MY FAVORITE F-86H STORY

by Mark G. Carter

While serving with the 10th Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Hahn Air Base in Germany, we transittoned from F-86Fs to "H"s in mid-1955. Our transition was pretty "loose" as were a lot of things back then. There was little, if any, ground school, and I do not recall any Dash One technical orders being available. Our new birds were shipped via naval transports to Brindisi, Italy where they were reassembled. I do not remember how we checked out our ferry pilots (and I was one of them, but I remember my second ride was as an instructor to check out a fellow pflot.

After we had accumulated some time in the "H", probably 20 hours, two flights went to Cazaux, France for air-to-air gunnery practice (we had to become combat ready quickly). Since we were "advancing" from the.50s on the "F" to the 20mm cannons on the "H", we were looking forward to this exercise. One can image our disappointment, and our total lack of understanding when, after flying two or three firing missions of four birds each, there were no (zero) paint holes in the target!

We immediately decided our guns were not boresighted properly. We called Hahn to have our boresighting equipment flown in. The next day, instead of seeing the wing Ops. Gooneybird land with our equipment, a lone F-86F Sabre arrived. Out crawled our recently arrived 417th Squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Yeager! Chuck did not discuss the situation. Instead, he strapped on one of our shiny, new "H's (without the benefit of any checkout), and he went on our next gunnery mission. The other three guys (including me) again scored zero, but Chuck shot 70%! He then looked at our gun camera film and found the problem. We were using the sight picture for the "F" which was wrong for the "H"! None of us knew better but Chuck did as he had flown many developmental flights in the "H" at Edwards Air Force Base years before.

In addition to having such a famous and truly superb pilot as Chuck Yeager in our wing, we had another top notch pilot and gentleman as the commander of our other squadron, the 81st FBS, namely Robby Risner, but that is another story!

Look for an intdepth inteview with Chuck Yeager about his Sabre years in a future issue of Sabre Jet Classics.
-- THE EDITORS


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