When Canada entered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 it made an agreement to provide a
European air contingent. At that time the inventory of RCAF fighter aircraft consisted primarily of obsolete Second World
War equipment, therefore a need was identified to provide NATO with an effective and modern aircraft to fulfill the
Canadian commitment. The choice fell logically on the best aircraft which existed at that time, the North American
Aviation SABRE designated as the F-86. It was decided to build the SABRE under licence in Canada and Canadair Ltd.
at Montreal was entrusted with this task.

The first SABRE, designated as the CL–13 Mk.1, to come
off the production line was produced from US-made com-
ponents and was flown on 9 August 1950 from the nearby
airport of Dorval. As the Cartierville runway was being
extended, the aircraft was towed to Dorval for its initial
flight. Only one Mk.1 SABRE was built. The second gen-
eration of SABRE aircraft built by Canadair was the Mk. 2
and 350 were constructed in 1952/53 and delivered to the
RCAF. Additionally in the first half of 1952, 60 Mk. 2s were
supplied to the United States Air Force (USAF) for use in
the Korean War. The Mk. 2 was essentially similar to the
Mk.1 but had one major enhancement. The “all flying tail
plane” eliminated many undesirable compressibility effects
– especially the loss of control sensitivity at high Mach num-
bers. Most Mk. 2 SABREs that were delivered to the RCAF
were utilized in the air defence role in the NATO European
environment. Others were assigned to the training role at
bases in Canada


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