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Rockets and pods

Stories by charles alexander and “turbo” tarling

WPU 416 Squadron CF-100

A St. Hubert weapons tech loads the 3-tube wing-tip launcher of a 416 Squadron CF-100 Mk. 5 at the First annual Air Defence Command rocket meet, Cold Lake, 1957. (DND).

Weapons training – Charles Alexander
In the late 1950s, after CF-100 squadrons stopped sending a flight at a time to the Cold Lake Weapons Practice Unit (WPU) complete with ground crew, individual aircrews were sent for two weeks.

These visits were initially hard on the body systems, as the draught beer served in the Copper Room of the Mess at that time produced some peculiar effects with which everyone had to live for the first week. Subsequently, our bodies became acclimatized and settled down.

Weapons practice then became a very individualized experience. I do not recall any particular competitiveness among the representatives of the various squadrons, as each exercise required complete concentration, leaving no room for competition to be part of the equation.

The radop, towed behind a T-33, was about ten feet long, shaped like a bomb and made of papier-mâché, containing a radar reflector. It was reeled out on about 8,000 feet of piano wire, so the target appeared on a CF-100 scope a mile behind the T‑bird, which was not much visible separation until the interception range had closed to about seven miles. The training rocket launchers contained six rockets, compared with the operational load of 58. Only one of the 58 was considered necessary to destroy a target, as each rocket contained a very high-explosive warhead, but the chances of hitting a radop with any of the six rockets was remote indeed. Nevertheless, my pilot Gary Richards, and I managed to destroy a radop once which was a triumph over the odds. However, it did give us more confidence that the system could work, as the probability of hitting a target with one of 58 was better than with one of six.

In general, average scores at the WPU seemed to be over 80%, the actual significance of which escaped me. Whether it meant that 80% of the rockets would hit the target or that there was an 80% chance of hitting the target with at least one rocket, was open to interpretation. The results recorded on film were assessed on the basis of steering and the fire control system’s sensitivity or lack thereof. After adjustment, the scores might be around 95%.

The concept of blasting off 58 ballistic rockets with a motor-burning time of 1.8 seconds at the side of an aircraft seems a little strange today, but it was considered very enlightened at the time. One of the advantages of the Lead Collision Course attack was supposed to have been the safety of the fighter crew. Theoretically, the miss distance in elevation was 30 feet, and horizontally, about 100 yards. Anything less than a perfect approach would decrease these margins. Fortunately, I always had my eyes glued to the radar screen and never had to face the external reality.

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To view the rockets and pods CF-100 photo gallery, click on the photo below:

Once the first image has loaded in the pop-up window, click near the right or left edge to move forward or backward through the photos. The arrow keys on your keyboard also perform the same function.

See the “lethal firepower” of the CF-100’s air-to-air folding-fin aerial rockets in the following YouTube video (starting at 5 seconds through to 52 seconds):

Avro CF-100 Canuck Part 2

CF-100 rocket pod drawings © 2011. All Rights Reserved