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.