The scientific tourist #196 — the F-86H “Sabre”

Should you ever be in South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, I’d recommend you take a quick side trip to the metropolis of Box Elder to see the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. It’s out on the east side of Rapid City, right outside the main gate to Ellsworth Air Force Base — and has some great static displays of U.S. military (specifically, U.S. Air Force) aircraft.

Here’s an F-86H, almost done with a well-deserved touch-up to its paint job:

F-86H

From the placard:

The F-86H was the last US production model of the famous F-86 fighter, first flying in April 1953. The H-model had a larger air intake for the J-73 engine, and a deeper fuselage to carry more fuel. The later H-models were also equipped with four 10mm rapid fire cannons replacing the six 50 caliber machine guns of earlier models. The aircraft was also capable of carrying a single nuclear weapon.

The first of the 473 F-86Hs produced arrived in January 1954, with final production in August 1955. The aircraft proved that the F-86 design had reached its limits, and with the arrival of the F-100 Super Sabre, the H-model had a short active duty life. The F-86H flew its last USAF sortie in June 1958, but continued in Air Guard service through September 1970.

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