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CF-100 Mk. 3D dual-control trainer

Story by “turbo” tarling

3 AW(F) OTU CF-100 Mk. 3B

Mk. 3B 18174 of 3 AW(F) OTU in October 1956. Very shortly thereafter, this aircraft was converted to a Mk. 3D by Bristol Aircraft of Winnipeg. All fighter equipment was removed including radar, guns, gun sight, and navigator’s equipment. Full flight controls were installed in the rear cockpit, and the front cockpit was updated. Fifty-six CF-100 dual conversions were completed. (George Skinner)

Course 38 arrived at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta, in February 1957. Everyone was anxious to begin flying the CF-100 but first there was the inevitable groundschool, crewing up of the pilots and navigators and then two weeks of flying together in the radar-equipped B-25s at Basic Flight.

Finally, in late March, we reported to 3 All-Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit Conversion Flight to begin training in the dual-control CF-100 Mk. 3D.

With the advantage of hindsight, and given the CF-100’s incredible almost-32-year life span, the Mk. 3Ds were mere youngsters at that time–converted Mk. 3As and Bs which had been front-line interceptor aircraft just a few years earlier.

Though looking a bit old and tired, the fact that they had been operational fighters lent the Mk. 3Ds a certain aura. Stripped of their radar and armament, they were exactly what they were supposed to be–trainers. And the Mk. 3D would have to be mastered before crews were allowed near the more modern Mk. 4As with their electronic fire-control wizardry.

The cockpit was both exciting and disappointing. It was painted, of course, in the almost-mandatory flat black that was so popular in military aircraft. The only colour relief was provided by the faded instrument markings, red and yellow emergency and cautionary levers, switches, et al., and the warning lights that were randomly scattered on the instrument panel and consoles.

The instrument panel was mounted rather low, a feature that seemed very operational at the time. Right across the top, clamouring for attention, were six fuel gauges for wing and fuselage tanks, calibrated in imperial gallons. It was a real effort reading those gauges and calculating the fuel/time remaining.

Flight and engine instruments were conventional to the extreme and looked as if they had been salvaged from surplus piston-engined aircraft. The artificial horizon was a simple, pull-to-cage/erect instrument, and the compass was fixed-card with a ± enunciator which required setting before each flight. It was situated at the very bottom of the panel. The entire flight instrument arrangement defied logic (in our limited-experience opinion) but perhaps explains the above average IFR competence of CF-100 pilots.

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