Avro CF-100 by Hobbycraft

1/72 scale
Kit No. HC 1391
Decals: One version – Royal Canadian Air Force
Comments: Engraved panel lines; single piece canopy; basic cockpit includes pilot and radar operator figures; includes wingtip fuel tanks; optional position landing gear

History

The Avro CF-100 was a long-range, all-weather fighter-interceptor that made a critical but often overlooked contribution to the defense of North America and NATO during the height of the Cold War. For a time, it was the only NATO fighter in Western Europe capable of operating in zero visibility and poor weather conditions against the threat of Soviet bombers. The first (and to date, the only) indigenously designed and built Canadian jet fighter-interceptor to become operational, the Avro CF-100 entered service with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1953. It has the distinction of being the first straight-winged jet aircraft to go supersonic in controlled flight.

 

As the Cold War took shape in the years following World War II, Canada realized that it needed a long range, all-weather interceptor capable of confronting the only anticipated threat at that time, Soviet bombers flying over the Arctic Ocean to deliver nuclear weapons on North American targets. In October 1946 Avro Canada began design work on a two-seat, twin engined jet fighter, and the first CF-100 flew on January19, 1950.

The development, production, and operational record of the CF-100 represents one of Canadian aviation’s outstanding achievements. Built by the same firm that just a few years earlier produced the Avro Jetliner, it was the predecessor of the Avro CF-105 Arrow, a revolutionary Cold War era design that might have been the single best interceptor in the world this side of the Iron Curtain. In its day, the CF-100 had an impressively short take-off run and a high climb rate, and was well suited to its intended role of interceptor, making it ideal for duty with NATO squadrons in Western Europe.

The “Canuck” became fully operational in 1953 and continued flying with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and later the Canadian Armed Forces, until 1981. Both its role and weaponry changed through the years as some squadrons of CF-100’s were based in Europe as part of NATO. The CF-100’s armament evolved from the initial eight .50 caliber machine guns, to rockets and guided missiles. In its prime, the “Canuck” was known as a rugged, dependable aircraft and one of the best all-weather fighters available.

The CF-100 served Canada, NORAD, and NATO well; it operated under the U.S.-Canadian North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) to protect North American airspace from Soviet intruders such as nuclear-armed bombers. In addition, as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the CF-100 served with nine RCAF squadrons at the peak of its operational value in the mid- to late-1950s. Four of those squadrons were deployed to Europe with 1 Air Division from 1956–1962, replacing the F-86 day fighter squadrons.

On December 18, 1952, Squadron Leader 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 (9,100 m), the first straight-winged jet aircraft to achieve controlled supersonic flight.

In a subsequent adventure, Żurakowski took the CF-100 on a dramatic demonstration flight at the 1955 Farnborough Airshow that included a “falling leaf, ” an aerobatic flight manuever in which an airplane is allowed to stall and is then slipped successively to the right and the left, with the nose being held to point in the same direction throughout. This stunned many aviation and industry observers, who could not believe that a large, all-weather fighter could be put through its paces so spectacularly. Zurakowski’s performance led to Belgium purchasing 53 examples of the CF-100.

In its lifetime, 692 CF-100s of different variants were produced. 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. For its ruggedness, all-weather capability, and surprising degree of manueverability, the CF-100 earned a place of honor in aviation history.

Although it was replaced in its front line role by the McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo (an arguably less capable aircraft), the Canuck served with 414 Squadron of the Canadian Forces at CFB North Bay, Ontario, until 1981, in reconnaissance, training and electronic warfare roles. The CF-100’s planned successor, the CF-105 Arrow along with its sophisticated Orenda Iroquois engine, both Canadian-designed and built, were cancelled in January 1959 in a controversial decision by the Canadian government credited with striking a death blow to Canada’s aviation industry.

The Kit

A pair of Avro CF-100’s in flight. The aircraft in the foreground is painted in the camouflage scheme commonly seen on aircraft deployed to NATO squadrons; those serving at home were often left in natural metal finish. The second aircraft appears to be a nightfighter.

First released in the 1980’s, this version of Hobbycraft’s CF-100 may have been the seminal kit that gave rise to variants of the Mk. IV and Mk. V versions in both 1/72 and 1/48 scale. Molded in grey, the Avro CF-100 consists of 52 parts, two of which are clear plastic, one for the one-piece canopy. The kit features engraved panel lines and two aircrew figures representing the pilot and radar operator. One glaring irregularity about it is that the markings provided in the kit do not match the box art at all.

The fuselage is one of those multi-part affairs that will definitely require putty; four parts consisting of top and bottom halves, two for the nose and center section, and two for the tail. The cockpit does not feature much detail, other than the ejection seats, which are cemented into a tub and are sufficiently detailed with raised relief that some modelers may think twice before obscuring them by adding the aircrew. There is a control stick for the pilot — no instrument panel, and no decal to dress it up even if there was one. The intake fans in the engines have a modicum of molded detail, and individual fan blades can be distinguished.

Avro Canada’s schematic of the CF-100’s major components.

The landing gear are rather soft in their detail, the most interesting thing about them being the wheels, which feature raised relief. The kit can be built with the gear up or down, and if built with the gear down, the landing gear doors will require some minor cutting and sanding. The kit includes a pair of wingtip fuel tanks, and what appear to be a smaller pair of drop tanks to be positioned beneath the wings, but the instructions do not reference these extra parts at all, nor are there pylons included to facilitate their use.

The scribing on the clear canopy is virtually non-existent, and will require careful study of reference photos, a sharp hobby knife, a steady hand, and Tamiya tape to get it to look reasonably accurate. The decals have very good color and a realistic appearance. They are in register with minimal bleeding between colors on the fuselage flashes, and none at all on the national roundels. Most importantly, the roundels do not fall prey to the most common failing for such markings: the Canadian maple leaf is dead center in the middle of the roundel.

Conclusion

This kit provides a fair representation of an important Cold War interceptor. Much of its appeal lies in its exterior appearance resulting from its meticulously detailed engraved panel lines. It is reasonably accurate in its outline, but its cockpit, wheel wells and particularly its canopy scream out for additional detail. Highly recommended for its historical value.

References

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