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CF-100 deployments and visitors

Stories by charles alexander and “turbo” tarling

Harmon AFB F-102

One of a series of well-known RCAF publicity photos (often seen in colour) from the Harmon AFB deployment, October 1957: 410 Squadron CF-100 Mk. 5 and 323rd FIS F-102. (DND)

Goose bay alert – Charles Alexander
One of 433 Squadron’s duties in the summer of 1960 was to take over the standby responsibilities of the 59th FIS at Goose Bay while the USAF unit became combat-ready on their new Convair F-102s. The F-102 was a delta-wing, single-seat, supposedly all-weather fighter. The lieutenant pilots of the 59th had an average grand total of 300 flying hours each, whereas our boy flying officers each averaged about 1,000 hours. It was expected that the new F-102 was superior to the CF-100, which it may or may not have been, but in the hands of their respective crews it was really no contest.

With all due respect to the USAF, these poor fellows of the 59th had been given an irrational assignment. Not only did they lack flying experience, they had little knowledge of how to intercept using radar, so were just sitting in their aircraft like one-armed paper hangers. On combined exercises, the 433 crews were back on the ground after successful missions, while the those of the 59th were still up trying to sort everything out. It wasn’t their fault of course, but they were pretty sensitive about it and we didn’t press the point, given our status as guests on the American side of the base.

The Americans, as usual, were lavish in their hospitality. We were astonished at the great luxury of their crew room, compared with the stark functionalism of our own. Although 433 Squadron was on Canadian soil with rations and wartime quarters provided, the Americans were living a foreign posting, with all its perquisites. As a result, the 59th had set up a bar/lounge in the basement of their well-appointed Bachelor Officer Quarters which they stocked with duty-free drinks, and to which we were invited at any time as their guests. They were very proprietary of this Scramble Inn, and tolerated no interlopers.

One of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) crews attempted to gate crash the Scramble Inn. His request was declined, but he became quite insistent. For his trouble, he sustained a broken jaw, delivered by a spirited and devoted member of the 59th who had a fine sense of sacred trust.

When not being entertained by the US airmen, we socialized with RAF Bomber Command crews on the Canadian side, who used the base as a staging post on their way to and from Offutt AFB, Nebraska, for bombing practice. They were flying Victors and Vulcans, which when added to SAC B-52s and KC-97s, the 59th’s F-102s, and our CF-100 Mk. 5s, made Goose an interesting airfield, the defence of which was provided by 433 Squadron.

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