Tango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3777 posts, RR: 30 Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 months 5 days ago) and read 7345 times:
For many years after I developed a keen and lasting interest in the first major jet vs. jet confrontation after watching the movie "The Hunters" in 1962, I never questioned the lopsided F-86 v MiG 15 kill ratio claimed by the USAF. Since Soviet/Russian records of the involvement of their own pilots' in the "MiG Alley" front of the Korean War became available to the West for the first time in the early 1990s, I too have been seeking to "set the record straight" as best as can be done.
In light of information available since the collapse of the Soviet Union, from all I can surmise, when the duels over "MiG Alley" are narrowed down strictly to Soviet-piloted MiG 15s v U.S.-piloted F-86s, the score was close to a draw. On the other hand, it was no "contest" when either of these went against other types (props and slower jets) flown by the respective adversaries. Chinese and North Korean-piloted MiGs seem to have been no match for the F-86s of the USAF, which is probably why the F-86 v MiG 15 kill ratio edged upward in favor of the F-86 during 1952-53; before then, the MiGs were piloted almost exclusively by Soviet pilots.
Here are links to some very interesting revised information, based on actual records from both sides, concerning the claims previously made by both sides -- which both tended to be exaggerated.
Tango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3777 posts, RR: 30 Reply 3, posted (8 years 5 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 7274 times:
Quoting Tango-Bravo (Reply 2): Chinese and North Korean-piloted MiGs seem to have been no match for the F-86s of the USAF, which is probably why the F-86 v MiG 15 kill ratio edged upward in favor of the F-86 during 1952-53; before then, the MiGs were piloted almost exclusively by Soviet pilots.
It should be added that F-86s of the USAF were more successful during 1952-53 for another reason. At the end of 1951, the best Soviet pilots ("Honchos") were withdrawn and their places taken by Soviet pilots with little or no combat experience, while the USAF Sabres continued to be flown by pilots who had gained extensive experience against MiG-15s flown by Russia's best pilots, many of whom had scored kills, even attained ace status, during WWII. It has been rumored that one of the reasons the "Honchos" were withdrawn and apparently never returned was fear of embarassment to the Soviet Union if one were to take up the U.S. on its offer of $100,000 and asylum to any pilot who would defect with his MiG-15 intact.
With the "Honchos" gone, the USAF F-86 pilots who had dueled with Russia's best were more than equal to Russia's inexperienced pilots at the stick of a MiG-15. As a result 1952-53 was a very different MiG15 v Sabre war from 1951 and the scoreboard changed decisively in favor of the Sabres. Even though the MiGs took a beating during the final 18 months of the war, they remained an ever dangerous adversary to even the best F-86 pilots as evidenced by the loss of then-leading U.S. ace, George Davis, to a MiG, the top-scoring U.S. ace of the war, Joe McConnell, being shot down and rescued, and an F-86 piloted by Francis Gabreski being shot up -- but not shot down -- by a MiG, all in 1953 when the "Honchos" were long gone.
Garnetpalmetto From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5313 posts, RR: 53 Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 7253 times:
Quoting SATL382G (Reply 1): I don't know the exact answer, but I'd bet it has to do with the calibre of the pilot.
Absolutely. I remember reading in Chuck Yeager's autobiography that he and Capt. H.E. Collins were tasked with flight testing the MiG-15 that fell into American hands when Lt. Kum Suk No defected. In one flight test one would fly the Fagot against the other in a Sabre in a 1 v. 1 dogfight. In the first trial, Yeager piloted the F-86 while Collins was behind the controls of the MiG and Yeager "killed" the MiG. They then switched and, piloting the MiG, Yeager "killed" Collins once more. As Yeager says - it was the man and not the machine when dealing with the F-86/MiG-15 match-ups.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
Tango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3777 posts, RR: 30 Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 7233 times:
Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Reply 4): As Yeager says - it was the man and not the machine when dealing with the F-86/MiG-15 match-ups.
From what I read in the first link provided in reply 2, Yeager's view also seems to form the consensus of the top-scoring Soviet/Russian MiG-15 pilots who tangled with the Sabres over Korea. Ditto for the top U.S. aces of the war.
As in any air-to-air engagement, there were many other factors that influenced kill ratios during the Korean War, such as numerical advantage, GCI assistance, and time over target capabilities based on where the action took place relative to where the aircraft were based. From all accounts, these factors generally played to the advantage of the MiG drivers.
BigFish From United States of America, joined May 2005, 39 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 7222 times:
A lot of this argument has to do with the timing of the statistics.
When we initially went over there, we got our asses handed to us in spectacular fashion. The drubbing we took was the reason for the creation of the Fighter Weapons Schools (FWS) such as Top Gun, and the Zoomie version of FWS. It helped set the foundaiton for William Tell, and the other multi-national excercises we hold, or did hold, on a regular basis which pitted dis-simmilar aircraft against each other in the semi-controlled environment. Post the creation of the FWS, our kill ratio went to something astronomical like 14:1. Not sure on the numbers, so don't quote me, but I hope you all get the point. It ws the major turning point in that conflict, and though, by all accounts, we still got beat up, it was where we really established our reputation as capable air warriors. Too bad we didn't get any help from Washington with our ground fighting, but that's another story, for another time.