A1CM gunsight - slightly less sophisticated predecessor
to the A-4 electronic gunsight. See below.
A-4 gunsight -- A mini radar
set in nose of the F-86 that provided range and angle to target.
The display was a reticle, i.e. a circle, composed of flashing
diamonds, and a "pipper" (dot). The idea was to
put the dot on the target and keep it there (easier said than
done). The guts of the gunsight would calculate the amount of
lead required to hit a moving target. It also compensated for
overtake speed, bullet drop due to gravity, variations in muzzle
velocity due to air density and temperature, and probably a few
other things we never thought of.
It also had a feature, unfortunately misnamed a range
limiter, which really didn't limit anything. It could be set for
various ranges, the most typical being 1000 feet. When the target
got within the selected range, the reticle changed from flashing
diamonds to a solid circle. Time to Shoot!
1000 feet was the magic number because: The reticle was
a 37 mil circle, which means that an object 37 feet wide at a
distance of 1000 feet would exactly fill the reticle from side
The wingspan of a MiG-15 was 37 feet. Nifty coincidence,
eh? Also, the six 50 caliber machine guns in the nose of
the F-86 were harmonized to converge the bullets within a 12 inch
diameter circle at 1000 feet, firing from the attitude the aircraft
would have at 300 knots indicated airspeed.
The reticle could also be set to 100 mils for dive bombing.
If you make a dive bombing run and forget to reset the reticle
from 37 to 100 mils, you are likely to have a close encounter
of the third kind with the earth. I learned this the hard, and
damn near final, way at Nellis. As we all know, John Roberts could
be a hard taskmaster, particularly if one happened to be a wise-ass
second lieutenant named Dusty. If I had invested 100 bucks
for every cold night I spent on the harmonization range at K-14,
I could probably have taken early retirement, but then look at
all the things I would have missed..
The gunsight was truly a remarkable piece of engineering; nevertheless,
there were a lot of guys who thought they could do as well with
a wad of Dentyne (on the windshield) and "Kentucky windage".
APU - auxiliary power unit,
mobile power supply cart used to start jets on the line.
Bogey - slang for unidentified aircraft (friendly
or hostile) that has been detected in the air, either by eye or
BOQ - Bachelor Officers Quarters,
housing supplied by military to its officers.
Bugout - As in leave the premises,
skedaddle, Elvis has left the building. Specifically for
the time of an ongoing order called "Operation Bugout"
which had rearward airfields prepared for the emergency evacuation
of forward aircraft, if necessary. Pilots were assigned
to these sometimes remote places for 30-day periods to monitor
the Operation Bugout preparations. A duty for junior officers
Clobber College - Additional ground
schooling for fighter pilots new to the 4th Fighter Interceptor
Wing. It covered key aspects of operating the F-86 Sabre
including flight systems, emergency procedures & gunnery.
As per a vintage "Clobber
College" diploma: "The required courses of instruction
in combat capable ground training as required by 5th Air Force,
regulation 51-24 as amended."
This is a link that will take you to a website containing
extensive technical and historical information about this famous
fighter aircraft. Great reading for Sabre fans & Korean
air war buffs. From the files of Joe Baugher.
Ferry - refers to the service
of flying an airplane for the sole purpose of delivering or returning
it to an airfield.
FIGMO - FIGMO or figmo ("F----
It. Got My Orders" or "F---- you, I've Got My Orders")
(n.) -- A self-proclaimed status during the Korean war. One who
had gone figmo, the proper term as in "Mike's gone figmo",
had either completed his 100 combat missions or was within approximately
30 days of ending his Korean tour. Certain
privileges were presumed to have accrued to one who was figmo,
such as dismissal from dangerous tasks like flying; freedom from
redress because of mild insubordination; and other liberties real
or imagined. Being figmo was similar to having a "Get Out
of Jail Free" card, at least in the minds of the anointee
and many of his compatriots. The symbol of the condition was a
yellow and black neck ribbon from a fifth of Canadian Club pinned
to one's cap. Figmo parties were a part of the
ritual, invariably staged at the officers' or NCO club and encouraged
many toasts, pranks and whatever other mischief could be conjured.
Despite its colorfulness the term did not survive into the Vietnam
war where "being short" was more common. ("Short"
and its variations were also used in the Korean war and continues
to be used in other venues as well.) - GB
GCA - (Ground Controlled Approach) -- The full
term should be "Ground Controlled Assisted Landing."
This was a radar and talk-down operation. GCA trailers were
normally stationed near the approach end of the GCA runway.
They housed radar displays and GCA control personnel, usually
senior sergeants, who would talk down aircraft landing in bad
weather conditions using the on-screen displays of location and
altitude. Usage: "I had to make a GCA approach and
landing. Didn't see the runway until touchdown."
GCI - (Ground Control Intercept) -- The full term
would be Ground Control Intercept Center. This was another
type of radar and controller center except that it was wide ranging
and was used to advise aircraft in the air of locations of other
aircraft, friendly and unfriendly. (GCIspeak: "Dogmeat lead,
you've got a bogey at 1 o'clock at 60 miles.") - GB
Gunnery - Just what it sounds like; the practice
of firing a fighter jet's guns. Air to air gunnery practice
involved firing at a fabric target being towed by another aircraft.
Air to ground, or strafe, gunnery
involved firing at stationary targets on the ground.
G-suit - More properly called Anti
- G - Suit. This is kind of like a tight nylon leotard which covers
the pilot's abdomen and lower extremities. It contains strategically
placed bladders which are inflated when the aircraft is under
a G load (hard turn). The intent is to restrict the blood from
draining from the pilot's head and upper extremities into the
lower body, thus helping to alleviate the condition called black-out.
The bladders are inflated by bleed air from the engine compressor
which flows through a control valve activated by the G- Forces
- the harder you turn the more it squeezes. There is no
water involved (unless you get squeezed so hard it makes you pee).
Happy Valley - Name of the hill
where the officers barracks were located at K-14 Kimpo. The barracks
were supposedly old Japanese buildings. The Happy Valley
name was probably appropriated from the place of the same name
near George AFB at Victorville, CA. This is just a guess.
Harmonizing - Full phrase would
"harmonizing the guns". This was the process
of making sure all six of the .50 caliber machine guns in the
aircraft were all hitting in the accepted radius and were in sync
with the gunsight. (see A-4 gunsight, above) This was a
ground operation done at a protected firing range area.
Mark IV Anti-Exposure suit - a
water tight airman's survival suit designed to protect airmen
who had ditched or parachuted into cold waters. The suit
was mandatory issue for all flying personnel who made over-water
flights during the winter season. Also known as the "moon
suit" and "poopy suit", the Mark IV had a price
tag of approximately $163.74, in mid 1950s dollars. Click
here to view a photo of the suit.
Mae Wests - in this context, this
is a flotation life vest, named such because of its appearance,
when inflated, to a certain movie star's upper anatomy.
This term is also used to describe a parachute malfunction where
an inflated round parachute is pinched into two hemispheres by
an errant shroud line.
Mig-15 - Russian built fighter jet that was the
F-86 Sabre's prime adversary during the Korean war. The
Mig could out-climb and out-turn the Sabre, but American pilots
managed an incredible 10:1 kill ratio over the Mig's because they
were far more skilled in the art of aerial dogfighting.
The name "Mig" is short for the plane's manufacturer
names of Mikoyan-Gurevich. The plane's official nickname
Mig Alley - Korean airspace where
most jet battles took place. The following is from
the July 1954 Jet Gazette, a 4th FIW publication: "Only a
few of the hundreds of MIG battles that took place during the
war were fought outside of MIG Alley, the northwest corner of
Korea. The Alley was bounded by the Yalu River and Manchuria on
the north and the Chongchon River, approximately 75 miles to the
south. The deepest MIG penetration to the south during
the war was to the Haeju Peninsula, within 40 miles of the western
sector of the front."
"Mig Alley 200 Miles" - Sign, or torii
(see below), that marked the entrance to the Sabre flightline
at K-14 airbase. This gateway
stood in front of the 336th Operations building at K-14.
(see Swig Alley, below)
Mobile - Full term would be "mobile
control." Mobile control, physically a trailer with 360 degree
glass windowing and complete communication facilities would be
manned by pilots "standing" or "sitting" Mobile.
The trailer was placed at the takeoff end of the runway which
was also the landing end. The Mobile officers, usually two, would
act as secondary tower controls because they were right on top
of the critical action. - GB
Ops - Operations
Radio Compass - A navigation instrument, crude
by today's standards, which would pick up low frequency radio
signals and indicate on a cockpit display the direction of the
originating broadcast. One could listen to AM radio on these and
also use the AM stations as navigational aids. - GB
Rag -- slang for fabric
target used in aerial (air-to-air) gunnery practice.
It was towed behind an aircraft and fired at by other aircraft
Slave Gyro - This is the aircraft heading
indicator. If you had an old-time liquid filled magnetic compass,
it was very difficult to turn to, and roll out precisely on the
heading you wanted, because the compass fluctuated significantly
while the aircraft was banking and turning. So they built an instrument
that incorporated a magnetic compass stabilized in a level attitude
by a gyroscope. The aircraft heading was picked up electronically
from the magnetic compass and fed to a heading indicator on the
instrument panel. The term "slaved" means that the pointer
that you look at is driven by (or slaved to) the internal magnetic
compass which you don't see. - DR
Scramble - to send fighter craft immediately into
the air for interception of incoming "bogeys" or unidentified
Stall, compressor - The blades
on a compressor are like the wings on an airplane - if you get
them at too high an angle of attack (relative to the airstream
passing over them) the airflow separates from the wing or blade
and causes a turbulent eddy which results in a condition called
a stall. Compressor stalls usually occur when the aircraft is
flying at a low airspeed and low power setting, and then the pilot
makes a rapid throttle increase. This dumps a bunch of fuel into
the hot section (burner cans) of the engine, which in turn causes
the turbines to try to drive the compressor faster than the instantaneous
airflow through the engine will allow and still keep everything
smooth and tidy. Compressor stalls can also occur with the airplane
at a standstill on the ground, if the pilot shoves the throttle
from idle to 100% in one fell swoop. Most modern fuel controls
have built in sensors and safeguards to compensate for unwise
throttle movements by rash and hasty pilots. - DR
Stopcock(ed) (v.t, adj.) -- A
condition where the throttle of the F-86 (and other aircraft)
was moved behind a detent when the throttle was placed in the
full off position. The detent was meant to assure the throttle
was not accidentally opened. The opposite would be "firewalled"
as in pushing the throttle completely forward. - GB
Strafe - to use an aircraft's machine guns and/or
other weaponry on ground targets. Accomplished while flying low
to the ground.
Swig Alley - Essentially refers
to area at K-14 where barracks, O'club, lounge, mess halls could
be found. The sign "Swig
Alley 1/2 mile" was a parody of the famous "Mig
Alley 200 Miles" sign, and was in fact printed on the back
side of that very sign, which stood in front of the 336th Operations
building at K-14. Incoming pilots would see "Swig Alley...";
outbound pilots would see "Mig Alley..."
Tiger, Every Man a -- this was
the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing's motto; "Every Man a Tiger".
Tigers' Torii -- name for the
"Mig Alley 200 Miles"
archway that marked the entrance to the Sabre flightline at
K-14 airbase. This gateway stood in front of the 336th Operations
building at K-14. (also see "Swig Alley", above)
Sabre pilots of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing were sometimes
called Tigers, as per fighter wing motto "Every Man a Tiger".
Torii - Japanese word for archway, or gateway.
In this context used to describe the famous "Mig Alley 200
Witch's Tit - name given by pilots
to the mountain adjacent to K-14 air base. Pilots
used "the tit" as a landmark. This mountain is
visible in the photograph of the "Mig
Alley 200 Miles" sign on this website, and is featured
in its own photo in the MISC photos section.