The F-86D Sabre Dog
In the late 1940s, the US government along with the USAF, began a massive effort to develop an effective defense of US airspace to counter a growing Soviet threat. In support of this, the USAF chose the Convair “1954 Interceptor” project as their primary aircraft for this role, and the Northrop F-89 Scorpion as an interim. According to McChord Air Museum, after many delays in the F-89 development program, the Air Force looked at two aircraft as alternatives to the Scorpion, a modified Lockheed TF-80C which evolved into the F-94 Starfire, and a highly modified all-weather interceptor version of the F-86A Sabre, the F-95A (F-86D).
As the YF-95, the Sabre Dog completed a successful first flight on Dec. 22, 1949, later on Jul. 24, 1950, the designation was changed to YF-86D. The Sabre Dog differed greatly from its cousin, while externally similar to the F-86A there was only 25% commonality between the two aircraft. The F-86D was also the first USAF aircraft to carry an all missile armament, and was the first all-weather interceptor to be operated by one pilot, operating the radar and flight controls.
The Sabre Dog was also equipped with an afterburning engine (in the form of a General Electric J47-GE-17 turbojet provided with an electronically- controlled fuel scheduling system which was designed to relieve the pilot of the tedious task of having to watch the engine behavior constantly).
The F-86D that the Afterburner in the Hangar to Take Off during a Scramble
“In the late fifties, while flying an F-86D, on cross-countries I would land at an intermediate base for fuel. As soon as the fuel truck left I would preflight the plane, start the engine and leave. As for letting the engine ‘warm-up’ there is no need for that.
“To illustrate this our alert hangars had doors front and back and on the floor was an iron ring to tie the aux-power cable to. This design was to enable a faster scramble time.
“One day I told my crew chief to tie the start cable to this ring and get the loose stuff cleared out of the hanger, because if we got a scramble I was going straight to afterburner on start.
“We did get a scramble and I started the engine and went to full throttle and afterburner right in the hangar.
“I was airborne just about the time I got to the runway, everything worked as it was designed to do. There was one problem though, the crew chief said I blew stuff out the back of the hangar, with the afterburner, that people didn’t even know was in the hangar.”
“We never tried that that kind of scramble again.”
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force