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CF-100 Canuck
A CF-100 Mk 3 painted as the CF-100 prototype, on display at the Calgary AeroSpace Museum
Role Interceptor
Manufacturer Avro Canada
Designer John Frost
First flight 19 January 1950
Introduction 1952
Retired 1981
Primary users Royal Canadian Air Force
Belgian Air Force
Number built 692
Variants Avro Canada CF-103

The Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck (affectionately known as the "Clunk") was a Canadian jet interceptor/fighter serving during the Cold War both in NATO bases in Europe and as part of NORAD. The CF-100 was the only Canadian-designed fighter to enter mass production, serving primarily with the RCAF/CAF and in small numbers in Belgium. For its day, the CF-100 featured a short takeoff run and high climb rate, making it well suited to its role as an interceptor.

Design and development

In the early 1950s, Canada needed an all-weather interceptor (fighter) able to patrol the vast areas of Canada's north and operate in all weather conditions. The two-seat fighter crewed by a pilot and navigator was designed with two powerful engines and an advanced radar and fire control system housed in its nose that enabled it to fly in all-weather or night conditions.

CF-100 Mk 4B in a "scramble" from RCAF St. Hubert, Quebec, c. 1962

CF-100 MK 5D (18476) former CFB Namao and No. 414 Electronic Warfare (EW) Squadron #100476 painted as No. 440 Squadron RCAF Mk 4B serving in NATO and on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Design of the XC-100 to meet a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) specification for an all-weather fighter was initiated at Avro Canada in October 1946. Chief Engineer Edgar Atkin's work on the CF-100 was subsequently passed to John Frost (formerly of de Havilland) who, along with Avro's Chief Aerodynamacist Jim Chamberlin, reworked the original fuselage design. The CF-100 Mark 1 prototype, "18101," emerged out of the factory, painted gloss black overall with white lightning bolts running down the fuselage and engines. The CF-100 prototype flew its maiden flight on 19 January 1950 with Gloster Aircraft Company Chief Test Pilot Squadron Leader Bill Waterton at the controls. Waterton was on loan from the Gloster firm, another member of the Hawker Siddeley Group, and chosen because of his experience with jet aircraft development, as one of the "highest-time" pilots in the world.[1] The Mark 1 was powered by two Avon RA 3 turbojets with 28.9 kN (2,950 kgp / 6,500 lbf) thrust each.

The second prototype, 18102, was also powered by Rolls-Royce Avons, although subsequent pre-production and production series aircraft used the Avro Orenda turbojet. Five pre-production Mk 2 test aircraft were produced (18103-18107) all fitted with the Orenda 2 jet engines; one was fitted with dual controls and designated a Mk 2T trainer. The first production version, designated Mk 3, incorporated the APG-33 radar and was armed with eight .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns. The Mk 3CT and Mk 3DT were again dual control versions supplied to operational training units.

A CF-100 arrived at Eglin AFB, Florida, in mid-January 1955 for cold-weather tests in the climatic hangar. A seven-man RCAF team, headed by Flight Lieutenant B. D. Darling, which had previously conducted tests at Namao Air Base, Alberta, were part of the climatic detachment of Central Experimental and Proving Establishment. Tests were to begin in February.[2]

In March 1956, four CF-100 Canucks were sent to Eglin AFB for comparative armament trials, and flown by USAF crews.[3] The operational suitability tests, dubbed Project Banana Belt, were carried out by the 3241st Test Group (Interceptor) of the APGC's Air Force Operational Test Center, in conjunction with a project team from the Royal Canadian Air Force.[4]


In September 1950, the RCAF ordered 124 examples of the Mk 3 version, the first of these entering service in 1953. These were armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns. The definitive rocket-armed Mk 4A version was based on the prototype Mk 4 (a modified Mk 3) first flying on 11 October 1952. The nose housed the much larger APG-40 radar with wingtip pods each containing up to 29 Mighty Mouse FFAR (folding fin aerial rockets) in addition to the guns. As the last 54 of an order for the Mk 3 were changed into the Mk 4 in 1954, total orders for the Mk.4 rose to 510. The Mk 4B version had more powerful Orenda 11s. Five versions, or "marks", were produced, ending, from 1955 onwards, with the high-altitude Mk 5 that featured a 1.06m (3 ft. 6 in.) extended wingtip and enlarged tailplane, along with removal of the machine guns. The proposed Mk 6 was to have mounted Sparrow II missiles and been powered by afterburning Orenda 11IR engines in an effort to provide an "interim" fighter prior to the introduction of the Avro CF-105 Arrow. A projected transonic swept-wing CF-103 was built in mock-up form in 1951, but was considered obsolescent even before the CF-100's demonstrated ability to exceed the speed of sound in a dive. On 18 December 1952, S/L Janusz Żurakowski, the Avro company chief development test pilot, took the CF-100 Mk 4 prototype to Mach 1.0 in a dive from 30,000 ft. being the first straight-winged jet aircraft to achieve controlled supersonic flight.[5]

Operational history

CF-100 Mk 3 at the Canadian Museum of Flight in July 1988

The Canuck was affectionately known in the RCAF as the "Clunk" because of the noise the front landing gear made as it retracted into its well after takeoff. Its less-attractive nickname was the "Lead Sled", a reference to its heavy controls and general lack of maneuverability, a nickname it shared with a number of other 1950s aircraft.[6] Others included CF-Zero, the Zilch, the Beast, all references to an aircraft many pilots considered less glamourous than RCAF day fighters like the Canadair Sabre.[7]

The aircraft operated under the US/Canadian North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) to protect North American airspace from Soviet intruders such as nuclear-armed bombers. Additionally, as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), four Canuck squadrons were based in Europe with 1 Air Division from 1956–1962, and were for some time the only NATO fighters capable of operating in zero visibility and poor weather conditions. When the Korean War started, the USAF was in urgent need of a jet-propelled, all-weather, interdiction/surveillance aircraft. The urgency was so great that the USAF was willing to consider two foreign designs: the CF-100 and the English Electric Canberra. The CF-100 was rejected because of insufficient range and payload. The English Electric design was selected and developed into the B-57 Canberra.[8][9]

The CF-100 served with nine RCAF squadrons at its peak in the mid-1950s. Four of these squadrons were deployed to Europe from late 1956–1962 under the NIMBLE BAT ferry program, replacing some NATO RCAF squadrons equipped with Canadair Sabre day fighters to provide all-weather defense against Soviet intruders. Canucks flying at home retained natural metal finish, but those flying overseas were given a British-style disruptive camouflage scheme - dark sea gray and green on top, light sea gray on the bottom.

During his Avro Canada years, the Chief Development Pilot, S/L Żurakowski, continued to fly as an aerobatic display pilot, with spectacular results, especially at the 1955 Farnborough Airshow where he displayed the CF-100 in a "falling-leaf." He was acclaimed again as the "Great Żura" by many aviation and industry observers who could not believe a large, all-weather fighter could be put through its paces so spectacularly. His performance led to Belgium purchasing the CF-100.

In its lifetime, 692 CF-100s of different variants were produced, including 53 aircraft delivered to the Belgian Air Force. Although originally designed for only 2,000 hours, it was found that the Canuck's airframe could serve for over 20,000 hours before retirement. Consequently, though it was replaced in its front line role by the CF-101 Voodoo, the Canuck served with 414 Squadron of the Canadian Forces at CFB North Bay, Ontario, until 1981, in reconnaissance, training and electronic warfare roles. After the CF-100 was retired, a number of aircraft still remain across Canada (and elsewhere) as static displays.

Its planned successor, the CF-105 Arrow along with the sophisticated Orenda Iroquois engine, both Canadian-designed, were cancelled in 1959 in a controversial decision by the Canadian government.


  • CF-100 Mk 1 : The first two prototypes.
    • CF-100 Mk 1P : Proposed photo-reconnaissance version. Not built.
  • CF-100 Mk 2 : Ten pre-production aircraft.
    • CF-100 Mk 2T : Two-seat training version of the CF-100 Mk 2. Two built.
  • CF-100 Mk 3 : Two-seat all-weather long-range interceptor fighter aircraft. First production version for the RCAF. 70 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 3A : CF-100 Mk 3 sub-type, powered by two Orenda 2 turbojet engines. 21 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 3B : CF-100 Mk 3 sub-type, powered by two Orenda 8 turbojet engines. 45 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 3CT : One CF-100 Mk 3 converted into a two-seat training aircraft. Later redesignated CF-100 Mk 3D.
  • CF-100 Mk 4 : Two-seat all-weather long-range interceptor fighter aircraft. One pre-production aircraft.
    • CF-100 Mk 4A : CF-100 Mk 4 sub-type, powered by two Orenda 9 turbojet engines. 137 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 4B : CF-100 Mk 4 sub-type, powered by two Orenda 11 turbojet engines. 141 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 4X : Proposed version of the CF-100 Mk 4. Not built.
  • CF-100 Mk 5 : Two-seat all-weather long-range interceptor fighter aircraft, powered by two Orenda 11 or Orenda 14 turbojet engines. 332 built.
    • CF-100 Mk 5D : Small number of CF-100 Mk 5s converted into ECM (Electronic Countermeasures), EW (Electronic Warfare) aircraft.
    • CF-100 Mk 5M : Small number of CF-100 Mk 5s equipped to carry the AIM-7 Sparrow II air-to-air missiles.
  • CF-100 Mk 6 : Proposed version armed with the AIM-7 Sparrow II air-to-air missile. Not built.



CF-100 badge worn by Canadian Forces crews in the 1970s and 80s


Aircraft on display

Avro Canada CF-100 "Canuck" MK111D – Serial No. 18152. Manufactured at Malton, Ontario, 1954. Served with #3 Op. Training Unit, 428 Squad, 432 Squad., and the Electronic Warfare Unit. Stationed at CFB Suffield (1968 – 1994). Currently on display at the Nanton Air Museum, Nanton, Alberta.

Canadian Forces CF-100 on display at Head Lake Park, Haliburton, Ontario

RCAF CF-100 at Lee Park, North Bay

CF-100 National Air Force Museum of Canada - Trenton, Ontario

CF-100 Canuck all-weather interceptor aircraft at Reynolds-Alberta Museum Wetaskiwin

CF-100 Wildwood Park - Legion Memorial Gardens, Malton

File:CF-100 Plaque Malton.JPG

CF-100 Plaque at Legion Memorial Gardens, Wildwood Park, Malton

Museums or sites which have an Avro Canada CF-100 on display:

Specifications (CF-100 Mk 5)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2, pilot and navigator
  • Length: 16.5 m (54 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 17.4 m (57 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 4.4 m (14 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 54.9 m² (591 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 10,500 kg (23,100 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 15,170 kg (33,450 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 16,329 kg (36,000 lb[27])
  • Powerplant: 2 × Avro Canada Orenda 11 turbojets, 32.5 kN (7,300 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 888 km/h (552 mph)
  • Range: 3,200km (2,000mi)
  • Service ceiling: 13,700 m (45,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 44.5 m/s (8,750 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: kg/m² (lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.44


  • 2 wingtip pods of 29 x 70-mm (2.75 in) "Mighty Mouse" fin-folding aerial rockets
  • Notable appearances in media

    See also



    1. Rossiter 2002, p. 63.
    2. "Eglin Will Test New All-Weather RCAF Interceptor". The Okaloosa News-Journal, Crestview, Florida, Volume 41, Number 3, 20 January 1955, p. 6.
    3. ADA-Arrow Pilots:Jan Zurakowski. Retrieved on 2011-10-31.
    4. "Eglin Tests Latest Canadian Jet Model". The Okaloosa News-Journal, Crestview, Florida, Volume 42, Number 14, 5 April 1956, p. 20.
    5. Whitcomb 2008, p. 89.
    6. Designation Systems, Lead Sled
    7. "CF-100 Veterans Reunite." Comox Valley Echo, 18 September 1998. Retrieved: 7 February 2010.
    8. "English Electric Canberra B-57 Prototype." National Museum of the USAF. Retrieved: 7 February 2010.
    9. Baugher, Joe. " Martin B-57A." USAAC/USAAF/USAF Bomber Aircraft-Third Series, 13 August 2006. Retrieved: 7 February 2010.
    10. Canadian Military Aircraft, Serial Numbers RCAF 18751 to 18792, Detailed List. Retrieved: 8 June 2012.
    11. "Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck (1952)." Alberta Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    12. "Aircraft display collection." Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    13. "Cf-100 Mk,. 3." Bomber Command Museum of Canada. Retrieved: 8 June 2012.
    14. "Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck." Aerospace Museum of Calgary. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    15. "Avro Canada CF-100 Mk.5D (100757)." Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Retrieved: 14 January 2012.
    16. "Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck." The Canadian Museum of Flight. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    17. "Avro CF-100." Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    18. "Avro Canada (A.V. Roe Canada, Ltd.) CF-100 Canuck Mk. V (CAN)." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 "CF-100s." Vintage Aircraft. Retrieved: 8 June 2012.
    20. "Avro Canuck."Comox Air Force Museum. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    21. "Aerial Visuals - The Travelogue." Retrieved: 22 May 2012.
    22. "CF-100." Memorial Military Museum. Retrieved: 22 May 2012.
    23. "Canuck." National Air Force Museum of Canada. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    24. "AVRO CF-100 MK.4A CANUCK." National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    25. "CF-100."Peterson Air & Space Museum Foundation. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
    26. "Hidden Gems &#124." Mississauga Life, 13 October 2011. Retrieved: 22 May 2012.
    27. Taylor and Alexander 1969, p. 51.


    • Baglow, Bob. Canucks Unlimited: Royal Canadian Air Force CF-100 Squadrons and Aircraft, 1952- 1963. Ottawa: Canuck Publications 1985. ISBN 0-9692246-0-5.
    • Lyzun, Jim. CF-100 Canuck. Ottawa: SMS Publishing, 1985. ISBN 0-920375-04-9.
    • Milberry, Larry. The Avro CF-100. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1981. ISBN 0-9690703-0-6.
    • Page, Ron. Canuck: CF-100 All Weather Fighter. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 1981. ISBN 0-919822-39-8.
    • Taylor, John W. R., and Jean Alexander.Combat Aircraft of the World. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-71810-564-8.
    • Whitcomb, Randall L. Cold War Tech War: The Politics of America's Air Defense. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-894959-77-3.

    External links

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