Warbirds Online has long admired the CAC Sabre CA27-83 Mk.32 A94-983 which has had quite a service and civil history.
Manufactured in November 1957 as an RAAF fighter and delivered to 1 Aircraft Depot and then to 78 Fighter Wing at Williamtown it then served with 3Sqn RAAF at Butterworth, Malaysia in 1958 until it suffered a wheels up landing in early 1959. The aircraft was repaired at Avalon and returned to service in 1961 with 78 Sqn RAAF and remained in service until 1963 when it was placed into storage until returning to service in 1966 with No 2 (Fighter) Operational Conversion Unit. By July 1970, the aircraft had moved to No 5 Operational Training Unit, before returning to No 2 (Fighter) Operational Conversion Unit in August 1971. In November 1971 the aircraft along with a number of other RAAF Sabre’s were transferred to the Royal Malaysian Air Force was ferried to Base Squadron Butterworth.
In 1977, the Sabre was spotted by RAAF staff and was restored to flight over 12 months with a full Category E service being undertaken. Repainted in RAAF colors as A94-983, she flew again in July 1978 and was repatriated back to Australia where it underwent more restoration work and a full repaint at 2AD Richmond NSW registered VH-PCM 02/05/88. It undertook its first formal display in 1981 and was a popular Warbird on the Australian scene operated by 2AD Richmond until 1992 and then Point Cook until 1997 when it was once again grounded and remained at point Cook.
In 2006 under an arrangement with the Temora Aviation Museum A94-983 was transported to Temora for airworthy restoration along with several other airframes, engines and spares holdings.
In 2009, the Sabre again returned to service after a marathon restoration, registered as VH-IPN on 09/10/2006 and has been a feature of Australian airshows ever since. Sadly recently news has been received that this magnificent Warbird has had to be retired again as the current Martin Baker ejection seat with which it is fitted has run out of manufacturer support. The Martin Baker seat was itself a solution as part of the restoration process as the original North American Aircraft seat was also out of support. Feverish efforts are apparently being made to find a solution to the issue, however for the moment the Sabre is grounded.
Some may not realize that the CAC Sabre was almost a completely different design to the North American F86 upon which it was based with a different engine (Rolls Royce Avon) and many fuselage and wing modifications. Most pilots rated the CAC version as the best of the Sabre breed and the nicest to fly.
Warbirds Online has been privileged to witness this Great Australian made warbird fly at many airshows over the years in both its warbird “lives” and we include here a selection of photos over the years. We sincerely hope that a solution can be found and the sabre will fly again soon.
Another Sabre, A94-352 CA27-92 Mk.32 with Ex RAAF SQNLDR Jeff Trappett flew in 2014 and it is hoped that this aircraft will also remain airworthy. A third CAC Sabre is under restoration with AveSpecs in New Zealand for USA Warbird owner Jerry Yegan.
© John Parker 2015