The Best Fighter Planes of All Time
War Is Boring
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Well, they can’t mention the F-86 without, in fairness, also mentioning that it achieved the peak of its performance with a Canadian-designed and built engine (Avro Canada Orenda). An American woman, Jacqueline Cochran, became the first woman to fly supersonic in a Canadian-built and powered Sabre, and Canadian-built variations of the aircraft were still in service with Pakistan as late as the nineteen eighties. The F-86 actually has a rather fascinating history, even post Korea, in the sense that it was ‘by chance’ the first aircraft to launch the Sidewinder missile in combat (Second Taiwan Straight Crisis, 1958). Taiwanese Sabres were out-classed by the MiG-17 in service with China (the F-86 being simply unable to compete with the MiG-17 in the vertical/energy arena), and so the U.S. rushed the Taiwanese Sidewinders in the hopes of neutralizing the MiG’s performance advantage. While the missiles performed rather well under the circumstances (most battles occurring at relatively high altitudes where the missiles did not suffer the problems Vietnam would reveal them to have at lower altitudes), one of the weapons failed to detonate and lodged itself, in relatively intact condition, in the fuselage of a MiG that was able to return to base. The Russians acquired the missile intact and reverse engineered it, resulting in their own AA-2 “Atoll” (an exact copy of the AIM-9B).

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