As the routed North Korean People's Army (NKPA) withdrew into the mountainous reaches of their country and the People's Republic of China (PRC) funneled in its massive infantry formations in preparation for a momentous counter-offensive in the last months of 1950, both lacked adequate air power to challenge US and UN air supremacy over both the battlefields and the logistics channels from China into North Korea. Reluctantly, Josef Stalin agreed to provide the requisite air cover, introducing the superior swept-wing MiG-15 to counter the American's straight-wing F-80 jets and to repel the United States Air Force (USAF) B-29 bomber formations that were interdicting the PRC's flow of troops and supplies into North Korea. This in turn prompted the USAF, against its conventional wisdom of retaining its first-line air-defence fighters to face Soviet air forces across the 'Iron Curtain' in Europe, to deploy its very best - the F-86A Sabre - to counter this threat. Thus began a two-and-a-half-year struggle in the skies over a corner of North Korea known as "MiG Alley."
In this period, the unrelenting campaign for aerial superiority witnessed the introduction of successive models of these two revolutionary jets - the MiG-15bis, the F-86E, and eventually the F-86F - into combat. It also saw the transition of operational leadership on the communist side from the Soviet "volunteers" to the newly formed Chinese PLAAF air divisions, and witnessed the re-introduction of the NKPAF, with its "just trained" MiG-15 units, into the air-combat arena. This meticulously researched study not only provides technical descriptions of the two types and their improved variants, complete with a "fighter pilot's assessment" of these aircraft, but also chronicles the entire scope of their aerial duel in "MiG Alley" by employing the recollections of the surviving combatants - including Russian, Chinese, and North Korean pilots - who participated.
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Doug Dildy is a retired US Air Force colonel. As commander of the 32nd Fighter Squadron, Soesterberg AB, NL, he enforced the No-Fly-Zone over Iraq acquiring over 100 hours of combat time in the F-15.
Warren Thompson has been an avid military aviation historian and editor for over 40 years and his personal reference collection includes thousands of photos and detailed interviews with over 2,000 pilots and aircrew members.Review:
“Benefiting from newly acquired information from the Russian and Chinese camps, jet age experts Douglas Dildy and Warren Thompson provide an unprecedented comparison of the performance, strengths and weaknesses of the two fighters and the pilots who flew them ... Students of the early jet age should find F-86 Sabre vs MiG-15 an essential addition to Osprey's 'Duel' Series.” ―Aviation Hitsory (March 2014)
“Technical and tactical information about these two classic fighters combine with analysis of their performance in action.” ―Military Heritage magazine
“Finally, two respected American air historians have taken all of the available sources in hand to attempt to present an honest assessment of the air war and how it was actually fought. As a result, and as Doug Dildy is a retired fighter pilot who grew up during the Cold War and was trained based on results of Korea, they have presented a great description of what it was actually like to fly and fight in an F-86 Sabre or MiG-15 in Korea ... The book is clearly written in easy-to-understand terms and does a great job of using examples and facts to show how air combat was conducted ... Overall, if you have any interest in Korean War air combat this book is a great place to start or simply add to your knowledge.” ―Cookie Sewell, www.cybermodeler.com
“... a great read and is one of the better volumes in this series. One that I can quite easily recommend to you.” ―Scott Van aken, www.modelingmadness.com
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