The Chairman's Message
Contributed by our Chairman of the Board of Directors - Don Matthews
Thank you for taking the time to "come alongside" your Air Force Museum to share some of the accomplishments we have enjoyed over the last year and to see the next big step in our development. I invite everyone to the Museum or the AGM to experience first-hand the ongoing updates and improvements. For example, we are planning updates to the BCATP display and the Lancaster Bomb Bay exhibit. As well, our newest exhibit is for Search and Rescue. Replacing the Korean War display, SAR is an eye catching hallway exhibit depicting the modern exploits and history of this important arm of our RCAF.
Behind the scenes we have had a significant amount of work done to the software and hardware that keep our two theatres and multiple video displays operating at peak performance. On the front lines our volunteers and staff are working hard every day because our Museum needs a lot of tender loving care to keep it up and running.
Over two years ago your Board started looking at what we believed was a significant era of RCAF history that could be better covered. There was an important story to be told and we started down the path to correct this shortfall and to bring to the attention of Canadians the incredible exploits of the RCAF during the COLD WAR. After many twists and turns as well as several planning and funding challenges we are excited to announce that we are ready to move forward. The work on the Cold War Exhibit has started. As you can see in the attached drawing at the end of this article, we are creating a simulation of two Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS) similar to the ones used by the RCAF in Germany and elsewhere in NATO Europe. These shelters will house a CF 18, a CF 18 simulator, a CF 104 and an F 86. In and of itself this will make a fantastic display that we hope will attract thousands of people not only here in Alberta but across Canada and from around the world.
Phil Sprung President of Sprung Instant Structures accepts cheque from Don Matthews Chairman to start construction of the Cold War Exhibit
Once we have the two HAS and three aircraft in place the work begins to tell the story of how the Cold War was a great victory for both the deterrence provided by NATO and NORAD and for the thousands of Canadians who served through the tense years when the threat of nuclear destruction was real. There is a treasure trove of stories that we will be bringing to light. For example, we asked Dr. Sean M. Maloney, PhD who is an associate professor of history at the Royal Military College of Canada what he thought worthy of note. Dr. Maloney has served as the historian for Canada's forces in Germany at the end of the Cold War and later as the historian for the Canadian Army in Afghanistan. He is the first Canadian historian to go into combat since the Korean War. Dr. Maloney is the author of several books dealing with the Cold War, including Learning to Love the Bomb: Canada's Cold War Strategy and Nuclear Weapons. Here are some examples of the historically significant themes that he suggested we discover together:
1) No. 1 Air Division. Start with Berlin Blockade in 1948, coup in Czechoslovakia, Korean War, the suppression of Hungary and take up to Berlin Crisis of 1961 (i.e.: Why We Fight/Deter). RCAF exchange pilots in Korea. The F-86 force and why 12 RCAF squadrons were important in deterring Soviet activity in the 50’s. Then the CF-104 strike force in West Germany in the 1960s. Why NATO needed nuclear weapons in Western Europe to deter massive Soviet and Warsaw Pact strength and why Canada stepped up to provide a nuclear strike force that included megaton-yield nuclear gravity bombs.
2) This story should transition to the CF-18 force and the key role it was going to play in blunting the Warsaw Pact’s planned 1980s conventional onslaught against NATO’s tactical and theatre nuclear forces (specifically Pershing II’s) which then would have made the place safe for conventional warfare. Complementing this should be a discussion of 444 Squadron’s Kiowas and their role in supporting 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Groups’ operations in southern West Germany.
3) CF-100 crews and the defence against the bomber threat in the 1950s. This should also include discussion of not only the DEW Line but the Mid-Canada and Pinetree lines as well. Start with uncertainty surrounding the development of Soviet nuclear weapons and their delivery systems in the 1950s. Why NORAD was set up and why the bunker at North Bay. Transition to acquisition of the CF-101 force with a stop at the CF-105 Arrow and why it had a nuclear capability. BOMARC needs inclusion here because CIM-99 and CF-105/CF-101 were always seen as complementary systems. A vignette should include the COLD SHAFT interception of Soviet BEAR flights.
4) CP-107 Argus on maritime patrol. The development of a massive Soviet submarine force designed to interdict SLOC’s to Western Europe in the 1950s was of prime concern at first, but then with the development and deployment of missile-carrying submarines that could threaten North America with nuclear weapons, hunting these submarines became an important task. This is where we talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis and how Canadian Argus and Neptunes protected the northeastern approaches of the United States during the crisis. Neptunes, Sea Kings, Trackers and Auroras can all fit in here.
5) Intelligence operations in the Arctic is a crucial part of the Air Force’s Cold War history, starting with the use of Lancaster AR’s to track Soviet drift ice stations and the discovery of a TU-16 Badger operating from an ice airfield. This can transition into a discussion of the Supplementary Radio System and the incredibly SIGINT activities from northern stations and then transition into the saga of the BOXTOP 22 crash at CFS Alert. Highlight female role in these activities. CFS Yellowknife and CFS FlinFlon’s role in the intelligence collection apparatus regarding Soviet nuclear tests is another aspect of this, as well as Canadian support to Operation MORNING LIGHT, the crash of a Soviet nuclear satellite in the Northwest Territories.
6) Air Transport Command supported all of the RCAF’s overseas activities, starting with airlift to Korea of US troops with North Stars, Operation LEAP FROG to support No. 1 Air Division, C-119s to drop the Mobile Striking Force in the Arctic with B-25’s from the Air reserve to provide ground support, the deployment of Canadian UN contingents to counter Soviet influence in the Third World (Congo, particularly, which starts to escalate into a Cuban-like scenario), and disaster relief operations with CC-130s which were designed to counter Communist influence in other Third World countries in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The destruction of the Buffalo by Soviet-supplied SAMs over Syria in 1974 can fit here.
So in closing allow me to highlight two key aspects of the Cold War Exhibit. First, there are many people and agencies who have made this possible. Thank you all. I would be remiss however if I did not mention one by name - Major General (Retired) Ken Lett. We are sincerely grateful for his financial support without which this project would not have become a reality. Furthermore, his confidence in the Board is the keystone of our initiative.
Second, this venture is intended to be the vehicle to tell the stories of the thousands of Canadians who served in the Cold War RCAF. If you agree that it is now time to remember, refresh and educate, please join our small band of volunteers. Enlist as a guide for the new exhibit. You will not only be preserving proud RCAF history, you will also have the opportunity to tell your personal stories. And it is our experience that these personal stories are profoundly impactful and the ones that all Canadians want and need to hear.
Drawing of the Two Simulated Hardened Aircraft Shelters
Return of an iconic RCAF fighter to Alberta (Part 1 of 2 - Part 2 will appear in the Summer issue of Tribute)
Contributed By Gary Watson, Director of Project 846
Editors Note: CF-104 12846 is the aircraft that will be exhibited in the Cold War display.This is it's story.
12846 on its way to 1AirDivision Europe, July 1963
On October 2, 1962, Canadair Model CL-90, Construction number 683A-1146, made its first flight from the Cartierville, PQ, airport, near Montreal. Four test flights later, on July 22, 1963 it was Taken On Strength TOS) by the RCAF as CF-104 12846.
It was the 146th of 200 single-seat fighter aircraft built for the RCAF. The CF-104 was to be Canada’s contribution to supporting NATO operations in Europe to counteract the growing Soviet Union buildup of aircraft on the east side of the Iron Curtain.
After TOS, it was assigned to 1 Air Division and shipped to France in an RCAF C-130. For the next eight years, 846 flew in photo reconnaissance roles from bases in France, first at #2 Wing Grostenquin for six months, then to #1 Fighter Wing, Marville (where the author first worked on it) and flown by both 439 and 441 Squadrons. In 1967, along with the rest of #1 Wing, it changed homes to Lahr, West Germany. Other CF-104s, located in West Germany were tasked to a Nuclear Strike role at that time but 846 remained in the Recce role. In later years, this was changed to conventional support as Canada changed its commitment within NATO and reduced the number of European bases and aircraft.
The aircraft was sold to the Royal Danish Air Force, (RDAF) on September 24, 1971 after accumulating 1,732 flying hours. After conversion and modifications at Scottish Aviation, Prestwick, to a F-104G variant, it flew for the RDAF 726 Esk at Aalborg as R-846 until July 10, 1984, when it was Struck Off Strength (SOS) after having flown 1,821additional hours and retired with a total of 3,553 hours. Initially stored for four years, at Vaerlose Air Base, in 1988, it was on display for ten years in the RDAF museum in Billund, Denmark. In 1998 it was stored at Vandel AB and Karup ABs until it was bought by US aircraft collector, Steve Alex. On December 19, 2010, R-846 arrived back at its at old home base at Aalborg where it was shipped out in containers on July 14, 2011 to Alex’s facility in Maine. The aircraft was purchased and trucked to Calgary in June 2013 where it is being restored at a hangar in Springbank. After 51 years, 846 returned home to Canada and will reside in a unique new exhibit developed for the Air Force Museum of Alberta, at The Military Museums (TMM) complex.
There is a significant historical connection between Albertans and the Starfighter. In 1960, RCAF Station, Cold Lake, Alberta, was chosen as the training base for the CF-104s and for 23 years the unique look and sound of the aircraft became familiar to many Albertans. Former pilots and technicians have made their home in Calgary and some have developed a significant emotional bond to this unique aircraft that they have either flown or worked on during their career in the RCAF.
The Cold War is an era that has slipped from the consciousness of many Canadians. The Iron Curtain fell in 1991 as the Soviet Union disintegrated and Eastern Bloc and Warsaw Pact countries were released from Soviet control. It seems that the world quickly forgot about how close they came to Armageddon with both sides having massive overkill of nuclear weapons and millions of soldiers facing each other across the Iron Curtain.
After 45 years of a heightened state of near-war, European countries were no longer in an arms race with each other, tensions thawed and stability replaced large military forces facing off. During the height of the Cold War, the RCAF was a major player in maintaining the peace during a crucial time of nuclear détente flying both photo-reconnaissance and nuclear strike missions. Canada’s role ended in 1994 as the last aircraft and personnel returned to Canada.
Project 846 will restore the aircraft to the original 1960s look and configuration as flown at Cold Lake and in Europe in the 1960s. The shiny aluminum fuselage with white wings is an iconic paint scheme for the Mach 2.0 (2,336 kph) fighter – the fastest aircraft Canada has ever flown.
Fundraising is underway with plans to open the display in 2014.
Starfighter history and the RCAF from 1961-1986
200 single-seat aircraft (12701-12900) were built by Canadair (Now Bombardier) Montreal, PQ
There were 113 Canadian aircraft lost during the 24 year era of the Starfighter. 37 pilots lost their lives while flying the CF-104, only four fatal crashes were due to aircraft system failures. The principal reason was due to bird strikes or other factors resulting in engine failure. Other crashes were from the nature of Canada’s NATO role which necessitated flying at high speeds at extreme low levels. Combined with the poor visibility of European skies this resulted in many aircraft being involved in controlled flight into terrain accidents.
12846 with friends:
12846 with a Hurricane and Spitfire, near Leuchars Scotland - 1966 DnD photo-recce camera photo
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of the Air Force Museum Society of Alberta will be held in The Military Museums Conference Room commencing at 1900 hours June 3rd, 2014. We hope you will attend and participate in one of the very important yearly activities of the Air Force Muserum Society
Annual Golf Tournament
The Air Force Museum Society of Alberta Annual Golf Tournament will be held at the Silver Wing golf course on 20 August 2014 with registration commencing at 1030 hrs followed by a shotgun start at 1330 hrs. Come join us and enjoy the camaraderie of old friends. We plan to have at least one "hole in one" prize, prizes for low gross and first, second and third low net. Enjoy a fine beef dinner as well as many door prizes and a live auction. Sign up on our website www.rcaf.museum using the dropdown menu "Upcoming events" or contact Gord Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. As part of the buildup to the golf tournament a raffle is being held with tickets selling for $10 each and a maximum of 1000 tickets being sold. First prize is two tickets anywhere WestJet flies with second prize of $500 and third prize of $200. Tickets can be purchased form any Museum Society board member. Winning tickets will be drawn at the Golf Tournament dinner on 20 August 2014.