Cold War Era

USAF F-86D Pilot recalls when He Lit his Sabre Dog’s Afterburner in the Hangar to Take Off during a Scramble. And tells why He Never did it Again.

The F-86D Sabre Dog

In the late 1940s, the US government along with the USAF, began a massive effort to develop an effective defense of US airspace to counter a growing Soviet threat. In support of this, the USAF chose the Convair “1954 Interceptor” project as their primary aircraft for this role, and the Northrop F-89 Scorpion as an interim. According to McChord Air Museum, after many delays in the F-89 development program, the Air Force looked at two aircraft as alternatives to the Scorpion, a modified Lockheed TF-80C which evolved into the F-94 Starfire, and a highly modified all-weather interceptor version of the F-86A Sabre, the F-95A (F-86D).

As the YF-95, the Sabre Dog completed a successful first flight on Dec. 22, 1949, later on Jul. 24, 1950, the designation was changed to YF-86D. The Sabre Dog differed greatly from its cousin, while externally similar to the F-86A there was only 25% commonality between the two aircraft. The F-86D was also the first USAF aircraft to carry an all missile armament, and was the first all-weather interceptor to be operated by one pilot, operating the radar and flight controls.

The Sabre Dog was also equipped with an afterburning engine (in the form of a General Electric J47-GE-17 turbojet provided with an electronically- controlled fuel scheduling system which was designed to relieve the pilot of the tedious task of having to watch the engine behavior constantly).

The F-86D that the Afterburner in the Hangar to Take Off during a Scramble

David Ross, former F-86D Sabre Dog fighter pilot in the US Air Force, recalls on Quora.

“In the late fifties, while flying an F-86D, on cross-countries I would land at an intermediate base for fuel. As soon as the fuel truck left I would preflight the plane, start the engine and leave. As for letting the engine ‘warm-up’ there is no need for that.

“To illustrate this our alert hangars had doors front and back and on the floor was an iron ring to tie the aux-power cable to. This design was to enable a faster scramble time.

“One day I told my crew chief to tie the start cable to this ring and get the loose stuff cleared out of the hanger, because if we got a scramble I was going straight to afterburner on start.

“We did get a scramble and I started the engine and went to full throttle and afterburner right in the hangar.

“I was airborne just about the time I got to the runway, everything worked as it was designed to do. There was one problem though, the crew chief said I blew stuff out the back of the hangar, with the afterburner, that people didn’t even know was in the hangar.”

Ross concludes;

“We never tried that that kind of scramble again.”

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

View Comments

  • Lol. I bet not. I remember a story told by a civilian maintainer about an engine runup test on a C-5A Galaxy back in the day. The C-5A was so massive that wings were often brought under a special hanger that opened on the sides, essentially making it sort of an open shaded structure, but engine runups were almost always done outside this shelter in the open due to the risk of an accidental FOD ingestion. However this day they had to finish a tight maintenance schedule, and it was raining. So they started #1 &#2 enngines, ran them up, no problems. Then they got to #3, and the hiccup. All the maintainers knew to not leave any tools or test equipment in front of the intakes, so they loaded it all on a service cart, which someone parked - very near the exhaust of #3 engine during the #1 and #2 runups to keep it out of the rain. No problem. Then they got to #3 - and forgot the cart. As the huge turbofan started to increase throttle, cart, tow tractor and tools went flying in all directions, some as far away as maintainers working on another aircraft, pelting a few guys with some fairly substantive parts.

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