By Christopher Miskimon The F-86 Sabre was the iconic American fighter of the Korean War era. The struggle was the first war that pitted jet fighter aircraft against each other. F-86 pilots were credited with 800 kills of enemy aircraft during the war. One of the first went to Lt. Col. Bruce Hinton, who downed a Soviet-built MiG-15. He and his flight of four Sabres lured some MiGs into a dogfight by simulating the flight characteristics of the less-capable F-80. The communists detected what they thought were inferior planes and quickly responded, intent on easy kills. They got more than they bargained for as Hinton and his wingman chased three enemy jets. He shot up one with his nose-mounted .50-caliber machine guns and saw it begin to trail smoke. The American pilot doggedly kept after the MiG, pouring fire into it until the plane was a veritable sheet of flame falling from the sky. It was the beginning of the classic struggle of the air war over Korea, F-86 versus MiG-15. That conflict in the skies was the largest air-to-air war fought during the jet era. It pitted the United States, the most powerful country in the world, armed with not only advanced conventional weapons but also a monopoly on atomic bombs, against China and North Korea, second- and third-rate powers supplied in part by the Soviet Union. Although it would not become public knowledge until years later, Soviet pilots were secretly flying some of the communist aircraft, a clandestine confrontation of the ea


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