During the Cold War, Canada's Air Force again ramped up to help counter the Russian threat. And RCAF pilots, flying Canadair Sabres were on front lines.
In 1948 the Canadian government chose the popular North American F-86 to replace its first jet fighter, the deHavilland Vampire. Canadair Ltd. was chosen to build the airplane at its Montreal factory under license. The airplane on display here is the prototype built by Canadair to test design changes for the Canadian Sabre. There were a number of these, the most significant being the removal of the leading-edge wing slats. Production versions of the Canadair Sabre, Marks 2 to 6, incorporated more improvements, especially the Canadian designed and built Orenda engine. The Canadian Sabres performed so well that the US Air Force bought sixty in the late stages of the Korean War to improve their chances against the Russian Mig-15s.
About a thousand Canadian Sabres flew the skies over Europe with twelve squadrons at CFB Baden-Soelingen, CFB Lahr in Germany, CFB Marville, and CFB Grostenquin in France. Edmonton pilots like retired Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Gillespie remember flying in occasional formations of more than a hundred Canadian Sabres. In all, Canadair built 1815 Sabres.
The museum's Sabre was declared surplus in 1965 and served as a monument for 700 Wing, and later at Lancaster Memorial Park at Namao. When the air force left the air base, the Sabre found its final home in our hangar.