3 September 1954: At the Dayton Air Show, being held for the first time at the James M. Cox Municipal Airport, Major John L. (“Jack”) Armstrong, U.S. Air Force, flew his North American Aviation F-86H-1-NA Sabre, 52-1998, to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record over a 500 kilometer course, averaging 649.461 miles per hour (1,045.206 kilometers per hour).
FAI Record File Num #8860 [Direct Link]
Status: ratified – retired by changes of the sporting code
Class: C (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-Class: C-1 (Landplanes)
Category: Not applicable
Group: 3 : turbo-jet
Type of record: Speed over a closed circuit of 500 km without payload
Performance: 1 045.206 km/h
Course/Location: Vandalia, OH (USA)
Claimant John L. Armstrong (USA)
Aeroplane: North American F-86 H
Engine: 1 G E J73
The F-86H was a fighter-bomber variant of the famous Sabre Jet day fighter. It was equipped with a much more powerful General Electric J73-GE-3 turbojet engine. The engine was larger that the J47 used in previous F-86 models, and this required a much larger air intake and airframe modifications. The fuselage was 6 inches deeper and two feet longer than the F-86F. This accommodated the new engine and an increase in fuel load. The tail surfaces were changed with an increase in the height of the vertical fin and the elevators were changed to an “all-flying” horizontal stabilizer. The first F-86Hs built retained the six Browning .50 caliber armament of the F-86F, but this was changed to four 20mm M39 cannon.
Major Armstrong had been a fighter pilot during World War II, flying Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and North American P-51 Mustangs with the 79th Fighter Squadron, based at RAF Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, England. On 28 August 1944, his P-51 was shot down by anti-aircraft gunfire while he was attacking a railway locomotive in Germany. Armstrong was captured and held at Stalag Luft I.
Two days after setting the speed record, Jack Armstrong was attempting to increase it. His Sabre broke up in flight and Major Armstrong was killed.
© 2015, Bryan R. Swopesby