The F-86D first flew on December 22, 1949. It was developed as an all-weather interceptor version of the formidable F-86A. The F-86D was used in the 1950s to guard against enemy air attack, both in the United States and overseas. Over 2500 of the F86- D models were produced.

The F-86D is well-known for historic firsts. It was the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to have all-rocket armament. It was also the first all-weather interceptor with a one-man crew to pilot the aircraft and to operate the radar fire control system. The F-86D set new world speed records of 698 mph in November 1952 and 715 mph in July 1953.

The F-86L is an updated version of the F-86D Sabre. The newer version utilized longer-span slatted wings to improve high altitude performance and maneuverability. Smaller wings previously caused this to be a weak point of the Sabre series. The F-86L was equipped with onboard data-link to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system. SAGE was the first computer war system developed; it allowed more accurate all-weather, day or night interceptions.