Study of captured Sabres by Soviet retired Colonel Evgueni Pepeliaev

http://www.fr.rian.ru/analysis/20070615/67300859.html

pepeliaev.jpgIt was at the beginning of the years 1950, in the Korean sky, when the Soviet and American pilots became for the first time of the adversaries. “In the absolute secrecy we were dispatched in Korea, country in full war at the time, remembers Evgueni Pepeliaev. – We engaged in the operations on April 1, 1951. I ordered the 196e regiment of hunting. At the time, the Americans entirely controlled the sky. Even their bombers did not fear to operate day. Before our arrival, the American pilots drove out not only vehicles on the roads but also civil, Korean the and Chinese ones, while drawing on them. Two months afterwards, we put a term at their superiority. Their bombers stopped flying in full day. The Americans started to equip their units by the very recent hunter F-86 Sabre. We flew on the Mig. From the point of view of the performances, the two apparatuses were almost with equality, but each one had, obviously, its advantages. The Mig was higher in the vertical combat, thanks to a higher ceiling. The American hunter, thanks to a better aerodynamics, was more maneuverable horizontally. The difference in maximum speeds was negligible. The Mig had a superiority crushing in fire power on any American hunter of the time. The Sabre had very poor weapons compared to the Mig, but its automatic sight was without equal. The Mig exceeded also the American hunter of viability. I remember that pilots were posed while returning of missions with forty holes in their apparatuses! With two recoveries, my plane was touched. The pilots of my regiment achieved nearly 4.000 missions on the whole. With their credit, 108 enemy planes cut down. Our losses amounted to 10 Mig Four of my pilots died, six succeeded in being ejected. In other words, my 196e regiment, in the aerial combats with the US Air Force, had a score of victories from 1 to 10 in our favour. Usually, between twelve and thirty-five Soviet hunters took share with the aerial combats against Sabres. The Americans made a point of restoring their air superiority. But, reacting painfully to the losses, they often gave up the combat. My notebook contains notes on 108 missions and 39 aerial combats. On the whole, I cut down 23 planes. With their number, two F-94 Starfire, F-80 Shooting Star, F-84 Thunderjet, and the remainder it was of F-86 Sabre. All these planes belonged to the US Air Force. Very fighter pilot keeps in general in his memory the engagements where it failed to be cut down itself. A combat is held at very high speeds and with colossal overloads, the pilots suffer from sight trouble and lose consciousness from it. It is once on the ground which one remembers certain episodes of an air duel. It was one morning of July 1951. Eight reconnaissance aircraft F-94 regained their aerodrome in two four, at an altitude of 8.000 meters. We fell apart and, of start, after a turn of combat, we engaged a bringing together. I caught up with them 4 minutes after the take-off, making the decision to attack with a group of four planes under my orders the four F-94 of behind. To the commander of the second flotilla, I gave the order to attack the four of front. I saw my shells well reaching the belly of F-94, fragments of his coating to be detached one after the other in the explosions. Another F-94 which flew on my left, entered a deep spiral. I continued it. I remember very well that in spiral, to a distance of 100 meters or even slightly more, I sent an average gust to him, so as to tear off his tail. At full speed, I entered remains. Fortunately that I lowered the head, they did not touch me. By way of proof of our victories, one brought on the aerodrome of the elements of the planes which we cut down. This empennage of F-94 was also deposited to him. I remember to have cut down on October 6, 1951 a Sabre which had thereafter to be posed urgently on the territory of the North Korea. I practised a maneuver diversion which I had worked out well in times of peace. It always made a success of me. In course of collision, I showed with the adversary that I engaged a turn of upward combat on the left, but actually I left on the right. Thus, after a turn, F-86 was found opposite me, at a distance from 80 to 100 meters. After my maneuvre, I saw the Sabre in my collimator. I sent a gust in his direction. I saw one of my shells immediately touching the plane behind the canopy of the cabin. The plane fell but the pilot knew to pose it on a bank. This Sabre was led on our aerodrome from where it was sent in Moscow. My pilots and me we could go up in his cabin which had remained intact. This Sabre rendered a great service to us. The Americans had air ventilated suits which enabled them to support the overloads much more easily and to be tired. At the time, we did not have such clothing yet, on the other hand, those of the trophies already did not miss. But we did not have the governor automatically-controlled which had remained on the cut down aircraft. “My” Sabre had a perfect gyroscopic horizon. The Mig at the time were equipped with a bad apparatus. To the pilot, it did not make it possible to make a band of more than 40°. There was indeed evil to be directed, by forming large angles of rise and descent. As for our engineers, this Sabre their provided matter to reflexion. On the Mig, there was already a normal gyroscopic horizon and a good sight. The study of the engine of the Sabre was also great utility. Colonel Evgueni Pepeliaev, Hero of the Soviet Union, 89 years, lives in Moscow. He is known as the author of a book with success, “the Mig ones against the Sabres”, on the air war in Korea (1950-1953). Remarks collected by Iouri Ploutenko

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