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MiG Alley: Sabre vs. MiG

DAYTON, Ohio -- MiG Alley exhibit in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- MiG Alley exhibit in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"The MiG-15 was good, but hardly the superfighter that should strike terror in the heart of the West ... There was no question that the F-86 was the better fighter."
- No Kum-Sok, North Korean fighter pilot who escaped to South Korea in 1953 after flying nearly 100 combat missions in the MiG-15

Soviet leader Josef Stalin feared that if a Soviet MiG-15 pilot was captured, it would prove the USSR's direct involvement in the war. Stalin ordered MiG-15 pilots to fly only near their bases in Manchuria and northwestern North Korea. This area, famously known as "MiG Alley," became the scene of furious air combat battles between USAF F-86 and Soviet MiG-15 pilots.

Large formations of MiGs would lie in wait on the Manchurian side of the border. When UN aircraft entered MiG Alley, these MiGs would swoop down from high altitude to attack. If the MiGs ran into trouble, they would try to escape back over the border into communist China. (To prevent a wider war, UN pilots were ordered not to attack targets in Manchuria.) Even with this advantage, communist pilots still could not compete against the better-trained Sabre pilots of the U.S. Air Force, who scored a kill ratio of about 8:1 against the MiGs.

Click on the following links to learn more about MiG Alley.

Soviet Pilots over MiG Alley
F-86 Sabre vs. MiG-15 Armament
Sabre Pilot
MiG-15 Pilot

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