30 October 1947

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is founded.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
TypeMultilateral Treaty
Signed30 October 1947 (1947-10-30)[1]
LocationGeneva, Geneva Canton, Switzerland
Conditionratification by territories representing 85% of trade of signatories
Provisional application1 January 1948[1]
DepositaryExecutive Secretary to the CONTRACTING PARTIES
LanguagesEnglish and French

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a legal agreement between many countries, whose overall purpose was to promote international trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs or quotas. According to its preamble, its purpose was the "substantial reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers and the elimination of preferences, on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis."

The GATT was first discussed during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment and was the outcome of the failure of negotiating governments to create the International Trade Organization (ITO). It was signed by 23 nations in Geneva on 30 October 1947, and was applied on a provional basis 1 January 1948.[1] It remained in effect until the 1 January 1995, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established after agreement by 123 nations in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994 as part of the Uruguay Round Agreements. The WTO is the successor to the GATT, and the original GATT text (GATT 1947) is still in effect under the WTO framework, subject to the modifications of GATT 1994.[2][3] Nations that were not party in 1995 to the GATT need to meet the minimum conditions spelled out in specific documents before they can accede; in September 2019, the list contained 36 nations.[4]

The GATT, and its successor the WTO, have succeeded in reducing tariffs. The average tariff levels for the major GATT participants were about 22% in 1947, but were 5% after the Uruguay Round in 1999.[5] Experts attribute part of these tariff changes to GATT and the WTO.[6][7][8]


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is a multi-national trade treaty. It has been updated in a series of global trade negotiations consisting of nine rounds between 1947 and 1995. Its role in international trade was largely succeeded in 1995 by the World Trade Organization.

The GATT was first conceived in the aftermath of the in the Second World War at the 1947 United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment (UNCTE), at which the International Trade Organization (ITO) was one of the ideas proposed. It was hoped that the ITO would be run alongside the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). More than 50 nations negotiated ITO and organizing its founding charter, but after the withdrawal of the United States these negotiations collapsed.[9]

Name Start Duration Countries Subjects covered Achievements
Switzerland Geneva April 1947 7 months 23 Tariffs Signing of GATT, 45,000 tariff concessions affecting $10 billion of trade
France Annecy April 1949 5 months 34 Tariffs Countries exchanged some 5,000 tariff concessions
United Kingdom Torquay September 1950 8 months 34 Tariffs Countries exchanged some 8,700 tariff concessions, cutting the 1948 tariff levels by 25%
Switzerland Geneva II January 1956 5 months 22 Tariffs, admission of Japan $2.5 billion in tariff reductions
Switzerland Dillon September 1960 11 months 45 Tariffs Tariff concessions worth $4.9 billion of world trade
Switzerland Kennedy May 1964 37 months 48 Tariffs, anti-dumping Tariff concessions worth $40 billion of world trade
Japan Tokyo September 1973 74 months 102 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, "framework" agreements Tariff reductions worth more than $300 billion achieved
Uruguay Uruguay September 1986 87 months 123 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, rules, services, intellectual property, dispute settlement, textiles, agriculture, creation of WTO, etc. The round led to the creation of WTO, and extended the range of trade negotiations, leading to major reductions in tariffs (about 40%) and agricultural subsidies, an agreement to allow full access for textiles and clothing from developing countries, and an extension of intellectual property rights.
Qatar Doha November 2001 ? 159 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, agriculture, labor standards, environment, competition, investment, transparency, patents etc. The round has not yet concluded. The last agreement to date, the Bali Package, was signed on 7 December 2013.

Initial round

Preparatory sessions were held simultaneously at the UNCTE regarding the GATT. After several of these sessions, 23 nations signed the GATT on 30 October 1947 in Geneva, Switzerland. It came into force on 1 January 1948.[13][9]

Annecy Round: 1949

The second round took place in 1949 in Annecy, France. 13 countries took part in the round. The main focus of the talks was more tariff reductions, around 5,000 in total.

Torquay Round: 1951

The third round occurred in Torquay, England in 1951.[14][15] Thirty-eight countries took part in the round. 8,700 tariff concessions were made totaling the remaining amount of tariffs to ¾ of the tariffs which were in effect in 1948. The contemporaneous rejection by the U.S. of the Havana Charter signified the establishment of the GATT as a governing world body.[16]

Geneva Round: 1955–56

The fourth round returned to Geneva in 1955 and lasted until May 1956. Twenty-six countries took part in the round. $2.5 billion in tariffs were eliminated or reduced.

Dillon Round: 1960–62

The fifth round occurred once more in Geneva and lasted from 1960 to 1962. The talks were named after U.S. Treasury Secretary and former Under Secretary of State, Douglas Dillon, who first proposed the talks. Twenty-six countries took part in the round. Along with reducing over $4.9 billion in tariffs, it also yielded discussion relating to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC).

Kennedy Round: 1964–67

The sixth round of GATT multilateral trade negotiations, held from 1964 to 1967. It was named after U.S. President John F. Kennedy in recognition of his support for the reformulation of the United States trade agenda, which resulted in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This Act gave the President the widest-ever negotiating authority.

As the Dillon Round went through the laborious process of item-by-item tariff negotiations, it became clear, long before the Round ended, that a more comprehensive approach was needed to deal with the emerging challenges resulting from the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and EFTA, as well as Europe's re-emergence as a significant international trader more generally.

Japan's high economic growth rate portended the major role it would play later as an exporter, but the focal point of the Kennedy Round always was the United States-EEC relationship. Indeed, there was an influential American view that saw what became the Kennedy Round as the start of a transatlantic partnership that might ultimately lead to a transatlantic economic community.

To an extent, this view was shared in Europe, but the process of European unification created its own stresses under which the Kennedy Round at times became a secondary focus for the EEC. An example of this was the French veto in January 1963, before the round had even started, on membership by the United Kingdom.

Another was the internal crisis of 1965, which ended in the Luxembourg Compromise. Preparations for the new round were immediately overshadowed by the Chicken War, an early sign of the impact variable levies under the Common Agricultural Policy would eventually have. Some participants in the Round had been concerned that the convening of UNCTAD, scheduled for 1964, would result in further complications, but its impact on the actual negotiations was minimal.

In May 1963 Ministers reached agreement on three negotiating objectives for the round:

  1. Measures for the expansion of trade of developing countries as a means of furthering their economic development,
  2. Reduction or elimination of tariffs and other barriers to trade, and
  3. Measures for access to markets for agricultural and other primary products.

The working hypothesis for the tariff negotiations was a linear tariff cut of 50% with the smallest number of exceptions. A drawn-out argument developed about the trade effects a uniform linear cut would have on the dispersed rates (low and high tariffs quite far apart) of the United States as compared to the much more concentrated rates of the EEC which also tended to be in the lower held of United States tariff rates.

The EEC accordingly argued for an evening-out or harmonization of peaks and troughs through its cerement, double cart and thirty: ten proposals. Once negotiations had been joined, the lofty working hypothesis was soon undermined. The special-structure countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa), so called because their exports were dominated by raw materials and other primary commodities, negotiated their tariff reductions entirely through the item-by-item method.

In the end, the result was an average 35% reduction in tariffs, except for textiles, chemicals, steel and other sensitive products; plus a 15% to 18% reduction in tariffs for agricultural and food products. In addition, the negotiations on chemicals led to a provisional agreement on the abolition of the American Selling Price (ASP). This was a method of valuing some chemicals used by the noted States for the imposition of import duties which gave domestic manufacturers a much higher level of protection than the tariff schedule indicated.

However, this part of the outcome was disallowed by Congress, and the American Selling Price was not abolished until Congress adopted the results of the Tokyo Round. The results on agriculture overall were poor. The most notable achievement was agreement on a Memorandum of Agreement on Basic Elements for the Negotiation of a World Grants Arrangement, which eventually was rolled into a new International Grains Arrangement.

The EEC claimed that for it the main result of the negotiations on agriculture was that they "greatly helped to define its own common policy". The developing countries, who played a minor role throughout the negotiations in this round, benefited nonetheless from substantial tariff cuts particularly in non-agricultural items of interest to them.

Their main achievement at the time, however, was seen to be the adoption of Part IV of the GATT, which absolved them from according reciprocity to developed countries in trade negotiations. In the view of many developing countries, this was a direct result of the call at UNCTAD I for a better trade deal for them.

There has been argument ever since whether this symbolic gesture was a victory for them, or whether it ensured their exclusion in the future from meaningful participation in the multilateral trading system. On the other hand, there was no doubt that the extension of the Long-Term Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Cotton Textiles, which later became the Multi-Fiber Arrangement, for three years until 1970 led to the longer-term impairment of export opportunities for developing countries.

Another outcome of the Kennedy Round was the adoption of an Anti-dumping Code, which gave more precise guidance on the implementation of Article VI of the GATT. In particular, it sought to ensure speedy and fair investigations, and it imposed limits on the retrospective application of anti-dumping measures.

Kennedy Round took place from 1962 to 1967. $40 billion in tariffs were eliminated or reduced.

Tokyo Round: 1973–79

Reduced tariffs and established new regulations aimed at controlling the proliferation of non-tariff barriers and voluntary export restrictions. 102 countries took part in the round. Concessions were made on $19 billion worth of trade.

Formation of Quadrilateral Group: 1981

The Quadrilateral Group was formed in 1982 by the European Union, the United States, Japan and Canada, in order to influence the GATT.

Uruguay Round: 1986–94

The Uruguay Round began in 1986. It was the most ambitious round to date, as of 1986, hoping to expand the competence of the GATT to important new areas such as services, capital, intellectual property, textiles, and agriculture. 123 countries took part in the round. The Uruguay Round was also the first set of multilateral trade negotiations in which developing countries had played an active role.[17]

Agriculture was essentially exempted from previous agreements as it was given special status in the areas of import quotas and export subsidies, with only mild caveats. However, by the time of the Uruguay round, many countries considered the exception of agriculture to be sufficiently glaring that they refused to sign a new deal without some movement on agricultural products. These fourteen countries came to be known as the "Cairns Group", and included mostly small and medium-sized agricultural exporters such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

The Agreement on Agriculture of the Uruguay Round continues to be the most substantial trade liberalization agreement in agricultural products in the history of trade negotiations. The goals of the agreement were to improve market access for agricultural products, reduce domestic support of agriculture in the form of price-distorting subsidies and quotas, eliminate over time export subsidies on agricultural products and to harmonize to the extent possible sanitary and phytosanitary measures between member countries.

GATT and the World Trade Organization

In 1993, the GATT was updated ('GATT 1994') to include new obligations upon its signatories. One of the most significant changes was the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The 76 existing GATT members and the European Communities became the founding members of the WTO on 1 January 1995. The other 51 GATT members rejoined the WTO in the following two years (the last being Congo in 1997). Since the founding of the WTO, 33 new non-GATT members have joined and 22 are currently negotiating membership. There are a total of 164 member countries in the WTO, with Liberia and Afghanistan being the newest members as of 2018.

Of the original GATT members, Syria,[18][19] Lebanon[20] and the SFR Yugoslavia have not rejoined the WTO. Since FR Yugoslavia,(renamed as Serbia and Montenegro and with membership negotiations later split in two), is not recognised as a direct SFRY successor state; therefore, its application is considered a new (non-GATT) one. The General Council of WTO, on 4 May 2010, agreed to establish a working party to examine the request of Syria for WTO membership.[21][22] The contracting parties who founded the WTO ended official agreement of the "GATT 1947" terms on 31 December 1995. Montenegro became a member in 2012, while Serbia is in the decision stage of the negotiations and is expected to become a member of the WTO in the future.

Whilst GATT was a set of rules agreed upon by nations, the WTO is an intergovernmental organization with its own headquarters and staff, and its scope includes both traded goods and trade within the service sector and intellectual property rights. Although it was designed to serve multilateral agreements, during several rounds of GATT negotiations (particularly the Tokyo Round) plurilateral agreements created selective trading and caused fragmentation among members. WTO arrangements are generally a multilateral agreement settlement mechanism of GATT.[23]

Effects on trade liberalization

The average tariff levels for the major GATT participants were about 22 percent in 1947.[5] As a result of the first negotiating rounds, tariffs were reduced in the GATT core of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, relative to other contracting parties and non-GATT participants.[5] By the Kennedy round (1962–67), the average tariff levels of GATT participants were about 15%.[5] After the Uruguay Round, tariffs were under 5%.[5]

In addition to facilitating applied tariff reductions, the early GATT's contribution to trade liberalization "include binding the negotiated tariff reductions for an extended period (made more permanent in 1955), establishing the generality of nondiscrimination through most-favored nation (MFN) treatment and national treatment status, ensuring increased transparency of trade policy measures, and providing a forum for future negotiations and for the peaceful resolution of bilateral disputes. All of these elements contributed to the rationalization of trade policy and the reduction of trade barriers and policy uncertainty."[5]

According to Dartmouth economic historian Douglas Irwin,[8]

The prosperity of the world economy over the past half century owes a great deal to the growth of world trade which, in turn, is partly the result of farsighted officials who created the GATT. They established a set of procedures giving stability to the trade-policy environment and thereby facilitating the rapid growth of world trade. With the long run in view, the original GATT conferees helped put the world economy on a sound foundation and thereby improved the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Article 24

Following the United Kingdom's vote to withdraw from the European Union, supporters of leaving the EU suggested that Article 24, paragraph 5B of the treaty could be used to maintain a "standstill" in trading conditions between the UK and the EU in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal, hence preventing the introduction of tariffs. According to proponents of this approach, it could be used to implement an interim agreement pending negotiation of a final agreement lasting up to ten years.[24]

This claim formed the basis of the so-called "Malthouse compromise" between Conservative party factions as to how to replace the withdrawal agreement.[25] However, this plan was rejected by parliament.[26] The claim that Article 24 might be used was also adopted by Boris Johnson during his 2019 campaign to lead the Conservative Party.

The claim that Article 24 might be used in this way has been criticised by Mark Carney, Liam Fox and others as being unrealistic given the requirement in paragraph 5c of the treaty that there be an agreement between the parties in order for paragraph 5b to be of use as, in the event of a "no-deal" scenario, there would be no agreement. Moreover, critics of the GATT 24 approach point out that services would not be covered by such an arrangement.[27][28]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Treaty data". Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  2. ^ "WTO legal texts: The Uruguay Round agreements". World Trade Organization.
  3. ^ "Uruguay Round - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994". World Trade Organization.
  4. ^ "ACCESSIONS: Protocols of accession for new members since 1995, including commitments in goods and services". World Trade Organization. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Bown, Chad P.; Irwin, Douglas A. (December 2015). "The GATT's Starting Point: Tariff Levels circa 1947". NBER Working Paper No. 21782. doi:10.3386/w21782.
  6. ^ Tomz, Michael; Goldstein, Judith L; Rivers, Douglas (2007). "Do We Really Know That the WTO Increases Trade? Comment". American Economic Review. 97 (5): 2005–2018. doi:10.1257/aer.97.5.2005. ISSN 0002-8282.
  7. ^ Goldstein, Judith L.; Rivers, Douglas; Tomz, Michael (2007). "Institutions in International Relations: Understanding the Effects of the GATT and the WTO on World Trade". International Organization. 61 (1): 37–67. doi:10.1017/S0020818307070014. ISSN 1531-5088.
  8. ^ a b Irwin, Douglas A. (9 April 2007). "GATT Turns 60". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b "General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 6 June 2017.
  10. ^ The GATT years: from Havana to Marrakesh, World Trade Organization
  11. ^ Timeline: World Trade Organization – A chronology of key events, BBC News
  12. ^ Brakman-Garretsen-Marrewijk-Witteloostuijn, Nations and Firms in the Global Economy, Chapter 10: Trade and Capital Restriction
  13. ^ "The WTO and GATT: A Principled History" (PDF). Brookings Institution.
  14. ^ "WTO | Understanding the WTO - The GATT years: from Havana to Marrakesh". www.wto.org. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  15. ^ Bagwell, Kyle; Staiger, Robert W.; Yurukoglu, Ali (2020). "Multilateral Trade Bargaining: A First Look at the GATT Bargaining Records" (PDF). American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 12 (3): 72–105. doi:10.1257/app.20170574. ISSN 1945-7782.
  16. ^ Michael Hudson, Super Imperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance, 2nd ed. (London and Sterling, VA: Pluto Press, 2003), 258.
  17. ^ "The GATT Uruguay Round". ODI briefing paper. Overseas Development Institute. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  18. ^ "Fiftieth Anniversary GATT". Wto.org. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Understanding the WTO - members". WTO. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  20. ^ "Withdrawal of the Government of the Lebanon" (PDF). Wto.org. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Accession status: Syrian Arab Republic". WTO. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  22. ^ "2010 News items – Working party established on Syria's membership request". WTO. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  23. ^ What is the WTO? (Official WTO site)
  24. ^ Leroux, Marcus (21 March 2017). "Trade rules that would mean no tariffs for decade". The Times. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  25. ^ Paterson, Owen (13 March 2019). "Here's our plan for an orderly no-deal Brexit, and delivered on time". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  26. ^ O'Carroll, Sinead (13 March 2019). "British MPs have voted against a no-deal Brexit. So, what now?". MSNBC. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  27. ^ Morris, Chris (24 June 2019). "Gatt 24: Would obscure trade rule help with no-deal Brexit?". BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  28. ^ Wood, Vincent. "What is GATT 24: What is the WTO clause at the centre of Andrew Neil's grilling of Boris Johnson". The Independent. Retrieved 13 July 2019.

Further reading

  • Aaronson Susan A. Trade and the American Dream: A Social History of Postwar Trade Policy & co (1996)
  • Goldstein, Judith (11 May 2017). "Trading in the Twenty-First Century: Is There a Role for the World Trade Organization?". Annual Review of Political Science. 20 (1): 545–564.
  • Irwin, Douglas A. "The GATT in Historical Perspective," American Economic Review Vol. 85, No. 2, (May, 1995), pp. 323–28 in JSTOR
  • McKenzie, Francine. "GATT and the Cold War," Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2008, 10#3 pp. 78–109
  • Zeiler, Thomas W. Free Trade, Free World: The Advent of GATT (1999) excerpt and text search

External links

1 October 1947

The North American F-86 Sabre flies for the first time

F-86 Sabre
F86F Sabres - Chino Airshow 2014 (cropped).jpg
A North American F-86 over the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer North American Aviation
First flight 1 October 1947
Introduction 1949, with USAF
Retired 1965 (USAF)
Status Retired, some still used as warbirds
Primary users United States Air Force
Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Spanish Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
Number built 9,860[1]
Developed from North American FJ-1 Fury
Variants CAC Sabre
Canadair Sabre
North American F-86D Sabre
North American FJ-2/-3 Fury
Developed into North American FJ-4 Fury
North American YF-93
North American F-100 Super Sabre

The North American F-86 Sabre, sometimes called the Sabrejet, is a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States' first swept-wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras.[2] Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.[citation needed]

Its success led to an extended production run of more than 7,800 aircraft between 1949 and 1956, in the United States, Japan, and Italy. In addition, 738 carrier-modified versions were purchased by the US Navy as FJ-2s and -3s. Variants were built in Canada and Australia. The Canadair Sabre added another 1,815 aircraft and the significantly redesigned CAC Sabre (sometimes known as the Avon Sabre or CAC CA-27), had a production run of 112. The Sabre is by far the most-produced Western jet fighter, with total production of all variants at 9,860 units.[1]


North American Aviation had produced the propeller-powered P-51 Mustang in World War II, which saw combat against some of the first operational jet fighters. By late 1944, North American proposed its first jet fighter to the U.S. Navy, which became the FJ-1 Fury. It was an unexceptional transitional jet fighter that had a straight wing derived from the P-51.[3][4] Initial proposals to meet a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) requirement for a medium-range, single-seat, high-altitude, jet-powered day escort fighter/fighter bomber were drafted in mid-1944.[5] In early 1945, North American Aviation submitted four designs.[5] The USAAF selected one design over the others, and granted North American a contract to build three examples of the XP-86 ("experimental pursuit"). Deleting specific requirements from the FJ-1 Fury, coupled with other modifications, allowed the XP-86 to be lighter and considerably faster than the Fury, with an estimated top speed of 582 mph (937 km/h), versus the Fury's 547 mph (880 km/h).[5] Despite the gain in speed, early studies revealed the XP-86 would have the same performance as its rivals, the XP-80 and XP-84. Because these rival designs were more advanced in their development stages, it was feared that the XP-86 would be cancelled.

Crucially, the XP-86 was not able to meet the required top speed of 600 mph (970 km/h);[6] North American had to quickly devise a radical change that could leapfrog its rivals. The North American F-86 Sabre was the first American aircraft to take advantage of flight research data seized from the German aerodynamicists at the end of World War II.[7] These data showed that a thin, swept wing could greatly reduce drag and delay compressibility problems that had bedeviled fighters such as the Lockheed P-38 Lightning when approaching the speed of sound. By 1944, German engineers and designers had established the benefits of swept wings based on experimental designs dating back to 1940. Study of the data showed that a swept wing would solve their speed problem, while a slat on the wing's leading edge that extended at low speeds would enhance low-speed stability.

Because development of the XP-86 had reached an advanced stage, the idea of changing the sweep of the wing was met with resistance from some senior North American staff. Despite stiff opposition, after good results were obtained in wind tunnel tests, the swept-wing concept was eventually adopted. Performance requirements were met by incorporating a 35° swept-back wing, using modified NACA four-digit airfoils, NACA 0009.5–64 at the root and NACA 0008.5–64 at the tip,[8] with an automatic slat design based on that of the Messerschmitt Me 262 and an electrically adjustable stabilizer, another feature of the Me 262A.[9][10][11] Many Sabres had the "6–3 wing" (a fixed leading edge with a 6-inch extended chord at the root and a 3-inch extended chord at the tip) retrofitted after combat experience was gained in Korea.[9][12] This modification changed the wing airfoils to the NACA 0009-64 mod at the root and the NACA 0008.1–64 mod at the tip.[8]

The XP-86 prototype, which led to the F-86 Sabre, was rolled out on 8 August 1947.[13] The first flight occurred on 1 October 1947 with George Welch at the controls,[14] flying from Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards AFB), California.[7][13]

The United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command had F-86 Sabres in service from 1949 through 1950. The F-86s were assigned to the 22nd Bomb Wing, the 1st Fighter Wing, and the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing.[15] The F-86 was the primary U.S. air combat fighter during the Korean War, with significant numbers of the first three production models seeing combat.

The F-86 Sabre was also produced under license by Canadair, Ltd, as the Canadair Sabre. The final variant of the Canadian Sabre, the Mark 6, is generally rated as having the highest capabilities of any Sabre version.[16][Note 1]

Breaking sound barrier and other records

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of the Canadair Sabre with Chuck Yeager

The F-86A set its first official world speed record of 671 miles per hour (1,080 km/h) on September 15, 1948, at Muroc Dry Lake, flown by Major Richard L. Johnson, USAF.[17] Five years later, on 18 May 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier, flying a "one-off" Canadian-built F-86 Sabre Mk 3, alongside Chuck Yeager.[18] Col. K. K. Compton won the 1951 Bendix air race in an F-86A with an average speed of 553.76 mph (891.19 km/h).



Sabre at NASM in livery of 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing

The F-86 was produced as both a fighter-interceptor and fighter-bomber. Several variants were introduced over its production life, with improvements and different armament implemented (see below). The XP-86 was fitted with a General Electric J35-C-3 jet engine that produced 4,000 lbf (18 kN) of thrust. This engine was built by GM's Chevrolet division until production was turned over to Allison.[19] The General Electric J47-GE-7 engine was used in the F-86A-1 producing a thrust of 5,200 lbf (23 kN), while the General Electric J73-GE-3 engine of the F-86H produced 9,250 lbf (41 kN) of thrust.[20]

The fighter-bomber version (F-86H) could carry up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs, including an external fuel-type tank that could carry napalm.[21] Unguided 2.75-inch (70-millimetre) rockets were used on some fighters on training missions, but 5-inch (127 mm) rockets were later carried on combat operations. The F-86 could also be fitted with a pair of external jettisonable jet fuel tanks (four on the F-86F beginning in 1953) that extended the range of the aircraft. Both the interceptor and fighter-bomber versions carried six 0.50-inch (12.7-millimetre) M3 Browning machine guns with electrically-boosted feed in the nose (later versions of the F-86H carried four 20-millimetre (0.79-inch) cannon instead of machine guns). Firing at a rate of 1,200 rounds per minute,[22] the 0.50-inch guns were harmonized to converge at 1,000 ft (305 m) in front of the aircraft, using armor-piercing (AP) and armor-piercing incendiary (API) rounds, with one armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) for every five AP or API rounds. The API rounds used during the Korean War contained magnesium, which were designed to ignite upon impact, but burned poorly above 35,000 ft (11,000 m) as oxygen levels were insufficient to sustain combustion at that height. Initial planes were fitted with the Mark 18 manual-ranging computing gun sight. The last 24 F-86A-5-Nas and F-86Es were equipped with the A-1CM gunsight-AN/APG-30 radar, which used radar to automatically compute a target's range, which later proved to be advantageous against MiG opponents over Korea.[23]

Flying characteristics

The Sabre's swept wings and jet engine produced a flying experience that was very different from the propeller-driven fighters of the time. The transition from props to jets was not without accidents and incidents even for experienced fighter pilots. Early on in the jet age, some US manufacturers instituted safety and transition programs where experienced test and production pilots toured operational fighter squadrons to provide instruction and demonstrations designed to lower the accident rate.[24]

Additionally, the ongoing technical development and long production history of the F-86 resulted in some significant differences in the handling and flying characteristics between the various F-86 models. Some of the important changes to the design included the switch from an elevator/stabilizer to an all-flying tail, the discontinuation of leading edge slats for a solid leading edge with increased internal fuel capacity, increased engine power, and an internal missile bay (F-86D). Each of these design changes impacted the handling and flying characteristics of the F-86, not necessarily for the better. In the case of the solid leading edge and increased internal fuel capacity, the design change produced increased combat performance, but exacerbated a dangerous and often fatal handling characteristic upon take-off if the nose were raised prematurely from the runway.[25] This 'over-rotation' danger is now a major area of instruction and concern for current F-86 pilots. The 1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident resulting in 22 fatalities and 28 other casualties was a result of over-rotation on take-off.

Operational history

Korean War

USAF North American F-86 Sabre fighters from the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing Checkertails are readied for combat during the Korean War at Suwon Air Base

The F-86 entered service with the USAF in 1949, joining the 1st Fighter Wing's 94th Fighter Squadron and became the primary air-to-air jet fighter used by the Americans in the Korean War. While earlier straight-winged jets such as the F-80 and F-84 initially achieved air victories, when the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 was introduced in November 1950, it outperformed all UN-based aircraft. In response, three squadrons of F-86s were rushed to the Far East in December.[26] Early variants of the F-86 could not out turn, but they could out dive the MiG-15, although the MiG-15 was superior to the early F-86 models in ceiling, acceleration, rate of climb, and zoom. With the introduction of the F-86F in 1953, the two aircraft were more closely matched, with many combat-experienced pilots claiming a marginal superiority for the F-86F. The heavier firepower of the MiG (and many other contemporary fighters) was addressed by fielding eight cannon-armed F-86s in the waning months of the war. Despite being able to fire only two of the four 20 mm cannon at a time, the experiment was considered a success.[27] The MiGs flown from bases in Manchuria by Chinese, North Korean, and Soviet VVS pilots were pitted against two squadrons of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing forward-based at K-14, Kimpo, Korea.[26] In October 1951, the Soviets managed to recover a downed Sabre, and in their investigation of the type they concluded that the Sabre's advantage in combat was due to the APG-30 gun-sight that facilitated accurate fire at longer ranges.[23]

Rare Korean War F-86 gun camera footage of a MiG-15 shoot-down over Korea

Many of the American pilots were experienced World War II veterans, while the North Koreans and the Chinese lacked combat experience, thus accounting for much of the F-86's success.[28] However, United Nations pilots suspected many of the MiG-15s were being flown by experienced Soviet pilots who also had combat experience in World War II. Former Communist sources now acknowledge Soviet pilots initially flew the majority of MiG-15s that fought in Korea, and dispute that more MiG-15s than F-86s were shot down in air combat. Later in the war, North Korean and Chinese pilots increased their participation as combat flyers.[29][30] The North Koreans and their allies periodically contested air superiority in MiG Alley, an area near the mouth of the Yalu River (the boundary between Korea and China) over which the most intense air-to-air combat took place. Although the F-86A could be safely flown through Mach 1, the F-86E's all-moving tailplane greatly improved maneuverability at high speeds.[27] The MiG-15 could not safely exceed Mach 0.92, an important disadvantage in near-sonic air combat. Far greater emphasis had been given to the training, aggressiveness, and experience of the F-86 pilots.[28] American Sabre pilots were trained at Nellis, where the casualty rate of their training was so high, they were told, "If you ever see the flag at full staff, take a picture." Despite rules of engagement to the contrary, F-86 units frequently initiated combat over MiG bases in the Manchurian "sanctuary".[29] The hunting of MiGs in Manchuria would lead to many reels of gun camera footage being 'lost' if the reel revealed the pilot had violated Chinese airspace.

The needs of combat operation balanced against the need to maintain an adequate force structure in Western Europe led to the conversion of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing from the F-80 to the F-86 in December 1951. Two fighter-bomber wings, the 8th and 18th, converted to the F-86F in the spring of 1953.[31] No. 2 Squadron, South African Air Force (SAAF) also distinguished itself flying F-86s in Korea as part of the 18 FBW.[32]

On 17 June 1951, at 01:30 hours, Suwon Air Base was bombed by two Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes. Each Po-2 dropped a pair of fragmentation bombs: one scored a hit on the 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion's motor pool, damaging some equipment. Two bombs burst on the flightline of the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. One F-86A Sabre (FU-334 / 49-1334) was struck on the wing and began burning. The fire took hold, gutting the aircraft. Prompt action by personnel who moved aircraft away from the burning Sabre prevented further loss. Eight other Sabres were damaged in the brief attack, four seriously. One F-86 pilot was among the wounded. The North Koreans subsequently credited Lt. La Woon Yung with this damaging attack.[33]

By the end of hostilities, F-86 pilots were credited with shooting down 792 MiGs for a loss of only 78 Sabres in air-to-air combat, a victory ratio of 10:1.[34] Of the 41 American pilots who earned the designation of ace during the Korean War, all but one flew the F-86 Sabre, the exception being a Navy Vought F4U Corsair night fighter pilot. However, after the war the USAF reviewed its figures in an investigation code-named Sabre Measure Charlie and downgraded the kill ratio of the North American F-86 Sabre against the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 by half.[35] Internally, the USAF accepted that its pilots in fact downed ~ 200 MiGs[36]

According to Soviet data, the Soviets lost 335 MiG-15s in Korea to all causes, including accidents, antiaircraft fire, and ground attacks.[37] Chinese claims of their losses amount to 224 MiG-15s in Korea.[38] North Korean losses are not known, but according to North Korean defectors, their air force lost around 100 MiG-15s during the war.[39] Thus, 659 MiG-15s are admitted as being lost, many of these to F-86 Sabres[40] The Soviets claimed to have downed over 600 Sabres,[41] together with the Chinese claims (211 F-86s shot-down), although these cannot be reconciled with the number of Sabres recorded as lost by the US.[42]

The status of many claimed air-to-air victories in the Korean War has been increasingly debated as more data becomes available, showing that instances of over-claiming abounded on both sides. The research by Dorr, Lake and Thompson claimed an F-86 kill ratio closer to 2:1.[43] A recent RAND report made reference to "recent scholarship" of F-86 v MiG-15 combat over Korea and concluded that the actual kill:loss ratio for the F-86 was 1.8:1 overall, and likely closer to 1.3:1 against MiGs flown by Soviet pilots.[44] However, this ratio did not count the number of aircraft of other types (including the B-29, A-26, F-80, F-82, F-84 and Gloster Meteor) shot down by MiG-15 pilots.

Data-matching with Soviet records suggests that US pilots routinely attributed their own combat losses to "landing accidents" and "other causes".[45] According to official US data ("USAF Statistical Digest FY1953"), the USAF lost 250 F-86 fighters in Korea. Of these, 184 were lost in combat (78 in air-to-air combat, 19 by anti-aircraft guns, 26 were "unknown causes" and 61 were "other losses") and 66 in incidents.[46] South African Air Force lost 6 F-86s in the war.[47] This gives 256 confirmed F-86 losses during the Korean War.

Cold War

In addition to its distinguished service in Korea, USAF F-86s also served in various stateside and overseas roles throughout the early part of the Cold War. As newer Century-series fighters came on line, F-86s were transferred to Air National Guard (ANG) units or the air forces of allied nations. The last ANG F-86s continued in U.S. service until 1970.

1958 Taiwan Strait crisis

A Taiwanese F-86F on display

The Republic of China Air Force of Taiwan was an early recipient of surplus USAF Sabres. From December 1954 to June 1956, the ROC Air Force received 160 ex-USAF F-86F-1-NA through F-86F-30-NA fighters. By June 1958, the Nationalist Chinese had built up an impressive fighter force, with 320 F-86Fs and seven RF-86Fs having been delivered.[48]

Sabres and MiGs were shortly to battle each other in the skies of Asia once again in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. In August 1958, the Chinese Communists of the People's Republic of China attempted to force the Nationalists off of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu by shelling and blockade. Nationalist F-86Fs flying combat air patrol over the islands found themselves confronted by Communist MiG-15s and MiG-17s, and numerous dogfights resulted.

During these battles, the Nationalist Sabres introduced a new element into aerial warfare. Under a secret effort designated , the U.S. Navy had provided the ROC with the AIM-9 Sidewinder, its first infrared-homing air-to-air missile, which was just entering service with the United States. A small team from VMF-323, a Marine FJ-4 Fury squadron with later assistance from China Lake and North American Aviation, initially modified 20 of the F-86 Sabres to carry a pair of Sidewinders on underwing launch rails and instructed the ROC pilots in their use flying profiles with USAF F-100s simulating the MiG-17. The MiGs enjoyed an altitude advantage over the Sabres, as they had in Korea, and Communist Chinese MiGs routinely cruised over the Nationalist Sabres, only engaging when they had a favorable position. The Sidewinder took away that advantage and proved to be devastatingly effective against the MiGs.[49]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

In 1954, Pakistan began receiving the first of a total of 120 F-86F Sabres. Many of these aircraft were F-86F-35s from USAF stocks, but some were from the later F-86F-40-NA production block, made specifically for export. Many of the −35s were brought up to −40 standards before they were delivered to Pakistan, but a few remained −35s. The F-86 was operated by nine Pakistan Air Force (PAF) squadrons at various times: Nos. 5, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 26 Squadrons.

The Sabre was no longer a world-class fighter (due to availability of supersonic jets). However, many sources state the F-86 gave the PAF a technological advantage.[50][51][unreliable source?][52]

Air to air combat

In the air-to-air combat of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the PAF Sabres claimed to have shot down 15 Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft, comprising nine Hunters, four Vampires, and two Gnats.[citation needed] India, however, admitted a loss of 14 combat aircraft to the PAF's F-86s.[53] The F-86s of the PAF had the advantage of being armed with AIM-9B/GAR-8 Sidewinder missiles, whereas none of its Indian adversaries had this capability. Despite this, the IAF claimed to have shot down four PAF Sabres in air-to-air combat.[54]

The Indian Air Force claimed that seven F-86 Sabres were shot down by Folland Gnats and six F-86 Sabres were shot down by Hawker Hunters.[54]

Ground attack

The aircraft remained a potent weapon for use against ground targets. On the morning of 6 September, six F-86s of No. 19 Sqn struck advancing columns of the Indian army using 5-in (127-mm) rockets along with their six .50-in (12.7-mm) M3 Browning machine guns. On the same day, eight F-86 fighters of the same squadron executed an attack against IAF Pathankot.[55] No. 14 PAF Squadron earned the nickname "Tailchoppers" for their successful attack against the Indian bomber base in Kalaikunda.[56]

PAF claims of destroying around 36 aircraft on the ground at various Indian airfields.[55][56][57] However, India only acknowledges 22 aircraft lost on the ground to strikes partly attributed to the PAF's F-86s and its bomber Martin B-57 Canberra.[53]

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

The Canadair Sabres (Mark 6), acquired from ex-Luftwaffe stocks via Iran, were the mainstay of the PAF's day-fighter operations during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and had the challenge of dealing with the threat from IAF.[citation needed][58]

At the beginning of the war, PAF had eight squadrons of F-86 Sabres.[59] Along with the newer fighter types such as the Mirage III and the Shenyang F-6, the Sabres were tasked with the majority of operations during the war. In East Pakistan, only one PAF F-86 squadron (14th Squadron) was deployed to face the numerical superiority of the IAF.

In the Battle of Boyra Indian MiG-21 and Folland Gnats shot down two F-86E and damaged one F-86E.[60]

PAF F-86s performed well, with Pakistani claims of downing 31 Indian aircraft in air-to-air combat. These included 17 Hawker Hunters, eight Sukhoi Su-7 "Fitters", one MiG 21, and three Gnats[citation needed] while losing seven F-86s. The most interesting of these was a battle between two Sabres and four MiG-21s. One MiG was shot down, without any Sabres lost. This was achieved due to better low-speed performance of the Sabre in comparison to the delta-winged MiG-21.[61]

India, however, claims to have shot down 11 PAF Sabres for the loss of 11 combat aircraft to the PAF F-86s.[62] The IAF numerical superiority overwhelmed the sole East Pakistan Sabres squadron (and other military aircraft)[60][63] which were either shot down, or grounded by Pakistani fratricide as they could not hold out, enabling complete air superiority for the IAF.[64]

After this war, Pakistan slowly phased out its F-86 Sabres and replaced them with Chinese F-6 (Soviet MiG-19 based) fighters. The last of the Sabres were withdrawn from service in PAF in 1980.[citation needed] They are now displayed in Pakistan Air Force Museum and in the cities in which their pilots lived.

Guinea-Bissau War of Independence

In 1958, the Forca Aerea Portuguesa (FAP) received 50 F-86Fs from ex-USAF stocks. A few former Norwegian Air Force F-86Fs were also purchased as spares in 1968–69.

The FAP deployed some of its F-86F Sabres to Portuguese Guinea in 1961, being based at AB2 – Bissalanca Air Base, Bissau. These aircraft formed "Detachment 52", initially equipped with eight F-86Fs (serials: 5307, 5314, 5322, 5326, 5354, 5356, 5361, and 5362) from the Esquadra 51, based at the BA5 – Monte Real Air Base. These aircraft were used in the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence, in ground-attack and close-support operations against the insurgent forces. In August 1962, 5314 overshot the runway during emergency landing with bombs still attached on underwing hardpoints and burned out. F-86F 5322 was shot down by enemy ground fire on 31 May 1963; the pilot ejected safely and was recovered. Several other aircraft suffered combat damage, but were repaired.

In 1964, 16 F-86Fs based at returned to mainland Portugal due to U.S. pressure. They had flown 577 combat sorties, of which 430 were ground-attack and close-air-support missions.

Philippine Air Force

The Philippine Air Force (PhAF) first received the Sabres in the form of F-86Fs in 1957, replacing the North American P-51 Mustang as their primary interceptor. F-86s first operated from Basa Air Base, known infamously as the "Nest of Vipers", where the 5th Fighter Wing of the PhAF was based. Later on, in 1960, the PhAF acquired the F-86D as their first all-weather interceptor. The most notable use of the F-86 Sabres was in the Blue Diamonds aerobatic display team, which operated eight Sabres until the arrival of the newer, supersonic Northrop F-5. The F-86s were subsequently phased out of service in the 1970s as the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter and Vought F-8 Crusaders became the primary fighters and interceptors of the PhAF. Antonio Bautista was a Blue Diamonds pilot and a decorated officer. He was killed on 11 January 1974 during a combat sortie against rebels in the south of the country.[65]

Soviet Sabre

During the Korean War, the Soviets were searching for an intact U.S. F-86 Sabre for evaluation/study purposes. Their search was frustrated, largely due to the U.S. military's policy of destroying their weapons and equipment once they had been disabled or abandoned; in the case of U.S. aircraft, USAF pilots destroyed most of their downed Sabres by strafing or bombing them. However, on one occasion, an F-86 was downed in the tidal area of a beach and subsequently was submerged, preventing its destruction. The aircraft was ferried to Moscow and a new OKB (Soviet Experimental Design Bureau) was established to study the F-86, which later became part of the Sukhoi OKB. "At least one F-86… was sent to the Soviet Union, the Russians [sic] admitted, and other planes and prizes such as U.S. G-suits and radar gun sights also went."[66] The Soviets studied and copied the optical gunsight and radar from the captured aircraft to produce the ASP-4N gunsight and SRC-3 radar. Installed in the MiG-17, the gunsight system was later used against American fighters in the Vietnam War.[Note 2] The F-86 studies also contributed to the development of aircraft aluminum alloys such as V-95.[68][failed verification]

Feather Duster

The old but nimble MiG-17 had become such a serious threat against the Republic F-105 Thunderchief over North Vietnam that the USAF created project "Feather Duster" to test which tactics supersonic American fighters could use against fighters such as the MiG-17. ANG F-86H units proved to be an ideal stand-in for the Soviet jets. One pilot remarked, "In any envelope except nose down and full throttle", either the F-100 or F-105 was inferior to the F-86H in a dogfight.[69][70]


North American F-86

Family tree of Sabre & Fury variants
Preserved airworthy F-86A Sabre at Kemble Air Day 2008, England
F-86H-10-NH Sabre s/n 53-1308 at the Wings Museum, Denver, Colorado
F-86H without skin panels at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
three prototypes, originally designated XP-86, North American model NA-140
this was the first prototype fitted with a General Electric J47 turbojet engine.
554 built, North American model NA-151 (F-86A-1 block and first order of A-5 block) and NA-161 (second F-86A-5 block)
A few F-86A conversions as drone directors
11 F-86A conversions with three cameras for reconnaissance
188 ordered as upgraded A-model with wider fuselage and larger tires but delivered as F-86A-5, North American model NA-152
original designation for the YF-93A, two built, 48–317 & 48–318,[71] order for 118 cancelled, North American model NA-157
prototype all-weather interceptor originally ordered as YF-95A, two built but designation changed to YF-86D, North American model NA-164
Production transonic all-weather search-radar equipped interceptor originally designated F-95A, 2,506 built. The F-86D had only 25 percent commonality with other Sabre variants, with a larger fuselage, larger afterburning engine, and a distinctive nose radome. Sole armament was Mk. 4 unguided rockets instead of machine guns. F-86Ls were upgraded F-86Ds.
Improved flight control system and an "all-flying tail" (This system changed to a full power-operated control with an "artificial feel" 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. It improved high-speed maneuverability); 456 built, North American model NA-170 (F-86E-1 and E-5 blocks), NA-172, essentially the F-86F airframe with the F-86E engine (F-86E-10 and E-15 blocks); 60 of these built by Canadair for USAF (F-86E-6)
Designation for ex-RAF Sabres diverted to other NATO air forces
Designation for surplus RCAF Sabre Mk. Vs modified to target drones
Uprated engine and larger "6–3" wing without leading edge slats, 2,239 built; North American model NA-172 (F-86F-1 through F-15 blocks), NA-176 (F-86F-20 and −25 blocks), NA-191 (F-86F-30 and −35 blocks), NA-193 (F-86F-26 block), NA-202 (F-86F-35 block), NA-227 (first two orders of F-86F-40 blocks comprising 280 aircraft that reverted to leading edge wing slats of an improved design), NA-231 (70 in third F-40 block order), NA-238 (110 in fourth F-40 block order), and NA-256 (120 in final F-40 block order); 300 additional aircraft in this series assembled by Mitsubishi in Japan for Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. Sabre Fs had much improved high-speed agility, coupled with a higher landing speed of over 145 mph (233 km/h). The F-35 block had provisions for a new task: the nuclear tactical attack with one of the new small "nukes" ("second generation" nuclear ordnance). The F-40 had a new slatted wing with a slightly higher span, resulting in a slight decrease in speed, but also much better agility at both high and low speeds and a reduced landing speed of 124 mph (200 km/h). The USAF upgraded many previous F versions to the F-40 standard. One E and two Fs were modified for improved performance via rocket boost.
F-86F-30 (52-4608) had a Rocketdyne AR2-3 with 3,000–6,000 lbf (13,344.66–26,689.33 N) thrust at 35,000 ft (10,668 m), giving a top speed of M1.22 at 60,000 ft (18,288 m).[27]
Designation for 10 aircraft modified to carry the M39 cannon in place of the M3 .50 caliber machine gun "six-pack". Four F-86E-10s (serial numbers 51-2803, 2819, 2826 and 2836) and six F-86F-1s (serial numbers 51-2855, 2861, 2867, 2868, 2884 and 2900) were production-line aircraft modified in October 1952 with enlarged and strengthened gun bays, then flight tested at Edwards Air Force Base and the Air Proving Ground at Eglin Air Force Base in November. Eight were shipped to Japan in December, and seven forward-deployed to Kimpo Airfield as "Project GunVal" for a 16-week combat field trial in early 1953. Two were lost to engine compressor stalls after ingesting excessive propellant gases from the cannons.[72][Note 3][73]
About 50 former Japan Self-Defense Forces (JASDF) F-86F aircraft converted to drones for use as targets by the U.S. Navy
Some F-86F-30s converted with three cameras for reconnaissance; also 18 Japan Self-Defense Forces (JASDF) aircraft similarly converted
Two F-86F converted to two-seat training configuration with lengthened fuselage and slatted wings under North American model NA-204
Extensively redesigned fighter-bomber model with deeper fuselage, uprated engine, longer wings and power-boosted tailplane, two built as North American model NA-187
Production model, 473 built, with Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) and provision for nuclear weapon, North American model NA-187 (F-86H-1 and H-5 blocks) and NA-203 (F-86H-10 block)
Target conversion of 29 aircraft for use at United States Naval Weapons Center
Single F-86A-5-NA, 49-1069, flown with Orenda turbojet under North American model NA-167 – same designation reserved for A-models flown with the Canadian engines but project not proceeded with

North American FJ Fury

See: North American FJ-2/-3 Fury for production figures of U.S. Navy versions.

CAC Sabre (Australia)

Preserved CAC Sabre Mk 30 flying in 2018.

Two types based on the U.S. F-86F were built under licence by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in Australia, for the Royal Australian Air Force as the CA-26 (one prototype) and CA-27 (production variant). The RAAF operated the CA-27 from 1956 to 1971.[74] The CAC Sabres included a 60% fuselage redesign, to accommodate the Rolls-Royce Avon Mk 26 engine, which had roughly 50% more thrust than the J47, as well as 30 mm Aden cannon and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. As a consequence of its powerplant, the Australian-built Sabres are commonly referred to as the Avon Sabre. CAC manufactured 112 of these aircraft.[75] Ex-RAAF Avon Sabres were operated by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) between 1969 and 1972. From 1973 to 1975, 23 Avon Sabres were donated to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU); five of these were ex-Malaysian aircraft.[76]

CA-27 marques:

  • Mk 30: 21 built, wing slats, Avon 20 engine.
  • Mk 31: 21 built, 6–3 wing, Avon 20 engine.
  • Mk 32: 69 built, four wing pylons, F-86F fuel capacity, Avon 26 engine.[77]

Canadair Sabre

The F-86 was also manufactured by Canadair in Canada as the CL-13 Sabre to replace its de Havilland Vampires, with the following production models:

Sabre Mk 1
one built, prototype F-86A
Sabre Mk 2
350 built, F-86E-type, 60 to USAF, three to RAF, 287 to RCAF
Sabre Mk 3
one built in Canada, test-bed for the Orenda jet engine
Sabre Mk 4
438 built, production Mk 3, 10 to RCAF, 428 to RAF as Sabre F-4
Sabre Mk 5
370 built, F-86F-type with Orenda engine, 295 to RCAF, 75 to Luftwaffe
Sabre Mk 6
655 built, 390 to RCAF, 225 to Luftwaffe, six to Colombia and 34 to South Africa

Production summary

  • NAA built a total of 6,297 F-86s and 1,115 FJs,
  • Canadair built 1,815,
  • Australian CAC built 112,
  • Fiat built 221, and
  • Mitsubishi built 300;
  • for a total Sabre/Fury production of 9,860.

Production costs

F-86A F-86D F-86E F-86F F-86H F-86K F-86L
Program R&D cost 4,707,802
Airframe 101,528 191,313 145,326 140,082 316,360 334,633
Engine 52,971 75,036 39,990 44,664 214,612 71,474
Electronics 7,576 7,058 6,358 5,649 6,831 10,354
Armament 16,333 69,986 23,645 17,669 27,573 20,135
Ordnance 419 4,138 3,047 17,117 4,761
Flyaway cost 178,408 343,839 219,457 211,111 582,493 441,357 343,839
Maintenance cost per flying hour 135 451 187

Note: The costs are in approximately 1950 United States dollars and have not been adjusted for inflation.[18]


former F-86 operators
Source: F-86 Sabre Jet: History of the Sabre and FJ Fury[78]
F-86F-30 of the Argentine Air Force, National Aeronautics Museum, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A BAF F-86 Sabre in the BAF Museum
An F-86 Sabre from the Golden Crown aerobatic display team, of the Imperial Iranian Air Force.
F-86 Sabre of Italian Air Force
Displayed JASDF's F-86F Kyokukō at Komatsu AB.
Royal Norwegian Air Force North American F-86F Sabre
F-86 Republic of Korea Air Force
Portuguese F-86F displayed at Monte Real Air Base
F-86 Spanish Air Army, Ember Patrol, Cuatro Vientos, Madrid
North American F-86 E Sabre in Istanbul Aviation Museum
Acquired 28 F-86Fs, 26 September 1960, FAA s/n CA-101 through CA-128. The Sabres were already on reserve status at the time of the Falklands War but were reinstated to active service to bolster air defences against possible Chilean involvement. Finally retired in 1986.
8 F-86F-40-NAs captured from Pakistan, phased out.[79]
5 F-86F Sabres delivered, no operational unit.
Acquired four F-86Fs from Spanish Air Force (s/n 2027/2028), five USAF F-86F (s/n 51-13226) and other nine Canadair Mk.6; assigned to Escuadron de Caza-Bombardero.
59 F-86D-31NA(38) F-86D-36NA(21)s in service from 1958 – 1966 ESK 723, ESK 726, ESK 728[80]
Acquired 14 F-86Fs in 1960.[81]
Acquired and 10 CL.13 Mk2 (F-86E) from Yugoslavia.
Acquired an unknown number of F-86Fs.[81]
Bought some units of the type but they were never operated and were returned.
Acquired 180 U.S. F-86Fs, 1955–1957. Mitsubishi built 300 F-86Fs under license 1956–1961, and were assigned to 10 fighter or squadrons. JASDF called F-86F the "Kyokukō" (旭光, Rising Sunbeam) and F-86D the "Gekkō" (月光, Moon Light). Their Blue Impulse Aerobatic Team, a total of 18 F-models were converted to reconnaissance version in 1962. Some aircraft were returned to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, as drones.
Acquired 115 F-86Fs, 1957–1958; and assigned to seven squadrons, Nos. 331, 332, 334, 336, 337, 338 and 339.
Acquired 102 U.S.-built F-86F-35-NA and F-86F-40-NAs, last of North American Aviation's production line, 1954–1960s.
Acquired 26 U.S.-built F-86Fs in 1955, assigned to Escuadrón Aéreo 111, Grupo Aéreo No.11 at Talara air force base. Finally retired in 1979.
Acquired 50 F-86Fs in 1957. Retired in the late 1970s.
A total of 65 acquired: 50 U.S.-built F-86Fs, 1958, including some from USAF's 531st Fighter Bomber Squadron, Chambley and 15 ex-Royal Norwegian Air Force. In Portugal, they served in Squadron 201 (formerly designated as Sqn. 50 and later Sqn. 51, before being renamed in 1978) and Squadron 52, both based at Air Base No. 5, Monte Real. In 1961, Portuguese Air Force deployed some of its F-86Fs to Portuguese Guinea, where they formed Detachment 52, based at Base-Aerodrome No. 2, Bissalanca/Bissau.
 Taiwan (Republic of China)
Acquired 320 U.S.-built F-86Fs,7 RF-86Fs,18 F-86Ds, The 18 F-86Ds back to U.S. military and US send 6 to Republic of Korea Air Force,8 to Philippine Air Force in 1966.
 Saudi Arabia
Acquired 16 U.S.-built F-86Fs in 1958, and three Fs from Norway in 1966; and assigned to RSAF No. 7 Squadron at Dhahran.
 South Africa
Acquired on loan 22 U.S.-built F-86F-30s during the Korean War and saw action with 2 Squadron SAAF.
 South Korea
Acquired U.S.-built 112 F-86Fs and 10 RF-86Fs, beginning 20 June 1955; and assigned to ROKAF 10th Wing. It also served with the ROKAF Black Eagles aerobatic team for annual event from 1959 to 1966. The last F-86s retired in 1990.
Acquired 270 U.S.-built F-86Fs, 1955–1958; designated C.5s and assigned to 5 wings: Ala de Caza 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Retired 1972.
Acquired 40 U.S.-built F-86Fs, 1962; assigned to RTAF Squadrons, Nos. 12 (Ls), 13, and 43.
A retired Royal Thai Air Force F-86
Acquired 15 used U.S.-built F-86F in 1969.
Acquired 12 U.S.-built F-86Fs.
 United Nations
Received 5 F-86E(M)s from Italy as MAP redeployment 1963, crewed by Philippine pilots; F-86F units from Ethiopia and Iran also used in ONUC.
 United States
Acquired 30 U.S.-built F-86Fs, October 1955 – December 1960; and assigned to one group, Grupo Aéreo De Caza No. 12, three other squadrons.
Acquired 121 Canadair CL-13s and F-86Es, operating them in several fighter aviation regiments between 1956 and 1971.

Civil aviation

According to the FAA there are 50 privately owned and registered F-86s in the US, including Canadair CL-13 Sabres.[82][Note 4]

Notable pilots

Surviving aircraft

Specifications (F-86F-40-NA)

Orthographically projected diagram of the F-86 Sabre.

Data from The North American Sabre[89] and North American F-86F-40-NA[90]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 37 ft 1 in (11.30 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 1 in (11.91 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 1 in (4.29 m)
  • Wing area: 313.4 sq ft (29.12 m2)
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 0009-64 mod.; tip: NACA 0008.1-64 mod.[91]
  • Empty weight: 11,125 lb (5,046 kg)
  • Gross weight: 15,198 lb (6,894 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 18,152 lb (8,234 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: JP-4 fuel:- 437 US gallons (364 imp gal; 1,650 L) internals + 2x 200 US gallons (170 imp gal; 760 L) drop tanks
  • Powerplant: 1 × General Electric J47-GE-27 turbojet engine, 5,910 lbf (26.3 kN) thrust


  • Maximum speed: 687 mph (1,106 km/h, 597 kn) at sea level at 14,212 lb (6,446 kg) combat weight
678 mph (589 kn; 1,091 km/h) / M1.02
599 mph (521 kn; 964 km/h) at 35,000 ft (10,668 m) at 15,352 lb (6,964 kg)
597 mph (519 kn; 961 km/h) at 21,148 ft (6,446 m)
599 mph (521 kn; 964 km/h) at 22,835 ft (6,960 m)
  • Stall speed: 124 mph (200 km/h, 108 kn)
  • Range: 1,525 mi (2,454 km, 1,325 nmi)
  • Combat range: 414 mi (666 km, 360 nmi) with two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs and 2x 200 US gallons (170 imp gal; 760 L) drop tanks[92]
  • Service ceiling: 49,600 ft (15,100 m) at combat weight
  • Rate of climb: 9,000 ft/min (46 m/s) at sea level
  • Time to altitude: 30,000 ft (9,144 m) in 5 minutes 12 seconds
  • Lift-to-drag: 15
  • Thrust/weight: 0.42


  • Guns: 6 X 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M3 Browning machine guns (1,800 rounds in total)
  • Rockets: variety of rocket launchers; e.g.: 2 Matra rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets per pod
  • Bombs: 5,300 lb (2,400 kg) of payload on four external hardpoints, bombs were usually mounted on outer two pylons as the inner pairs were plumbed for 2 200 US gallons (760 L) drop tanks which gave the Sabre a more useful range. A wide variety of bombs could be carried (max standard loadout being two 1,000 lb bombs plus two drop tanks), napalm canisters and could have included a tactical nuclear weapon.

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ Quote: "The Canadair Sabre Mk 6 was the last variant and considered to be the 'best' production Sabre ever built."
  2. ^ The MiG-17 was a development of the MiG-15 upgraded with a more advanced wing and afterburner (the Sabre's all-flying tail would not be employed until the supersonic MiG-19). The MiG-17 proved to be a deadly foe in Vietnam in the 1960s against more advanced U.S. supersonic opponents; some, such as the F-4 Phantom, actually lacked the guns and radar gunsight introduced by the F-86.[67]
  3. ^ MiG Alley: Sabres Vs. MiGs Over Korea. was researched by North American tech rep John L. Henderson. The aircraft were F-86E-10s: 51-2303, -2819, -2826 and -2836; and F-86F-1's 51-2855, −2862, −2867, −2868, −2884 and −2900.
  4. ^ Although privately registered in the US, two F-86s are actually owned by an individual for display purposes only in a private museum collection.[82]


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External links

3 May 1947

The new post-war Japanese constitution goes into effect.

On May 3, 1947, Japan’s postwar constitution goes into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage, and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was largely the work of Supreme Allied Commander Douglas MacArthur and his occupation staff, who had prepared the draft in February 1946 after a Japanese attempt was deemed unacceptable.

As the defender of the Philippines from 1941 to 1942, and commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, Douglas MacArthur was the most acclaimed American general in the war against Japan. On September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, he presided over the official surrender of Japan. According to the terms of surrender, Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government were subject to the authority of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in occupied Japan, a post filled by General MacArthur.

On September 8, Supreme Commander MacArthur made his way by automobile through the ruins of Tokyo to the American embassy, which would be his home for the next five and a half years. The occupation was to be a nominally Allied enterprise, but increasing Cold War division left Japan firmly in the American sphere of influence. From his General Headquarters, which overlooked the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, MacArthur presided over an extremely productive reconstruction of Japanese government, industry, and society along American models. MacArthur was a gifted administrator, and his progressive reforms were for the most part welcomed by the Japanese people.

The most important reform carried out by the American occupation was the establishment of a new constitution to replace the 1889 Meiji Constitution. In early 1946, the Japanese government submitted a draft for a new constitution to the General Headquarters, but it was rejected for being too conservative. MacArthur ordered his young staff to draft their own version in one week. The document, submitted to the Japanese government on February 13, 1946, protected the civil liberties MacArthur had introduced and preserved the emperor, though he was stripped of power. Article 9 forbade the Japanese ever to wage war again.

Before Japan’s defeat, Emperor Hirohito was officially regarded as Japan’s absolute ruler and a quasi-divine figure. Although his authority was sharply limited in practice, he was consulted with by the Japanese government and approved of its expansionist policies from 1931 through World War II. Hirohito feared, with good reason, that he might be indicted as a war criminal and the Japanese imperial house abolished. MacArthur’s constitution at least preserved the emperor as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” so Hirohito offered his support. Many conservatives in the government were less enthusiastic, but on April 10, 1946, the new constitution was endorsed in popular elections that allowed Japanese women to vote for the first time. The final draft, slightly revised by the Japanese government, was made public one week later. On November 3, it was promulgated by the Diet–the Japanese parliament–and on May 3, 1947, it came into force.

In 1948, Yoshida Shigeru’s election as prime minister ushered in the Yoshida era, marked by political stability and rapid economic growth in Japan. In 1949, MacArthur gave up much of his authority to the Japanese government, and in September 1951 the United States and 48 other nations signed a formal peace treaty with Japan. On April 28, 1952, the treaty went into effect, and Japan assumed full sovereignty as the Allied occupation came to an end.

6 February 1947

Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

The intercontinental airline service made its debut in 1927. The flight, by Imperial Airways, was from London to Cairo.

In 1930 Charles Townsend Ludington, his brother and two other executives formed Ludington Airline, the first every-hour-on-the-hour air service. It was also the first airline that carried passengers only and was not supported by government revenue from air mail service contracts that all other airlines depended on.

Air India, the flag carrier airline of India, began operations under the name Tata Airlines on October 15, 1932.

Pan American Clipper flights served the first hot meals to passengers in 1935.

The first commercial flight across the Pacific was made by a Pan-American Boeing 314 on April 28, 1937.

The first commercial around-the-world airline flight took place in 1942. Pan American World Airways was the company credited with the historic feat.
Seven years later, on January 6, 1947, Pan American Airlines became the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

15 September 1947

Typhoon Kathleen hit the Kanto Region in Japan killing 1,077.

On September 15, 1947, Typhoon Kathleen made landfall in the Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo. One-minute sustained winds at landfall were estimated at 120 km/h—just barely equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. In Shizuoka Prefecture, south of Kanagawa, one-minute sustained winds exceeding 88 km/h tropical storm strength were reported. Having weakened by the time of landfall, wind damage was restricted to towns along the immediate coast.

More extensive, however, was the damage from precipitation-induced flooding from Typhoon Kathleen, which dropped between 300 and 800 mm of rain in the Tone River basin in just two days from September 13 to 15—yielding the highest flood discharge ever observed. North and east of Tokyo, several dikes were breached and embankments suffered failures, resulting in severe flooding along the Tone River, particularly in Kurihashi. More than 303,000 buildings were inundated, and 1,077 people were killed.