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Family of first F-86 pilot to shoot down MiG-15 during Korean War donates items

  • Published
  • By Sarah Swan
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
The family of Col. Bruce Hinton, the first F-86 pilot to score a MiG-15 kill during the Korean War, donated several items to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

On Dec. 17, 1950, Hinton, who was commander of the 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, led a flight of four F-86s over northwestern North Korea. To trick the communists, the Sabre pilots flew at the same altitude and speed as F-80s typically did on missions, and they used F-80 call signs. Hinton spotted four MiGs at a lower altitude, and he led his flight in an attack. After pouring a burst of machine gun fire into one of the MiGs, it went down in flames. In April 1951 Hinton shot down a second MiG-15.

According to museum research historian Jeff Duford, at the beginning of the Korean War the best jet fighter the U.S. had in theater was the straight-wing F-80. The communists introduced the swept-wing and much faster MiG-15 into combat in November 1950. It was quite a shock to UN forces, and the MiG-15 threatened to wrest control of the air from UN forces.

"Col. Hinton's kill symbolized the Air Force's answer to the MiG-15," Duford said. "His victory represented the passing of the momentary crisis, and it was the first of hundreds of MiG-15s that Sabre pilots shot down during the Korean War."

Hinton died in June 2009, and many of the donated items will be used in the museum's Korean War exhibit, which is being completely redesigned to commemorate this year's 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Hinton's story will be highlighted in an exhibit about air superiority, which will include his flying gloves, helmet, scarf and patches. The museum's F-86A is marked to represent the aircraft flown by Hinton.

Further information about the Korean War exhibit will be available on the museum's Web site when it opens this summer. For information about Korean War commemoration activities, visit

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free.

NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, please contact Sarah Swan at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1283.