From The Scrap Heap to Salvation – A Sabre is Reborn
by Phil Buckley
June 9, 2020 Editor Warbird Restorations
Tucked away in Western Australia is a growing list of famous warbird types, which also includes jets these days. One of the latter which is fortunate to have survived is a Canadair CL13B Sabre Mk.6 jet fighter which has literally travelled around the world before arriving at its present home “down under” in Australia. The aircraft is a Canadian-built variant of the North American F-86 Sabre, with construction number 1492 and RCAF serial 23702. She was one of a batch of 34 examples which Canadair produced for the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1956.
So just how does an ex-SAAF Sabre jet end up down under, you might ask? In the early 1950s, No.2 Squadron SAAF was operating P-51 Mustangs in South Korea as fighter bombers. But after exhaustive operations in the Korean War, these Mustangs were worn out and essentially obsolete given the advances of the jet age then in full swing. The SAAF was able to replace these Mustangs with a small number of F-86 Sabres which they received on loan from the USAF jets, but had to hand them back once the war ended. But their brief period of using these Sabres during the Korean conflict gave the SAAF a keen interest in acquiring some of their own.
In 1955, the South African Air Force purchased a small fleet of Canadair Sabre Mk.6 (RCAF serials 23669 through 23702), roughly enough to equip two squadrons. The first of them arrived in South Africa during 1956, and the 34 Sabres received SAAF serial numbers 350 to 383; the subject aircraft being SAAF 383, seen in service HERE. Intriguingly, being an officially bilingual country at the time, half of the Sabres were assigned to No.1 Squadron with Afrikaans markings, while the others joined No. 2 Squadron with English markings.
Photo Credit: The former SAAF Canadair Sabre Mk.6 on the low-loader to her new home in Western Australia. (photo by Wayne Henderson)
Story Credit: http://warbirdsnews.com/