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Home > Fact Sheets > F-86 Sabre vs. MiG-15 Armament


Posted 2/20/2015 Printable Fact Sheet

The F-86 carried six M-3 .50-caliber machine-guns like the one displayed at the museum. The M-3 was a later version of the M-2 used in World War II. The MiG-15 carried two 23mm and one 37mm cannon and was designed to destroy enemy bombers. The two cannons on display came from the museum's MiG-15.

The MiG's cannons fired heavy, destructive shells at a slow rate while the Sabre's guns fired lighter shells at a much higher rate of fire. In the high-speed dogfights typical of MiG Alley, communist pilots found it very difficult to hit the F-86s they faced.

On the other hand, Sabre pilots frequently inflicted only light damage because their machine guns lacked the punch of cannons. MiG pilots could then escape across the Yalu River into the safety of Manchuria (although F-86 pilots sometimes followed them in "hot pursuit").

Browning M-3 Machine Gun
Bore: .50-cal. (12.7mm)
Muzzle velocity: 2,870 feet per second
Rate of fire: 1,250 rounds per minute
Bullet weight: 1.7 ounces (49 grams)
Gun weight: 65 pounds

Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 Cannon
Bore: 23mm
Muzzle velocity: 2,250-2,330 feet per second
Rate of fire: 550 rounds per minute
Bullet weight: 6.2 ounces (175 grams)
Gun weight: 81 pounds

Nudelman N-37 Cannon
Bore: 37mm
Muzzle velocity: 2,260 feet per second
Rate of fire: 400-450 rounds per minute
Bullet weight: 27 ounces or 1.7 pounds (760 grams)
Gun weight: 227 pounds

Aircraft Gun Shells
The USAF .50-caliber round measures one-half inch in diameter. The communist MiG's ammunition was 23mm (about nine-tenths of an inch) and 37mm (about one and one-half inch) in diameter.

Click here to return to the MiG Alley Overview.

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Related Fact Sheets
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis
North American F-86A Sabre
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