History and Develpoment

Based on the famed F-86A that battled the Mig-15 over Korea's skies, the F-86D was designed as an all-weather interceptor to combat enemy air attack.  While based on the F-86A, by the time the D model was done being built, the only commonality between it and other models of the F-86 was the wing.  There were several significant firsts for the F-86D; it was the first Air Force fighter to 'banish' guns and rely on an all rocket armament, and it was the first single seat, radar equipped all weather interceptor, where the pilot both flew the aircraft and operated the radar unit.  Up to this point, all-weather interceptors all carried a RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) (if flying with the Navy) or WSO (Weapon System Officer) (if flying with the Air Force) to handle the radar / targeting, while the pilot flew the aircraft.  The L model, as on display at MAPS, had additional "black boxes" as part of the SAGE radar guidance system, which allowed ground control radar to directly vector the aircraft to the incoming bombers; think of it as a ground-based autopilot system. (more on SAGE coming soon).