The CF-100 Canuck was the one and only Canadian designed and built fighter to enter mass production. It was designed as a high-speed, all-weather day/night interdiction aircraft; and was to supplement NORAD’s work in Northern Canada. It was a difficult job, and most aircraft weren’t up to withstand the harsh cold weather of the Arctic in that day and age. It was nicknamed the Clunk, after the sound the landing gear made when retracting into their housing.
Music is The Maple Leaf Forever, played by the 46th Highlanders of the Royal Canadian Army.
- Hughes APG-33 Radar and Fire Control System
- 8 x 50 Calibre Machine Guns
- APG-40 Radar
- 58 x FFAR (Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets)
- 8 x 50 Calibre Machine Guns
- Hughes Mg-2 Fire Control System
- APG-40 Radar
- 2.75 Rockets
The Mk 5 version removed the 8 x 50 cal machine guns to reduce weight and improve service ceiling from 45,000 ft to 53,000 ft.
- Maximum speed: 888 km/h (552 mph)
- Range: 3,200km (2,000 mi)
- Service Ceiling: 13,700 m (45,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 44.5 m/s (8,750 ft/min)
- Thrust-to-weight ratio: 0.44
- Crew – 2 (pilot, navigator)
- Wingspan – 17.4 m
- Maximum Takeoff Weight – 15,200 Kg
- Powerplant -2 x Avro Orenda 11 turbojets
- Maximum Thrust – 7,300 lbf each
Towards the end of 1945, A.V. Roe Canada (Avro Canada) was approached by the Ministry of Defense to design an all-weather interceptor to supplement Canadian Defenses. In early 1946, the XF-100 was borne on paper, by one of the designers of the de Havilland Vampire.
Initially, design requirements requested 4x 20mm Aden cannons for the aircraft, but due to weight and ammunition requirements, were quickly changed to 8x .50 Browning machine guns. As well, the radar was to be initially imported from Britain, but the fact that the American designed AN/APS-19A would be built locally was much more appealing to both the Canadian government and Avro Canada themselves.
However, during this time, Avro Canada was busy servicing and upgrading many Canadian airframes that were fresh out of the Second World War, and development on the XF-100 took a back seat. The CF-102 JetLiner was also in development at the same time, and it took priority. There was a possibility the CF-102 would become the first passenger jet aircraft of its time, and its development was prioritized.
In the winter of 1949, the first XF-100Mk.1 was completed, and ready for testing. On the 19th of January, 1950, the XF-100 serial #18101 took off for the first time. The original power plants, the first Orenda engines, were not ready for flight tests at the time. Instead, the first models of the XF-100 were equipped with Rolls-Royce engines imported from Britain for flight testing.
Wingtip fuel pods were introduced in the second series of prototypes, which left the assembly line on July 13th, 1950. This was aircraft was serial #18102. The same plane fated to crash the day the XF-100 was to be officially handed over to the Royal Canadian Air Force. This accident was thought to have been caused by a broken oxygen regulator, causing the pilot and co-pilot to become unconscious. Both died, as well as 14 civilians at the crash site.
But this incident did not stop Avro. Instead, the Mk.2T unarmed trainer aircraft were handed over to the Royal Canadian Airforce just months later. In early 1951, design and development on the CF-102 was halted and the prototype was scrapped in favour of upgrading the CF-100.
The Mk.5 model removed the belly mounted gun-pack in exchange for mounting the Orenda 14s. These more powerful engines increased the range of the Canuck to its stated maximum. At the same time, the body of the CF-100 was slightly redesigned with larger control surfaces for superior manoeuvrability at high altitude.
As well, just as the CF-105 Arrow was being designed, a proposed Mk.6 model was planned. It was to be armed with 2 AIM-7 Sparrow Air-to-Air missiles rather than the Mighty Mouse wingtip rocket pods. This was to serve as a stop-gap before the introduction of the CF-105. However, due to Prime Minister Diefenbaker‘s intervention in the program, Avro Canada, one of the worlds largest aircraft manufacturers, folded within a year.
While initially designed as an interceptor, the Canuck became an electronic warfare and recon aircraft towards the end of the Cold War. Its replacements, the CF-101 Voodoo and the CF-104 Starfighter were considerably more advanced, but were also replacing a plane that was built just after the Second World War. By that time, many of the Canucks surpassed over 20,000 hours of flight time. They were originally rated and built for only 1/10th, of that, 2,000 hours.
In 1953, the Mk.3 was introduced, sporting the new exchangeable belly gun-packs. At the same time, the Orenda-2 engine was finally brought into play, giving the aircraft its needed rate-of-climb. After building just 21 aircraft with the Orenda-2, Avro traded up for the much more powerful Orenda-8 engine. Combined with a massive increase in efficiency, the Orenda-8s allowed the Canuck to be able to intercept Soviet aircraft at a considerably longer range than the Orenda-2s.
The Mk.4 was being put through its paces at the same time, starting in 1952. One single aircraft was pulled off of the Mk.3 line and used as a test bed for various upgrades. Trials for both the newer Orenda engines, as well as the Mighty Mouse wingtip rocket pods, were being conducted at the same time. A new electronic fire-control system was also designed from the ground up to accurately fire the Mighty Mouse rockets.
The CF-100 Canuck served with pride for just over 32 years since its first flight. For the first 25 years of its life, the Canuck was used as the premier interceptor aircraft for the Canadian NORAD forces. It served as an all-weather, day-night craft for that period. After that time, the CF-100 was shifted to a recon/electronic warfare support role, as it was vastly outdated by newer fighters available.
The CF-100 Canuck also performed non-NORAD duties, flying to protect NATO countries in Europe. While there, the 4 squadrons were for a time, the only all-weather, day-night fighters available to NATO. During the Korean War, the Canuck was also considered for an all-weather, long-range surveillance/interceptor aircraft for the US Air Force. However, the English Electric Canberra was chosen in favour of the CF-100, due to its larger payload, and longer overall range.
After that, its service life was ended in the early 80s. All aircraft used by the RCAF were fully retired, and many remaining craft were donated to museums around the country. Many are kept in good shape as the only production aircraft from Avro Canada, but there are also some examples of scrapped up, damaged airframes. At CFB Borden’s flight line, just outside the actual strip, there is a yard of airplane bodies and wings, all cut into pieces for storage. One of the aircraft there is a CF-100 Canuck. Just meters away from this, today’s CF-188 (F/C-18) Hornets take off on NORAD sorties and training missions.