At the American AFB Travis airbase there is an aviation museum, part of which is dedicated to the war in Korea and the confrontation between American
and Soviet fighters. Under the layout of the F-86, you can see an information plate with very interesting content. There is a photograph of the
picture of the Sabers attacking the MiGs in an even formation, and the latter scatter in fear in different directions, like a flock of crows. It says
“During the Korean War, the F-86 Saber proved to be the best fighter aircraft through crushing victories over communist MiGs. This Korean record was
one of the most one-sided in aviation history. The final score was 800 jet planes shot down against only 58 Sabers, which gives a ratio of 14 to 1 ...
Of course, both the Americans and the Russians have propaganda. But the fantastic ratio of victories of 14 to 1 in any normal person is, to put it
mildly, perplexing. Let's figure it out, calmly and without emotion, the real situation.
It is impossible to find strict statistical information. There is scattered information, often contradictory, which is not official and has no
Additionally, a lot depends on the methods of calculating losses and wins, which are completely confusing and comparison becomes impossible. In such a
muddy situation, propagandists of all varieties find confirmation for their reasoning and conclusions.
The data on the Korean War were classified in the USSR for many years. Only recently has information begun to open up. In total, 650 Sabers were shot
down in air battles (out of 1106 of the total number of American aircraft of all varieties). The losses of the MiG-15 amounted to 335 aircraft. At the
same time, there is information that the total number of Sabers shot down by Soviet, Chinese and North Korean means is 832 aircraft.
According to the American side, 827 MiG-15s were shot down (out of 954 of the total number of downed aircraft produced by the USSR, piloted by Soviet,
Chinese and Korean pilots). The loss of the Sabers was 138 aircraft.
The same spread in the numbers of victories and losses applies to individual pilots. In the same museum, there is a plaque dedicated to pilot Joseph
McConnell of the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in Suwon, who, according to the inscription, won 16 victories over MiGs, including three victories
in one day. He was subsequently written off to the ground and sent home with the title of "triple ace". According to later information, he had only
13 out of 16 confirmed victories.
The Soviet fighter pilot Yevgeny Pepelyaev has 23 victories (of which 18 Saber aircraft) with approximately the same number of sorties. These data are
much easier to verify, and even if there are some reservations and clarifications, then a significant advantage of the Soviet pilot over the American
To understand where such discrepancies come from, you should know the technical and tactical features of the two aircraft. Despite a very large
external similarity, the MiG-15 and F-86 Saber were radically different in their characteristics. The F-86 Saber was much larger, more powerful, and
faster. In a gentle dive, he set the official speed record for turbojet aircraft at 1080 km / h, at an altitude of over 11 thousand meters.
The MiG-15 was more maneuverable and had more serious weapons. At the initial stage of the confrontation, in order to compensate for the lag in speed,
the pilots of the MiGs tried to squeeze everything possible from the MiGs, as a result of which the losses increased, including non-combat ones. At
high speeds, the aircraft began to roll, and as a result of vibration, the wing and tail unit were destroyed.
The reason for the strange behavior of the MiG-15 in the air was the deformation of the bearing plane. And the more the pilot pulled the control
stick, the deeper the MiG tilted in the opposite direction. The problem was soon fixed by the designers. A metal strip was riveted to the rear edge of
the aircraft. The same, 30 mm wide, was installed on the aileron. The control of the ailerons was supplemented with hydraulic boosters. The tail unit
was also changed. Elevators and rudders have become more powerful. After that, the modernized MiGs became the kings of the air in Korea.
On December 22, 1950, a massive skirmish takes place between Soviet pilots and F-86 Saber pilots. This was already an equal result, where both sides
lost 2 aircraft.
Similar to the MiG in many characteristics and piloting, the Saber was larger than the Soviet fighter. Its takeoff weight was 30% more (2.5 tons), but
the practical flight range was almost 2 times less than that of the MiGs. The MiG has about 1400 km, and the Saber about 750 km. Otherwise, in terms
of aerodynamic design and internal layout, both aircraft were extremely similar.
The external similarity of these fighters was especially striking. Their silhouette was so similar that at the beginning of the fighting in Korea, in
the excitement of the battle, the Sabers pilots began to shoot at their own people and attacked their comrades.