Cold War Fighters

Canadian Aircraft Procurement, 1945-54

Randall Wakelam

  • Published: 2011. Paperback 2012
  • Subject Listing: History
  • Bibliographic information: 208 pp., 16 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

The mysterious cancellation in 1959 of the CF-105 Arrow, Canada's state-of-the-art interceptor aircraft, holds such a strong grip on the imagination of Canadians that earlier developments in defence procurement remain in the shadows.

Randall Wakelam corrects this oversight - and demystifies aspects of the AVRO saga - by weaving together a compelling account of high-level decision making and the daily activities of the military between 1945 and 1954, a decade when Canada's air force was expanding rapidly to meet the Soviet threat. During these years, the cabinet, chiefs of staff, and air marshals were forced to negotiate competing pressures to arm the air force, please allies, and save money. Their decisions resulted in the CF-100 Canuck and the F-86 Sabre, Canada's front-line defensive aircraft in the coldest years of the Cold War. Although historians assume that the Arrow came on the heels of these successes, Wakelam reveals that neither the air force nor the government believed that AVRO was up to manufacturing even the CF-100 Canuck on budget.

By shining new light on an unexplored aspect of Canadian history, Wakelam also offers fresh insight into current procurement issues, including the government's decision to purchase the F-35 fighter.
Colonel (ret'd) Randall Wakelam, PhD, teachesmilitary history and leadership at the Royal Military College of Canadaand is author of The Science of Bombing: Operational Research inRAF Bomber Command. A pilot in his service career, he also workedin aircraft procurement.

"The two fighter aircraft featured in Cold War Fighters still interest scholars and airmen worldwide. The Orenda-powered Canadair Sabre reached iconic status at the time, and the CF-100 attracts attention not only because of its capabilities, but also because of its all-Canadian designed-and-built pedigree. Wakelam has mined entirely new territory in his compelling history, which should be read by all serious aviation and air historians."
-Carl Christie, author of Ocean Bridge: The History of RAF Ferry Command
1 An Air-Minded Middle Power

2 Planning for Peace

3 International and Industrial Alliances

4 Caught Flat-Footed

5 Facing the Threat in Earnest

6 And So to War

7 Juggling Numbers

8 Putting Rubber on the Ramp

9 Growing Needs, Growing Concerns

10 Fact and Fancy

Appendix A: Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters Organization
Chart, c. 1947

Appendix B: Department of Defence Production Aircraft Delivery
Statistics, 1951-54