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Category: Air support/Malaya-Korea

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Sabre jets flown by USAF and RAAF in Korea and Thailand

USAF Sabres over Korea. Similar to the RAAF Sabre

As early as 1949 the RAAF began planning a replacement jet fighter for the locally-built CAC Mustang and DHA Vampire. Successive aircraft under consideration included the Grumman Panther, the proposed CAC large, twin-jet, all-weather CA-23 fighter, and the Hawker P.1O81. In the event Gloster Meteors were obtained in 1951 for service with No. 77 Sqn in the Korean War. Then, in May of the same year, plans were finalised for CAC to build a locally redesigned version of the North American F-86F Sabre swept-wing fighter.

Due in part to the technical investigations initiated by CAC Manager, L. J. Wackett, the RAAF decided to install the 7,500 lb. st Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 turbojet in place of the 6,100 lb. st General Electric J-47. Major modifications included a larger nose-intake, positioning the Avon further aft than the J-47, and moving the engine servicing break point. Other improvements called for increased fuel capacity, revised cockpit layout, and replacement of the six 0.50in machine-guns with two 30-mm Aden cannons. Consequently, CAC had to redesign 60 per cent of the airframe. The resultant aircraft, sometimes called the Avon-Sabre, became the best of the numerous Sabre variants built throughout the world.

The prototype CAC Sabre Mk 30, the CA-26, first flew on 3 August, 1953, with an imported Avon engine, piloted by Flt Lt W. Scott. As A94-101 it went to ARDU in 1955 and in latter years resided at Wagga as an instructional airframe; in 1960 it was used for ejector seat trials following three fatal Sabre accidents. The first production CA-27 Sabre, A94-901, flew on 13 July 1954 and was followed by a further 21 Mk 30s, A94-902/922, with imported Avons, and leading-edge slats. As from 1955 the next 20 Sabre Mk 31s, A94-923/942, were powered with the CAC Avon Mk 20, had an extended leading-edge, additional fuel cells, and fitments for drop-tanks, bombs, and rockets. The earlier Mk 30s were then modified to Mk 31 standard. The final version of the CAC Sabre was the Mk 32 of which 69 were built, A94-943/990 and A94-351/371. They carried additional drop-tanks and rockets and, as from 1960, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. All earlier Sabres were similarly modified, and retrospectively fitted with the CAC Avon Mk 26 engine which was first installed in A94-973. The last CAC Sabre. A94-371, completed acceptance trials on 19 December, 1961.

The first production Sabre, A94-901, went to ARDU on 19 August, 1954. A Sabre Trials Flight was established at No. 2 (F) OTU, RAAF Williamtown, on 1 November, 1954 and No. 75 Sqn became the first Sabre squadron after it reformed on 4 April, 1955. No. 3 Sqn received its first Sabres on 1 March, 1956, and No. 77 Sqn on 19 November, 1956. In October, 1958 No. 3 deployed to RAAF Butterworth and was followed by No. 77 in February, 1959. As No. 78 (F) Wg both squadrons used their Sabres against the communist terrorists until 31 July 1960. No. 76 Sqn reformed in January, 1960 and joined No. 2 (F) OCU and No. 75 Sqn as the Sabre equipped No. 81 (F) Wing, RAAF Williamtown. On 1 June, 1962 eight Sabres deployed from Butterworth to Ubon, Thailand, to counter communist activity. This detachment became No. 79 Sqn until it withdrew and disbanded in August, 1968. As from 1964-5 the Mirage III began to replace the Sabre, and on 31 July, 1971 the RAAF officially retired the Sabre from service.

Australian Sabres, however, still fly with two other air forces. On 1 October, 1969, ten Sabres were handed over to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, and a further six were delivered in 1971. In Febuary 1973 a second 16 Sabres entered service with the Indonesian Air Force.

(CAC Sabre CA-27 Mk 32)

DESCRIPTION: Single-seat swept-wing fighter. All metal, stressed-skin construction.

POWER PLANT: 7,500 lb. st. CAC Avon 26.

DIMENSIONS: Span 37 ft 1 in; Length 37 ft 6 in; Height 14 ft 4 in

WEIGHT: Empty 12,000 lb; Loaded 17,300 lb

ARMAMENT: 2 x 30 mm Aden cannons. Alternative loads of Sidewinder, rockets and bombs

PERFORMANCE: Max speed 700 mph at sea level, Cruise speed 550 mph, Range 1150 miles, Service ceiling 55,000 ft

text from RAAF Museum


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces