1/72 Hobbyfix CR-100

Gallery Article by Dave Bailey, aka The Rat on Jan 1 2012

Silly Week 2012


With the worldwide success of the Avro C-102 Jetliner and its derivatives, and the impending development of the CF-105 Arrow, Canada decided that it would no longer rely upon American reconnaissance of the U.S.S.R. for its security, especially since some routes necessitated overflights of Canadian airspace. To that end the government requested the production of a home-grown aircraft that had the ability to fly at 4,500 miles at altitudes above 80,000 ft., with twin-engined reliability, a 500 mph maximum speed, and both a one or two-man crew.


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Avro Canada was, as usual, quick off the mark. A well placed agent had seen Kelly Johnson’s doodle of an F-104 with long wings, which eventually morphed into the U2. The Avro team came up with a simple proposal to modify a CF-100 in a similar manner and dubbed it the CR-100. Like the U2 the landing gear arrangement was modified to a centre line type, with jettisonable outriggers at about 2/3s span.

Initial flights with the extended wing proved very promising, but directional stability was compromised until the problem was solved by creating a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder. Another problem discovered at high altitude was insufficiencies with the cockpit pressurization system. This was rectified by reducing the amount of glazing, replacing the rear half with metal to give greater strength.

Four cameras were fitted to the nose of the CR-100. One wide angle and one telephoto were placed to shoot vertically, while medium angle oblique cameras were fitted on each side. These were the well-proven Vinten F.95 cameras that were also used in the British Supermarine Swift FR.5, and gave they superb service. Ahead of these the nose remained unchanged, and housed the powerful radar that helped give the CF-100 its unparalleled all-weather capability. Most missions were flown with only the pilot, and the rear crew compartment could be fitted with extra electronics gear. Little is known of the missions which required a second crew member, speculation is that he would be only be required to operate the all-weather systems, as with the standard ‘Clunk’. Single- crew missions would therefore probably only be flown during good weather conditions

The aircraft was a key component in the HITS (High Interest Target Surveillance) program, which consisted of actual flyovers of Warsaw Pact territories. The final such mission was flown in August of 1972 in support of Operation Slapshot, which gathered information for the upcoming Canada-Russia hockey series.

In order to allow for ‘plausible deniability’ in the event of an aircraft being shot down over foreign territory, no national markings were carried. This was aided by the fact that several were known to have been operated by other NATO members; at least 3 by the RAF, and 1, or possibly even 2, by Belgium (which also operated the standard CF-100 Mk 5). There are persistent rumours that some were flown by Turkey, although these were probably not overflown, as the proximity to the Soviet Union meant that worthwhile intelligence could be gathered from high altitudes near the border.

Although no official name was given to the aircraft, crews often referred to it as the Angel, due its high-flying attributes. The radio call sign was Blackfly, referencing the well-known denizen of the Canadian north. Throughout the late 50s, through the 60s, and into the early 70s, the CR-100 cruised the northern skies, complementing both the American U-2 and Britain’s Meteor PR19. Upon their retirement three examples were converted into scientific research aircraft and are still used by Canada’s National Research Council for high altitude sampling, resource management, surveying, and various other duties.

This figment of my imagination combined the Hobbycraft CF-100 and the Airfix U-2, I think you can all figure out what came from where.

Dave Bailey, aka The Rat

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Photos and text © byDave Bailey, aka The Rat