Farmer Auto Village

Classics of the Sky Airshow

Joseph Christopher McConnell

Joseph Christopher McConnell, Jr. (30 January 1922 – 25 August 1954) was the top American flying ace during the Korean War. A native of Dover, New Hampshire, Captain McConnell was credited with shooting down 16 MiG-15s while flying North American F-86 Sabres with the U.S. Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his actions in aerial combat. McConnell was the first American triple jet-on-jet fighter ace and is still the top-scoring American jet ace.

The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. As the war continued to spread throughout the Korean peninsula, McConnell sought to become part of it. He was assigned to the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing in Korea in late 1952. Gifted with exceptional eyesight, McConnell proved to be an aggressive MiG hunter, but he did not shoot down his first enemy aircraft until the following year. He scored all of his victories during the four month period from 14 January to 18 May 1953.

Captain McConnell flew at least three different F-86 Sabres, all named "Beautious Butch". The name referred to the nickname of his wife, Pearl "Butch" Brown. His first kills were scored in an F-86E-10 (serial number 51-2753, buzz number FU-753). The second was an F-86F-15 (serial number 51-12971, buzz number FU-971). After his eighth kill in April 1953, McConnell's second plane was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft and he ejected over the Yellow Sea. Within a few minutes he was rescued by helicopter. The next day he returned to the air and shot down another MiG. His final combat Sabre was an F-86F-1 (serial number 51-2910, buzz number FU-910). This aircraft was repainted following his final mission, with the name being changed to "Beauteous Butch II".

On 18 May 1953, his last day of combat flying, McConnell shot down three MiGs during two separate missions, bringing his total victory count to 16 and making him America's first triple jet ace. Immediately after his 16th kill, McConnell was sent back to the United States, along with Manuel "Pete" Fernandez, the top ace of the 4th Fighter Wing. For his heroic combat exploits, McConnell was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), America's second-highest decoration for valor.

F86 Sabre Facts & Figures

North American, Japan and Canada built over 9800 F-86s. The Sabre is credited with 792 MiG kills at a loss of 224 F-86s, some due to ground fire. All but one acknowledged aces of Korea flew F-86 Sabres. The other was a Navy pilot flying a World War II Corsair. The F-86 was built both as a fighter and a fighter bomber. Many countries used the popular Sabre as their main defense fighter aircraft. North American was justly proud of their World War II P-51 Mustang and now they had the bragging rights to the most produced jet fighter in history, the F-86 Sabre.


  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 37 ft 1 in
  • Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in
  • Height: 14 ft 1 in
  • Wing area: 313.4 sq
  • Empty weight: 11,125 lb
  • Loaded weight: 15,198 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 18,152 lb
  • Powerplant: 1 General Electric J47-GE-27 turbojet, 5,910
  • Fuel provisions Internal fuel load: 437 gallons, Drop tanks: 2, 200 gallons JP-4 fuel


  • Maximum speed: 687 mph at sea level at 14,212 lb combat weight

Range: 1,525 miles

  • Service ceiling: 49,600 ft at combat weight
  • Rate of climb: 9,000 ft/min at sea level
  • Stalling speed (power off): 124 mph (108 kt,)
  • Landing ground roll: 2,330 ft,
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 15.1
  • Time to altitude: 5.2 min (clean) to 30,000 ft


  • Guns: 6, 0.50 in, M2 Browning machine guns (1,602 rounds in total)
  • Rockets: variety of rocket launchers; 2 rocket pods with 18 SNEB 68 mm rockets each
  • Missiles: 2, AIM-9 Sidewinders
  • Bombs: 5,300 lb of payload on four external hardpoints. A wide variety of bombs can be carried (max standard being 2, 1,000 lb bombs plus 2 drop tanks), napalm bomb canisters and or a tactical nuclear weapon.