North American RF-86F Sabre

Last revised October 30, 1999

In 1953, several F-86F-30s were fitted a suite of photo-reconnaissance cameras at the Tsuiki REMCO facility in Japan, in a project code-named *Haymaker*. All armament, radars, and gunsights were removed, and a camera suite identical to that of the earlier *Ashtray* RF-86As was fitted, but using K-14 cameras in place of the lower-speed K-9s. Again, the K-14s were mounted horizontally, shooting through a mirror complex with an aperture in the bottom of the fuselage. The K-14 "dicing" camera was mounted between the two vertical cameras. As with the RF-86A, the fuselage was bulged to cover the camera suite installation. The modified aircraft were redesignated RF-86F-30.

*Haymaker RF-86F-30s were issued to the 15th TRS at Kimpo in 1953, flying alongside the *Ashtray* aircraft that remained in service. In an attempt to fool enemy MiGs, they had fake gun ports painted on the sides of their noses.

Factory-built RF-86Fs began to be delivered in June of 1953. They were equipped at the factory with two K-22 and one K-17 cameras in an under-fuselage installation. The cameras were mounted vertically, which took the main body of the camera and the film magazines outside the fuselage contours in a bulge on the gun bay doors. 750 pounds of ballast had to be added to the forward fuselage to realign the center of gravity. The cockpit had an elongated canopy to counter a buffet that had appeared caused by the bulged fuselage. The factory aircraft had the new "6-3" wing as standard equipment. A total of 8 were built (serial numbers 52-4337, 4379,4492, 4800, 4808, 4822, 4823, and 4864), but they were too late for combat duty in Korea.

In spite of the success of the RF-86A and F in combat, the USAF opted for the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash as its next-generation tactical reconnaissance aircraft. However, the RF-86F continued to be involved in clandestine and standard reconnaissance missions after the Korean War ended.


  1. F-86 Sabre in Action, Larry Davis, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1992.

  2. The North American Sabre, Ray Wagner, MacDonald, 1963.

  3. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  4. The World Guide to Combat Planes, William Green, MacDonald, 1966.

  5. The World's Fighting Planes, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.

  6. Flash of the Sabre, Jack Dean, Wings Vol 22, No 5, 1992.