Doug Matthews acquired the F-86F-30 52-5116 in 2013. This aircraft served in the U.S. Air Force initially, before being reconditioned for service in Argentina. It joined the Argentine Air Force as ‘C-119’ in November, 1960, and flew with that nation until being withdrawn from use in 1986. Around 1989 Rick Sharpe re-imported her into the USA, and she has passed through a number of owners in the interim, including the Commemorative Air Force (her last owner).
For the latest updates about the restoration click HERE
The North American F-86 Sabre
The first swept-wing airplane in the U.S. fighter inventory, the F-86 scored consistent victories over Russian-built MiG fighters during the Korean War, accounting for a final ratio of 10-to-1. All 39 United Nations jet aces won their laurels in Sabres.More than 6,000 F-86s were manufactured by North American Aviation’s Los Angeles, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, divisions. Four models of the craft (F-86A, E, F and H) were day fighters or fighter bombers, while the F-86D, K and L versions were all-weather interceptors.
Successive models of the daylight versions — all designed to destroy hostile aircraft in flight or on the ground — were equipped with more powerful engines and armament systems that ranged from bombs and rockets to machine guns and cannon. All were rated in the 650-mph (1046 kph) class with a 600-mile (966-kilometer) combat radius and a service ceiling of more than 45,000 feet (13,716 meters).The three interceptor versions sported black radome noses, replacing the yawning jet intakes of the other models. The K model, manufactured in Turin, Italy, by Fiat, was flown by NATO forces. The F-86L had added equipment for use in conjunction with the U.S. Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defense system.
Forerunner of the operational Sabre was the XF-86, first flown Oct. 1, 1947, by North American Aviation test pilot George Welch. A few months later, Welch became the first pilot to fly the plane at Mach 1 in routine flight. Although technically rated as subsonic, the Sabre was no stranger to supersonic speeds.Various models of the Sabre held world speed records for six consecutive years, setting five official records and winning several National Aircraft Show Bendix Trophies. In September 1948, an F-86A set the Sabre’s first official world speed record of 570 mph (917 kph). This mark was bettered in 1952 by an F-86D that flew at 698 mph (1123 kph). The D became the first model of a fighter to better its own record, in 1953, with a run of 715 mph (1151 kph).The F-86E and subsequent models incorporated a unique control system, developed by North American, called the “all-flying tail.” The F-86A contained a booster control system that called for the pilot to do part of the work of controlling the aircraft, whereas the newer system added full power-operated control for better maneuverability at high speeds. An “artificial feel” was built into the aircraft’s controls to give the pilot forces on the stick that were still conventional but light enough for superior combat control. U.S. production of the Sabre Jet ended in December 1956. (Source www.boeing.com).
The paint scheme chosen for our new F-86 is the one of Joseph Christopher McConnell, Jr. (30 January 1922 – 25 August 1954) who was a United States Air Force fighter pilot who was the top American flying ace during the Korean War.
A native of Dover, New Hampshire, Captain McConnell was credited with shooting down 16 MiG-15s while flying North American F-86 Sabres. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in aerial combat. McConnell was the first American triple jet-on-jet fighter ace and is still the top-scoring American jet ace.
Captain McConnell flew at least three different F-86 Sabres, all named “Beautious Butch”. The name referred to the nickname of his wife, Pearl “Butch” Brown. His first eight kills were scored in an F-86E-10 (serial number 51-2753, buzz number FU-753). The second Sabre was an F-86F-15 (serial number 51-12971, buzz number FU-971). McConnell was shot down in an encounter with MiGs in the morning of Apr 12, 1953. by a Chinese pilot named Daoping Jiang (蒋道平), and McConnell ejected over the Yellow Sea. He was rescued within minutes by an American helicopter. The next day he returned to the air and shot down another MiG. His final Sabre in combat was an F-86F-1 (serial number 51-2910, buzz number FU-910). This aircraft was repainted following his final mission, with the name being changed to “Beauteous Butch II”. McConnell, during his last combat mission on 18 May 1953, destroyed two and damaged one of twenty-eight MiG-15 type aircraft over North Korea, bringing his total victory count to 16 destroyed plus 5 damaged and making him America’s first triple jet ace.Immediately after his 16th air victory, McConnell was sent back to the United States, along with Manuel “Pete” Fernandez, the top Air Force ace (14.5 air victories) of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing. McConnell met with the President at the White House and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his actions on 18 May 1953, America’s second-highest decoration for valor.