Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck

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.

Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Avro Canada
Origin Canada
Country Name Origin Year
Canada 1950
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium 1957 1964 View
Canada 1950 1981 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Avro Canada 692 View


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.

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.

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 Martin B-57 Canberra.

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 Zurakowski, 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 Zura" 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.

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

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

End notes