Tip of the SPEAR

RAF SABRES

It might only have been procured as an interim measure, but the Canadair Sabre F4 was, for a time, the RAF’s finest fighter. A former Sabre pilot remembers his time on the front line in Germany — “major, and quite illegal, dogfights” and all

Some 430 Canadairbuilt Sabre F4s, equivalent to the F-86E model, were delivered to the RAF between December 1952 and December 1953. This quartet hailed from No 130 Squadron, stationed at Brüggen as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.
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John Perrott in a No 67 Squadron Sabre cockpit, during 1953. “Initially”, he recalls, “our bonedomes were in two pieces: an inner made of blue fabric with a crash-resistant hard outer helmet. No visor was provided, so at first we wore goggles, as in this picture. Later we were given a curved piece of greentinted plastic and finally a proper, fitted visor.”

The RAF aircrew recruiting advertisement in 1953 showed two Sabres flashing across the page. The caption read, “These aircraft are being flown by some of Britain’s most exciting young men”. I was one of these “exciting young men”, though I don’t recall being overwhelmed by swooning young women vying for my attention.

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