Wednesday, January 21, 2015

And To Think That I Saw It Off North Capitol Street

My side-trip to the Armed Forces Retirement Home last week wasn't just about a tank. They also have this really nice North American F-86 Sabre jet there. I just had to see it.
Like the tank, it's obviously being well-cared for. Though it sits outside and under trees, it's free of grime and bird droppings, and even the tires are properly inflated. She appears ready to launch any time.
And what I wouldn't give to fly this aircraft. Supposedly "viceless" due to it's stable flying characteristics and it's agility, it was regarded as the last true dogfighter. Even during Vietnam, when used as an aggressor aircraft to train other pilots, it was said to be capable of beating an F-100 or F-105 "in any envelope except nose down and full throttle."
Developed after World War Two by the same company that gave us the P-51 Mustang, the F-86 was the front line jet fighter over Korea. It was replaced in US inventory by more advanced fighters by the end of the 1950s, but over 9,800 of them were built, including 1,800 built under license in Canada, and it was given or sold to many of our allies around the world. In fact, they were still flown by several countries well into the 1980s, and Bolivia finally retired it's last military Sabres in 1994.
This one is a later model, an F-86H. It has the redesigned wing and four 20mm cannon instead of the six .50 machine guns that the earlier variants had.
It's got built-in boarding steps too, on both sides. But again, because of where it is, this one I can't really check out. Wouldn't be proper.
Got some interesting tabs underneath the elevators. Any ideas what these might be for?

She's a sweetie, to be sure. And it looks like she's got a good home here. Well worth the time spent coming over to see it.


  1. Those little tabs are vortex generators. They smooth airflow helping the airflow from being turbulent. This link describes the addition of them in the third paragraph.

  2. A nice website about vortex generators here.

  3. They sometimes get added later in an aircraft's life to solve airflow problems, like the Skyhawks I worked on during my time the Corps.

  4. Marc,

    Thanks for the great info, and thanks for your service. I hope you'll keep stopping by.

  5. I found the blog about 3-4 months ago and love reading it. I love reading about Murphy and Belle, your M-1s, flying, all of it.

  6. Anonymous4:00 PM

    A proud old war bird

  7. One of my favorite aircraft!

    1. I always knew that you had good taste.

  8. That's a sweet one, and I'm betting they DO take care of it on a routine basis!

  9. Hey Murphy,
    Yep the Sabre is my favorite jet plane...the lines are classic.
    Yep those are vortex find them in the same place on a Boeing 737.