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Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck

Jet-Powered High-Altitude Interceptor Aircraft

The oft-overlooked Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck played an important role in the Cold War defense of North America.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 6/24/2019
The Avro Canada CF-100 "Canuck" marked the first indigenously designed, developed, and serially produced military fighter to emerge from Canada. It arrived at a time when the jet age was dawning on the world of military aviation and added a potent interception capability to the West. The new jet enhanced Canadian interception responses to incursions by Soviet bombers and bolstered NORAD (NORth American Air Defense Command) with the United States and NATO forces in Europe. One of the chief success stories of the Canadian aero industry during the Cold War, the CF-100 went on to be produced in no fewer than 692 total examples and, for a time, stocked Belgian forces overseas into the 1960s.

CF-100 Development

The Canuck emerged from a post-World War 2 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) requirement of 1946 calling for an all-weather interceptor to help patrol the vastness of the cold, unforgiving north. As part of the massive military drawdown seen after the war, the Canadians would revert to local capabilities apart from the insurance offered through partnership with the great Royal Air Force (RAF) of Britain during wartime. Local Canadian aviation industry held few indigenous successes to date with designs typically entertained but none pushed into adoption nor production - all that would change with the XC-100 proposal.

A two-seat fuselage was adopted which partnered a pilot and navigator with a two-engine jet layout was to provide the necessary power - the latter a design trait common to all early generation turbojet aircraft. The engine of choice became the British Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3 turbojet developing 6,500lbf of thrust to which the XC-100 was finalized by John "Jack" Frost into the CF-100 we recognize today. Other participants in the program held backgrounds from such storied British aviation concerns as de Havilland, Hawker Siddeley, and Gloster which helped ensure the program stayed on its legs. The end-product became CF-100 Mk 1 and two of this model were used to fulfill the prototype testing role. First flight was on January 19th, 1950.

CF-100 Walk-Around

Engineers devised a standard aircraft configuration with their CF-100 initiative. The cockpit, seating two in tandem, fell behind a short nose cone assembly to house a radar suite. The fuselage was long and tubular for the necessary fuel stores, avionics, and internal structure. The wings were straight appendages mounted at midships and each held its own tubular engine nacelle running ahead of the leading edge past the wing trailing edges. This provided good clearance from nearly all angles and directed wash well away from the fuselage and tail unit. The tail unit incorporated a single vertical tail fin with mid-mounted horizontal planes. The tricycle undercarriage was wholly retractable and provided high ground clearance during ground running, take-off, and landing.

Continued Work

Work on the program continued until ten preproduction CF-100 Mk 2 machines arrived including two dual-control versions, designated Mk 2T, to serve as trainers. For the Mk 2, the Avro Orenda turbojet replaced the original British Avons series. This engine was first run in 1949 and would go on to power the Canadair CL-13 "Sabre" fighters (Canadian variants of the famous American F-86 line) with total production of these powerplants reaching 4,000 units by the end - providing much skilled experience in the design, development, and manufacture of turbojet technology for Canadian industry.

Definitive Service Variants

The initial production-quality, all-weather interceptor form became the CF-100 Mk 3 and the design now incorporated a battery of 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in a ventral belly pack with the APG-33 series interception radar in the nose cone. Seventy examples of this mark were built with service entry officially beginning in 1953. The Mk 3A was powered by Orenda 2 series turbojet engines and 21 aircraft were produced as such. The Mk 3B was outfitted with Orenda 8 series turbojet engines and 45 aircraft followed this mold. A sole Mk 3 airframe was converted as a dual-control trainer and served under the Mk 3CT designation until redesignated as the Mk 3D later on.

Back in 1952, a pre-production prototype pulled from the Mk 3 stock served as the Mk 4 variant and went airborne for the first time. The Mk 4 brought along an inherent rocket-firing capability through wingtip pods and the more powerful APG-40 radar system would serve on this type. The wingtip pods fired up to 29 "Mighty Mouse" air-to-air rockets (58 rockets combined) while the original machine gun armament was retained in these forms as backup. The broadened capabilities of the Mk 4 were such that the outstanding order of original Mk 3 interceptors was revised to incorporate at least 54 of the Mk 4 standard models. The Mk 4A was outfitted with Orenda 9 turbojet engines and 137 examples followed. The Mk 4B incorporated Orenda 11 engines and 141 aircraft were manufactured.

Attempting to push the endurance of the CF-100 line as a high-altitude, long-range interceptor, the Mk 5 was born in a further 332 examples. These were powered by either Orenda 11 or Orenda 14 turbojet engines, included enlarged wing surfaces, and lost their machine gun belly armament as a weight-saving measure. The CF-100 Mk 1P, to be forged from the earlier Mk 1 design, was to be a photo-reconnaissance variant of the Mk 1 but was not furthered.

Abandoned Canucks

A final proposed CF-100 form became the ultimately abandoned Mk 6 variant which was to support air-to-air missiles. The Mk 6 was to bridge the gap between the existing stocks of CF-100 interceptors and the soon-to-be Avro CF-105 "Arrow" high-speed interceptor in development. The impressive indigenous Arrow program was eventually cancelled by the incoming government which severely damaged Canadian aero industry in the decades that followed. Today, Canadian air power is once-again purchased from foreign designs and stocks - primarily from the neighboring United States. Many well-preserved examples of CF-100 aircraft are seen throughout Canada, Belgium, and the United States.

Operational Service

The CF-100 acted across thirteen total RCAF squadrons throughout its service tenure. For its time, the line provided an excellent rate-of-climb for interception duties and held a short take-off capability, allowing it to use very little field and operate in more remote, small airstrip areas. CF-100s served alongside American F-86s, F-89s, and F-94s as the early group of airmen and aircraft charged with protection of North American airspace. At one point, the CF-100 was briefly considered by the United States Air Force (USAF) to fulfill a growing all-weather reconnaissance need in the Korean War (1950-1953), the call eventually falling to the English Electric "Canberra" which emerged in the American inventory as the Martin B-57 "Canberra". At least fifty-three Mk 5 interceptors were sold to the Belgian Air Force and served from 1957 to 1964 across all-weather interception wings 11, 349, and 350. Canadian CF-100s were succeeded in service by the American McDonnell CF-101 "Voodoo" high performance interceptor where it was adopted as the "CF-101".


Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 692 Units ] :
Avro Canada - Canada
National flag of Belgium National flag of Canada Belgium; Canada
- Fighter
- Interception
54.13 ft (16.5 m)
58.07 ft (17.7 m)
15.49 ft (4.72 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk 5 production model)
Empty Weight:
23,149 lb (10,500 kg)
36,001 lb (16,330 kg)
(Diff: +12,853lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk 5 production model)
2 x Avro Orenda 14 turbojet engines developing 7,275lb of thrust each.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk 5 production model)
Maximum Speed:
553 mph (890 kph; 481 kts)
Service Ceiling:
44,948 feet (13,700 m; 8.51 miles)
Maximum Range:
1,988 miles (3,200 km; 1,728 nm)
8,750 ft/min (2,667 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk 5 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
Variable, Dependent Upon Production Mark:

Mk 3:
8 x 12.7mm (0.50 cal) Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in ventral gun pack.

Mk 4:
8 x 12.7mm (0.50 cal) HMGs in ventral gun pack.
2 x 29 x 70mm "Mighty Mouse" unguided air-to-air rockets in wingtip pods.

Mk 5:
2 x 29 x 70mm "Mighty Mouse" unguided air-to-air rockets in wingtip pods.

Mk 6 (Proposed):
2 x AIM-7 "Sparrow" medium-ranged, air-to-air missiles.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk 5 production model)
Mk 1 - Prototype Model Designation; 2 examples produced.
Mk 1P - Photo-Reconnaissance Variant; proposed but never placed into production.
Mk 2 - Pre-Production Model Designation; 10 such examples produced.
Mk 2T - Two-Seat Trainer Variant; 2 such examples produced.
Mk 3 - Initial production models; armament of 8 x machine guns held in an under-fuselage belly pack; 124 examples produced.
Mk 3A - Fitted with 2 x Orenda 2 type engines.
Mk 3B - Fitted with 2 x Orenda 8 type engines.
Mk 3CT - Two-Seat Trainer Variant
Mk 4 - Improved engine performance; armament changed to wingtip rocket pods for Might Mouse air-to-air rockets.
Mk 4A - Fitted with 2 x Orenda 9 type engines.
Mk 4B - Fitted with 2 x Orenda 11 type engines.
Mk 5 - "Definitive" CF-100; improved engine performance; increased wingspan; 53 examples for Belgium use; fitted with either Orenda 11 or 14 type engines.
Mk 5D - Converted Mk 5 models for ECM/EW roles.
Mk 5M - Converted Mk 5 models for AIM-7 Sparrow II air-to-air missile platform.
Mk 6 - Proposed Sparrow II missile platform; never produced.

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