The 109th Fighter Squadron of the Maryland Air National Guard entered the Jetage in summer 1954 when it received two T-33 jet trainers. In June 1955, the 104th received its first six F-86E Sabres and began retiring iis F-51D Mustangs. In December 1957, the 104th trnnsitioned fram the "E" to the F-86H. Maryland eventually flew 68,482 hours in the "H". By August 1970, Maryland's last F-86H Sabres, based at Martin Airport in Baltimore, were replaced by new A-37B Dragonfiy fighter-bombers.
Colonel Les Waltman, who is known affectionately as; "Uncle Warty" to his many freends, was a lighter pilot with the 104th (later redesigmaed the 175th Tactical Fighter Group) throughout Maryland's Sabre years. In his intereiew; he compares flying the F-86H against the F100, F-105, and the MiGI9.
Q: When did you first fly the F-86?
A: My first flight was in 1955. We had six F-86Es at Friendship Airport. I checked out in the Sabre at summer camp that year. We had the "E" for two years, and then we received the F-86H which was a bigger and much better airplane. I spent 13 years flying the F-86H. My total time in the F-86 was about 3,000 hours of which prebably two thirds were as an instructor pilot. It was all with the Air National Guard. I also had possibly two flights in the F-86F. My time in the "F" was with another outfit's Sabre. We were good in the Air National Guard with sharing airplanes!
Q: Let's talk about your minion against the MG-19. When did that occur?
A: November 1969.
Q: How was the mission described while you were in Maryland?
A: We only knew it was requested by the Navy who asked for two aircraft and two pilots for a three-day mission. Its purpose was listed as "secret". It was called Ham Drill. We were met by a Marine Major at Nellis who was the project director and also a pilot for the MG-19. We were briefed as soon as we got into Operations what we would do each day. Joe Maisch (another Maryland pilot) flew two flights against the MiG-19 and I flew one. They were "canned" missions. We compared the flight envelope of our aircraft against the MiG19. Needless to say, when the stricter part of the program was over, we had at each other for a few minutes! It was that youthful exuberance!
Q: Were you flying from Nellis?
A: Yes. We had two F-86Hs, but we only used one in the operation. We pulled the tanks and left the other Sabre configured. We used that one Sabre all three days. We had three successful missions and accomplished everything expected. I believe we found much about the operating envelopes of the F-86H and the MiG-19. Each had certain advantages over the other.
Q: What was your air time flying qgmnst the MiG-l9?
A: I spent less than 15 minutes against the Mil-19 because we flew 90 to 100 miles from Nellis to the operating area. The MiG operated there. We were restricted without droptanks. When I landed from my mission, I was on emergency fuel. That was how little time we had. From the 15 minutes, about 10 to 12 were programmed: accelerations. decelerations, turns at various speeds and thinngs like that. We went through the canned envelope and flew it at different altitudes. My mission was at 6000 feet. The missions were canned until the data were recorded. After that, we had enough fuel to have at each other! We started in level flight, made a 90 degree turn in opposite directions and then a 180 degree turn back toward one another. Then the play started with a pass toward each other, and we improvised from there
Q: How did the F-86H compare with the MG-19?
A: We had a better roll rate. The F-86H got its wing up and turned immediately. Our roll rate was considerably better than the MiG's.The MiG, however, had a better turning radius. From that, the best F-86H maneuver against the MiG-19 was a "scissors" where we rapidly changed directions. If we got into a turn with the MiG-19, we were in deep trouble! Also, the MiG-19 had large speed brakes and decelerated better. When the MiG threw his boards out, the F-86H kept on going. The answer was never to decelerate with the MiG. If the MiG decelerated going straight ahead. then our answer was to pull the stick back and turn our deceleration into altitude. The program evaluated Navy and Air Force aircraft against the MiG-19. In what envelopes could we operate against it? Like any other aircraft, it could be taken if we knew what we were doing.The MiiG19 had obvious advantages with its lower wing loading. It was a better turning airplane. With an afterburner, its acceleration was better, and with its bigger speed brakes, its deceleration was better. But in roll rate, the F-86H was superior. In fuel load and weapons systems, we were superior. We had other areas where we were competitive. Our mission was to recognize them.
Q: Did you do diving and climbing comparisons?
A: Yes. hat was part of the evaluation, but mine was straight ahead acceleration and deceleration. I believe Joe's missions went into climbs and dives. l think the third mission was in those areas>
Q: Were yau impressed with the MiG19?
A: I frankly was not. I felt the MiG-19 had serious limitations. Not in is flight envelope, but in its armament and capability for long range flight. It seemed the MiG-19 was built to force the enemy away from a base and keep it away because it could only fight for a short time and then it had to leave. With that, they were ours.
Q: Do you remember the marlomgs or the colo rscheme on the MiG-19
A: No. I do not remember if it had its original markings. l do not believe it was in camouflage.
Q: Did it United States markings?
A: I do not recall. In the geographic area where it was flown, it did not make any difference. Nobody bothered it there! No one belonged in that air space except those in this or similar programs.
Q: You mentioned about talking to a marine pilot who also flew the MiG-19
A: Yes, I got the impression the project was run by aviators from the Marine Corp under the guidance of the Navy. The people I dealt with at Nellis were both Navy and Marine. I felt the Marine pilot was their chief evaluator. I flew against him.
Q: So you met the pilot you flew against?
A: Yes, and I believe he flew all three missions with the MiG-19. They were very short. In his case probably 25 minutes. In our case, probably 40 to 45 minutes.
Q: When you returned to Nellis did you compare notes on the ground with the Marine pilot?
A: I never spoke to him again. I do not know what the results of the evaluation were. The only thing I received was a letter of appreciation from the Chief of Naval Operations.
Department of the NavyFrom Chief of Naval Operations
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Washington, D.C. 20350
To: Chief. National Guard Bureau
Subj: Letter of Appreciation
1. Recently the Vary requested the use of two Maryland Air National Guard F-86H aircraft of the 175th Fighter Group for a special evaluation as part of a classified Naval project. With only one day notice, the F-86s were moved from their base at Baltimore, Maryland and repositioned at Nellis Air Force Base, Navada in support of a phase of Project HAVE DRILL. This rapid response by the Air National Guard contributed materially to the overall success of the program> The information gained from the participation of these aircraft is of significant value and will have an impact on all of the ServicesQ: When you flwe against the major, did you talk to him?
2. The initiaaative and professional ability demonstrated by the Air National Guard pilots Lieutenant Colonels Joseph J Maisch, Jr. and Leslie H. Walnmam. were appreciated. With their excellent support. the entire phase involving the F-86s was completed exactly as scheduled.
3. The cooperation and support of the Air National Guard in this improtant project is apprecrated.
A: Yes.We talked back and forth. It was not like combat. In an evaluation, if we saw I could get an advantage doing something, or if we saw he could get and an advantage. we called one another. I would say something like, " Can yon get another 20 degrees of bank in there?" If he could. I said. "That is your edge". We were determining what the edge was for him as well as for us. If we knew where they were best, then we stayed away from that envelope. We talked a lot. Naturally we talked about fuel because it became a problem. In the evaluaion we never tried to prove who was the better pilot or which was the better airplane. The evaluation obtained as much information as possible about the performance envelope of the Mi-19.
Q: Were you debriefed after the mission"
A: Yes, but by telephone only.
Q: Was there any fallow up?
A: Not that I know of. I believe the Major called us before we left. He thought the evaluation went went well and they developed much infomation. I do not recall discussing it later with anyone. After that time, the mission was classified "top secret" because the fact that the United States had a MiG-19. Nlothing was ever discussed. They learned what they wanted from the canned part of the mission plus a few observations we made while we were having at it. We knew when a maneuver was working and when it was not. The same happened when a maneuver was working against us. When the MiG hit me and I put in a beautiful break and left him hanging behind. and then I lturned around and he was turning inside me, there was no question the MiG had far better wing loading. In any any turning maneuver the Sabre lost. It was also obvious that I could break and get into a turn before he got his wing up. We beat him on the wing roll. The thing for us was to roll back and forth in a scissors maneuver. He could not roll that fast. The same with deceleration and acceleration. He had those over us. The only way to stop an F-86H was to pull the nose as high as we could get and use the underside of the aircraft as a airbrake, otherwise we never stopped with the MiG. At the same time we got altitude. These are the things evaluations develop.
Incidentally, earlier I participated in two Feather Duster operations flying F-96H missions against the F-100 and the F-I05. We flew these at Nellis in 1966. Feather Duster, evaluated all operational American aircraft against the MiG-19. Since the F- 86H was the closest thing to a MiG-I9, we went as the 'enemy. We flew the high-level portion with four Sabres flying for two weeks. They did not approve the low level portion because of flight safety after four weeks, they advised we would do the low level portion. I went back with one F-86H and our oour readiness materiel. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard sent four F-86-H, four pilots and four crew chiefs and we ran a jout operation at Nellis. I was detachment commander. I stayed for three weeks and ran flight evaluations against the F-100, F-104, and the F-105. Then Captain Fred Blahus flew against the F-4 and F-105.
We worked our fighter tactics against theirs. It became obvious in a turning fight the F-86H was a superior airplane. We tore them up. All those aircraft were faster than the F86H, so we tried to put ourselves in situations where we had an initial speed advantage. We wanted an altitude or airspeed advantage, or preferably both. But if both airplanes were in combat at altitude and we had to lose airspeed then we traded our airspeed loss for an airspeed loss for altitude gain whenever possible. We always traded altitude for airspeed, and vice versa. The faster airplanes wanted to get as high as possible or set or get their noses down and run away as fast as possible.
The Air Force had that problem in Vietnam with F-I05s in particular which brought about this exercise. The F-105s would say "MiGs in the area", and would often dump their bombs and run. For the MiGs, that was as effective as shooting our airplanes down. If the F-105s dropped their bombs in the ocean, then the MiGs had thwarted our mission. We had to find what we could do against tire MIG threat. That was what Fether Duster was about.
Of my two missions, FeatherDuster was more noteworthy than Have Drill as far as the F-86H was concerned. We only lost two missions because of weather. Everyday we flew four airplanes in the morning and four in the afternoon. We had only five airplanes there, but most of the time one was down because it needed an engine. With four airplanes, we lost only one mission due to maintenance. With five crew cheifs and one supply man for a maintenance support element, that was an incredible mission accomplishment! The F-86H performed beautifully.
Q: How would the F-86H have compared a with the F-100 and the F-105 if the Sabre had another 500 to 1.000 pounds of thrust?
A: There is no question in my mind that it would have been better than both. In any envelope except nose down and full throttle, the F-100 was interior to the F-86H. The same was true with the F-105, which to me was actually a single-engine bomber. As I wrote in my final evaluation reports.
Subject: Feather Duster II, F-86H vs. F-100 To Captain Mike Muskat
1. The fallowing is a resume of rhe sortie accomplishment of the F86-H detachment for the week of 16-20 August (1966):
Sorties Programmed 28 Sorties Scheduled 36* Sorties Flown 33* Weather Aborts 2 Maintenance Aborts 1*Includes three orientation rides.
2. The following conclusioins are based on discussions with the involved F-86H piots and reflect their ideas on the series of tests conducted against the F-l00 at low altitudes:
a. The F-100, flying at slower speeds (350 knots or less), has a serious disadvantage when attacking the F-86H. At speeds in excess of 400 knots this disadvatage is reduced. At higher speeds. The F-86H must use more violent maneuvering to disengage from a gun or missile attack, and the subsequent loss of speed of the defending F-86H, coupled a with a the high rate of cloture of the attacking F-100, enables the attacker to more effectively escape if forced into an overshoot. A climbing turn away from the defender's break an the part of the overshooting F-100 helps to peclude a missle launch from the defending F-86H.
Further, with the initial high rate of closure and subsequennt overshoot, the attacking F-100 elect to trade a great deal of this energy for altitude and once again initiate an attack. As long as high mach is maintained the F-100 may elect to remain in the fray for a limited number of turns taking heed riot to let his airspeed dissipate. Should the F-100 allow his speed to bleed off too far, he can no longer accelerate out of the engagement and the superior roll and turn rate of the F-86H will eventually allow the defending F-86H to slide into the six o'clock position fpr a gun or missile kill.
b. The F-86H atacking an F-100 flying at speeds in excess of 400 knots is able to maintain a tactical advantage, however, the F-100 had success innegating missile and gun firing attacks by jjinking (constantly changing altitude and direction, and never flying straight and level).The jinking is successful only so long as it removes the airplane from its line of flight at the start of the maneuver. In addition, airspeed may be built up during the jinking maneuvers so as to eventually affect separation.
c. Superior flight tactics enabled the F-100s to show well in the 4 vs 4 phase of the evaluation. However, when the flight of F-86Hs developed better tactics, they were able to completely outmaneuver the F-100s, and by aggressive flying were able to penetrate the F-100 flight and achieve successful results. I feel that flight tactics properly applied and executed on several flights were able to negate the aircraft differences between the F-86Hs and F-100s. At the very least, the F-100s were able to get into the flight, and though a successsful attack may have been made on one of their elements, the other element was able to retaliate in kind
3. In conclusion, high airspeed and good flight tactics seem to evened somewhat the obvious advantages enjoyed by the F-86Hs at lower airspeeds.
Subject: Feather Dauser II, F-86H vs. F-105
1. The following is a resume of the sortie accomplishment of the F-86H detachment for the week of 23-27 August (1966)
Sorties Programmed 28 Sorties Scheduled 30 Sorties Flown 29 Maintenance Aborts 12 The following conclusions; are based on diccurssions with the pilots of the involved F-86H aircraft and generally reflect their analysis of the tests conducted at low altitudes against the F-105:a. When the F-86H was defending and flying at lower speeds (350 knots or less), the F-105 closing at a higher rate (usually .9 or better), because of a rapid rate of closure, was not able to do any great amount of tracking and was immediately susceptible to an overshoot. Particularly if the F-86H broke hard. With its superior speed advantage, the attacking F-105 was generally able to complete separation. The few times the F-105s were coaxed into a low speed attack, positive kills were gernerally achieved by the F-86Hs.3. The most successful maneuvers seemed to be jinking while hugging the deck and, of course, maintaining a high Mach number. Hugging the deck until separation can be achieved seems to be a safer prospect at the lower altitudes than a climbing spiral. Wide jinking not only makes a gun attack almost impossible but also seems to be capable of foiling a missile attack.
When the roles were reversed and the F-I05s were a defensive posture at lower speeds, the defenders were unable to effect a separation and were generally easy kills. Overshoots were run by the attacking F-86Hs.
b. At higher rates of speed, the F-105 in a defending role was highly successful in escaping gun and missile attacks by aggressive jinking close to the deck. This jinking makes gun tracking extrememy difficult, and remaining close to the deck tends to counter a missile attack. Jinking to the extent of actually turning seems to also commit the atttacker to a turn as well, since he cannot know if the defender is jinking or actually starting a turn. The F-105 was able to maintain a Mach of .95 or better during the maneuvering and eventually gain separation by merely streaking off along the deck, and a few miles separation was attained by jinking.
c. As in the F-100 tests, Flight tactics seemed to be a large factor in achieving successful engagements. The F-105s in a 2 vs. 2 attack were able to combine their speed with wider separation and pose a serious problem for defentidn F-86Hs. The double attack method allowed either one or the other of the attacking F-105s to position himself for high speed attack on the :breaking" F-86Hs.The defending F-86Hs were generally unable to retaliate until both F-I05s were visually located and by this time, they usually had made their pass and were gone for separaton
Attacking at the higher Mach numbed the F-86Hs had a slower rate of closure and had to close inside the wide flying F-105s thus exposing themselves to an attack by the faster flying F-105 wingman. The only solution for the F-86Hs seemed to be to sacrifice flight integtiry and attack one vs. one. The higher speed of the F-105s allowed them ro come to the support of one another faster thatn the F-86Hs.
The situations were pretty much the some in 4 vs. 4. As long as the F-105s kept Mach high and did not try to assume the role of day fighter, but were content to press in, take their quick burst and then press on, the F-86H could do little more than just get out of the way. As in the case of 2 vs. 2, with wide element separation and high speeds, the F-105s here able to provide some degree of mutual protection as long as they did not commit to a low speed, turning fight.
Leslie H. Waltman, Major, ANG
Maryland Air National Guard
Q: How did you feel when the F-86Hs were phased out of the Maryland Air National Chard?
A: How would you feel if your kids left home?
A You better believe it! In my life, people always said, "Why did you never get married?" I said, "Because I have a 13,000 pound girlfriend. I love her, and that is all that counts". The F-86H was as much a part of my life as an arm or a leg. It was a very, very beautiful airplane. It was totally forgiving, and I mean totally forgiving. We had to mess the airplane up. It never messed us up. If we were in a spin, we got our hands off everything, sat there and left the airplane alone. It got out of it. I am talking about regular or inverted spins. If we stalled out, the nose came down and we started flying again. It was totally stable, totally forgiving, and no matter what we did to mess it up, it forgave us. Most of the guys I knew who flew the "H" felt the same way, it was apart of our lives.
Q: Do yrou have a favorite Sabre story?
A: When I came home train active duty in early 1969, I thought 1 was leaving the Guard. I had three rides in the F-86H before I left. I had an instrument ride, a night crosscountry and a gunnery ride. Each was flown highly professionally, and the F-86H was an airplane to do exactly that in, to perform like a professional. There were many fun rides, but I think those three rides, since they seemed to be my swan song, were the best. I decided not to go out with a lot of fooishness or break regulations or rules at the field, but to go out like the consummate professional. That is exactly what I did. The missions and the people I flew with were excellent. They showed respect for my abilities considering that I was leaving and these rides may be my last. They were as satisfied as I was to make them first class operations.
Q:Do you have any final thoughts on the Sabre or your mission against the MiG-19?
A: Have Drill was extremely professional. There is no question that the Air National Guard could supply professional people for any needed occasion. Both Joe Maisch and I had over 2,000 hours in the F-86H. We were highly skilled pilots. We had an aircraft that functioned properly. We went to Nellis and di da good professional job. It is a reffection on entire Air National Ghard that it supplied people with tremendous skills. The F-86H, and F-86s in general, were, without a doubt, the "Last of the Sport Models". We have technological airplanes. The F- 15 is apparently one incredible piece of equipment, although I never had the pleasure of flying it. I know that what we recommended to the Air Force after Feather Duster, about the next generation of fighters, became the F-15. The F-86, even though it was a great war machine, was a fun airplane, pure and simple. We enjoyed it. We all came away from the F-86 with the same feeling. It was a love affair. To paraphrase Will Rogers, "I never met a man who didn't like the F-86."
Thank you, Uncle Walry!
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