The F-86 and the Battle
For Air Superiority in Korea

by Kenneth P. Werrell

Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034

It is not often that an historical work is promptly recognized as preeminent and perhaps the "last" word on a particular topic. This is such a book, and Dr. Richard P. Hallion, former USAF Chief Historian, declares it "...the best treatment of the [F-86] I've read....one of a kind." William T. Y. Blood, USAF Historian, says "It is a unique book filled with valuable and relatively unknown information." This is not a "coffee table" book similar to several excellent F-86 books of that type (many referenced by the author of SOMA). Rather it could be considered a textbook for study of the Sabre and its pilots.

The author, an Air Force Academy graduate ('60) and former USAF pilot who went on to earn his doctorate in history, has many published works focused on military aviation history.

"Sabres Over MiG Alley" is an extraordinarily well-researched and documented book. Sixty former Sabre pilots were interviewed by the author, and the extensive footnotes cite the many sources for his detailed account of the F-86, its employment, and its pilots.

The narrative flows easily from the development of the F-86 to its role in Korea, and finally to an in-depth look (warts and all) at the premier Sabre pilots - aces mostly. The first two portions are superbly documented and contain many little-known facts. The mini-biographies of the aces rely heavily on cited interviews with the subjects themselves and those who knew them. Some of these are intensely personal and even painful. Unfortunately, at times it is difficult to distinguish between comments made by the interviewees and conclusions drawn by the author. Aside from a few clearly incorrect dates and an occasional gratuitous comment which misses the mark, this is an objective and scholarly work.

Dr. Werrell's closing words will surely ingratiate him to fans of the beautiful Sabre: "...the F-86 remains the most successful air to air fighter of all time.... It's outstanding success in Korea won it and its pilots a well-deserved place in aviation history."

Definitely recommended reading.

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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