MIG vs SABRE

steve51

Airman
98
0
Sep 30, 2009
FLYBOYJ,

The authors do state that the Soviet pilots greatly overclaimed, but they also repeat the claim that the Americans intentionally understated their losses. Not that I'm an expert, but I do not beleive there's any evidence for that.
Other historical aerial combats that are given in the book, such as Mig 15 cold war interceptions and Egyptian Mig 15 operations, do conform to generally accepted facts. All in all it's an excellent book.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,098
8,683
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
FLYBOYJ,

The authors do state that the Soviet pilots greatly overclaimed, but they also repeat the claim that the Americans intentionally understated their losses. Not that I'm an expert, but I do not beleive there's any evidence for that.Other historical aerial combats that are given in the book, such as Mig 15 cold war interceptions and Egyptian Mig 15 operations, do conform to generally accepted facts. All in all it's an excellent book.

I do know that there were many F-86 losses that were attributed to "other than combat" or "weather" related that coincide with the time and place as Soviet claims. I think in the end it all "comes out in the wash." as being somewhat close to "accepted facts." New evidence does show however that over all the F-86/ MiG-15 claim/ kill rate was a lot lower than advertised, but still substantial in favor of the Sabre.
 

steve51

Airman
98
0
Sep 30, 2009
FLYBOYJ,

I haven't done original research, but have read everything I can find on the subject. It just isn't reasonable to claim that much over 100 F-86s were lost to Migs.
What struck me was that figure of 268 Soviet losses to air combat. It's quite low compared to other figures. The authors also mention that the 231 losses for the Chinese represent all aircraft types and all causes. They don't give a figure for just Migs.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,098
8,683
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
FLYBOYJ,

I haven't done original research, but have read everything I can find on the subject. It just isn't reasonable to claim that much over 100 F-86s were lost to Migs.
What struck me was that figure of 268 Soviet losses to air combat. It's quite low compared to other figures. The authors also mention that the 231 losses for the Chinese represent all aircraft types and all causes. They don't give a figure for just Migs.

Here's a laughable Russian site about this subject;

Korean Air War

Here's a post from JoeB from another site - great info!

"MiG vs. Sabre - losses and claims, by JoeB
I have yet to come across anything that refutes the 10:1 (Sabre-to-MiG kill) ratio.
On protection again it's relative, no protection on the F-86 could stop 23 or 37mm rounds. Also the visibility benefit of the F-86 was partly at the expense of pilot vulnerability since the pilot sat up higher above the fuselage centerline less protected by the engine from behind. It's not true the MiG had no pilot armor. Earlier ones had a 20mm thick headrest impervious to .50 cal, relying on the engine again to protect the pilot's body. Later production MiG-15bis's extended that to a seat plate also. They had armored windshield and front plate also but head-on hits seem really rare for either side, closing at 1200mph.

On kill ratio the whole point is that at some point you have to try to find how many planes you really downed, not just how many you claimed. The 10:1 is based on claims not real MiG losses. And the 78 has some problems see below. For MiG losses:

Russian: The number 345 total MiG losses of which 335 in combat is quoted in many general Russian texts, but only 10 to operational causes seems much too low. Seidov/German's "Krasnye Diavoli na 38i Paraleli" gives 319 Soviet MiG's lost in combat describing individually 295 of them if you count up in the book day by day. Naboka's "Natovskie iastreby v pritsele stalinskikh sokolov: Sovetskie letchiki na zashchite neba Kitaia i Korei (1950-1951)" covers only to July 1951. From limited declassified Soviet records I've seen directly, Naboka seems to be a literal transcription of those records. Seidov/German leaves out a few losses mentioned in Naboka for the overlapping period. Therefore I believe the Soviet losses were probably in the range normally given, give or take some probably left out of say Seidov. There is no positive evidence otherwise.

Soviet account like Seidov/German quote MiG losses for the "Unified Air Force" command of the Chinese and NK's as 231. However on the 50th anniversary of the war a Chinese official publication listed theirs alone as 224, so we again have to estimate NK losses. However the general similarity of the post Soviet Russian and Chinese numbers for the Chinese losses seems to indicate the right ballpark.

The NK defector No Gum-suk estimated his own AF's MiG losses as 100 to all causes. Since his all-cause estimates of Russian and Chinese losses were accurate, the 100 probably is too. So 50 NK combat losses is a good guess IMO. All three countries' accounts (including No's) say there were relatively few NK MiG units and they often didn't actively seek combat so it's not surprising their losses were much less than Russian and Chinese. Also the lowest NK claim ever published said they downed 44 F-86's. The Chinese also claimed about as many F-86's as they lost MiG's (211 from memory). Both seem to be ridiculous exaggerations given US losses and Soviet claims, but the idea was probably to claim about as many they lost.

Therefore a total MiG combat loss number might be 593. (319+224+50=593) Which would be a very respectable % of the ~819 credited (762 by F-86's, ~32 by other fighters incl. USN, USMC, RAAF and RN, and 25 by B-29's, but only 3 MiG's seem to have been downed by B-29's). Note these are official US Korean War credit numbers from early 1960's, a little lower than totals at the time of the war. In WWII actual US victories were a smaller % of claims than that on average, so the MiG losses estimated don't seem too low at all actually. Not counting B-29 claims and MiG losses to them the UN fighter claims would be 74% accurate.

The US F-86 loss of 78 is from the "USAF FY 1953 Statistical Digest". That's what Futrell footnoted the number to in his official history, and almost everyplace else gets it from Futrell. But surveying that number by month against each incident it clearly excludes some F-86 known air combat losses, and OTOH includes some "code M" losses, "loss on a combat mission" not really caused by MiG's (e.g. some fuel and engine failure losses away from combat areas are included, others aren't, it tends to include such losses early on but not later in the war). IMO that's a not very good number though it happens to still be fairly close to the real one.

Counting plane by plane I get no fewer than 82 F-86's certainly directly downed by MiG's (*not* the same 78 plus another 4) but no more than ~100. Weighing probabilities in cases where an unclear loss cause matches up at least in date with a Soviet or Chinese claim I believe the right number is around 90. Still needs to be clarified further.

Therefore if 74% claim accuracy for the F-86's like the UN average, and real losses 90, then the exchange ratio was ~6.3:1, fairly sensitive to confirming a few more F-86 losses, not very sensitive to finding a few more MiG losses. And also lower than that v. the Russians, higher v. the Chinese and NK's.

To add one thing, 6:1 is an exceptional *real fighter to fighter* kill ratio for an extensive air campaign against a very serious opponent. It can't be compared directly to e.g. 19:1 for the Hellcat in WWII, or 6:1 for the F4F because those are *claimed* ratio's not real ones, and involved many non fighter targets, esp. F4F's case. The F4F v. Zero ratio in 1942 based on Japanese losses from their records in was right around 1:1. The performance of the F-86 units in Korea was remarkable."


Korean War Jet Fighters, MiG-15 vs. Sabre F-86: Which Was Better?
 

steve51

Airman
98
0
Sep 30, 2009
FLYBOYJ,

Thanks for those links. That post by JoeB is excellent. Well thought out and logical.
Off topic, it seems that the Soviets were consistent with around a 6 to 1 overclaim. Looking at their claims in China, Spain and Finland prior to WW2, one sees a comparable ratio. It makes one wonder about the ratio during WW2.
 

davparlr

Senior Master Sergeant
3,290
631
Mar 23, 2006
Southern California
I do know that there were many F-86 losses that were attributed to "other than combat" or "weather" related that coincide with the time and place as Soviet claims.

There should be a data base on non-combat operational loses per flight hour for the F-86. Multiply that by some factor based on hazards of non-combat experienced combat ops, which would be more hazardous than peace time ops, and maybe one could calculate what makes since. Or, maybe not.
 

davparlr

Senior Master Sergeant
3,290
631
Mar 23, 2006
Southern California
I wanted to comment on the perception of the effectiveness of the Mig armament compared to the F-86. In another thread, I did an analysis of the probabilities of effectiveness of the F-86, with six browning M3 50 cals compared to the F9F with four M2 20mm cannons. This indicated that the F-86 and F9F were roughly comparable in effectiveness at about 5% probability of a hit per round. Above that point, like 10% probability of a hit, the F-86 was increasing in effectiveness. This was based on the Navy’s assertion that the 20 mm round was comparable to three 50 cal rounds.

I thought I would do a similar comparison with the F-86 and Mig-15. The Mig-15 has two 23mm NR-23 cannon firing a total of 27 rounds/sec* and one 37mm N-37 cannon firing 7 rounds/sec. To make this simple, I will assume these will have a one hit one kill capability and will treat both cannon types as the same. So, total round/sec of the Mig-15 is 34. At this rate, and with a probability 5% hit per round, the probability of one or more hits with a one second burst is 83%.

The F-86 has six Browning M3 machine gun capable of a total of 125 rounds/sec*. At this rate, and 5% probability of a hit per round, the F-86 will have 88% probability of four or more hits, or a bit better at getting four hits than the Mig has of having one hit.

At a 10% probability of a hit per round, the Mig will have 97% probability of one or more hits. The F-86 will have seven or more hits with a probability of 97%.

Now I don’t really know the comparison of 23 mm or 37 mm to the 50 cal and of course, the probability of one hit one kill is not one, nor do we know how the effective distribution of over the aircraft. However, if one 20mm is equal to three 50s, it appears reasonable to me that one 23mm would be equal to four 50s. The 37mm is a ringer. It is noticeable that, as the probability of hits per round increases, the high rate of fire F-86 becomes more effective.

Additional notes would be that it is my understanding that the 50 cal has better ballistic characteristic than the 23 mm or 37mm (it certainly has better initial velocity) which could possibly affect the critical probability of strike per round. Also, the F-86 with its radar ranging gun sight would also improve the probability of strike per round. Both of these statistically improve the advantages of the higher rate of fire weapons.

In general, in my opinion, the armament of the F-86 was equal to or better than the Mig-15. It is also interesting to note that the AF did not change to the 20mm until the much faster firing M39 (twice a fast as the M2 cannon) became available late in Korean War.

*I used the higher rate of fire of 1250 rounds/min vs.1200 r/m, and also the higher rate of fire for the 23mm of 800 r/m (AF test was at 650 according to Wiki)
 

JoeB

Staff Sergeant
807
43
Nov 24, 2006
Now I don’t really know the comparison of 23 mm or 37 mm to the 50 cal and of course, the probability of one hit one kill is not one, nor do we know how the effective distribution of over the aircraft. However, if one 20mm is equal to three 50s, it appears reasonable to me that one 23mm would be equal to four 50s.
Interesting analysis. On kill probability of 23/37mm, I've studied the USAF files of damage and loss in Korea. The number of F-86's hit by at least one 23mm shell but returned and repaired, is clearly geater than the number lost to MiG cannon fire*. OTOH only a few F-86's known to have been struck by 37mm shells returned, and those were usually write offs. It's not possible to tell which lost F-86's were hit with 23 v 37. Some anecdotal accounts from Korea from US side imply that MiG cannon had a very high probability of kill given any hit, and this is also what the Soviets believed, but the actual numbers don't bear it out. The 23mm did not have a high single hit kill probability v the F-86, though the 37mm apparently did.

*a complete statistical analysis is not possible because a few months' files are missing; also there's more detail given for cases of 'major damage' than 'minor damage'. But cases of 'major damage' in air combat alone outnumber the a/c lost in air combat. And the great majority of 'major damage' F-86's were repaired. Just a handful, and among those a couple of cases of surviving 37mm hits, were not repaired, and most of those were counted as air combat losses at the time.

Joe
 
Last edited:

airacobra47

Recruit
4
0
Aug 20, 2011
I study aviation and aerodynamics, and i like the Sabre. I also think it would win because the tail of the MIG 15 would cause a lot of drag, and the F-86's tail will cause less drag. The Sabre's elevators didn't work as much as the MIG 15, which is why the MIG 15 has a better rate of climb, but the MIG's engine is to strong, so it would would always lose wings and stuff and go into a stall with a lot of yaw, putting the aircraft into a spin. Also, the Sabre was used for a longer amount of time in more countries, and the last country to use it, Bolivia, didn't retire it until 1994 or 96. (meaning it was a safe, reliable aircraft)
 

Altea

Banned
225
0
Aug 3, 2009
Hello

I thought I would do a similar comparison with the F-86 and Mig-15. The Mig-15 has two 23mm NR-23 cannon firing a total of 27 rounds/sec* and one 37mm N-37 cannon firing 7 rounds/sec. To make this simple....

The F-86 has six Browning M3 machine gun capable of a total of 125 rounds/sec*. ...
OK



the F-86 will have 88% probability of four or more hits, or a bit better at getting four hits than the Mig has of having one hit.
88,8236% i don't know, but much more, sure....


Additional notes would be that it is my understanding that the 50 cal has better ballistic characteristic than the 23 mm or 37mm (it certainly has better initial velocity) which could possibly affect the critical probability of strike per round.
False, except maybe in very short range : in general case heavy bullets mantain their speed (cinetic energy) much better than fast lighter ones...

Also, the F-86 with its radar ranging gun sight would also improve the probability of strike per round. Both of these statistically improve the advantages of the higher rate of fire weapons.
OK

In general, in my opinion, the armament of the F-86 was equal to or better than the Mig-15.
Fighter to fighter in Corea Hit and Run conditions might be, in general conditions, no...
MiG-15 was a frontal fighter, intended to fulfill Yak-9 and La-7 missions, many of them for ground attack (>30% from WWII statistics). The Sabre weapons would be ineffective even against light armored vehicules as BTR, BMP....
The admitted efficiency of an armement is not a matter of "opinions" but of the "quality factor" formula that includes alltogether rate of fire, cinetic energy (speed²), bullet weights. In that form the MiG-15 is beating the Sabre hugely...

Moreover. I'm not sure that submitted to 3 or 6 G, browning continue to deliver 120 rps, and not simply jamming as in Mustang wings...
If some MiG's went back with some 150 12.7mm hits (or just 150 holes from ...), i'm far to be sure that a Sabre could survive to 40 23mm and 10 37mm hits!

On the other hand, some polish Lim pilots said that ballistics from the 37 and 23 mm were different. Except at very close range, you can't use both calibers simultaneously on the same target, cause bullets of the first caliber are trepassing upwards, the others downwards....:rolleyes:

Don't know if it's the trough or just polemic at usual combat ranges, but it does not seems aberrant...

Regards
 
Last edited:

tyrodtom

Senior Master Sergeant
3,447
989
Sep 6, 2010
pound va
Bomb racks and rocket rails weren't even fitted to the Mig !5 until the Mig 15 bis, (2nd version) it wasn't designed for frontal aviation, it was designed as a bomber interceptor.
 

renrich

Chief Master Sergeant
3,882
60
Jan 19, 2007
Montrose, Colorado
Altea, your statement that heavier projectiles maintain their velocity better than lighter projectiles is not necessarily true. A projectile that has a better ballistic coefficient maintains it's velocity better. The ballistic coefficient is heavily influenced by the shape of the bullet. A short, fat but heavy bullet will generally not have as good a BC as a long slim lighter bullet. A bullet with a blunt or flat nose will generally not have as good a BC as one with a pointed nose. An example is a 7 MM 154 grain spire point bullet that has a BC of .433. A 375 caliber( around 9 MM) 300 grain round nosed bullet has a BC of .263.

The 50 BMG bullet had a very high BC and probably higher than the 23MM or 37 MM projectile. The 50 BMG probably started off with a higher muzzle velocity and maintained that velocity much better than the Soviet projectiles. At very high altitudes because of less drag, the 50 BMG bullet would be a very long range weapon. I have read of lethal hits at 700 yards on Migs.
 

davparlr

Senior Master Sergeant
3,290
631
Mar 23, 2006
Southern California
Hello
False, except maybe in very short range : in general case heavy bullets mantain their speed (cinetic energy) much better than vfast lighter ones...
There seems to be somewhat of a controersy associated to this. Aerodynamics also has a play. I don’t know.

Fighter to fighter in Corea Hit and Run conditions might be, in general conditions, no...
MiG-15 was a frontal fighter, intended to fulfill Yak-9 and La-7 missions, many of them for ground attack (>30% from WWII statistics). The Sabre weapons would be ineffective even against light armored vehicules as BTR, BMP....
The Sabre was an air superiority fighter and not optimize for ground attack. I am not sure BTRs or BMPs existed in 1950. In WW2, the 50 cal proved effective against soft and lightly armored targets.

The admitted efficiency of an armement is not a matter of "opinions" but of the "quality factor" formula that includes alltogether rate of fire, cinetic energy (speed²), bullet weights. In that form the MiG-15 is beating the Sabre hugely...
Show me your data for this statement. I used the Navy position on the effectiveness of the 20mm compared to the 50 cal (1944 joint fighter conference) with some guesstimation for the effectively of the 23 mm, and probability analysis.

A quick look at kinetic energy, and a bit of calculations (yikes an Avionics puke trying to do ballistics! This is certainly a formula for disaster).
Anyway, using the following data for projectile weight and initial velocity, I get the following round kinetic energy

.50 Cal 622 gr. 2910 ft/sec 11,693 ft/lbs
23 mm 3086 gr. 2264 ft/sec 35,116 ft/lbs
37mm 11,342 gr. 2260 ft/sec 128,605 ft/lbs

Aircraft broadside kinetic energy (all weapons firing at once)
F-86 (six 50 cals) 70,185 ft/lbs
Mig-15 (two 23mm, one 37mm) 198,837 ft/lbs

It is apparent that the Mig certainly has more “broadside” power than the F-86. An interesting note here is that the broadside power of the 23mm is about the same as the 50s

However, once we figure in time, kinetic energy expended takes an interesting turn. For a one second burst, this is the comparison (125 rounds/sec .50 cals, 26 r/s 23mm, 7 r/s 37mm).
F-86 8,769,750 ft/lb/sec
Mig-15 2,726,267 ft/lb/sec

The F-86 is producing about four times the weapons energy in one second than the Mig-15 is. This is, by the way, enough energy to slow the F-86 down quite a lot.

I am sure any errors will be pointed out.

Other factors not included in this simple comparison is the effectiveness of the explosive power of the cannons (unfortunately an unknown) and the probability of hit analysis I have already worked.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that weapon effectiveness is a highly complex issue which cannot be assessed by a simple look at rate of fire or kinetic energy, but there must be an understanding of the two main variables, probability of hit and probability of damage given a hit, with the latter the most complex of the two.





Moreover. I'm not sure that submitted to 3 or 6 G, browning continue to deliver 120 rps, and not simply jamming as in Mustang wings...
I have read where the 50cal had problems with jamming on the tilted installations of the P-51B, but I don’t think it was an unusual problem with the D and other US aircraft. I have not seen any indications of jamming problems on the F-86. G forces affect the Mig as much as the F-86, so, if g forces could affect the .50s, it could affect the Mig guns. If you have any supporting information to your comment, please provide it.

If some MiG's went back with some 150 12.7mm hits (or just 150 holes from ...), i'm far to be sure that a Sabre could survive to 40 23mm and 10 37mm hits!
150 50 cal hits is a devastating attack. The first picture I attached is a heavy steel car hit by about 40 30-06 rounds. Multiply that by 3 and make the hits 50cal and you would probably see that car almost totally destroyed.

Comments about returning aircraft with damage contribute very little to the effectiveness enemy fire or aircraft survivability because only one side is known. The poorly drawn graph is a hypothetical (i.e., hallucination) meant to demonstrate the one sidedness of your report of the hits on a returned flight. Along the bottom is a scale, starting from the right, of projectile hits on an aircraft. The vertical scale represents the probability of a kill given hits. Every thing above line came back, below the line crashed. Now pilot and ground crew representing point A, which came back with 20+ holes celebrate and claim how strong their aircraft is and how weak opposing weapons are. This is solid data to proof superiority and is written about often. However aircraft B has a different perspective. This aircraft has the unfortunate situation of being downed by only one projectile. But his ground crew cannot count the one hit nor the pilot report only one hit. They don’t complain about the weakness of the aircraft or effectiveness of enemy weapons. It does not make the history records other than “downed by enemy fire”. In fact almost all of the aircraft below the line have little impact to history of effective weapons. Just about all reports on returned aircraft are one-sided.
Everybody has an opinion, and mine is that the F-86 with it six fast firing 50s was an effective and maybe superior match to the Mig-15 and its powerful cannon.


Now this probably confuses everybody, even me!
 

Attachments

  • bonnie and clyde car.jpg
    bonnie and clyde car.jpg
    54.9 KB · Views: 88
  • 50 Cal Chart reduceda.JPG
    50 Cal Chart reduceda.JPG
    19.8 KB · Views: 120

renrich

Chief Master Sergeant
3,882
60
Jan 19, 2007
Montrose, Colorado
Dav, thanks for the photos of B and Cs car. I think it shows quite well the destructive capacity of shoulder fired weapons. I believe there were no 50 BMGs in that attack but were 30 cals (BARs) 45 cals(Thompson guns) pistols and shotguns. The steel in cars of that vintage was much much heavier than material used in airplanes then and now.
 

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
Staff
Mod
28,098
8,683
Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
Interesting stuff folks - a few comments...

I have limited knowlege about arament and ballistics but I have read that the rounds coming out of the MiG-15 were not accurate at long distances and seemed to "arc." at least according to No Kum-Sok. The MiG-15 was well built so it was able to take punishment, but its funny, you stand inside the engine bay with the tail removed and it looks like you're inside an F-80/ T-33 engine bay! At close range just a few hits from a MiG-15s cannons will bring down an F-86
 

davparlr

Senior Master Sergeant
3,290
631
Mar 23, 2006
Southern California
Dav, thanks for the photos of B and Cs car. I think it shows quite well the destructive capacity of shoulder fired weapons. I believe there were no 50 BMGs in that attack but were 30 cals (BARs) 45 cals(Thompson guns) pistols and shotguns. The steel in cars of that vintage was much much heavier than material used in airplanes then and now.

I was hoping to find a pix where someone had put 50+ rounds of .50 cal in a truck or something to give a better picture of its power but I surprised that I could not find one. You are right about the vintage cars, they put real metal into those.
 

davparlr

Senior Master Sergeant
3,290
631
Mar 23, 2006
Southern California
Interesting stuff folks - a few comments...

At close range just a few hits from a MiG-15s cannons will bring down an F-86

That is true but in the time it takes a Mig to shoot a few rounds, the F-86 had fired a bunch. At close range with its high probability of strikes (80%?), a one second burp (which the Mig-15 would also require) from an F-86 (100 rounds striking) has a big chance of of ripping apart a Mig-15.
 

Users who are viewing this thread