The F-86 Sabre was the first successful production swept wing jet fighter of the USAAF and as well as seeing service with that country, the design was sold to a myriad of other nations, including Canada. Canadian sabres were license built in that country by Canadair and between 1950 and 1958 1815 aircraft were produced and they saw combat almost immediately in Korea. Today we are looking at a rather nice snapshot of a pair of Canadian F-86 Sabres:
The identity of the aircraft is easily determined by the Canadian Air Force roundel painted on the fuselage of the left hand aircraft, the maple leaf within a roundel being an easy distinguishing mark of the RCAF:
The right hand aircraft is clearer in the photograph and the whole plane can be seen, note the squadron badge on the nose of the aircraft:
In Europe, the F-86 Sabre provided daylight air defence against the Warsaw Pact. 1 Air Division were on alert from daybreak to nightfall, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Eight aircraft maintained five minute alert status and eight maintained fifteen minute status. This alert status rotated between two wings for a one-week period.
While on alert, the five-minute aircraft were often ordered to scramble by the RCAF Radar unit in Metz, France. These scrambles were ordered without prior notice and, once airborne, the pilots were advised that it was a practice to test their reaction time. Mandatory scrambles were ordered to intercept any aircraft that could not be identified by NATO radar stations.
To maintain NATO standards, each squadron deployed to a weapons range and practiced air gunnery twice a year. The camps were initially held in Rabat, Morocco and later at Decimomannu in Sardinia. Four aircraft fired on a flag towed by another aircraft. Rounds from each aircraft were coloured so it would leave a distinctive mark in the flag. NATO required a minimum score of 20%.
Canadian pilots established themselves as excellent marksmen. In 1958, an annual gunnery competition was established called “The Guynemer Trophy”, which Canada won every year until 1962.
Back when we had a real Airforce before endless defence cuts reduced it so much we couldn’t fully equip a single Carrier today.
I never got to work on one ‘for real’ since they’d been long retired by the time I joined, although most of the techs I worked with had, almost all had CF-100 experience and some had Mustang time, the first Sgt I worked for had been in WW2.
There was still a Sabre as a training aid when I took my basic course back in the 70’s, we practiced installing/removing the guns among other things, as well as on the ‘new’ CF-5.
Seen a few fly at Airshows, there are still some in civilian hands that make the rounds.
We ‘dipped’ ammo for the CF-5 too, sort of a liquid wax in lots of different colours that left a coloured ring in the cloth banner if it was hit so more than one A/C could fire at it on the same trip and you could tell them apart, and made white coveralls look like a peacock threw up on them. Guaranteed to foul the barrels so badly it took half the night to clean them by the book, but boiling water took most of it out quickly.
It did work well for painting snow sculptures at Winter Carnival though, we won lots of prizes 😉
These are Mk. 2 Sabres of 441 Squadron RCAF in early 1950’s markings when they were based at RAF North Luffenham.
441 were our ‘next door neighbours’ a few hangars down at one Sqn I was stationed at, “checker, checker, checker !!” Unfortunately, in the wild, Lynxes eat Silver Foxes 😉