The CF-100 and its Orenda jet engines were designed and built in Canada. As an all-weather interceptor with a long range and powerful radar, it was ideal for northern air defence, and was probably the best all-weather fighter of its time. In the post-World War II period, the Soviet Union began developing a fleet of long-range bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons to North America and Europe. To counter this threat, Western countries began the development of interceptor aircraft which could engage and destroy these bombers before they reached their targets.
A. V. Roe Canada Limited had been set up as a subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley Group in 1945, initially handling repair and maintenance work for aircraft at the local Malton Airport (today known as Pearson International Airport, Toronto's main airport). The next year, however, the company began the design of Canada's first jet fighter for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Avro CF-100 Canuck, all-weather interceptor would become one of the finest aircraft in its class, and one of the most enduring, serving into the 1980s in a variety of roles.
The CF-100 was a very conventional design, similar to most World War II heavy fighters in layout, with the exception of the introduction of jet engines mounted close to the fuselage. This sort of design encounters a strong form of drag in the transonic speed range, wave drag, as air "piles up" on the leading edge of the wing. Overcoming this drag proved to be difficult in conventional designs, and led to the theory of a "sound barrier."
However, it was not until 1953, that the Canuck entered squadron service. The long delay was not unique; similar projects were suffering lengthy delays around the world as engineers came to understand the problems inherent in jet power and high-speed flight. Nevertheless, a seven-year wait for any project was a worrying prospect, notably when the state of the art was progressing so rapidly. Even before the Canuck entered service, designers had moved onto a newer generation of missile-armed supersonic designs of much greater capability.
CF-100s also served in Europe with Canadian and Belgian units. On retirement as fighters, some CF-100s were fitted as target tugs and others were fitted with electronic countermeasures equipment. The last CF-100 retired in September 1981. A total of 692 were built. Although officially designated the "Canuck", the name never caught on. The CF-100 was known universally in the RCAF as the "Clunk" or "Lead Sled". The CF-100 had good stretch which allowed for potential of equipment and armament upgrades. The Mk.5 had wing tip extensions added to increase its high-altitude capability.
In Canada and other countries, "Canuck" refers to a Canadian. The term Canuck is first recorded about 1835 as an Americanism, originally referring specifically to a French Canadian. This was probably the original meaning. Canadians use "Canuck" as an affectionate or merely descriptive term for their nationality. Other nationalities may use the word as an affectionate, or derogatory, or merely a descriptive term. The term is in little use today among us, except for the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. One may, on occasion, run into a jocular person (possibly in a U.S. bar) who will say, "oh, a Canuck, hah?" but the word seldom features in ordinary conversation. It is difficult to find strong examples of the word being used as in an offensive manner.
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