An intelligence warning in 1948 prompted the U.S. Air Force to hurriedly develop an all-weather interceptor. Starting with the basic airframe of its F-86A, North American incorporated two unprecedented concepts into the F-86D (initially designated the F-95). First, a highly sophisticated electronic system replaced the second crewmember carried by other interceptors of the time. Second, the F-86D became the first production single-seat fighter to which air-to-air missiles replaced the classic gun armament.
With its air intake reshaped to make room for the enclosed radar, the F-86D -- nicknamed "Sabre Dog" -- presented a distinctive profile. The interception radar (from Hughes Aircraft Co.) and associated fire-control computed the target's position, guided the aircraft on an intercept course to within 500 yards of the target, lowered the retractable tray of 24 rockets, and fired the rockets automatically. The effect of these weapons would have been devastating to an enemy bomber because each 2.75-inch Mighty Mouse folding fin aircraft rocket (FFAR) contained the power of a 75mm artillery shell. The first prototype (YF-86D) flew on Dec. 22, 1949, and North American delivered 2,506 F-86Ds before production ended in September 1953. Although the U.S. Air Force had phased out its F-86D by June 1961, Japan and other nations continued flying them.
The aircraft on display came to the museum in August 1957. It is marked as an F-86D assigned to the 97th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, during the mid-1950s.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engine: General Electric J47 of 7,650 lbs. thrust (with afterburner) Maximum speed: 761 mph Range: 800 miles Ceiling: 50,000 ft. Span: 37 ft. 1 in. Length: 40 ft. 4 in. Height: 15 ft. Weight: 19,975 lbs. loaded