Chandler's F-86d Sabre Dog

Fore more than half a century the F-86d Sabre Dog has been one of Chandler’s most recognizable and iconic landmarks. It was first erected on its pedestal in the northeast corner of Dr. A.J. Chandler Park in 1961. The purpose was to memorialize the strong bond between Chandler and nearby Williams Air Force Base,

affectionately known locally as Willie.

During a renovation of the Park in the 1980s, the jet was moved to the southeast corner of Chandler Boulevard and Delaware Street. This location had historical significance. Airmen stationed at Willie often made the 8 mile trip to Chandler in order to do their banking, visit the USO, or for entertainment. While there was regular bus service between the base and Chandler, airmen could sometimes find themselves in need of a ride back to Willie at the end of their visit. They would wait on the southeast corner of the intersection for an eastbound motorist to pick them up and drive them to the base. In the 1970s, Mayor Raul Navarrete had a shade structure constructed on the corner for the waiting airmen. The shade structure still stands.

The F-86d was designed as the United States Air Force’s first single pilot interceptor. This speedy jet would scramble to rebuff intrusions by enemy aircraft, often MiGs. Its only armament was 24 air-to-air rockets fired from a retractable tray on the underside of the fuselage. It was aided in targeting by radar housed in the nose cone, which was a feature unique to the Sabre Dog. The USAF relied on the F-86d for a decade, 1951 to 1961. The nearest F-86d squadron, the 15th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. F-86ds made occasional appearances at Willie, notably during periods of near-crisis during the Cold War, when they were flown to Willie from Tucson and armed with nuclear weapons.

The service history of Chandler’s aircraft is unknown. The tail number was changed to 210115 before it was placed on display, and it is unclear why this was done. The original tail number was 51-6261. In its earliest days in Chandler, this F-86d’s tail was painted with the insignia of the 15th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. It is not known if that is due to the aircraft being part of the Squadron during its service or if it was added because that Squadron was stationed closest to Chandler.

To this day the aircraft remains the property of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

CLICK HERE to explore historic photographs of the F-86d

CLICK HERE to read newspaper articles about the F-86d