MIG vs SABRE

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by Hobilar, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. Hobilar

    Hobilar Member

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    Oddly enough the Chinese and North Koreans had by far the most advanced Jet fighter to see action in the Korean War. The appearance of the Russian built MIG 15 came as a complete surprise to the Americans who had been using elderly World War II aircraft for their air operations. Hurriedly a wing of the new P86A Sabre Jet fighter had to be rushed out to the Korean theatre to counter the threat that the MIG represented. The MIG however proved to have a considerably faster rate of climb than the Sabre, and could operate at a greater altitude than its American counterpart.

    In addition the MIG was armed with cannon rather than the machine guns in the Sabre. 1,500 machine gun bullets sometimes being fired to bring down a MIG, whilst only a few cannon shells could inflict considerable damage on the high flying B29 Superfortresses that the Americans were using for their bombing raids.

    Regrettably the MIG also proved to be quite difficult to fly. Except for some Russian, Czech and Polish volunteer pilots using tactics learnt from the Luftwaffe during WWII the inexperienced Chinese and Korean pilots proved no match for veteran US aces who had learnt the art of dog-fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific only a few years before. The MIG also had a tendency to go into a spin from which their pilots were rarely able to pull out from, and therefore were forced to eject.

    Despite a loss rate of 10 to 1, by the time of the cease-fire the Communists had nearly 1,000 MIG-15s operational compared with only just over 250 US Sabres some of which were equipped as Fighter-Bombers.
     
  2. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

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    It is. The Mig-15 was equipped with a license built Rolls Royce Nene and its Russian variants. That is one of the most interesting feature of the superb machine of the age. What would happen if the Ki-61 had a RR Merlin?:p
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The 10 to 1 kill ratio is a myth. There were exaggerations of claims on both sides which probably brought that ratio down to maybe 5 or 4 to 1 if you include Korean, Soviet and Chinese pilots. Against the Soviets it could be less than 2 to 1 depending who you believe.

    Both aircraft were built similar, technicially the F-86 was way more advanced however the simplicity of the Mig-15 made it a good "peasant's fighter." Although the UTI trainer version was made to address the aircraft's handling characteristics, it could still be a difficult aircraft to fly, especially if you got it slow on landing where it tended to "snake."
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Whats funny if you took a Mig-15 and T-33 (F-80) and took their tails off and examined the engine bays they look identical. Imagine that!
     
  6. Jank

    Jank Member

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    On the issue of the ue of .50 cal., keep in mind that the .50 was finally judged insufficient even with all six guns packed into the nose and with the cyclic rate having increased from about 700rpm to over 1,000rpm through the employment of the M3 instead of the M2.

    The distances were far greater, the time you had the target in your sights was far less and these new aircraft were built considerably tougher in order to withstand higher speed and G force.
     
  7. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    Indeed. I'm surprised that they were built with .50's in the first place as we had started to use 20mm in several other aircraft, like the Corsair. I heard that you could feel the MiG's cannon fire in your Sabre's pedals because of the huge blast each shot created.
     
  8. Haztoys

    Haztoys Member

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    I could see that do to the fact that alot of info came from the Germans...
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Also keep in mind that the .50 used by the F-86 in Korea were using incendiary rounds in many cases
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I actually think its because some Ruskie had a chance to see a P-80 undergoing an engine change somewhere. I don't thing the entire structure was copies, just the basis of the engine installation configuration.
     
  11. Jank

    Jank Member

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    I believe API (Armor Piercing Incindiary) became standard use in WWII.
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Jank all your points are true - but the primary reason that spun from most of the conversations I heard were inability to create fire and blast at 35,000-45,000 feet to to lack of oxygen to sustain them. Nobody seemed disappointed at lower altitude performance.

    When we (family) came back from Japan in dec 1950 to Eglin AFB the USAF was seriously looking at 15mm w/explosive and api.. I still have a few..easy conversion from M2 with basically a barrel/chamber change (necked up .50 cal) but at the end of the day went 20mm in 1951 for all new programs. Even the F-89A had 6 x20mm before all rocket..
     
  13. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    1. *That* has elements of myth. The MiG opposition in Korea from Nov 1 1950 (when they first appeared) until September 1951 was almost entirely composed of regular fighter units of the Soviet AF's. A few Chinese units fought in the winter of 50-51 but not in numbers till Sep '51, first NK unit November '51. Not until 1953 were a majority of the MiG's non-Soviet AF. This is voluminously documented in declassified Soviet records and books based on them; and there's no mention of any Czechs, Poles, etc. There are combats in pre Sept 1951 where the opposition is described as either 'honcho's', 'bandit trains' of inexperienced presumably Chinese/NK pilots led by a few 'honcho's', or all inexperienced, where you can see in Soviet accounts it's the same Soviet units, even the same *guys, by name*, called honcho's in one case, inexperienced in another. Perceptions in combat are tricky. But from fall of 1951 this perception came true, Soviet, Chinese and eventually NK MiG-15 units were in the same air space, experienced and inexperienced, though they generally did not fly intermingled with one another.

    2. That's not a 'myth', it's just the ratio between credited US victories and official US air combat losses. It's the same situation we encounter with many or most WWII combat results still quoted. It's not always possible to know the actual losses on both sides. But in Korea it's pretty well known overall, 319 Soviet AF MiG-15's lost in air combat (best documented number IMO among several in the same ballpark), 224 PLAAF (their official number, combat only), and probably at least several dozen, but not likely more than a 100, NK, say 50. 78 F-86's were officially lost in air combat, but reviewing one by one I estimate 90 including those written off from combat damage. Not all but the great majority of those MiG losses were to F-86's. So the Sabre:MiG ratio was ~6+:1 in reality overall, *less* of a discount than would need to be applied to most US WWII ratio's of credited victories to official losses.

    One can estimate it separately v the Soviets and Chinese/NK's based on proportion of claims against F-86's (it comes out around 5:1 and 11:1 respectively if you assume all MiG claims were equally [not very] accurate). But that's somewhat artificial IMO. The US pilots didn't know their opposition in detail (things incorrectly assumed about the MiG pilots at the time are still repeated now, see point 1), so could hardly 'ignore the Chinese and NK's and focus on the Soviets'. If you saw a MiG flying in a straight line, that's the one you were going to go after :D (as in Gabreski's comment to that effect after one of his Korean victories).

    Joe
     
  14. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

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    One thing I would like to point out is that for the communist's air defence not only the F-86 Sabres but also other UN airplanes must have been very important target.

    Naturally the scores craimed by the Soviet pilots include F-80s, F-84s, F-51s and even some F-94s.

    This superb link helped my understanding on the air part of the conflict greatly.

    KORWALD Date of Loss Report
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Great info guys...

    Joe B - you state "78 F-86's were officially lost in air combat, but reviewing one by one I estimate 90 including those written off from combat damage." Ever consider the same train of thought from US combat reports of "damaged" Migs? How many Migs made it to their Manchurian homes just to be scrapped? That could change the "ratio" but as discussed previously an exact count of this is an "elusive enigma."

    To me if the pilot makes it back to base but his aircraft is a write off I wouldn't give that credit to the opposition - my opinion...
     
  16. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    But I'm not counting MiG losses per *US* combat reports, but rather by Soviet and Chinese reports of their losses. Just like I'm not counting F-86 losses according to Soviet and Chinese claims or victory credits, but by US loss records.

    IOW assuming the 319 and 224 are correct, they already include a/c credited as 'probable' or 'damaged' by the US but actually destroyed, while a fair % of US 'destroyed' credits were mistakes or duplicates, as in every other air war pretty much. Let's take a specific example. The first MiG was credited destroyed by USAF F-80 Nov 8, 1950. Soviet records have a combat at the same time that day, but no loss; That MiG is included in the US victory tally but not in the Soviet 319 loss tally. The next day a USN Panther was credited with a MiG and this loss is reflected in Soviet records, it's included in the US tally and the 319. Two days after that, Nov 11, an F-80 was credited with a 'probable' MiG, but the damaged MiG crashed and was destroyed on landing, killing its Soviet pilot; it's included in the 319, but not in the US tally.

    The Soviet and Chinese losses of 319 and 224 are not sacred any more than the US 78. I know of a few additions to the Soviet total (but I'd rather stick with a reasonably accurate, I believe, published number, and not have everything be 'I say'). And colleagues who study PLAAF history have told me of at least a few extra's in their case was well.

    But, just mathematically in a ratio, adding a few to the small denominator, 78, makes more difference than adding a few to the big numerator (319+224+50?). And I specifically know those extra F-86 losses, so there's no reason to omit that information from the analysis.

    Joe
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Thanks for the info Joe - so I guess it would be fair to say (based on your analysis) that if you include all communist combatants the F-86 still maintains about a 6 to 1 kill ratio? Even if we had the ability to further dissect the US losses it still seems the F-86 still had a upper hand on the Soviet flown Mig-15s.
     
  18. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The MiG's downed about 90 F-86's and about 100 other UN a/c (official totals 78 and around another 75), so a considerable but not vast number of other a/c. As I mentioned, F-86's destroyed the great majority of MiG's lost, actual MiG kills by other types is within the margin of error of what the MiG loss total actually is (B-29's were credited with a fair number of MiG's, but almost none of those credits check out as real MiG losses). The MiG ratio of course improves markedly if we include their non-F-86 victories, as was always known.

    In the big picture of an air war, yes we have to note the actual mission and overall effect of a given plane. But OTOH if we want to compare fighter effectiveness, it tends to distort the picture to include non-fighter targets of fighters, because some fighters had plenty of those to go after, and some didn't. For example the F-86 had hardly any non MiG-15 targets by which to run up its score; in one combat v. Chinese prop bombers it practically anihilated them, even though MiG's also intervened. If it had that opportunity every day, it's ratio would be far higher.

    Same thing is true in WWII, when comparing planes like F4F and F6F that engaged lots of non-fighters, with say P-51 which encountered few non-fighters. Fighter v. fighter kill ratio (according to each side's loss records) is not the only measure, but it's one important measure, and the F-86 v MiG-15 measure I'm trying to clarify.

    Btw the big 'haul' of MiG claims of F-94's was July 21, 1951, at least 7 credited. The actual opponents were F9F-2's of VMF-311, one was lost. Not only does the time and place match, but this Soviet gun camera shot from the combat pretty clearly shows an F9F (there were no F-94's in Korea at the time anyway).
    [​IMG]

    Joe
     
  19. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Again great info Joe - I might of mentioned this before but I seen some Soviet sources "claiming" something like 683 F-86s when something like 683 Sabers actually rotated through Korea! Same with the P-80 - they claimed almost the same amount that were actually in theater.

    I've seen the information on the F-94s. I believe F-94Bs were in Korea the last year of the war.
     
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