The Stampede Sabre Saga

Updated 9 September 2022 with these comments

A fantastic piece and very timely with the SPAADS reunion in Montreal taking place this week.

One note- correction;

North American Aviation used an Inglewood, Ca. mailing address.

The actual plant(s) were in El Segundo, California. About ¼ of El Segundo was taken up with aviation plants, and still is. Boeing, Grumman, Raytheon & etc.

Part of NAA was North of Imperial Highway, and thus in City of Los Angeles, adjacent to what we know as LAX

Having lived in Los Angeles area ( including Inglewood), I am somewhat aware of the role aviation played in the growth of LA especially the South Bay area From Douglas in Santa Monica …to Douglas in Long Beach with Hughes, Boeing McDonnell, Grumman and a million smaller shops in between.

Cheers, Mike

A second comment as the location in a photo of the 413 Sq is not on station at Zweibrucken Germany but at Volkel Holland while on Exercise “Lucifer”, late August/ Early September 1954. My Dad is just to the left in 23139

RCAF/ DND has a number of great pictures taken at this time.

Thank you both for this fantastic work !

I have F/O Kaye’s log here if I can look up or help with any information. Dad was also involved in transporting MKII’s to Turkey and training pilots in July 1954

Mike Kaye

Research by Clarence Simonsen

The Stampede Sabre Jet

Click on the link above.

Text version with the images found in the PDF document)

The Stampede Sabre Saga

Each year in July, the City of Calgary, Alberta, holds an annual ten-day rodeo billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This exhibition, festival, and rodeo attracts over one million visitors per year and a large number are Americans. American cowboy promoter Guy Weadick organized the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, and this is widely advertised to our American visitors. During Stampede days, many visitors from around the world also visit the local museum’s, including the Hangar Flight Museum located beside the International Airport. Upon arrival you are greeted with a large mural image of one F-86 jet fighter aircraft wearing RCAF markings, however the markings are false, and this American aircraft never flew with the RCAF. The true hidden history of this rare Sabre aircraft is 100% American construction, and flight testing, which also involves a famous American test pilot named Chuck Yeager. Unlike American cowboy Guy Weadick, the Calgary Sabre is a fictional RCAF marked aircraft with a rare forgotten USAF historical past. The original P-86A production fighter contained German Me 262 jet slat locks and tracks which flew over Rogers Lake, California, piloted by test pilots who partied with a woman named Pancho Barnes and her “Happy bottom” girls.

The original design studies on the project that created the F-86 configuration began by North American Aviation Inc., in August 1944, when Ed Horkey went to Langley Field to study wing design at high Mach speeds. The first proposed design [MX-673] featured a straight wing and fell well short of the USAF’s specification for a 600 mph fighter aircraft. In September 1945, chief engineer, Ray Rice, made the vital decision to switch from the conventional straight-wing to a 35-degree sweepback wing design fighter. The new wing thickness was also reduced to 11% at the root and 10% at the wing tips. This decision was based on new research material in captured German test data obtained on Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter testing, called “Pfeilflugel” or wing of the arrow, which featured a new 35-degree wing version. On 18 August 1945, North American received a grant to build a swept wing XP-86 wind tunnel model. The tests were satisfactory, and on 1 November 1945, General Bill Craigle [Wright Field Research and Development officer] gave North American the go ahead to build three XP-86 test models. The first XP-86 jet fighter [General Electric J35-C-3 engine] was completed on 8 August 1947, with first flight [below] on 1 October 1947. [Free domain image]

During the first XP-86 wing design, North American engineers had an entire German Me-262 wing flown to the Inglewood plant in California. N. A. engineers disassembled the German slats and modified the slat track mechanism to fit the XP-86 wing, using the Me-262 slat lock and control switch. The first seven P-86 aircraft constructed, all utilised German Me-262 slat locks and tracks, including serial 47-606 [Calgary]. NAA [North American Aviation] test pilot George “Wheaties” Welch [Pearl Harbor hero] flies’ serial 45-59597, 1 October 1947.

Company designation was NA-140 for the three constructed, serial 45-59598 and 45-59599 both flew in early 1948. The first three XP-86 test aircraft were all different from each other. XP-86 #1, PU-597 [45-59597] was the only aircraft with rear-opening speed brakes and one under fuselage speed brake. This first prototype flew 241 test hours and was destroyed at Nevada Nuclear Test site May 1952.  The second XP-86 [Experimental Pursuit] aircraft 45-59598, flew 202 test hours and was retired in April 1953, used as a ground target aircraft in Aberdeen Proving Grounds, May 1953. The third XP-86 serial 45-59599 flew 75 hours testing the first Sperry Mk. 18 gunsight, gun ports, gun doors, and the only prototype with full armament testing. Retired in April 1953, used in nuclear testing and reduced to scrap. North American Aviation now received an USAF order for thirty-three P-86A aircraft on 20 November 1946, eleven months before the first XP-86 prototype was flown. The P-86A [P for pursuit] was outwardly similar to the XP-86, with very slight external changes. The most important difference in the P-86A was the introduction of a new General Electric J47-GE-1 [TG-190] jet engine with 4850 lbs. trust. The first production block began on 16 October 1947, known as the P-86A-1-NA and recorded on NAA company records as designation NA-151. No official YP-86 service testing aircraft were constructed, and the initial thirty-three production aircraft served as NAA test models, and never entered regular USAF service. The first production P-86A-1-NA, serial 47-605, code PU-605, flew for the first time on 20 May 1948.

The first [47-605] and second production [Calgary 47-606] were both officially accepted by the USAF on 28 May 1948, however both aircraft remained at the Inglewood, California, North American plant used for early production development work. Many new changes were being incorporated in the P-86A aircraft from test results obtained in the three XP-86 prototype aircraft, ejection seat, gun sight, gun doors, and speed brakes. The Calgary P-86A [fifth built P-86 airframe] became a North American Aviation Inc. first production development testing aircraft. The first production P-86A, serial 47-605 survives today at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

In September 1947, North American Aviation Test Flight air crews numbered sixteen pilots, seen above at Muroc Army Air Test Base. Photo from August 1997 article by Larry Davis titled Sabre Jet – “XP-86 Swept Wing Development. It is known that many of these test pilots flew F-86-A-1 serial 47-605 and 47-606 [Calgary] at both the North American Inglewood factory and the flight test base at Muroc Army Air Base, Rogers Dry Lake, California. I’m positive many of these test pilots also attended wild parties by Pancho Barnes, in her famous ranch hotel complex.

10 November 1948 – Aviation Week magazine

Public domain North American Aviation cutaway drawing
of first P-86A test development aircraft.

While the author cannot obtain the NAA company records [lost classified data] on testing conducted by P-86A serial 47-606 aircraft, the testing modifications have been well documented in many publications. The first two production P-86A aircraft became the test bed for .50 cal. machine guns in the nose, which fired 1100 rounds per minute. Each gun was fed by an ammunition canister in the lower fuselage, which could be opened and doubled as the pilot first step into the cockpit. The new T-4E-1 ejection seat was tested and approved. The front-opening speed brakes on the fuselage sides were moved back and became rear-opening air brakes, and the underside original speed brake was no longer required and removed. The aircraft underwing hardpoints were tested and could carry four rocket launchers, a pair of 1000-lb. bombs, or two 206 US gallon fuel drop tanks.

During this testing period [11 June 1948] a major American military designation took place when the USAF P-for-pursuit classification was changed to F-for-fighter and the new F-86A was reborn. All aircraft code lettering was now changed from PU-606 to FU-606 and testing carried on per normal.

On 20 August 1948, F-86A serial 47-606, [Calgary] was transferred to USAF 2759th Experimental Wing located at the secret test facility at Muroc Lake, California. Free domain 1945 image.

Clifford Corum and wife Effie were the original homesteaders at Rogers Dry Lake in 1910. They constructed a general store [at their Santa Fe Railway stop] and opened the first Post Office which required an official U.S. government approved name. Their name “Corum” was rejected by the U.S. Postal Service [another town had the name] so, the family then reversed the letters and resubmitted the name Muroc, which was approved. Muroc Lake Post Office was born and the location became American Aviation Military Test Site history. The Military arrived in 1933, and Muroc was named Material Flight Test Site in February 1942, then became Muroc Army Air Field on 8 November 1943, and Muroc Army Test Base in 1948. The above image [free domain] was taken in 1945, showing a good view of where F-86A serial 47-606 arrived around 20 August 1948.  The full Muroc base history can be found online and in a number of well-researched publications.

This 1949 map shows the original Santa Fe Railway Line and the location of the Corum General Store and Post Office. The test base was officially renamed Edwards Air Force Base on 8 December 1949, and the new Flight Test Center Insignia [above] was also created. The base was named for [Canadian-born] Major Glen Walter Edwards who was killed on 5 June 1948 while flying as co-pilot to Major Daniel Forbes testing the Northrop huge Flying Wing aircraft. The Flying Wing YRB-49A [jet-engines] #42-102376] broke apart in the area called “North Base” and a crew of five were killed.

The original XB-35 prototype #42-13603, first flew on 25 June 1946, seen above, test pilot Max R. Stanley.

Free domain original test film from the Paramount Pictures film “The War of the Worlds.”

This original Northrop color test film of the prototype YRB-49A aircraft, with six Allison J-35 jet engines, [serial 42-102376] flown by Capt. Glen Walter Edwards, was taken in 1947 and can be seen in the 1953 film called “The War of the World’s” by Paramount pictures.  When filming began in 1950, both prototype Flying Wing test aircraft had been destroyed, however the cameo original color test film [YRB-49A jet-engines] will forever be preserved in the film adaptation of the powerful 1898 novel by H.G. Wells. Captain Edwards was Canadian born [5 March 1916] at Medicine Hat, Alberta, and the family immigrated to California in August 1932. Glen enlisted in USAAF 15 July 1941 and became a Muroc Army Air Test pilot in 1945. The Calgary F-86A Sabre [47-606] arrived at Muroc Army Air Test Base in August 1948, just two months after [co-pilot] Capt. Glenn Edwards and crew [pilot Major Daniel Forbes] were killed [5 June 1948] when their YRB-49A broke apart north of Muroc Base, and today this test Sabre survives in Glen Edwards birth Province of Alberta, Canada.

The XP-80A serial A.A.F. 44-83021 “Gray Ghost” prototype tail marking #01, flying over Muroc Flight Test Base in early 1945. This first jet test aircraft crashed on 20 March 1945, pilot Anthony W. Le Vier baled out and survived. This gives a clear view of the test base at Muroc Lake in early 1945.

In July 1945, 2nd Lt. Chuck Yeager was assigned to a six-month test pilot training program at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. In August 1947, Yeager flew two different P-80 Shooting Star test aircraft at Muroc Army Air Field test base.

The first public history of the “Shooting Star” [bottom photos serial 48-5004] was published on 6 August 1945 in Aviation Week magazine and 13 August 1945 issue of Life magazine with photos of pilot Milo Burcham and Lockheed designer Kelly Johnson. [page 48]. Production test pilot Milo Burcham was hired in 1938 and made the 1st test flight of an XP-80A on 1 January 1944. Burcham was killed in a test flight of the second YP-80 on 20 October 1944.

Capt. Charles Yeager’s top speed of 700 mph at 43,000 feet was not released until 1948. It was also possible that two German jet pilots [Heini Dittmar, 6 July 1944 and Hans Guido Mutke, 9 April 1945] both exceeded the speed of sound before Capt. Chuck Yeager, but no official German records were possible, just eye witness reports.

NACA [National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics], Dryden Flight Research, were a flight test operation at Muroc Army Air Base, with a speed system which tracked Yeager in the Bell XS-1. NACA director, Walt Williams, agreed to track George Welch in a XP-86 pattern test dive on 19 October 1947, and test pilot Welch hit a reading of Mach 1.02, five days after Yeager’s record flight. Test pilot George Welsh had been performing these same pattern drive flights before 14 October 1947, and it was possible he exceeded the speed of sound in XP-86 [45-5997] on the 1 and or 14 October 1947. All people involved in the testing program were immediately sworn to secrecy in regards to the XP-86 unofficial test dive record flight. Phase II of the XP-86 testing began in December 1947, flown for the first time by Army Air Force pilots headed by Major Ken Chilstrom.  The first two production P-86A aircraft [47-605 and 47-606] came off the assembly line in March and in May 1948, when the world was informed George Welch had exceeded the Mach 1.0 in a XP-86 aircraft. The correct date was 26 April 1948, and the pilot was not American George Welch but a British born NAA [North American Aviation] test expert named Edward Horkey.

Edward J. Horkey was a British Aerodynamicist [expert in movement of air and the primary forces of lift and drag on aircraft] and a test pilot for NAA, who came to Muroc to check out the XP-86 aircraft. He was told about the phenomenon he would encounter if he broke the speed of sound, and the American secrecy restrictions involved in the program.  Unfortunately, pilot Horkey had an open radio channel and all the local towers picked up his conversation when he exceeded the speed of sound in XP-86 serial 45-59597. The story soon became common knowledge and spread through the aviation industry. In May 1948, it was released to the public that George Welch had broken the sound bearer in the XP-86 test aircraft. The story was next published in the 14 June 1948 issue of Aviation Week, which announced the XP-86 had gone supersonic.

The intriguing question still remains, did George Welch fly faster than the speed of sound during the Phase One testing, before Chuck Yeager? The author would also ask, did George Welch ever fly P-86A serial 47-606 on test flights at Muroc Army Air Test Base? I believe the answer is “Yes” to both questions. Capt. Yeager in the Bell XS-1 flew faster than the speed of sound in a straight line and George Welch flew faster than the speed of sound in a P-86A ‘unofficial’ test dive. I first learned about George Welch and his first breaking of the sound bearer history from Dan Bragg of the old Aero Space Museum at Calgary, in 1996.

Publications state test pilot 2nd Lt. “Chuck” Yeager frequently flew F-86A ‘chase’ aircraft that were based at Muroc Air Force Base, however the aircraft serial numbers were never recorded in his log book. Day to day chase [F-86A] flights weren’t considered of any national importance and were not even recorded or saved in USAF archives. On 20 August 1948, USAF 2759th Experimental Wing was formed at Muroc Air Force Test Base, and the Calgary Sabre 47-606 flew in the Wing.  Photo taken Los Angeles Airport 21 January 1949, with F-86A aircraft.

The official aircraft name “Sabre” was picked in a contest held by the USAF 1st Fighter Group, [flying the F-86A] February 1949, the name became official on 4 March 1949.

At least two known photos [possibly more] were taken with Second Lieutenant Chuck Yeager and three F-86A aircraft on 21 January 1949, but the serial numbers are never shown. It is believed the Calgary Sabre [47-606] was possibly one of these test aircraft.

This NASA photo was taken 15 August 1951, after Navy D-558-2 Skyrocket 37974 set a world speed record. Capt. Chuck Yeager is flying the modified EF-86E Sabre chase aircraft which was serial 50-606 [built Sept. 1950] and has been confused as being the Calgary F-86A serial 47-606.

F-86A [original P-86A] serial 47-606 as it appears today. Note – The F-86 panel with Chuck Yeager face was placed on the fighter by the author just for the photo shoot, 16 August 2022.

The Calgary aircraft F-86A-1-NA, serial 47-00606 was manufactured as construction #151-38433, and first flew 21 May 1948, as a P-86A-1-NA with company designation NA-151. It was accepted by the USAF on 28 May 1948, but remained at the North American factory in Inglewood, California, used for early production development testing. On 11 June 1948, the P-86 was predesignated F-86 when the “P” for pursuit was replaced by “F” for fighter.  The USAF 2759th Experimental Wing was formed at [Rogers Dry Lake] Muroc Army Flight Testing Base on 20 August 1948, and F-86A #47-606 joined the test fleet. On 25 June 1951, USAF 3077th Experiment Group was formed at renamed Edwards Air Force Base test area, and #47-606 now joined their ranks. In March 1955, the veteran test Sabre was sent to Fresno California Air Facility where it was reconditioned and reassigned to the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing of the Air National Guard, as a pilot flight trainer aircraft. The 146th F.I. Wing were assigned to the air defense of the Los Angeles, California, area from 1955 to 1958 flying the last F-86-A-5 models which had been withdrawn from Korea, then painted with new [Van Nuys] nose art. This rare California Sabre “A” model jet art was well documented in 1974 by James H. Farmer in his article titled “Art and the Airman.” This F-86A nose art also appeared in the 1991 book “The History of Aircraft Nose Art” by Jeffrey Ethell and the author.

The 1955-58 Sabre unofficial nose artist [CM Sgt. Michael Jacobbauski] originally painted B-24H and B-17F bombers in the Mighty 8th Air Force, 34th Bombardment Group, based at Mendelsham, England, April 1944. Sabre nose art photos from Jacobbasuski collection in 1989.

Activated on 15 January 1941, the 34th B.G.  trained in B-17F bombers and flew anti-submarine patrols on the eastern seaboard until May 1942. Moved to Geiger Field, Washington, where they became a replacement training unit in B-17F Flying Fortress aircraft. Many new members were transferred to build new groups in the 8th Air Force, England. Sgt. Jacobbauski trained as a B-17G waist gunner and with his artistic talents painted many aircraft in training units. On 5 January 1944, the group began training in B-24 bombers for overseas duty and arrived in England 1 April 1944. They were the oldest USAAF bomb group in the 8th Air Force and flew 170 missions until the end of the war.  Ten years later, this rare F-86A Sabre nose art of Jake Jacobbauski decorated the Van Nuys based aircraft with many unique designs.

F-86A-5 Sabre, assigned 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing, 115th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 21 May 1955, painted by Jake Jacobbauski.

Sabre 49-1046 survives today at the entrance to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station at Point Mugu, California, sadly painted without her record setting nose art markings.

USAF 146 Wing Sabre “California Boomerang” serial 49-1046, the most famous jet nose art painted by WWII veteran Jacobbauski, and Sabre pilot Lt. John M. Conroy who set the record from Los Angeles to New York and return to Los Angeles. LIFE magazine image.

The Calgary F-86A-1 [47-606] served as a pilot flight trainer aircraft in the 146th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Van Nuys, California until 1960. It is possible 47-606 also received “Jacobbauski” nose art but no record can be found. Due to their outstanding Korean war combat record the Sabre fighters continued to display their pilot nose art in the post-war era and today many are preserved in American museums.

In 1966, F-86A-1 serial 47-606 was sold to Reedley Joint High School, Redley California and registered as N7793C. Resold to Mr. Ben W. Hall in Seattle, Washington, in 1972, it was registered as N57965. Airframe parts from the [Calgary] Sabre were now used in the restoration of his flying Sabre 48-178, and the remains of the airframe were donated to the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA, in 1989. Sabre 48-178 was shipped to the United Kingdom in March 1992, and today is displayed in the Imperial War Museum, American Air Museum, at Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire, U.K.

Flew in U.K. 2011 to 2014 with ‘fake’ nose art markings and Sabre markings on wings and tail. Reported sold to the USA in 2015, but not confirmed. This aircraft flies thanks to parts taken from Calgary F-86A, 47-606.

Internet Aerial Visions

The F-86 Sabre series was produced in five countries, [9,860 total] including two American plants, one in Los Angeles and the other in Columbus, Ohio. In Canada the Canadair Division of General Dynamics built 1,815 Sabre fighters at Montreal, Quebec. The full history of the RCAF Sabre aircraft can be found on many excellent websites and publications. SPAADS [Sabre Pilots Association of Air Division Squadrons] was formed by Canadian pilots who flew the F-86 Sabre in the RCAF with NATO in Europe 1951-1963. In 1995, two retired senior RCAF ex-Sabre pilots were in charge of the old named [Aero Space Museum of Calgary] and they were looking for a Sabre jet to restore for the 75th Anniversary of the RCAF in 1999. The author had been a member of the museum in Calgary since 1980, and learned they [SPAADS] had purchased the airframe of F-86A-1 serial 47-606, from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, for $20,000 [US] funds. [This cost has never been confirmed] In 1996, the sections of Sabre serial 47-606 began arriving in Calgary Aero Space Museum by truck from Seattle, Washington, and the author began his research into the new Sabre aircraft. When I learned the Calgary Sabre was the second oldest airframe [original P-86A-1-NA] in the world and had been test flown at Muroc Army Test Airfield by none other than pilot Chuck Yeager, it was like a living part of American Aviation history [1979 book “The Right Stuff”] had arrived at Calgary, Alberta. When the Sabre was laid out for assembly, it was found a few sections of the original airframe were missing, as they had been placed into Sabre 48-178. As an “Erk” volunteer of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, I was involved in lifting and assisting with the rebuild of Sabre 47-606. It was in fact reconstructed on the cement floor in the WWII 1941 Royal Air Force drill hall, where it is displayed today [2022]. The author has been involved in aircraft nose art research since 1967, and began editing my own nose art column in the 8th Air Force Journal beginning in 1978. This gave the author access to the address of many famous American WWII bomber and fighter aircrew members. In 1985, I wrote to the address of Glennis F. Yeager, the wife of Chuck Yeager, asking for her autograph as well as that of husband Charles E Yeager.

The name Glen and Glennis will forever be preserved in American Aviation nose art history.

During the 1980s, the author used a nose art letterhead which featured a light printing of the B-17G nose art “A Bit O’ Lace” with the permission of the original American 447th B.G. artist Corporal Nick Fingelly. This blank letterhead was mailed to many American WWII veterans asking they sign and please return. Attached is my letterhead returned by Glennis and Chuck Yeager, 26 March 1986. Ten years later, I am assisting in the reconstruction of a Sabre jet flown by Chuck Yeager, at Muroc Army Test Field, [today Edwards A.F. B.] however nobody in Calgary really understood the nose art connection or really cared.

During the reconstruction months, I asked for two original F-86 Sabre panels and painted each with replica No. 421 [Red Indian] Squadron Sabre 1951-63 nose art insignia. These two panels were sold at a public auction to help raise money for the cost of the Calgary Sabre fighter. Two of many forgotten volunteers who did all the hard work in reconstructing the F-86 fighter in 1997-99. The ex-Sabre pilots [SPAADS] liked this replica art on original Sabre skin and asked if two more panels could be painted and displayed at each of their reunions across Canada.

Dan Bragg, editor of the Aero Space Museum Journal in 1997, was the man who suggested the painting of SPAADS reunion skin panels art. Dan [now deceased] was never a pilot, however he understood every part of the F-86 Sabre and was present each day for the reconstruction.

The author and his SPAADS reunion art panels in August 1997.

The panel on the left was based on the famous World War Two [Fictional Pilot] Prune P. Pilot Officer #89008 of the Royal Air Force. This modern RCAF F/O Prune Jr. [SPAADS] pilot has just crashed his Sabre jet somewhere in Europe while flying with NATO 1951-63. This humorous RCAF panel would be displayed at each S.P.A.A.D.S. reunion held in different cities across Canada. A second panel was painted with the SPAADS badge and this would travel to each reunion where original Sabre RCAF pilots would sign the original F-86A skin panel. When the last reunion is held, the two panels will be donated to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. The last SPAADS reunion [#16] will be held this fall in Montreal, Quebec, 8-11 September 2022.  I have no idea if the two SPAADS reunion panels still survive.

If this original F-86 Canadair Sabre panel survives, it should be full of original RCAF Sabre pilot signatures.

From 1950 to 1958, Canadair built 1,815 CL-13 Sabre aircraft in six different versions, Mk I to 6.

The first Canadair CL-13 prototype, serial 19101 was constructed at plant # 2 in Montreal in 1949, [photo below] from parts shipped from North American in California. This Canadian Mk. I Sabre was identical to the American F-86A [Calgary #47-606] and today is preserved in the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta. At present [August 2022] the City of Edmonton is attempting to dump their wonderful aviation museum and the only double-wide WWII hangar in all of Canada. This is one of many rare Canadian aircraft which could be lost if brighter heads do not soon prevail.

Canadair CL-13 in late fall of 1949, before it was painted. [internet]

Only one Canadair Sabre Mk. 3 was constructed, the 100th aircraft built with serial #19200. This Sabre was fitted with the Canadian built Orenda 3 engine and became the Prototype with registration A613. Jackie Cochran first flew this Canadian Sabre on 12 May 1953, and it’s possible Chuck Yeager also flew this complete Canadian built test aircraft.


On 18 May 1953, Miss Cochrane exceeded the speed of sound twice [652 mph] in this one-of-a-kind Canadian “unmarked” Sabre [red tracking nose section] with an Avro Canada Orenda 3 turbojet engine.

18 May 1953, Jackie Cochrane talks with Chuck Yeager in Canadair Mk. III, serial 19200. This rare “Canadian” Sabre [only Mk. 3] can be seen at the Reynolds/Alberta Museum collection at Wetaskwin, Alberta, sadly sitting outdoors. The red nose should extend a further two feet.

The Orenda 3 engine first flew 10 February 1949, and made world history with Jackie Cochrane and Chuck Yeager in a chase Sabre.

This author painting of Lt. Colonel Charles E. Yeager was taken from a May 1955 photo when he became Commander of 417th Night Fighter Squadron, flying F-86 Sabres at Hahn, Germany. The aircraft skin is an original Canadair F-86 manufactured in Montreal, Canada.


Eighteen Canadair CL-13 Sabre aircraft survive in the world today [2022] with sixteen in Canada, one airworthy.

DND RCAF photo. Never again, will the RCAF fly the best fighter in the world, built in Canada with an Avro Canadian engine. The 1959 Conservative government scrapping of the Avro Arrow ended all future aviation in Canada, forever.

Today the Aero Space Museum of Calgary is called The Hangar Flight Museum, and many Presidents, Directors, Executive Directors and other titles have passed through the WWII Royal Air Force Drill Hall doors. Few, if any, have any knowledge of the fictional marked F-86A-1 Sabre aircraft which sits in their museum, or the American rare aircraft history which has never been displayed for Canadians or visitors.

When the SPAADS Sabre pilots purchased F-86A serial 47-606 from the Museum of Flight in Seattle Washington in 1996, they intended to restore the aircraft to static display, to honour every RCAF pilot who flew the Sabre from 1951-1963. The markings were finished as a factory finished RCAF Sabre aircraft which flew with No. 1 [Fighter] Operational Training Unit at Chatham, New Brunswick. The false Sabre “Memorial” serial number was selected to honour all RCAF Sabre pilots. The first two numbers “23” were assigned to all Canadair built Mk. 5 and Mk. 6 aircraft. The number “1” denotes No. 1 Air Division of RCAF NATO and the “75” stands for the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the year 1999, the year the Calgary Memorial Sabre was unveiled.

DND RCAF photo showing Sabre Mk. 5 serial 23178 and 23180 in correct markings No. 3 [F.W.] No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron, Germany, 1954.

The Calgary Memorial fictional RCAF Sabre #47-606 [American built] should never be confused with the original CL-13 RCAF Sabre Mk. 5 serial 23175 [Canadair built] which was assigned to No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron and flew in Germany from 18 March 1954 until September 1955, struck off strength 26 May 1960. Formed as a Fighter Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec, 1 August 1951, No. 413 flew the Vampire and Sabre aircraft. On 7 April 1953, No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron joined No. 3 [Fighter Wing] at Zweibrucken, Germany, returning to Bagotville, Quebec, 1 May 1957.

Canadair also constructed the T-36 [Trainer-Transport] for the USAF.

RCAF CL-13 Sabre Mk. 5 serial #23175 was a real Canadian built RCAF fighter that flew in Germany from June 1954 until September 1955.

The Calgary Sabre was manufactured as a P-86A-1-NA [with German Me-262 slats and slat runners] plus the cockpit windscreen and tail fin are different from that of the Canadian Manufactured Mk. 5 and Mk. 6 Sabre jets. Visitors to the Hangar Flight Museum of Calgary are still confused in regards to the true history of their Memorial RCAF Sabre aircraft on display.

As the famous American radio announcer Paul Harvey would say – “Now you know, the Rest of the Story.”

During the 1997-98 rebuild of the American [P-86A] F-86A Sabre it was estimated the aircraft was 90% original North American aircraft skins, etc. The missing sections were mated with original F-86 skins which had been manufactured in Montreal by Canadair. In 1999, after the F-86 had been reconstructed, the author was given five unused skins, four of which still remain in original condition. The above skin was painted showing the original P-86A in flight 1948 era, the face of Chuck Yeager in May 1955, and the official 417th Fighter/Bomber squadron badge of a Ghost guiding a rocket.

Over the past fifty plus years the author has become acquainted with hundreds of pilots, including retired members of the USAF. Sometimes, when an unknown Canadian historian attempts to seek out American Aviation history, a door is slammed in his face. The famous saying goes – “When one door closes, another door opens” and that other door is my friend Mack Parkhill. [above]

Mack began his primary Air Force pilot training at two bases in Texas. He flew the T-34 and T-28 at Moore Air Base in Mission, Texas, [lower Rio Grande Valley] and completed his basic flight training at Reece, AFB in Lubbock, Texas, flying the B-25 bomber. The base commander presented Mack with his wings and his name was Colonel Travis Hoover, the pilot of the second B-25 which flew off the deck of the USS Hornet on 18 April 1942. In 1999, the Doolittle Raider reunion was held at Wright Patterson AFB and Mack was seated for dinner beside Col. Hoover and Mrs. Ellen Lawson, the widow of Ted Lawson who authored the book “Thirty seconds Over Tokyo.” That evening aviation history came alive and over the years Mack has shared many of these good stories with the author in Canada. For seventeen years Mack Parkhill was a docent at the 8th A.F. control tower and Nissen Hut displays at the National Museum at Wright Patterson AFB.

During my F-86 research, I mentioned to Mack, I wish I could locate the log books of Chuck Yeager, and Mack replied, “his logs are all stored at the flight test wing at Edwards Air Force Base, leave it with me.” Mack took his time and effort to locate the Yeager log books, however the serial numbers of the Sabre jets he flew were never recorded.  Thank you Mack Parkhill.

I wish to also thank USAF [retired] Lt. Colonel Steve Crane for explaining the function of leading edge slats, flaps, and early swept-wing jet aircraft problems during take-off and landings.

2 thoughts on “The Stampede Sabre Saga

  1. Mike Kaye

    DND RCAF photo showing Sabre Mk. 5 serial 23178 and 23180 in correct markings No. 3 [F.W.] No. 413 [Tusker] Squadron, Germany, 1954.

    Location is Volkel, Holland August/ September 1954.
    My Dad is just to the left in 23139.
    RCAF/DND has a number of great photos from that ready excercise « Lucifer »



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s