A94 CAC Sabre
As early as 1949 the RAAF began planning a replacement jet fighter for the locally-built CAC Mustang and DHA Vampire. Successive aircraft under consideration included the Grumman Panther; the proposed CAC large, twin-jet, all-weather CA-23 fighter; and the Hawker P.1081. In the event, Gloster Meteors were obtained in 1951 for service with No 77 Squadron in the Korean War. Then, in May of the same year, plans were finalised for CAC to build a locally-redesigned version of the North American F-86F Sabre swept-wing fighter.
Due in part to the technical investigations initiated by CAC Manager, L. J. Wackett, the RAAF decided to install the 7,500 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7 turbojet in place of the 6,100 lb thrust General Electric J-47 engine. Major modifications included a larger nose-intake, positioning the Avon further aft than the J-47, and moving the engine servicing break-point. Other improvements called for increased fuel capacity, a revised cockpit layout, and replacement of the six 0.50" machine guns with two 30mm Aden cannons. Consequently, CAC had to redesign 60 per cent of the airframe. The resultant aircraft, sometimes called the Avon-Sabre, became the best of the numerous Sabre variants built throughout the world.
The prototype CAC CA-26 Sabre Mk 30 first flew on 3 August 1953, with an imported Avon engine, piloted by Flight Lieutenant W. Scott. As A94-101 it went to Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) in 1955 and in latter years resided at Wagga as an instructional airframe; in 1960 it was used for ejection seat trials following three fatal Sabre accidents.
The first production CA-27 Sabre, A94-901, flew on 13 July 1954 and was followed by a further 21 Mk 30s, A94-902/922, with imported Avons, and leading-edge slats. From 1955, the next 20 Sabre Mk 31s, A94-923/942, were powered with the CAC Avon Mk 20, had an extended leading-edge, additional fuel cells, and fitments for drop-tanks, bombs, and rockets. The earlier Mk 30s were then modified to Mk 31 standard. The final version of the CAC Sabre was the Mk 32 of which 69 were built, A94-943/990 and A94-351/371. They carried additional drop-tanks and rockets and, as from 1960, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. All earlier Sabres were similarly modified, and retrospectively fitted with the CAC Avon Mk 26 engine which was first installed in A94-973. The last CAC Sabre, A94-371, completed acceptance trials on 19 December 1961.
The first production Sabre, A94-901, went to ARDU on 19 August 1954. A Sabre Trials Flight was established at No 2 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit, RAAF Williamtown, on 1 November 1954 and No 75 Squadron became the first Sabre squadron after it reformed on 4 April 1955. No 3 Squadron received its first Sabres on 1 March 1956 and No 77 Squadron on 19 November 1956. In October 1958, No 3 Squadron deployed to RAAF Butterworth and was followed by No 77 Squadron in February 1959. As No 78 (Fighter) Wing, both squadrons used their Sabres against the Communist guerillas until 31 July 1960. No 76 Squadron reformed in January 1960 and joined No 2 (Fighter) Operational Conversion Unit and No 75 Squadron as the Sabre equipped No 81 Wing, RAAF Williamtown. On 1 June 1962, eight Sabres deployed from Butterworth to Ubon, Thailand, to counter communist activity. This detachment became No 79 Squadron until it withdrew and disbanded in August 1968.
From 1964-5, the Mirage III began to replace the Sabre and, on 31 July 1971, the RAAF officially retired the Sabre from service.
TECHNICAL DATA: CAC Sabre CA-27 Mk 32
Single-seat swept-wing fighter. All-metal stressed-skin construction.
One 3402 kg (7500 lb) thrust CAC Avon 26 turbojet.
Span 11.30 m (37 ft 1 in); Length 11.43 m (37 ft 6 in); Height 4.37 m (14 ft 4 in).
Empty 5443 kg (12 000 lb); Loaded 8038 kg (17 720 lb).
Max speed 1126 km/h (608 kt); Cruise speed 885 km/h (478 kt); Range 1850 km (1000 nm); Service ceiling 52,000 ft (15 850 m).