. Avro Canada CF 100 Canuck

Dimensions: wingspan, 58 feet; length, 54 feet, 1 inch; height, 15 feet, 7 inches Weights: empty, 18,000 pounds; gross, 37,000 pounds Power plant: 2 x 7,725-pound thrust Orenda turbojet engines

Performance: maximum speed, 650 miles per hour; ceiling, 54,000 feet; range, 2,500 miles Armament: 8 x 12.7mm machine guns or 104 x 70mm unguided rockets Service dates: 1953-1981


he capable Canuck was the first warplane en­tirely designed in Canada and was specifically tailored for the defense of that country’s expansive reaches. It was also the first straight-wing jet fighter to exceed Mach 1, and enjoyed a career of consider­able longevity.

In 1945 the Canadian Department of National Defense issued demanding requirements for a new jet-powered all-weather interceptor—Canada’s first. Furthermore, any craft conforming to Specification AIR-7-1 would have to be optimized for operations at extreme latitudes off short, unprepared Arctic strips, as well as possess range in excess of 2,500 miles. With jet aviation technology then in its in­fancy, no such machine existed anywhere in the world. This obstacle did not deter an Avro Canada design team headed by John Frost, who conceived and built a functional prototype in January 1950. The new CF 100 was a large, all-metal monoplane with twin engines and nonswept wings. The engines were placed on either side of the capacious fuse­lage, where great amounts of fuel were stored.

There was also a high “T” tail arrangement to clear the jet efflux, and a crew of two was seated under a bubble canopy. The new craft flew well when Cana­dian-designed and – built Orenda engines were fitted. The CF 100 joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1953 as the world’s most advanced jet in­terceptor, and it was nicknamed the Canuck. De­spite its straight-wing configuration, it was fast and maneuverable, and on December 18, 1953, a CF 100 became the first such craft to exceed Mach 1 (the speed of sound) in a dive.

In November 1956, Canucks flew to France as NATO’s first multiseat all-weather interceptor squadron. The initial versions were originally equipped with a retractable pack of eight machine guns, but later models forsook armament in favor of wingtip rocket pods. These were actuated by a spe­cial targeting and anticollision radar housed in the bulbous nose. The CF 100s enjoyed a long and largely problem-free service life with the Canadian and Belgian air forces. The last RCAF machines were finally retired in 1981.