabre of the Turkish “Flying Swans” aerobatics team. This aircraft is a Sabre survivor, displayed at Ankara- Etimesgut AB.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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20. Canadair Sabre Mk 4 flown by 414 Sqd of the RCAF in September 1953.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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21. Canadair Sabre of the Fireballs aetobatic demonstration team. The team’s aircraft sported this “fire-engine red” scheme for a very short period only, as some superior officer decided that people might mistake the team for a Russian team and ordered the red paint stripped off.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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22. F-86A of the Washington ANG, preserved at Fairchild AB.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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23. A Canadair-built F-86E operated by Flight Systems.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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24. F-86E Sabre of the Utah ANG, preserved on a pole on the Utah National Guard property in Draper City.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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25. Canadair CL-13 Sabre F.Mk.4 of unit 117 vp, Batajnica airfield, Yugoslavia, 1956.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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26. Canadair CL-13 Mk 5 of 441 Squadron, Marville, France, mid 1950s. This aircraft is now displayed at the Royal Military College in Canada.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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27. CL-13 Sabre 5 of the RCAF Sabre Operational Training Unit.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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28. Canadair CL-14 Mk 4 of the Fuerza Aerea Honduras, preserved at the Chilean Air and Space Museum in Santiago.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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29. F-86F-35-NA of Detachment 52, Esquadra 51 ‘Falcones’, Forca Aerea Portuguesa, based at AB2 – Bissau / Bissalanca in 1962-1963. This plane was part of the first batch of F-86Fs deployed in Guinea in 1961 and was used in ground attack operations. 5322 was shot down by enemy ground fire on 31st May 1963. Pilot ejected safely.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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30. F-86F 52-4308 of the Republic of Korea AF (ROKAF), preserved at the Seoul War Memorial.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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31. F-86F of 43 Sqdn, 4th Wing of the Royal Thai AF based at Takhli RTAFB, ca. 1966.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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32. F-86F-30 #52-5060 of the Royal Thai Air Force. Sabres were used by the RTAF between 1961 and 1973. This aircraft was delivered in 1962, served with 43 Sqd, 4th Wing and is now preserved in Bangkok.


F-86F 52-4513, 334 FIS, Maj. James J. Jabara, 27 July 1953. PSS: AVIA.

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33. In her twilight years with the California ANG the F-86F Sabre wore very distinctive markings. Here 51-13082 is marked in the colours of the 115th Fighter Squadron, California Air National Guard; the oldest Air Guard unit in the state. The aircraft was assigned to that unit in 1957-1959.

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