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The Sabre project began in 1944 and was very different from the final aircraft design. The original design featured a straight wing and it wasn't until German research on swept wings was passed to the allies after the war that the design was changed in favour of a swept wing layout. In the Spring of 1948 the prototype XP-86 exceeded Mach 1 then on the 15th September 1948 a Sabre set a new world speed record of 670.98mph. Deliveries of the aircraft to operational Squadrons started in February 1949.

The F-86D development also started in 1949 and was designed for all weather attack and interception. The nose was extensively modified to accommodate an APG-36 radar for the Hughes E-4 fire control system for collision course attacks. The powerplant was a J47 engine with afterburner. Armament consisted of a 'Mighty Mouse' pack of 24 69mm air-to-air unguided rockets which was housed in the nose under the cockpit. This variant was very successful with some 2,054 aircraft being built. The first of which was delivered in March 1951. On 19th November 1952 a F-86D set a new world air speed record at 698.50mph. As well as equipping the USAF, F-86D's were supplied in numbers to other NATO members. From 1956 onwards 981 'D' models were modified to the 'L' variant for use in the daytime fighter role and included the installation of more sophisticated electronic equipment. The F-86 was produced under license in Canada, Australia, Japan and Italy.

Currently being restored by the team at Sunderland Aircraft Museum

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