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November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

Posted November 08, 2006 8:00 AM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, a United States Air Force (USAF) F-86 Sabre shot down two North Korean MiG-15s in the first jet-to-jet dogfight. Piloted by Lt. Russell J. Brown, the F-86 Sabre was a single-seat, high-altitude, swept-wing fighter with superior diving and turning capabilities. A horizontal stabilizer or tailplane provided equilibrium, stability and control. The Soviet-built Mikoyan Gurevich 15 (MiG-15) outperformed the Sabre in terms of ceiling, acceleration, rate of climb and zoom, but was unable to match the roll rate and turn radius of the F-86. USAF pilots were also better trained than their North Korean and Chinese counterparts. According to American accounts, Sabre pilots claimed a kill ratio of 14:1 against the MiG-15 during the Korean War.

The jet-to-jet dogfights along the Yalu River are some of the most storied in the history of air combat. During the first months of the war, the swept-wing MiG-15 dominated straight-wing aircraft such as the Gloster Meteor. Piston-powered planes such as the F-51 Mustang were also no match for the transonic MiG-15. Although the arrival of the F-86 Sabre changed the balance of power in "MiG Alley", the United States continued to offer a reward of $100,000 to any MiG pilot who defected. In September 1953, a North Korean flier named No Kum-Sok landed at Kimpo Air Base in South Korea. Chuck Yeager, the American test pilot who had broken the sound barrier, later flew the captured craft and reported that the MiG-15 required dangerous spin-recovery maneuvers.

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Power-User

Join Date: Jun 2005
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#1

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/08/2006 11:08 AM

The Mig-15 was designed to down bombers with its slow firing cannons and was much less effective against maneuverable fighters. The Sabre had 6 .50 caliber guns. Although similar to WWII standard US fighter plane armament, the guns had about a 20% higher firing rate and the slugs had twice the mass of WWII bullets.

George Welch broke the sound barrier in the XP-86 test plane twice before George Yaegar broke the sound barrier with the Bell rocketplane. Although he created sonic booms, the flights were not officially recognized as there was no instrumentation measuring the speed and the exploits were unauthorized. George Welch was depicted in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora as one of the pilots who got airborne and engaged the attacking Japanese. He downed 4 attackers that day, later increasing his WWII tally to 16. During the Korean conflict he reportedly downed several Mig-15's although they were not credited as he was flying as a civilian instructor and he had orders not to engage in combat. He died test flying an F-100 Super Sabre.

The F-86 had a fully moving horizontal stabilizer (as modern jets now have). The Mig-15 did not. Breaking the sound barrier in a dive in a Mig-15 could be fatal as the plane lost elevator control and would tend to increase its dive. A fully movable horizontal tail allows control at supersonic speeds.

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Guru
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/08/2006 11:22 AM

Thanks, Howetwo. That's some excellent information. Now I need to figure out when Tora, Tora, Tora is playing on AMC again!

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Power-User

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/14/2006 10:24 AM

Sorry, that should have been Chuck Yeager -- I knew a George Yeagar in school. Sometimes I type faster than I think, and I'm a slow typest.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/10/2006 11:51 AM

That's interesting about the mig-15. I heard that at hight speeds though, the Sabre could actually out maneuver because it had better controls, being hydraulically assisted. The MIG had no hydraulically powered controls, and required serious muscle when the plane was flying at very high speeds. I hope I'm not mistaken with another plane, but I'm pretty sure I saw that on the History Channel.

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Guru

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#7
In reply to #1

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

07/19/2007 11:04 PM

"...George Welch broke the sound barrier in the XP-86 test plane twice before George Yaegar broke the sound barrier with the Bell rocketplane..."

Yes, but he did it on a dive, and experienced frame-shaking rattle and loss of control to the brink of stalling, as the plane's airframe was not built or designed for the anomalies associated with supersonic shockwave front.

Yaegar flew in a craft, designed with these anomalies in mind, and did it on a controlled, level flight, if I'm not mistaken.

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Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/15/2006 9:48 AM

Check your facts again, moose:

1. Brown was flying an F-80 Shooting Star today in 1950, not an F-86 Sabre.

2. Although for years Brown was credited with getting the first kill in the first all-jet dogfight, this could never be corroborated with records from the N. Koreans or the Soviets. Brown did engage a MiG-15 that day, but the aircraft was not destroyed/did not crash.

3. The Soviets claimed that the first kill was made by a Lt Khominich on 1 Nov 1950, but that claim is not supported by US records.

4. The first kill in an all-jet dogfight that can be verified by records on both sides belongs to Lt Cmdr Wm T. Amen, USN, flying an F9F Panther from the USS Phillipine Sea who shot down a MiG-15 on the very next day - 9 Nov 1950

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Guru
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#6
In reply to #5

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/15/2006 11:50 AM

Can you share your source(s), Guest? I don't doubt them, but would like to be able to refer to them (if possible) for future entries about military aviation. Thanks.

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Anonymous Poster
#8

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/08/2009 5:22 PM

sorry it was a lockheed f-80 shooting star...that f-86 was not yet operational in nov.1950

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Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: November 8, 1950: The First All-Jet Dogfight

11/16/2010 5:25 PM

its a p-51 mustang

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