THE F-86E

   The improved day fighter Sabre Jet model following the F-86A was the F86E. It was ordered on January 17,1950, and serial number 50-579 first flew on September 23, 1950 with George Welch at the controls. The "E" was started in late 1949 by Fred Prill and Fd Kindelberger, a nephew of Dutch Kindelberger, the president of North American Aviation. A total of 456 "E" Sabres were built with deliveries to the Air Force beginning on February 9, 1951. The new Sabre was first allocated to the Air Defense Command's 33rd Fighter Interceptor Wing by May 1951. The "E" was sent to Korea by July 1951. The "flyaway" cost for each F-86E was $219,457.

   The F-86E was powered by a General Electric J47-GE-13 turbojet rated at 5,200 pounds of thrust, the same as the last F-86A. The wingspan was reduced by one inch to 37 feet. The length was six inches shorter at 37 feet The height was nine inches shorter at 14 feet. Maximum speed was the same at 679 miles per hour at sea level with cruise at 537 miles per hour. The service ceIling, however, fell to 47,200 feet. The range increased to 848 miles, but the armament with six .50 calibre M-3 machine guns remained.

   Mechanical engine control remained on the F-86E, and there continued to be no autopilot. Full hydraulic aileron and horizontal tail control with an artificial aileron and horizontal tail feel system was added. These elements made what North American referred to as "super controls." An artificial feel system was added as air loads were no longer transmitted to the control stick, and therefore no stick feel was present The artificial feel system added stick "feel" into the control column by a system of spring bungees attached to the controls. These applied loads according to the degree of control stick deflection. The trim switch on the rear top of the stick actually repositioned the bungees to a different load-free spot. The same sliding canopy and ejection system remained.

   The most noticeable change on the F86E, or North American Models NA-170 and NA-172, was the addition of a new "all flying" tail. Externally the "A" and the "E" were similar, but the "E" added a raised fairing at the base of the vertical fin and rudder above the all flying tail. This fairing contained the controls for the new horizontal tail. Instead of only the elevator controlling the Sabre, the entire horizontal tail section now moved. The change provided improved control for the F-86E through the transsonic speed range, and it eliminated control reversal caused by aerodynamic forces. The all flying tail combined the horizontal stabilizer and the elevators into one unit which, while acting as one, provided longitudinal control for the Sabre. It was hydraulically operated and did not have trim tabs. The all flying tail reduced most of the negative effects of compressibility and the loss of control associated with flying at higher Mach numbers. It also made the controls more effective with less required movement of the horizontal tail. The ailerons were also hydraulically operated without trim tabs. To change the trim on either the elevator or the ailerons, the position of the artificial feel system was changed on the control stick. The rudder, however, used a conventional cable system with an electrically adjusted trim tab. The "F" and the "A" were otherwise virtually identical.

   The F-86E-1 used a V-shaped front windscreen, the same as the F-86A-5, as did the E-5. TheE-1 and E-5 only differed by minor changes in their instruments. The E-6 (serial numbers 52-2833 to 52-2892) was a Canadian-built Canadair Sabre Mk2, sixty of which were bought by the United States Air Force for Korea to increase its supply of Sabres (Hank Buttelmann's Sabre on the first cover of Sabre Jet Classics was one of these Canadair Sabres). These Sabres were modified with United States Air Force equipment at North American's Fresno, California location in July 1951. They used the same J47-GE-13 turbojets as the American-built F-86E. The E-10 added a flat front windscreen. One F86E-10, serial number 51-2721, set a world speed record of 635.685 miles per hour over a 100 kilometer course on August 17,1951. This Sabre was later transferred to Korea and flew with the 25th Fighter Interceptor Squadron while trimmed as "Lady Margaret." F-86E production ended in April 1952, and the United States Air Force accepted its last "E" in October 1952.

   F-86Es used serial numbers 50-579 to 50-689, 51-2718 to 51-2849, 51-12977 to 51-13069, 52-2833 to 52-2892, and 52-10177 to 52-10236. F-86Es were phased out of the United States Air Force beginning in April 1954, not long alter the end of the Korean War. Many of these Sabres were transferred to Air National Guard fighter squadrons who flew them as late as 1960. Other foreign Sabre-equipped units flew the F-86E under the Military Assistance Frogram as late as 1958. Several Royal Air Force F-86Es were redesignated F-86M when given to other NATO air forces.

      The history oflater Sabre models will be reviewed in future issues of Sabre Jet Classics.


No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.


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