F-86L Sabre

Manufacturer: North American
Designation: F-86
Version: L
Nickname: Sabre
Type: Fighter
Length: 37' 6.5"  
Height: 14' 8.75"  
Wingspan: 37' 1"  
Wingarea: 313.40 Sq Ft 29.11 Sq M
Empty Weight: 10890 lbs  
Max Weight: 20,375 lbs  
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: General Electric J47-GE-27 turbojet
Thrust (each): 5,970 lb  
Max Speed: 695 mph. at 36,000 ft                  
Climb: 9,300 Ft/min  
Ceiling: 48,000 Ft  


As can be seen in the photograph above taken on 17 March 2002, the museum's
F-86L is undergoing restoration.  The removal of old layers of paint down to
bare metal and application of grey primer has been completed at this point.  

Description: F-86 is a single-engine jet fighter. The fuselage is round with
a teardrop canopy and a round air intake in the slanted nose. Narrow tail fin is
swept with a small dorsal fin. Low-set wings are swept. Tailplane is also swept.
Landing gear with nose wheel is retractable. First XF-86 prototype was flown on
October 1, 1947. The aircraft went in production in 1948 and saw action against
MiG's in Korea. A number of modifications of F-86 were built, including: F-86A -
first production version, set the world speed record of 1073.569 km/h (equals
Mach 0.87); F-86D - all-weather fighter, first flown on December 22, 1949, 2504
built; F-86E - improved F-86A, 456 built; F-86F - fighter/bomber, improved
F-86E, first flown on March 19, 1952, 1794 built, 300 F-86F-40 built in Japan by
Mitsubishi; F-86H - significantly improved version, 475 built; F-86K - improved
F-86D, first flown on July 15, 1954, 341 built; F-86L - all-weather fighter with
new avionics, 981 built (some F-86D converted as well); RF-86F - reconnaisance
aircraft; TF-86F - two seat trainer, never went in production. In addition, a
large number of licensed F-86 were built in Australia (as CL-27) and Canada (as
CL-13). Several F-86K were sold to France, Germany, and Italy. 1115 F-86 were
built for US Navy. The aircraft became known as "Fury" (FJ-2, FJ-3, FJ-4, and

Produced in greater quantities than any other aircraft since the end of World
War II, the F86 Sabre was the pride of the US Air Force during the Korean War,
and the front line interceptor in most NATO and SEATO countries during the
1950's.   The Sabre was the swept wing version of the Navy's FJ-1 Fury. The
Sabre was the first aircraft to employ radar in head on targeting, carry all
rocket armament, carry one pilot for flying and radar control, and have
electronic engine fuel control. The Sabre jet was very popular with pilots of
all countries and quickly gained a reputation in the skies over Korea. Sabres
shot down 814 enemy aircraft during the Korean War with a loss of only 58 Sabre

The F-86L was the designation given to late-1950s conversions of existing
USAF F-86Ds to use the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) datalink system.

The SAGE system was developed during the early 1950s by the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory. It was based on the use of a
large, high-speed ground-based computer to handle and coordinate air
surveillance data from various ground radar installations. This information was
transmitted in real-time to a special data receiver aboard the interceptor, and
an on-board system converted this data into heading, speed, altitude, target
bearing, and range information that would be used to guide the pilot in his
interception. No voice instructions were used, and the interceptor was
automatically positioned for a lead-collision attack with its own E-4 fire
control system.

In the mid 1950s, it was decided to adapt the F-86D to the new SAGE system,
and in 1956, 2192 conversion kits were ordered for the F-86Ds of the Air Defense
Command (ADC). Under a project code-named Project Follow-On, starting in May of
1956, certain low-time F-86D interceptors were withdrawn one-by-one from service
and fitted with the upgrade. This work was done at North American plants in
Fresno and Inglewood, California. Following the upgrade, they were redesignated
F-86L. All F-86L block designations were changed to reflect their original F-86D
block numbers. The F-86D-10 to F-86D-45 became F-86L-11 to F-86L-46, but blocks
50, 55, and 60 just changed the type from D to L, that is, the F-86D-50 became

When F-86Ds were upgraded to the F-86L configuration, an AN/ARR-39 datalink
receiver was fitted, which had a blade-like antenna sticking out of the fuselage
just forward of and below the starboard wing. The AN/ARC-27 command radio of the
F-86D was replaced by an AN/ARC-34 set. An AN/APX-25 identification radar was
added, and a new AN/ARN-31 glide slope receiver was provided.

All Follow-On aircraft were brought up to F-86D-45 standards before starting
with the electronics upgrades, including the installation of the drag chute in
the tail. In the F-86L, two protruding cooling air intakes were added to the
fuselage sides just aft of the wing, replacing the older recessed cooling ducts.
The same J47-GE-33 or J47-GE-17B engine of the F-86D was retained, but the F-86L
was fitted with the F-86F-40 wing, with twelve-inch wingtip extensions and "6-3"
leading edge extensions with slats. The wingspan and wing area were 39.1 feet
and 313.37 square feet respectively. The new wing improved the handing ability
and provided better turning at high altitudes. The reconditioned F-86Ls retained
the armament of twenty-four rockets of the F-86D.

The first flight took place on December 27, 1955. That particular aircraft
had just the SAGE equipment installed, and the first conversion incorporating
all of the Follow-On changes did not fly until May of 1956. A total of 981
F-86Ds were modified to the F-86L configuration. After conversion in 1956-57,
F-86Ls were issued to most of the ADC wings that were using the F-86D. First to
receive the F-86L was the 317th FIS at McChord AFB, which first received the
planes in late November of 1956. The service of the F-86L with the ADC was
destined to be quite brief, since by the time the last F-86L conversion was
delivered, the type was already being phased out in favor of the Convair F-102A
and F-106A delta-winged interceptors. The last F-86Ls left ADC service by 1960.

As F-102A and F-106A interceptors became available to the ADC, the F-86Ls
were transferred to Air National Guard units beginning in late 1957. The first
ANG squadron to receive the F-86L was the 108th, based at O'Hare Field in
Chicago. The following ANG squadrons got F-86Ls: 108, 111, 124, 127, 128, 133,
146, 147, 151, 156, 157, 158, 159, 173, 181, 182, 185, 187, 190, 191, 192, 194,
197, and 199.

It should be noted that F-86L aircraft were also assigned to the 196th FIS,
which was an integral part of Air Defense Command. The 196th FIS was based at
Ontario ANGB, and the successor unit is the Guard refueling unit currently based
at March Field. (Source: Ray V. Miller).

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, six ANG F-86L squadrons were on
alert. The last F-86Ls were withdrawn from ANG service during the summer of

The dates and specific history of the museum's F-86L , serial number 50-0560,
are as follows:

-   It was delivered to the Air Force in Dec 1952.  

-   In 1957, it was converted from a D model to an L model and assigned to
Moody AFB.

-   In 1960 it came to Norton AFB and retired in 1960.

-   In 1996 the museum volunteers salvaged it from a  San Bernardino County
park in Oro Grande, CA.  (a few miles northwest of Victorville). All the costs
involved were donated by longtime museum volunteer Mike Alex.