North American F-86D/L Sabre

Formerly assigned to the Florida Military Aviation Museum at Clearwater-St. Petersburg Airport, when the museum closed the aircraft were removed from the facility and placed in outside storage.  Officially a part of the U.S. Air Force Museum, Wright Patterson AFB collection, the F-86L has just been placed on indefinite loan to MAPS Air Museum for restoration purposes.

Based on the famed F-86A that battled the Mig-15 over Korea's skies, the F-86D was designed as an all-weather interceptor to combat enemy air attack.  While based on the F-86A, by the time the D model was done being built, the only commonality between it and other models of the F-86 was the wing.  There were several significant firsts for the F-86D; it was the first Air Force fighter to 'banish' guns and rely on an all rocket armament, and it was the first single seat, radar equipped all weather interceptor, where the pilot both flew the aircraft and operated the radar unit.  Up to this point, all-weather interceptors all carried a RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) (if flying with the Navy) or WSO (Weapon System Officer) (if flying with the Air Force) to handle the radar / targeting, while the pilot flew the aircraft.  The L model, as on display at MAPS, had additional "black boxes" as part of the SAGE radar guidance system, which allowed ground control radar to directly vector the aircraft to the incoming bombers; think of it as a ground-based autopilot system. (more on SAGE coming soon).

 Photos from the F-86 Recovery in Florida    Photos from the F-86 arrival @ MAPS

Learn about the 2.75" FFAR Rocket    Learn about the SAGE radar guidance system (coming soon)

Span: 37 ft. 1 in.
Length: 40 ft. 4 in.
Height: 15 ft.
Weight: 19,975 lbs. max.
Armament: 24 2.75" Folding Fin Aerial Rockets (FFAR)
Engine: General Electric J47 with 7,650 lbs thrust
Maximum speed: 715 mph.
Cruising speed: 550 mph.
Range: 800 miles
Service Ceiling: 50,000 ft.

7/1/2008 Here are some updated pictures of our progress.  Note the updated information board built up by Ken.  Also the view of the stab.  This week we will hopefully get the vertical re-attached.  A special thanks to Buckeye Paper for the donation towards our F-86L restoration efforts!  If you can make it out to help this month we want to get the fuselage cleaned and polished so that that metal repair can begin.  You will need rubber gloves and fine steel wool. Enjoy the pictures (Click on picture to open larger size).


6/19/2008 Our Master Welder Ray Sherry got the stabalator welded together. This will now allow us to put the vertical stabilizer and rudder back on. If you are able to help we need to continue the stripping and cleaning of the fuselage. Polishing can be done to get that first bit of shine. The leading edges also can be done. My goal is to have the fuselage cleaned by the end of July. We can then attack the sheet metal repair and wings.

06/13/2008 Details on our F-86L restoration have been posted on Duncan Curtis' Sabre Website (  Duncan is a world-renowned expert on the F-86 airframe.

06/11/2008  Things are moving along nicely, as the following has been accomplished this week: • 8 of the 10 access panels have been made by Frank and Ray • Kent and Ken have finished the first level polishing up to the port side leading edge • Carl and Ken have stripped the port side leading edge and test polished a small section • Display board and easel have been located to display updates, aircraft history and aircraft specifications to tours • Upper part of empennage is being removed for repairs • Dale has made an extension cord for the welder.  Enjoy the pictures (Click on picture to open larger size).


06/02/2008 Last Saturday came with a surprise. While talking to one of our members about polishing the Dog, we realized that our leading edge slats where actually loose and not mechanically pinned as previously thought. A few minutes later and a little WD-40 and they were released! Now our Dog sits as she should with leading edges extended. We've roughly taped in our airplanes markings and also the paint line for the heat resistant silver/gray under coat. I also have the nose cone down to the spot putty stage and should have it done by Saturday. We can also welcome Jim Mosley to the crew list. Jim has been a long time member of MAPS from the beginning of time. Jim has offered his experience in polishing to take on the task of polishing the leading edges. Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).


05/29/2008  Things are moving along nicely. The fuselage will be completely stripped this Saturday. A few of the missing access panels have started to take shape. Are next task on the plane is to start at the nose and begin to work back over the plane getting the tiny remnants of primer and bondo off the skin. As we go, we can clean and do a first polish of the skin. As we encounter panels that need re-worked and scab patches we can get to those. I am still trying to get power so Ray the welder can get the tail finished. Once that is done the vertical can go on. Also Dave S has started removing the damaged area in front of the vertical to pound out the damage that was caused in the move. Just to let you know MAPS officially got the Dog in December 2006. Enjoy the pictures (Click on picture to open larger size).


05/22/2008  As you can see, Wednesday was productive with the re-attachment of the stabalator. This is probably the first time in decades that the plane has had these parts both re-attached. When we recovered the bird it only had the one side attached . The other side was nowhere to be found. Luckily we did find it in the weeds ten miles away where the other Air Force planes had been stored. Once both sides are level we will weld the two pieces together and then on to the vertical tail. We need to continue with the stripping process for a few more weeks then we can begin repair work. As you come across access panels we need to start soaking them with wd-40. This will help in there removal and cleaning. I've been working on the radome in my garage and its starting to take shape. I'll need some more Bondo to finish the job. Hopefully it will be an improvement .  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).


05/17/2008  Was able to get one panel polished and put back in place. I did this just to see what are possibilities are. I also spoke with Ron Farleman who is a polishing guru. He told me he could put together a system to help us get the job done. I look forward to his help, however I'll keep polishing until he can start to help us. I was able to get in touch with Dale Cox. Dale is MAPS' electrical guy. He will try and get us 220 over by the plane so we can weld. We will also be able to get the fork lift behind the plane but we will need to roll-up the flag. I will try and get out to MAPS early and do as much prep in order to make the re-installation of the stabalator smooth.  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).


05/15/2008  Things are looking better. Paint is still coming off the plane at a good pace. I'm still hopeful to be done with the fuselage by June 1. Ray Scherry brought in a pipe that will make up the inner sleeve for the stabulator We are shooting for Wednesday May 21 to put the stab together and mount it back on the plane. If all goes well we can then try and attach the vertical tail.  One problem is that are welder needs to extend his power supply to the plane to do the weld job. Ken please ask Ray if his Buzz Box has quick connect leads. If so tell me what leads he needs and I can rent those for the job. If we can't get it welded. We will most likely drill a hole in the sleeve and pipe and pin them together until we can weld it. Like Mac says" she won't be making 4G's anytime soon."  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).

05/04/2008  This past Saturday Ken, Frank and I where able to get most of the paint off to the rear of the wing section. At this rate the fuselage should be completely stripped by the end of May. I will get to Lowe's to purchase more stripper and scratch pads. Another important step was taken on Saturday as I was able to get the stabulator mostly cleaned up. Thanks to Rick Hamlet for the use of his grinder. When this is completed we can make the inner sleeve and then devise away to lift both pieces and fit them on the plane. Once this is done we can weld it into place permanently. Then on to the vertical. I was also able to get a fair number of photos on the damaged areas of the plane. These are mostly scab patches that I want to remove and replace with correct flush patches.  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).

04/27/2008 • Paul Gates is continuing his exploration of corrosion on the upper fuselage. He is making good progress. • Frank Wrenick pitched in and removed all the corroded nut plates for an upper access panel. • Ken Koehn helped remove a good deal of paint from the port side of the airplane. • Kent was able to acquire a piece of pipe to fix the stabulators • Timothy Spencer was able to do a good first buff on the stabulators. • Bob is continuing his work on the panels. • Paul start rebuilding corroded area on starboard side.• Begin cleaning of electronic bays on port side and behind radome. • replace nut plates on starboard side access hatch • fabricate access panels for port side hatches, we need 3 • Strip paint from starboard side and remove broken access panels. • I have radome at my house and will begin rebuilding it this week • Paint canopy attachment points and glue radio wires in place• Zinc inside panels that have been finished • Start bringing cleaned panels into hanger next to plane along with canopy when ready. • Think on ways to best clean drop tanks.  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).


04/19/2008 Well things went pretty well Saturday. Paul was able to get the first bad section of metal off the plane and started preparing it to accept a new one. It looks as if we will need several repairs in the area Paul is working. Was able to remove one access panel shown in the picture. Will need to soak these screws for a while before removing. Will use a drill and easy outs as last resort. Most of paint is off top part of plane on port side . So far only finding dime size pockets of Bondo. Frank Wrenick has decided to help us along with stripping. Frank started taking paint off below the access panels and also on the upper half of starboard side. Tim started on stabulators. Its amazing what a little polish will do. We will have wet sanding paper soon to try and really get a shine on the access panels. Put wd-40 on landing gear actuators. I want to see if we can take the weight off the gear and get the down lock in its proper position, then put a proper lock pin in place.  Enjoy the pictures. (Click on picture to open larger size).


04/18/2008  I welcome you all to what I hope is a successful restoration of our F-86L. I will periodically give you an update on the short term goals for the aircraft. In this way all those concerned will be on the same page when it comes to getting the job done. Some of you on this list I have included because of your real experiences with this aircraft and it is my hope that we restore this aircraft to honor your service to our country, along with all the others who flew and maintained these cold war aircraft. My vision is that we bring back this plane to as close as possible to its active duty posture. That means removing the paint and finding all the areas of corrosion and bondo. This will be a laborious task, but I feel we must proceed in this direction. If it turns out that painting the plane is what must be done then we will have a good surface to prep for paint. So lets get with the list of to do items in the coming weeks.  1) access panels completely strip of paint and remove small areas of bondo. 2) remove loose zinc from underside of panels and repaint. 3) remove A-lock fasteners that are not presentable. 4) If panel looks in good condition meaning no major repairs then a light polishing can be done. The canopy is a good example of what we can do in a short period of time. 5) The canopy radio wires need reattached in place. 6) paint the canopy attachment hooks, use silver krylon paint. 7) remove corrosion from landing gear, paint with silver Krylon paint 8) nose gear must be secured. Would like to lubricate and free up all movable parts and treat for corrosion. Must add lock down device. 9) Remove front landing gear door and repair 10) Repair or replace nose wheel or replace get new tires. 11) repair stabulator support. need 4 inch pipe 6 inches long 12 polish stabulators just like panels. 13 )strip the plane from the leading edges forward. 14) Clean the inside of plane as best as possible. Clean A-lock plates and lubricate. paint areas where panels meet. 15) Remove corroded panels from planes and repair.

04/13/2008 All of the panels on both sides of the airplane have been removed and are in the process of having the paint removed. The nose cone has been removed and will be repaired and replaced. Paint on the airframe is starting to come off on the surfaces in front of the leading wing. We will continue to strip paint and discover how much panel replacement and repair will be needed. We will eventually paint the airplane in the colors of the 496th FIS that flew out of Hahn, W.Germany during the mid fifties. Check out the website for more details on the F-86D.Thanks to new member Bob Schott, Paul Gates and Ken Koehn for stepping in with both feet on helping with stripping process. Also Don Niedert for sheet metal work on the canopy and Jim Kohan for instruction in proper paint removal techniques. If you would like to help with this project please step forward and contact Kent Kleinknecht at the museum or by e-mail

2/03/2008 A set of underwing fuel tanks has been 02/03/2008 A set of underwing fuel tanks has been donated to the Museum, and are sitting underneath the aircraft in the large hangar.

11/24/2007 The F-86L was gingerly moved into the large hangar.

09/22/2007 Today the port (left) wing was attached, the gears locked down, and the F-86 was removed from its cradle and is now resting on its landing gear!  See photos above.-align: justify"> 08/03/2007 After much work and finagling, the F-86 crew was able to reattach the starboard (right) wing of the F-86D.  After the Collings Foundation visit is over and our upcoming off-site displays are done, work will focus on the port (left) wing.

05/30/2007 Work continues on the canopy and vertical stabilizers, and the horizontal stabilizers have been brought into the restoration building to start work.  The crew did a polishing test on a section of the vertical stabilizer to see how well it could be polished out, and were pleasantly surprised at the results.

04/28/2007 The canopy and windscreen have been removed for cleaning and to allow another F-86D restorer to examine construction for his fuselage.

04/13/2007 We have stripped the paint from the vertical tail and are beginning the polishing process. In operational use the only paint used on the "Dog" was Squadron colors and Insignia. [webmasters note: previous owner had painted the F86D in a metallic silver finish].  We are also in the process of getting the main wheels back on the landing gear, so when the NE Ohio weather begins to cooperate we will install the wings and set her on her wheels.

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