Author Topic: Jackrabbit  (Read 39932 times)

Offline upnorth

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Jackrabbit
« on: September 11, 2021, 02:20:31 AM »
January 31, 1961. Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada

A pillar of black smoke rose from the south bank of the St.Lawrence river, just south-west of Trois Rivieres. A single parachute drifted downward into the farmland north-east of Nicolet. A test pilot survived, a prototype jet trainer did not.

"I'd been set to fly a routine trip from the Canadair factory in Cartierville to Quebec City and back, following the river for navigation. Nothing should have gone wrong, but the program had been full of unexpected delays and obstacles. If ever there was an aircraft full of gremlins, the CL-41 was it."

So went part of the post crash interview with Canadair test pilot Ian MacTavish.

From the maiden flight, on January 13 of 1960, the Canadair CL-41 jet trainer program had been plagued with inexplicable problems. In spite of losing three prototypes due to sudden loss of control during flight, all wind tunnel tests showed a stable aircraft design. All mechanical inspections showed no problems and all test pilots were healthy as horses.

Investigations into the loss of the three CL-41 prototype airframes were inconclusive. What was not inconclusive was that the program had fallen through the thin ice it was already on.

No lives had been lost, but with three prototypes lost in a year of flying and no conclusive explanation for it, the Royal Canadian Air Force had lost interest in the CL-41 as its new jet trainer aircraft.

The RCAF's next generation jet trainer would not be of domestic design.

A former Canadair employee:

"The CL-41 had been a private venture by Canadair to create an indigenous advanced jet training aircraft. As there was no tender put out, we really had to sell it to the RCAF. We failed.

We had piqued the RCAF's interest in an advanced jet trainer, but they had lost their interest in the CL-41 after the accidents.

They put out a tender not long after the CL-41 program was cancelled and we hoped that we could get a second chance at the trainer, even if it might be license built.

We got lucky."
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2021, 08:02:06 AM »
Good stuff! And colour me intrigued ... very interested to see what replaces the CL-41.  :D
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2021, 12:48:48 AM »
Indeed
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2021, 05:20:09 PM »
The Competition Gathers

While the RCAF brass decided they had seen enough of the CL-41's bad luck, the logic of looking for a new generation jet trainer to supplement and possibly replace the Canadair license built T-33s was sound. The RCAF announced a competition for the new jet trainer in late summer of 1961.

The trouble was that the only truly new generation jet trainer flying at the time, other than the CL-41, in western Cold War skies was the Aermacchi MB-326 from Italy.

Other available trainers, like the Cessna T-37, Fouga Magister and BAC Jet Provost were well proven and capable but all more than half a decade older in basic design than the CL-41.

Additionally, the RCAF had specified that the new trainer be of single engine design. This effectively removed the Cessna and Fouga aircraft from contention.

The final line up of competing designs were the the Aermacchi MB-326, BAC Jet Provost and the Folland Gnat.

A former RCAF pilot who was involved in the competition:

"While the Italian jet was still in prototype and pre-production stages, several of us who had been stationed in France or West Germany in the late 1950s had seen the MB-326 demonstrator jets perform. We were impressed to say the least.

The Jet Provost variant in the competition would be the very new T.4 version that was a just a few months away from entering RAF service when the competition was announced. RCAF pilots who had flown the previous Jet Provost version, the T.3, generally spoke well of it, so we were interested to get a look at the new version.

As for the Gnat, we weren't sure what to make of it. It was fast, but the small size concerned us a bit and we knew that the aircraft was initially intended to meet a light strike fighter role that the RAF lost interest in and Folland had reworked the aircraft into a trainer in order to sell the RAF on it. The idea of a reworked and repurposed fighter rather than a from-the-ground-up trainer didn't sit well with all of us."

October 9, 1961: RCAF Station Marville, France

As all three competing trainer designs were European in origin, it was decided to host the preliminary stage of the competition at one of the RCAF's European bases. As it was likely the new trainer would see some deployment to Europe, it had to be seen how it would perform over the congested airspace of Continental Europe.

With September spent preparing Marville for the competition, the first week of October was given for the competing parties and their aircraft to arrive and give briefings on their machines. The flying started in earnest the second week of October.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2021, 05:23:38 PM by upnorth »
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2021, 03:02:45 AM »
Oh this is very cool! I'm already anticipating Macchis in Maple Leafs :)

Are you doing images to accompany the story?
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2021, 03:21:18 AM »
Oh this is very cool! I'm already anticipating Macchis in Maple Leafs :)

Are you doing images to accompany the story?

I'm thinking about some images. Gotta get out the drawing pens and ink and get the rust out.  :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2021, 05:02:42 AM »
Ooh! Another Upnorth tale! Chair pulled up and coffee cup filled.



Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2021, 02:11:01 AM »
Ooh! Another Upnorth tale! Chair pulled up and coffee cup filled.


I can't promise this will be the long, drawn out tale that previous ones were. This year has been crazy on many fronts and the idea of losing the CL-41 has been bouncing around in my mind since I was still rewriting the post WWII history of Austria.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2021, 05:25:23 PM »
Operazione Coniglio

The initial stage of the competition at Marville had gone without a hitch for all three companies involved. While the RCAF were busy with closer assessment of the preformances of the aircraft, the three companies were making their way to Canada for the second stage.

A retired Aermacchi engineer recalls the time:

"The second stage of the competition focused primarily on cold weather performance and range. The Jet Provost had a bit less range than our 326, but it could still compete with us there. Of the Gnat, we were confident we had it roundly beaten as far as range was concerned.

Fitting the 326 out for cold weather operations proved to a be a straightforward task. We could imagine that the Jet Provost team wouldn't have too much trouble with that, but we were very sceptical that the Gnat would survive the cold weather operation aspect. The Finnish air force had experienced all sorts of problems with the Gnat almost as soon as they took in into service in 1958, part of those problems were due to the harsh operating environment in Finland.

Our 326 was doing well for itself so far and we were very optimistic. Our marketing team had created "Operazione  Coniglio" to market the aircraft specifically to Canada. In English, that translated into "Operation Rabbit". The name was chosen after our marketing team did some research and saw that the RCAF had some aircraft named after wild animals like the Chipmunk, Beaver, Otter and Caribou; they felt giving the 326 a name that fit in that pattern could only help in the competition.

To push the point home a bit further, the two aircraft we took to Canada were appropriately registered as I-JUMP and I-LEAP and had  the silhouette of a leaping rabbit painted on the fuselage just below the cockpits."
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2021, 02:44:23 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2021, 10:21:56 AM »
I was wondering where the 'Jackrabbit' subject line came from! Okay, 'Operation Bunny', it is  ;D

Watching with interest  8)
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2021, 04:41:49 PM »
November 20, 1961: RCAF Station Namao, Alberta, Canada

The chill of a Canadian prairie winter cut sharply through the cold weather clothing of the ground crews of all three teams in the competition as they prepared their respective aircraft in the pre-dawn hours for the range testing their aircraft would endure over the course of the day.

A retired BAC team pilot recalls:

"I had flown in the RAF in World War Two and had done the bulk of my flight training on the Canadian prairies, some of it during the winter, so I had some idea what to expect going out there at this time of year. Still, it was something of a shock to the system after having been away from it for several years.

The RCAF evaluation team had set a triangular course for the teams to fly and we were briefed on it while our ground crews readied the planes.

The first leg would be from Namao to Cold Lake. We would then go from Cold Lake to Moose Jaw and spend a few hours there so that representatives from RCAF Training Command could get a good look at the aircraft and ask questions. We would then head back to Namao in the early evening.

It was a good route for the test as the second on final legs, about 555 km and 658 km respectively, were a fair test of the range of all three aircraft and the final leg would see us return to Namao at night, so there was some latitude to show some night flying abilities of the aircraft.

The only real concern about our Jet Provost at the time was the lack of cockpit pressurization. Both the MB-326 and the Gnat had pressurized cockpits while the Jet Provost Mk.4 variant we were demonstrating did not. This meant we could not fly as high as they could and make the most efficient use of our engine."

November 20, 1961: RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada

After a flight of approximately 225 km, all three aircraft reached Cold Lake without incident.

Cold Lake was designed to be a quick stop for technicians from the three teams who had been sent to the station ahead of the aircraft to top up fuel and do a quick visual inspection for their respective aircraft before the second leg. The aircraft were all back in the air and headed to Moose Jaw less than an hour after landing at Cold Lake.

November 20, 1961: RCAF Station Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

After a flight of over 550 kilometres, the MB-326 and Gnat arrived at Moose Jaw in quick succession with the Jet Provost arriving about 20 minutes later. The three aircraft were taxiied to a shared hangar where technicians unstrapped the pilots and set to work readying the aircraft for the final leg later in the day.

The pilot of the Gnat team recalls:

"I loved the Gnat tremendously as a flying machine, but I don't think I've ever been as happy to get out of one as I was after the Cold Lake to Moose Jaw flight or the final leg of the range competition that followed it. Happily, Moose Jaw would give us a good chance to relax between second and third legs.

All of the pilots expected they would need to do some interviews with the press and answer questions from RCAF Training Command brass, but that was all being taken care of by the various company representatives and other test pilots. All three teams had sent spare aircraft to Moose Jaw ahead of time and all three teams were set up in an adjacent hangar attentding to the public relations and marketing end of things.

I was quite glad I didn't have to face the press that day. My flight so far had been great and the aircraft performed flawlessly. However, watching the vast Canadian prairie under me left me with some serious concerns about how appropriate the Gnat might be for a country like Canada. It was the smallest of the competitiors and had the least space for survival gear if it went down in the middle of nowhere.

As it turned out, the pilot of the other Gnat developed similar concerns while flying it from Namao to Moose Jaw for the press conference."

The flying crews were escorted to a private dining area for lunch and then were taken to mingle with instructor pilots from the base for an informal question and answer session with them.

A retired RCAF instructor pilot:

"We were all very excited at Moose Jaw about the new trainer. Our excitiment was only diminished a small amount by the fact it wouldn't be domestic. A good plane is a good plane, wherever it comes from and we were looking at three good planes.

All three aircraft had things in their favour. The Jet Provost, with its side by side seating, definitely felt like a trainer first and foremost while both the MB-326 and Gnat gave more of a fighter feel.

My personal preference was for the MB-326. Sitting in the cockpit felt like getting into a newer version of the T-33 we were already flying. It felt comfortable right from the start."

November 20, 1961: RCAF Station Namao, Alberta, Canada

The three aircraft returned to their starting point as twilight was giving way to the full blackness of night. The teams would have the next 48 hours to relax and discuss the day's flying and aircraft performance. The teams that had done the press conference in Moose Jaw were due back at Namao the next morning.

Those aircraft that had been used at the press conference were to be the subjects of the icing trials later in the week.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 06:03:49 PM by upnorth »
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2021, 08:00:07 PM »
December 4, 1961: Hawker Siddeley headquarters, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom

Following the range and icing tests in Canada, the three competing teams returned to Europe to break for Christmas and prepare for the final fly off scheduled for early in 1962.

The reports of the Gnat pilots had reached the executive levels of Hawker Siddeley, which had taken over Folland in 1959, and the first two weeks of December 1961 were taken up by many meetings and heated debates in the company boardrooms.

A former company executive recalls:

"The Gnat pilots who had demonstrated the aircraft in Canada had both recommended that we pull the aircraft out of the competition as they both had serious misgivings on the adequacy of the aircraft for Canada as far as range was concerned.

I could empathize with their position as I had some experience flying over the Canadian prairies myself, those could be some very big distances to cover and the Gnat had a range of just a bit over 800 kilometers. The final leg of the range test was around 660 kilometers, so the math was not difficult to see that there wouldn't be a lot of options for an aircraft with a range of less than 1,000 kilometers if things started going badly.

They also had concerns over the Gnat's small size in regards to how much survival gear might be able to be packed into it. If a Gnat went down in a remote enough area, would the  aircraft be able to carry enough supplies to keep the crew alive until rescue teams could get to them?

I didn't have any problems taking the side of the pilots and the company had plenty of other irons in the fire at the time, so it wouldn't hurt us much to pull out.

Not everyone at the company felt as I did, though.

There were those who saw the Gnat as way for the company to keep a hand in aircraft production in Canada. Avro Canada was a full subsidiary to Hawker Siddeley at the time and the cancellation of the Avro Arrow interceptor in 1959 had left the factory at Malton without a project or staff. Their idea was that, if we won the competition, we'd open up a Gnat production line there rather than close the aircraft arm of the company as some others wanted to do."

January 5, 1962: Hawker Siddeley headquarters, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom

Following a return to work after the Christmas and New Year break, Hawker Siddeley executives voted by a narrow margin to withdraw the Gnat from the competition.

Later that same year, Hawker Siddeley disolved Avro Canada and restructured it as Hawker Siddeley Canada. The aircraft arm of the company was closed and de Havilland Canada eventually took ownership of the former Avro Canada factory at Malton.





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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2022, 04:42:22 PM »
February 5, 1962: RCAF Station Marville, France

BAC and Aermacchi teams converged for the final fly-off at the same location as the competiton began, the RCAF Station At Marville in France.

It was an anti-climactic event, as the decision had largely made itself by that point in time. A retired BAC representative recalls:

"We knew the Jet Provost, with its lack of cockpit pressurisation, really didn't have a chance.

The T.4 version that had entered RAF service in late 1961, and was the version Canada would get, was a sound aircraft. However, the need for trainer jets that could operate at higher altitudes was being voiced by many air arms around the world and the Jet Provost would need a serious redesign to accomodate the cockpit pressurisation required for that.

What the MB-326 could deliver 'now', we could only promise for later.

What really put the MB-326 over the top, was that Aermacchi promissed a license building deal to Canada for their aircraft if it won.

All we could do was sit and watch, then shake hands with the victors."

As it was, Aermacchi was working on more than a license building deal. At the time, Canadair was a subsidiary to General Dynamics through that company's Convair division.

At the same time Aermacchi was selling the MB-326 to Canada, they were also in negotiations to purchase Canadair and make it their own subsidiary.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2022, 04:45:08 PM by upnorth »
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2022, 07:08:37 PM »
A former Aermacchi executive:

"There was, understandably, a great deal of concern at Canadair and General Dynamics about Aermacchi's bid to purchase Canadair. Lockheed was showing even more concern as Canadair had not only license built a version of their T-33 trainer, but they had the license to produce Lockheed's F-104 Starfighter as well.

In truth, they needn't have worried. We were prepared to respect any license building deals that were already in place at Canadair.

We knew we had a winner on our hands with the MB-326 and that there would need to be multiple assembly lines to meed the global demand we envisioned for it.

We could simply have granted a production license to Canadair, but purchasing them would give us a real foothold in the North American market for potential future aircraft construction and marketing."
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2022, 01:35:48 AM »
I was just about to ask you if there were any updates...
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2022, 07:05:20 PM »
I was just about to ask you if there were any updates...

Yeah, I finally had a chance to get more written. Lot's of other stuff going on in "real life" got in the way for a bit.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2022, 06:04:11 PM »
August 6, 1962: Cartierville Airport, Quebec, Canada

The roar of a newly built CF-104 Starfighter filled the air as the heat from its engine exhaust disipated the morning mist around it. The pilot manipulated the throttle and the aircraft started taxiing to the end of the runway in preparation for its shakedown flight and acceptance by the RCAF.

While the world at large was gossiping about the death of Marilyn Monroe over the weekend, the buzz in the Canadair hangars was solidly on the changes that Aermacchi might bring to operations now that Canadair was officially the Italian company's subsidiary.

A former Canadair executive:

"The CF-104 line was safe, as Aermacchi had promised it would be, and we were on a hiring surge to get the personnel in place to tool up for and start building the MB-326.

In spite of Aermacchi assurances, there were some people working for us that were difficult to convince that they could carry on with their jobs as if nothing happened. I suppose some people are just that way.

The change of Ownership to Aermacchi had been finalised and we were in the process of tooling up for MB-326 production. The area of the plant that had been intended for CL-41 production would now be home to the MB-326 line.

Aermacchi had made it clear that they wanted us to produce the aircraft for a long term and for export customers as well as the RCAF. With that, we could give some assurance to anyone we hired for the MB-326, that they would have steady work for a decent period of time."

The first five MB-326 to be built by Canadair were assembled from kits provided by Aermacchi. The first of these aircraft took to the air in early November of 1962 with the other four taking their respective first flights within November and December of that year.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2022, 01:12:49 AM »
Hmmm...I wonder what this development could mean in the longer term?

Would the CF-5 program go ahead?  If yes, would this also provide a reverse flow opportunity for CF-5s to be proposed by Aermacchi for the Aeronautica Militare in Italy?  If not, what might replace it?  Something akin to the MB.326K perhaps?

Eventually would we also see a development of the AMX offered in Canada?  Perhaps the MB-339?
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2022, 10:52:38 AM »
Good questions. On the future of the CF-5 purchase, links between Northrop and Canada seemed to have had to do with the personal relationship between Paul Hellyer (MND 1963-1967) and T.V. Jones (Northrop CEO/Chairman/President). If Hellyer remains in place in this AltHist, so too does the CF-5.

Unless ... Hellyer had briefly supported the call to license-build Spey-power F-4 Phantoms in Canada (for the CF and RN/RAF). Had that gone ahead, one can image the CAF Phantoms needing an upgrade by the mid- to late-'80s. Let's say that the old RB.168 Mk.202s are replaced by a reheated version of the RB.168 Mk.807. That, and Canadair still being owned by Aermacchi, would leave AMX International pushing at an open door in Canada  :smiley:
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2022, 03:27:25 AM »
I'm working out the details of how to handle the CF-5 at the moment.

Some of Hellyer's other legacies with regards to the Canadian military may come in for some revision as well.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2022, 03:36:21 AM »
Another Iron in the Fire

By Late February of 1963, fully Canadian built MB-326s were leaving the Cartierville factory for delivery to the RCAF station at Moose Jaw and were proving very popular there among the instructor pilots who were getting trained on the type.

Not long after Aermacchi took over Canadair, they became aware of an intriguing design on their new subsidiary's drafting boards: the CL-204.

The CL-204 was a purpose designed, amphibious water bomber that was intended to be able to refill its water tanks by skimming over a body of water and using a pair of retractable scoops to take up a new load of water.

A former Aermacchi engineer:

"The moment we set eyes on the CL-204 design, we knew it would be something very useful back in Italy and other areas of the Mediterranean that were prone to fires due to prolonged hot and dry conditions. It didn't take much to convince our executives in Italy that the CL-204 should be supported as a priority project.

The design was solid and well thought out as it was. However, the design incorporated World War Two era radial engines and that did not sit well with us. We adjusted the specification to make it a turpoprop driven aircraft.

We ordered a series of prototypes, some with the proven Rolls Royce Dart engine and some with the newer, General Electric T64.

If successful, the idea was to have Canadair produce the aircraft for markets in the Americas while Aermacchi would have a production line in Italy to supply European demand."
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2022, 12:50:25 PM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2022, 12:17:26 PM »
Plot thickens ...  :D
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2022, 02:01:22 AM »
Jackrabbit Affirmed

A mid-March 1963 morning had dawned on the RCAF Station at Moose Jaw and a quartet of MB-326s took to the air in quick succession and formed up in a diamond formation.

The aircraft moved seamlessly from diamond formation, to finger four, to echelon....

Opposing solos did mirror passes and a solo machine engaged in Lomcovak manouvers.

To those on the ground, both instructors and students, the MB-326 was the material you could make an aerobatics team from.

A former instructor pilot:

"By the time the MB-326 had been accepted into RCAF service, the powers that were had given it the CT-114 designation that the Canadair CL-41 would have received. They also tried to give it the "Tutor" name, but the "Jackrabbit" name that Aermacchi had come up with during the competition had really taken hold in the minds on many and that's the name the MB-326 would be known by in Canadain service.

The Jackrabbits

On April 1 of 1963, the RCAF's 39th birthday, the "Jackrabbits" aerobatics team was born at Moose Jaw. Initially a four aircraft team, it was quickly expanded to six aircraft.

The Jackrabbits team initially started out as a team that could represent the RCAF at shows where the Current team, the Golden Hawks, weren't scheduled to appear. However, in a very short period, shows featuring the new team were recording higher attendance numbers than those which featured the Golden Hawks.

A former Jackrabbits pilot:

"I had significant time flying the Sabre, and enjoyed every moment of it. However, by the late 1950s, the writing was clearly on the wall for the Sabre.

It felt strange to say that you could run rings around a fighter with a trainer, but that was exactly the case with the Macchi. It may have been a trainer, but it was a full generation ahead of the Sabre and acted that way. We could do things with the Macchi in a Jackrabbits show that the Golden Hawks just couldn't."

By February of 1964, the Golden Hawks were disbanded and the Jackrabbits would be the RCAF's official aerobatics team until 1967. In Canada's Centennial year, the team was renamed the Golden Centennaires.

The team was disbanded at the end of 1967.

The Canadian military would not have another aerobatics team until 1971, when the Snowbirds were established. Like the Jackrabbits and Golden Centennaires before them, the Snowbirds used the MB-326 as their mount.

Mind the Minister

April of 1963 saw the appointment of Paul Hellyer as Canada's  new Minister of National Defense. Hellyer had many new ideas for the Canadian military, not all of them popular.

Hellyer was noted to be very critical of the MB-326 in spite of the aircraft's popularity with both air and ground crews. It was well known that he received his education in aeronatical engineering in America and had good ties to Thomas V. Jones of Northrop.

It was rumored that if Hellyer had his way, the RCAF would have a fleet of Cessna T-37s and Northrop T-38s for training.

A former RCAF instructor pilot:

"When Hellyer went on the attack against the MB-326, absolutely nothing could disuade him from his disdain for the aircraft.

We offered him familiarization rides in the Macchi, all of which he flatly refused. He likely would have had the Jackrabbits team disbanded if it weren't for their popularity with airshow crowds.

He was pitching the idea of a light combat type for the RCAF. We knew we had a performer in the Macchi and it couldn't be that hard to make a weapons delivery platform out of it that could satisfy that light combat type specification.

We approached the Aermacchi and Canadair executives on the matter and they agreed that an armed version of the Macchi should be a priority."
« Last Edit: March 08, 2022, 02:05:42 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2022, 02:37:43 AM »
July 15, 1963: Cartierville Airport, Quebec, Canada

Four MB-326s, two company demonstrators and two RCAF examples lifted off from the Cartierville runway on their way to Central and South America. Shortly after take off, they were joined by a support aircraft in the form of an RCAF C-130 Hercules.

In response to Paul Hellyer's overt dislike of the MB-326 from the start, a sales tour was deemed essential by both Canadair and Aermacchi. Securing export customers for the Canadair built version of the aircraft would make it more difficult for the minister to undermine the aircraft in the face of foreign revenue generated by it.

A former Canadair marketing executive:

"It wasn't enough that we were building the MB-326 for the RCAF, we needed export customers for it. It was the plan from the start that Canadair would be the primary provider of the aircraft to the Americas, but it took on a new level of urgency with Paul Hellyer in place as the Defense Minister. Export orders would be some level of insurance against him simply trying to cancel it.

Our target market was anyone using the Lockheed T-33, as the MB-326 could act as a more modern replacement; something the aircraft was already in the process of doing in the RCAF.

The tour lasted about a month and the aircraft generated a good amount of interest. Both Brazil and Argentina were very interested, but both wanted to license build the aircraft as both countries had domestic aircraft producers.

In the end, we had Confirmed orders from Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Guatemala."

"Project Viper"

Even before the MB-326 sales tour of Central and South America took place, the planning of an armed variant of the aircraft had been taking place in earnest as a private venture.

Tentatively named "Viper" the aircraft had a redesigned forward fuselage to accomodate a pair of 30mm DEFA cannons. The two seat cockpit dimensions were retained, but the rear cockpit was redesigned to house an equipment module with gear specific to the light strike mission.

To maintain parts commonality with the trainer variant, the cockpit canopy was not changed. This also allowed some rearward vision for the pilot to be retained.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2022, 03:16:16 AM »
 :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2022, 07:48:16 AM »
Nice! And I sense some interesting marking options coming down the pike  :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2022, 01:06:54 AM »
Well Paraguay flew the type int he real world but I don't believe the others did:

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #29 on: May 09, 2022, 04:28:24 AM »
Well Paraguay flew the type int he real world but I don't believe the others did:

Right! And RW Paraguay got its EMB-326GBs from Embraer, of course. So, how does Brazil respond to Canadair pushing into 'its' South American market?
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2022, 12:40:42 PM »
Well Paraguay flew the type int he real world but I don't believe the others did:

Right! And RW Paraguay got its EMB-326GBs from Embraer, of course. So, how does Brazil respond to Canadair pushing into 'its' South American market?

Working on the details of that right now. :-)
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #31 on: May 10, 2022, 04:18:37 AM »
Working on the details of that right now. :-)

Excellent! No pressure  ;)
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #32 on: July 25, 2022, 02:48:57 AM »
September 17, 1963: Varese, Lombardy, Italy

Even before Canadair had begun pushing "Project Viper" and securing sales in South America, it had been decided that the first four prototypes of the CL-215 would be built and tested by Aermacchi at their facilities in Varese, Italy.

Priority had been put on getting one prototype each of the Rolls Royce Dart powered version and General Electric T64 powered version. The Dart powered version had been completed and taxi runs done with it by early September.

September 17 saw the first taxi runs of the T64 version completed and a small naming ceremony held for the two aircraft.

The Dart powered prototype was given the name "Dorothea" and the T64 prototype would be known as "Teresa".

A former Aermacchi executive:

"We surprised ourselves in getting the first two CL-215 prototypes finished less than a year after deciding to go ahead with the project. Mind you, Canadair had already done a lot of the design work. Mostly, we just had finer details to work out in the design by this point.

Given the situation with the MB-326 in Canada and what a priority it was to secure customers for it, we decided to take the pressure off Cartierville by starting the CL-215 prototyping and testing in Varese. We had the space available to do it and we had Lake Varese available when it was time to test the aircraft in the water.

Canadair sent their CL-215 design team to Italy to help form the Aermacchi part of the team and lead the team. The design was Canadian, so it was only fair that Canadians should be leading it."

By the end of September, both CL-215 prototypes had taken their first flights and were seen favourably by the test pilots.

A former Canadair test pilot:

"Testing the first CL-215 prototypes in Italy went quite smoothly for the most part; they both handled well and didn't hit us with any nasty little surprises.

I'd flown Dart powered aircraft before. It was a good engine and I knew what to expect from it, but aero engine technology was going ahead by leaps and bounds at the time and the Dart was an older engine as turpoprops went.

The T64 was also a good engine, nicely responsive and no particular bad habits.

The real advantage of the T64 was how much lighter it was than the Dart. The version of Dart we used was of higher horsepower than the T64 in order to offset the weight difference.

The difference in engines made "Teresa" a lighter aircraft on the controls and more fuel efficient than "Dorothea". I had a feeling "Dorothea" would be the only prototype fitted with the Dart, and I was right."

November 10, 1963: Lake Varese, Italy

Early in the morning, "Teresa" and "Dorothea" taxied into the waters of Lake Varese for the first time. Their landing gears were retracted and neither aircraft had any water leakage through the hull. The morning was occupied with taxi testing on the water and further tests for leakage. Both aircraft did very well in those tests.

After lunch, the crews returned to the aircraft and it was time to test their ability to take off and land on water.

The former Canadair test pilot continues:

"The advantages of the T64 over the Dart were made very clear when taking off from water. Even without taking on a load of water, "Dorothea" took longer to get airborne and used more fuel to do so than "Teresa". None of the test pilots were keen to try scooping water with "Dorothea" after taking off with her empty and we let the design team know that in our reports.

They still made us do water scooping tests, but it was all very academic by that point. Both aircraft could scoop and get back in the air, but "Dorothea" took a bit longer to get back up in the air and the fuel guages made clear to us that she wouldn't be able to stay in the fight as long as "Teresa" without going home for fuel.

Immediately after the scooping trials, all further testing with the Dart was cancelled and the T64 was settled on as the engine for the CL-215 from that point on.

It wasn't the end for "Dorothea" though. She was inspected and it was decided that it was worth keeping her and refitting her with T64s. In spring of 1964, she was back in the air with new engines and seemed much happier for the change."
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 03:04:37 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #33 on: July 25, 2022, 08:47:37 AM »
Very cool!

Moving CL-215 development to Italy took me off guard as did your early move to turboprops for the waterbomber. Nice!

Especially like your use of GE T64s! Commonality with DHC-5s/CC-115s and Aeritalia G.222s  :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2022, 12:17:52 PM »
Very cool!

Moving CL-215 development to Italy took me off guard as did your early move to turboprops for the waterbomber. Nice!

Especially like your use of GE T64s! Commonality with DHC-5s/CC-115s and Aeritalia G.222s  :smiley:

Thanks!

The T64 commonality with the DHC-5 and G.222 was a big part of my decision to bring the engine into play.

Moving CL-215 development to Italy made sense for keeping space free at Cartierville at a critical time for the MB.326. It was also a bit of a nod to Aermacchi's heritage with seaplanes and using Lake Varese to test them.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #35 on: July 26, 2022, 05:37:27 AM »
... Moving CL-215 development to Italy made sense for keeping space free at Cartierville at a critical time for the MB.326. It was also a bit of a nod to Aermacchi's heritage with seaplanes and using Lake Varese to test them.

And, of course, the Vigili del Fuoco becoming a major user of CL-215s in OTL.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #36 on: July 27, 2022, 02:38:01 AM »
This thread needs some images... ;)
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #37 on: July 27, 2022, 05:03:00 AM »
This thread needs some images... ;)

I know, but I've been lazy to get the drawing pens out and real life tends to get in the way too. :(

Apophenia can feel free to step up and make images if he'd like.  :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2022, 12:36:20 AM »
November 12, 1963: Cartierville, Quebec, Canada

Things were going well for Canadair on both sides of the Atlantic. The MB-326 line in Cartierville was busy making aircraft for the new customers in South and Central America while the "Project Viper" team were busy refining what would be the armed variant of the aircraft.

The success of the MB-326 sales tour put Paul Hellyer on his back foot, for a while at least, and he concerned himself with other defense related matters for the time being.

The success of the CL-215 prototypes in Italy only served to embolden the team at Cartierville further.

A former Canadair employee:

"Those were really good days to be working for Canadair, everything was coming together so well. Motivation was high in all departments and seeing the defense minister with egg on his face made everything that much better!

I was working on the MB-326 line at the time, specifically building the aircraft to fill the Nicaraguan order; not that they were any different from the other MB-326s we were making. There was a true sense of pride in building those aircraft even the ones that weren't destined for the RCAF.

As it was, I didn't stay on the MB-326 line for long after that. Shortly after the CL-215 prototypes first flew and showed their potential, I was moved over to that project due partly to my seniority and the fact that I was of Italian ancestry and could speak the language fluently. While there would eventually be a Canadian production line for the aircraft, the first production batch at least would come from Italy. The company decided to send me there to help supervise production.

There was so much to be optimistic about at the company at the time, we were on a real high."

November 15, 1963: RCAF Station Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

The ramp at RCAF Moose Jaw was full, one end to the other, with MB-326s reflecting the winter morning sun in their silver laquer paint. Among the many RCAF student and instructor pilots at the base were pilots from the first four export customers for the Canadair built version of the aircraft.

A former Guatemalan air force pilot:

"We had been in Moose Jaw since August of 1963 to learn how to fly the MB-326. I enjoyed it emensely, with the exception of the cold prairie winter, and everyone on the base and in the local community were very kind to us.

We were being trained ultimately to be instructors on the aircraft so we could go home with the knowledge to teach pilots back home how to fly them. This meant none of us were novice pilots, we all had many hours in T-33s already.

Climbing into the MB-326 felt good from the start; not too different from the T-33, but certainly newer. It was that 'The same, but different' feel.

The aircraft felt right in just about everyway and I can't think of anything I really disliked about it. I have many great memories of flying it.

Getting in to an MB-326 after flying more advanced fighter types for a while was like getting into a sports car on the weekend and hitting the highway. There was just something smooth and carefree about it."
« Last Edit: July 29, 2022, 12:41:37 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #39 on: September 28, 2022, 02:56:58 AM »
Early January, 1964: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

A former Bristol executive:

"It was a shock to say the least when we received the order directly from the Minister of Defense to immediately cease production of the Viper engine for the Canadiar built MB-326 fleet. It was an outrageous overreach by the minister if I'm to be perfectly blunt.

It didn't take long for us, Canadair and the RCAF brass to fire back at the minister for an explanation; the Prime Minister got directly involved not long after.

Initially, Hellyer was evasive about his reasons. However, his decision had raised the ire of the Prime Minister and he had no choice but to answer.

As it turned out, he wanted Bristol to stop producing the Viper as he had it in mind to order the Canadian MB-326s refitted with the General Electric J85 engines that were intended for the CL-41 and have the construction carried out by Orenda. In this way, he could create jobs closer to his own constituency in Ontario.

He was showing us he could still meddle with the Canadian end of the MB-326 even if he could not quash it outright.

Happily, before January of 1964 was out, Paul Hellyer was no longer a problem for us and we merrily continued Viper production in Winnipeg."

Hellyer paid dearly for his meddling. The RCAF brass, very happy with the MB-326, demanded Hellyer be relieved of his ministerial portfolio. Top executives of Canadair and Aermacchi as well as the Trade Ministers of Canada and Italy put additional pressure on the Prime Minister to take corrective action.

The beginning of February 1964 saw a reshuffled cabinet with the defense portfolio safely out of Hellyer's hands.
 
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 03:00:20 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #40 on: October 05, 2022, 04:19:09 AM »
Hey! I somehow missed this installment  ???

... The beginning of February 1964 saw a reshuffled cabinet with the defense portfolio safely out of Hellyer's hands.

A scenario : A now-elderly George Pearkes declines to extend his tenure as BC's Lieutenant Governor. Jack Nicholson accepts the position of 21st LG of BC and resigns his Vancouver Centre seat. To cover some of Nicholson's ministerial positions, Paul Hellyer is assigned the roles Postmaster-General and Minister for CMHC. [1]

As Lester Pearson expected of his erstwhile rival, Hellyer resigns these new positions and crosses the floor to sit as an independent. Hellyer then runs as an independent in the November 1965 general election. However, Hellyer only splits the local vote with the Liberal drop-in candidate, Charles Templeton. The inevitable result was the loss of the Trinity seat to Progressive Conservative candidate, John Brazill.

So, who does become the next MND? Léo Cadieux?  :D

_________________________________________________________

[1] An alternative concept (assuming that Pearson wants to keep Hellyer close and under his control) would be to transfer him from MND to Transport (as happened RW in September 1967).
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2022, 04:11:11 AM »
Prairie Rattlers

March 2, 1964: RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
The newly installed Minister of Defense, Lucien Cardin, made a visit to RCAF Station Cold Lake one of his priorities after being moved up from the Associate Defense Minister position to replace Paul Hellyer. Hellyer was left without a portfolio after the reshuffling.

Primarily, Cardin came to see how the testing of the armed version of the MB-326 was progressing. He was well aware of Hellyer's disdain for the MB-326 and was eager to make his own assessment of it. He knew the trainer version was very popular with the crews at Moose Jaw; he would be going to Moose Jaw after his visit to Cold Lake and would be getting a ride in one.

A former RCAF test pilot:
"We were excited, but also a bit apprehensive, about the new Defense Minister. Anybody had to be better than Hellyer, at least where the MB-326 was concerned, and it was heartening for us to see the new guy paying us a visit and seeing the aircraft for himself.

We were definitely out to make the best impression on him that we could. Part of that was to give the test aircraft some nose art that played off the "Project Viper" name.

We had two aircraft for testing and we decided to name them "Prairie Rattler I" and "Prairie Rattler II" and give them slightly different nose art based on rattlesnakes. It made sense as the prairie rattlesnake is a type of viper and you can find them in some parts of the Canadian prairies.

The minister was with us for a couple of days at Cold Lake, so we got a really good chance to show him around the aircraft as well as give him a chance to see it in action over the weapons range.

Just as important as showing off the aircraft, was showing the minister our pride in the aircraft and our general esprit de corps. In showing that, naming the aircraft had been a good move as the minister rather liked the nose art.

As the minister left for Moose Jaw, we were more relaxed than we had been in some time. He seemed to like what he saw during his visit to us. We got confirmation of that after his visit to Moose Jaw and his ride in a trainer there."

As long as Lucien Cardin was Minister of Defense, the MB-326 was safe in Canada.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2022, 03:25:03 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #42 on: November 20, 2022, 04:41:07 AM »
May 1, 1964: ILA airshow, Langenhagen airport, near Hanover, West Germany

A pair of Aermacchi built CL-215 water bombers, Dorothea and Teresa, finished their display with a spectacular dump of water in front of the crowd at the 1964 edition of the ILA airshow.

As the two water bombers touched down on the runway, the pilot of Prairie Rattler II positioned his aircraft for take off. Receiving clearance, he pushed the throttles to full and took the aircraft skyward for what would become one of the most talked about performances of the 1964 ILA show.

During the performance of Prairie Rattler II, a crowd was building at the joint Aermacchi - Canadair ground display to get a closer look at Prairie Rattler I and the selection of weapons it was displayed with.

A former Aermacchi marketing executive recalls:

"We were increadibly lucky with ILA 1964. We had no idea if we would have an armed version of the MB-326 to show or not until Canada got a new Minister of Defense.

Once the new minister showed his approval for the MB-326 in Canada, everything moved along swiftly and we were able to get both of the armed MB-326 prototypes to the show.

The basic MB-326 trainer had already been in service for a couple of years, so we had nothing to prove with that. However, it was a different story with the armed version of the MB-326 and the CL-215.

Happily the armed MB-326 and the CL-215 both generated a great deal of interest and orders for both types would follow soon after."

A former Canadair marketing official:

"ILA 1964 was something special. Since the reshuffling of the cabinet, everyone involved with the MB-326 in Canada had been breathing much easier.

The pilot of Prairie Rattler II was putting the aircraft through its paces like there was no tomorrow and the crowd was loving it.

I fielded a ton of questions about the armed MB-326 at the ground display. It was quite something to see the array of weapons laid out in front of Prairie Rattler I. As it turned out, many of the weapons on display would never be carried by the MB-362 in service.

The CL-215 generated just as much interest and we had firm orders from Greece and Spain for the water bombers before the ILA 1964 show was over."

Soon to be commander of the Luftwaffe, Johannes Steinhoff, was in attendance for the the MB-326 display:

"At the time, the Luftwaffe had  fleets of both the Lockheed T-33 and Fouga Magister trainers. Both were fine aircraft and well liked, but they were first generation jet trainers and something would be needed to replace them before the 1960s were out.

As I watched the flying demonstration of the armed MB-326 and got a closer look at the one in the ground displays, I already knew this aircraft would be part of the future of the Luftwaffe.

Between the ILA 1964 show and when I was made commander of the Luftwaffe in 1966, I learned everything I could about the MB-326. I made trips to both Italy and Canada to get closer looks at it and learned to fly it.

I liked it, and I made sure the Luftwaffe got it."



« Last Edit: November 20, 2022, 04:45:04 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #43 on: November 20, 2022, 05:21:15 AM »
Is the armed version here a single or twin seater?
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #44 on: November 20, 2022, 02:45:50 PM »
Armed version is a single seater, as per the description in an earlier post. Standard MB-326 canopy kept for parts commonality, but rear cockpit stripped out and replaced with electronics and gear for armed missions.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #45 on: November 25, 2022, 02:12:06 PM »
Any chance of joint co-production with Australia?  The RAAF was quite pleased with the MB326...

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2022, 01:16:37 AM »
Any chance of joint co-production with Australia?  The RAAF was quite pleased with the MB326...

I'm mulling that over at the moment. I have a couple of ideas for the Australian angle bouncing about in my head at the moment.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2023, 04:43:16 AM »
Almost as soon as Lucien Cardin had completed his assessment of the MB-326 after taking the Minister of Defense portfolio, he gave the go ahead for full production of the armed MB-326 variant for the RCAF and for an operational training unit for the type to be formed within the year.

A former Canadair employee recalls:

"When the order came to put the armed version into full production for the RCAF, everyone at the company felt fresh wind in their sails. Happily we had enough basic MB-326 aircraft in one state or another of completion and some in for overhaul at the factory that could be diverted on the assembly line to be completed as armed versions, or converted during overhaul to armed versions.

We could give the RCAF their training unit worth of aircraft within the year."

September 1, 1964: RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada

A crowd of people, both civilians and military, filled a small grandstand behind a platform with a dias on top of it. Praire Rattlers I and II stood to either side of the platform and were impecably clean.

Flags of both Canada and Italy had been hoisted up flagpoles.

The ground crews, both Canadian and Italian, of the about to be formed operational training unit were standing at ease facing the grandstand in their full dress uniforms.

The aircrews were enroute with the unit's fleet of 15 new aircraft, they were flying in from a fuel stop at RCAF Namao.

The ceremony progressed through speeches, band music and a march past before the standard of 403 "City of Calgary" Squadron was handed over to the commanding officer of the new unit.

The culmination of the ceremony was three formations of five MB-365 overflying the proceedings.

A former RCAF instructor pilot:

"It was a great day, beautifully clear flying weather and the honour of carrying the number of a squadron with a fighter pedigree.

403 had flown Tomahawks and Spitfires in World War II and then flown Mustangs and Silver Stars as an Auxiliary squadron through part of the 1950s.
They shifted to transport duties and flew Otters and Expeditors until the unit was disbanded at the end of March in 1964.

Some said 403 was an odd choice to use as it had not been disbanded for long and was not expected to be activated again so soon. There was word that someone senior in the setting up of the training unit was a former 403 man and was able to pull the strings to make it happen.

Whatever the case, we were proud to carry the number."

A former Italian air force instructor pilot:

"The decision had been made quite early that Itallian pilots of the armed version of the MB-326 would take their initial training on the type at Cold Lake. To that end, we made sure that all Italian pilots destined for that version got their basic jet flight training at Moose Jaw.

We had our own fleet of MB-326 trainers back in Italy to handle pilots going to other types. We were also planning squadrons of the armed variant and pilots going to those units from Cold Lake could get any training specific to Italian air force needs after getting home.

As we would be in Canada for a while, we felt it right that the Italian part of the training unit should have a number of its own. It wasn't difficult to decide which; 403 Squadron had a wolf in their badge, the Italian air force had a "Wolf" squadron too: 98 Gruppo.

The trouble was that 98 Gruppo was an active squadron at the time, flying C-119 transports.

We wondered how we might be able to have the transport unit renumbered so we could have 98 Gruppo for ourselves."
« Last Edit: February 27, 2023, 04:50:28 AM by upnorth »
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #48 on: March 18, 2023, 07:41:02 AM »
I'm really enjoying this, but a few points;
- Aermacchi has a factory at Lake Varese, before WW II, it produced flying boats, afterwards they used it for their licensed production of Harley-Davidsons.  I have no problem seeing a part of the plant being repurposed for the CL-215 effort.
- Considering that both Canada and Italy operate the F-104, I could see the MB.326C radar trainer generating more interest than in OTL.
- On OTL, the single-seat MB.326 has the cannon ammunition where the second seatis located in the two-seater.  How is this handled on the Prarie Rattler or are the guns a bit farther back?
- Also note that the main factory, at that time was in Varese, but all aircraft have to be partially disassembled and trucked to the test airfield at Venegono for reassemly, final checkout, and flight testing.  Aer Macchi has since built a new plant at Venegono.  Considering that the plant in Varese is completely surrrounded by Varese, this is perhaps understandable.

How do I know this?  Fifty years ago, summer of 1972, I was there, working for Aer macchi, on an exchange program between my Junior and Senior years of college.

One more thought for your scenario, ALitalia bought four MB.326Ds to use in trasitioning their pikots from props to jets.  With Canadian MB.326 production, I could see the various Canadian and perhaps some of the US airlines using a similar training method.  Since the MB.326Dx were finished in Alitalia's then current paint scheme, I could see some colorful possibilities with other airlines.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2023, 01:53:52 PM by elmayerle »

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2023, 03:28:50 AM »
I'm really enjoying this, but a few points;
- Aermacchi has a factory at Lake Varese, before WW II, it produced flying boats, afterwards they used it for their licensed production of Harley-Davidsons.  I have no problem seeing a part of the plant being repurposed for the CL-215 effort.
- Considering that both Canada and Italy operate the F-104, I could see the MB.326C radar trainer generating more interest than in OTL.
- On OTL, the single-seat MB.326 has the cannon ammunition where the second seatis located in the two-seater.  How is this handled on the Prarie Rattler or are the guns a bit farther back?
- Also note that the main factory, at that time was in Varese, but all aircraft have to be partially disassembled and trucked to the test airfield at Venegono for reassemly, final checkout, and flight testing.  Aer Macchi has since built a new plant at Venegono.  Considering that the plant in Varese is completely surrrounded by Varese, this is perhaps understandable.

How do I know this?  Fifty years ago, summer of 1972, I was there, working for Aer macchi, on an exchange program between my Junior and Senior years of college.

One more thought for your scenario, ALitalia bought four MB.326Ds to use in trasitioning their pikots from props to jets.  With Canadian MB.326 production, I could see the various Canadian and perhaps some of the US airlines using a similar training method.  Since the MB.326Dx were finished in Alitalia's then current paint scheme, I could see some colorful possibilities with other airlines.

I'm glad you're enjoying this.

Thanks for the details from your experience. I'll keep them in mind and maybe work them in somehow.

The Prairie Rattler is pretty much the armed MB.326 as known from real life; Cannons where the back seat would be.

The F-104 nosed MB.326 would certainly be interesting, though I'm not sure how far down the F-104 road I'll go in this story.

IN this story, the armed MB.326 runs on the idea that perhaps the Fiat G.91 never came to be, but interest remained in a light attack platform.
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #50 on: March 19, 2023, 05:44:33 AM »
FWIWm the MB.326Km with the single-seat canopy has the ammunition for the cannons where the second seat was, that's one reason it's faired over.  I'm not certain how this layout affects your concept of the Prarie Rattler.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #51 on: March 19, 2023, 07:11:41 PM »
FWIWm the MB.326Km with the single-seat canopy has the ammunition for the cannons where the second seat was, that's one reason it's faired over.  I'm not certain how this layout affects your concept of the Prarie Rattler.

My idea with the Prairie Rattler, and other early armed MB.326 variants is to have the guns and ammunition in their real world position, but maintain the standard trainer style canopy over it all.

Partly, this would be for parts commonality between the attack and trainer versions where possible. It would also be to maintain some degree of rearward vision for the pilot.

From what I've seen of cutaways of the MB.326K, the gun package doesn't extend up past the point of the cockpit sill and the upper part is taken up by some avionics boxes.

I figure if those avionics boxes can be arranged behind the pilot so that the pilot can see to at least the four and eight positions, if not five and seven, then keeping the trainer canopy and the better field of view it could give might be prudent.
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #52 on: March 20, 2023, 03:47:15 PM »
Reasonable enough assumption on the Prarie Rattler, now that I understand the set up.  It's going to be interesting to see where you take this story and where Canadian production ends up serving.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #53 on: April 10, 2023, 10:03:30 AM »
If someone wants to model the Prarie Rattler, it's easy in 1/72 as pavla has the cannon bulges that can be applied to a standard MB.326 kit.  In 1/48, you'd almost have to combine a MB.326 and MB.326K to get everything.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #54 on: April 11, 2023, 12:55:02 PM »
If someone wants to model the Prarie Rattler, it's easy in 1/72 as pavla has the cannon bulges that can be applied to a standard MB.326 kit.  In 1/48, you'd almost have to combine a MB.326 and MB.326K to get everything.

These days, you're pretty much in the same boat in either scale.

Pavla folded in 2021 or so. So unless you are lucky enough to get your hands on the 1/72 cannon bulges, or someone else makes a set, you're kitbashing in 1/72 as well.

The current Pavla website looks like it's just a website builder template:
https://www.pavlamodels.cz/
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #55 on: April 15, 2023, 10:03:09 AM »
With all of this going on, are any of the Canadian airlines going to order canadian equivalents of the MB.326D to transition their pilots from piston engines to jets?  You could whif some colorful MB326's that way.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #56 on: April 15, 2023, 10:06:17 AM »
If someone wants to model the Prarie Rattler, it's easy in 1/72 as pavla has the cannon bulges that can be applied to a standard MB.326 kit.  In 1/48, you'd almost have to combine a MB.326 and MB.326K to get everything.

These days, you're pretty much in the same boat in either scale.

Pavla folded in 2021 or so. So unless you are lucky enough to get your hands on the 1/72 cannon bulges, or someone else makes a set, you're kitbashing in 1/72 as well.

The current Pavla website looks like it's just a website builder template:
https://www.pavlamodels.cz/
i did manage to acquire some of their 1/72 MB.326K cannon bulges.  Originally bought with the idea of converting a G-4 Super Galeb into a J-4 Super Jasyreb in Yugoslavian markings.  Never got around to that conversion, but I have the parts and may do your "Prarie Rattler" instead.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #57 on: April 15, 2023, 10:16:00 PM »
With all of this going on, are any of the Canadian airlines going to order canadian equivalents of the MB.326D to transition their pilots from piston engines to jets?  You could whif some colorful MB326's that way.

That had not crossed my mind.

However, I'll have to work it in somehow. The idea of MB.326s in Canadian Pacific or Pacific Western livery is just too tempting to pass up.  :-*
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #58 on: August 06, 2023, 05:48:44 AM »
Strategy for Supply

As the result of predicted interest in the MB-326 and better than predicted interest in the CL-215 at the 1964 ILA Airshow, a strategy had to be developed to supply the demands. Canadair and Aermacchi could not fill all the orders on their own.

A former Aermacchi executive:

"In 1964 it was only ourselves and Canadair producing the MB-326. In Italy, we had been testing the CL-215 extensively and had refined it to the point of building some pre-production models that would be ready for the Paris Airshow in June of 1965. We were also developing a utility version of the aircraft that did away with the water bomber capacity in favour of a multi-use cabin. We hoped the prototype for that would also be ready for Paris in 1965.

In 1964, the only other company with a license to produce the MB-326 was Atlas Aircraft of South Africa. They had not yet started production, but it didn't really matter. With the Apartheid government that was in place there at the time, very few places indeed would buy from them and their variant of the aircraft would be very specialised to their own needs.

At the ILA 1964 show, Commonwealth Aircraft of Australia, along with Embraer of Brazil and FMA of Argentina all showed interest in obtaining licences to produce the MB-326. Additionally, all three companies showed greater or lesser degrees of interest in obtaining licenses to produce the CL-215.

Before 1964 was out, we had granted a license for the MB-326 to Commonwealth Aircraft and a team was sent from Canadair to the Commonwealth facilities to oversee the tooling up process.

Supplying the license for the MB-326 to Embraer and FMA was more problematic as we felt we didn't need two full production lines for the aircraft in South America. We suggested that one could hold the license and be the main production/assembly line while the other could be subcontracted by them for production of certain components.

We could tell they weren't happy with our suggestion, but nobody had any better ideas for how both companies could get themselves involved in the production of the aircraft.

Ultimately, we gave the license to Embraer in early 1965 and they subcontracted FMA to produce the landing gear and wingtip fuel tanks along with the rear fuselage and empanage.

What really tipped the scales in Embraer's favour was their higher interest in the CL-215 than FMA seemed to have. Shortly after granting the license, Aermacchi sent teams to both Embraer and FMA facilities to supervise tooling up for the MB-326."

A former Canadair executive:

"It was a tremendous relief to us in Cartierville when we heard there would be another production line for the MB-326 in the Americas. We were stretched to fill the Central American orders, we had no idea how we could stretch to South America as well.

The challenge was determining where the line would be for us and Embraer. We were already delivering the MB-326 fleet to Guatemala, but had made no deliveries south of there yet.

After some bargaining, we agreed that Embraer would have the markets from the Honduras-Nicaragua border southward. We agreed on this as the first batch of Honduran aircraft was nearing completion at Cartierville. Any commitments Canadair had made for the MB-326 further south were transfered to Embraer.

We were really very eager to get the CL-215 production started in Canada now that the bulk of development had been taken care of in Italy. At the time, we were also deciding whether to expand the Cartiervile facilities or open another facility elsewhere to handle CL-215 production when the time came.

A former Commonwealth Aircraft executive:

"The ink was barely dry on our production license for the MB-326 when we were told by Aermacchi to actively pursue customers across Asia and Oceania.

Their idea was that Embraer would have South America, Canadair would cover North America and a good section of Western Europe, Aermacchi would focus on Mediterranean markets as well as any other potential customers in Africa or the Middle East. We would have what was left.

We already knew New Zealand was committed to the MB-326. Australia also had good relations with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; so we hoped we might find a customer for the aircraft among them as well.

As for the rest of Asia, we knew india was unlikely as they already had the domestically designed HAL Kiran trainer underway. As for the rest of the continent, we had no idea what to expect."
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #59 on: August 06, 2023, 05:51:47 AM »
He's back ...

Great stuff! Keep 'er coming  :D
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #60 on: August 06, 2023, 09:48:01 PM »
He's back ...

Great stuff! Keep 'er coming  :D

Yep, it feels good to get more of this story out.

A bit of writer's block here and there and some real life advantures got in the way a bit. Hopefully it won't be so long to the next installment.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #61 on: August 07, 2023, 01:51:33 AM »
A bit of writer's block here and there and some real life advantures got in the way a bit.

Oh I know how that goes...
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #62 on: August 10, 2023, 04:22:48 AM »
Sharing Europe

A former Aermacchi marketing executive:

"With Embraer set to produce the MB-326 for South American markets, we decided to redirect Canadair's marketing responsibility for the aircraft to the more northern regions of Europe. This would allow us at Aermacchi to focus more on southern Europe and African markets.

The sale to West Germany was already done and it was easy because Johannes Steinhoff personally approved of the aircraft and did a great job of selling it to the West German defense ministry.

Another thing that made the West German sale easy was that the Sabre jets the Luftwaffe, and several other European NATO nations, flew had come from Canadair and so the Canadair name carried some weight in Europe. We were counting on that weight to generate sales.

Aside of West Germany, we put Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway under Canadair's pervue for the MB-326.

France, Great Britain and Spain all had domestically developed jet trainers that also had some scope for ground attack. As such, we had no plans to market the MB-326 to them.

Yugoslavia was a similar situation. They were a user of the Canadair Sabre, but they also were taking a stance of non-alignment and decided to develop their own jet trainer, the SOKO G-2 Galeb.

Portugal had already recieved a fleet of Cessna T-37 trainers from America via the Mutual Defense Aid Program (MDAP) in the early 1960s, so they had no immediate need of the MB-326. Greece and Turkey were in a similar situation as they had also recieved T-37 fleets the same way Portugal had.

Our primary strategy for marketing the MB-326 to Europe was to focus on any user nation of the Lockheed T-33, or the Canadair built variation of it. The general idea was to have the T-33 largely gone from European skies by the late 1960s or early 1970s.

We were also going to put a special focus on user nations of the F-104 Starfighter. The team at Canadair was working on a new variant of the MB-326 that involved marrying the nose of an F-104 to it so the MB-326 could be used as a training aid for F-104 crews to learn the radar and navigation aspects of the Starfighter.

With as steep a learning curve as the F-104 had, we were optimistic that such a variant of the MB-326 would be welcome if it worked. "
« Last Edit: August 10, 2023, 04:17:58 PM by upnorth »
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #63 on: August 14, 2023, 11:12:17 AM »
Any chance of the MB,328, MB,329, or MB330 business aircraft coming about in this scenario?  MB.330 business jet would be the most likely as it mated the wings and horizontal tail of the MB.326 with a new fuselage and vertical tail and two aft-mounted Cj610 engines (same as fitted to the 20-series Learjets).

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #64 on: August 14, 2023, 12:35:26 PM »
Any chance of the MB,328, MB,329, or MB330 business aircraft coming about in this scenario?  MB.330 business jet would be the most likely as it mated the wings and horizontal tail of the MB.326 with a new fuselage and vertical tail and two aft-mounted Cj610 engines (same as fitted to the 20-series Learjets).

I hadn't thought about that. I'll maybe see if I can make some space for it.
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #65 on: August 15, 2023, 04:17:36 AM »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #66 on: August 15, 2023, 05:37:53 PM »
See here:  https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/aermacchi-projects.629/

Very interesting, I didn't know about that. I'll keep it in mind as the story progresses.  :smiley:
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #67 on: August 17, 2023, 04:04:15 AM »
Angry in Argentina

A former FMA factory supervisor:

"It was a very tense time around the FMA offices and factory in Cordoba for a while after the MB.326 License went to Embraer in 1965.

While work went ahead in the factory for our part of the aircraft under sub-contract, many in the corporate offices were fuming.

As a supervisor, I was happy that there was work to keep people employed. At the time FMA didn't really have anything happening in the way of major projects, so any work was good work even if it was as a sub-contractor.

I could see how our exective types would feel rather slighted, though. FMA had a history going back to 1927, while Embraer was a newly founded company. There was also the fact that in 1959 we got the license to produce the Morane Saulnier MS.760 Paris trainer jet for the Argentine air force.

With the history FMA had and recent experience building an aircraft of the same category as the MB.326, it really was a puzzle to many of us why we didn't get the production license.

Could the fact that we weren't really that interested in the CL-215 and Embraer were, the reason Aermacchi gave for their decision, really have made so much of a difference?

Whatever the case, an unavoidable reality was that we would need a replacement for the Paris trainers and had to put some priority on it. Morane Saulnier was bought out by Potez in 1962. Potez inherited the very popular Magister trainer jet when they purchase Fouga in 1958.

As long as the Magister was selling for them, we weren't counting on Potez to give us any support for the Paris if we needed it.

Regardless of how some of our executives felt, FMA factory staff were kept employed and able to support their families while the Argentine air force and navy both got a training and light attack jet that they were very pleased with for many years."


A former FMA executive:

"We could go some distance on sub-contracted part work, but we wanted a license for a whole plane. We NEEDED a whole plane!

We had a couple of projects of our own at the time. There was the IA 46 Ranquel light utility aircraft that we had currently in production and the IA 50 Guarani II twin turboprop utility aircraft in testing.

Neither aircraft was set for large production, nor were they the sort of aircraft that would keep the FMA name on people's lips. Embraer was a fresh upstart with no reputation, we could only hope Aermacchi had not made a mistake in giving the production license to someone unproven who was possibly biting off more than they could chew.

As time would prove, Aermacchi did not make a mistake. Embraer handled the project admirably.

Also, as it turned out, we would not have to wait very much longer for that whole aircraft that we needed."

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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #68 on: August 17, 2023, 05:08:13 AM »
On the Nose

Cartierville, Quebec, Canada
January 11, 1965


A former Canadair engineer:

We had spent a good part of the Autumn of 1964 working on grafting an F-104 radome and navigational gear into the MB.326.

After some adjustments to our proposed grafting design, based on wind tunnel tests, we got two full sized aircraft converted just before Christmas of 1964.

On January 11 of 1965, the aircraft rolled out of the plant and was prepared for their first flights. One was piloted by a company test pilot and the other by a pair of F-104 instructor pilots from the RCAF.

Many people around the company had taken to calling the aircraft "Woodpecker". While completely informal and in fun, the name ended up sticking with the aircraft into its service life.

The first flights could not have gone better. All of the pilots were very optimistic about the aircraft.

The next step was to send the aircraft to the Central Experimental and Proving Establishment at the RCAF station at Rockliffe to let the RCAF test it more deeply.

A Former Aermacchi engineer:

"I and some company executives had gone to Cartierville specifically to see the new variation on the MB.326 and watch the first flight.

We shared the enthusiasm everyone seemed to have for it. We headed back to Italy with a copy of the design adjustments needed and got directly on the job of modifying a couple of our own aircraft almost as soon as we got back home.

We got our first aircraft converted in a remarkably short length of time.

At some point between its completion and its first flight, the Italian word for woodpecker, "Picchio" had been stenciled onto one side of the nose just ahead of the cockpit. To my, knowledge, the culprit was never found.

Not everyone saw the humour in the stunt, but the name stayed on the plane all the way to Paris.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #69 on: August 18, 2023, 08:17:53 AM »
Nice! The Real World MB.326C become an 'MB.326CA'  ;D

-- https://digilander.libero.it/air10/f104/curiosita_dc3spillone.htm
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #70 on: August 18, 2023, 12:31:29 PM »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #71 on: October 11, 2023, 03:05:40 AM »
Canadair West

Even before 1964 was out, Canadair executives had reached the conclusion that it would be best to set up a separate facility for the construction of the CL-215 in Canada.

A decision made early on was that the facility should be in the west of the country. Both Alberta and British Columbia had vast forested regions and were known for forest fires. Setting up a facility in either province would put the CL-215 line close to the aircraft's intended area of use and, hopefully, potential customers.

A former Canadair executive:

"We looked at a number of airports across British Columbia and Alberta as potential places to set up the CL-215 production line. Eventually, we shortlisted to Abbotsford in British Columbia and the Edmonton International Airport in Alberta.

The advantage of Edmonton was that the international airport there was still relatively new, having been extablished in 1960. This meant that it had a good amount of available land and we could build our facility from the ground up and have it just as we wanted.

Edmonton's international airport also wasn't too busy at the time, so we wouldn't be competing with too much traffic on the runways.

Like Abbotsford, Edmonton would put us in a part of the country where aerial firefighting was in demand on a regular basis and many potential customers for the aircraft were nearby.

The advantage of Abbotsford was that it had a well established aerial fire fighting culture in place. It would not be difficult to find veteran waterbmber pilots willing to fly the CL-215 and give honest feedback to us about it.

Abbotsford also came with the advantage of the airshow that had been inagurated there in 1962. Having the facility at an airport that had its own airshow would present a regular opportunity to show of both the aircraft and the production line to both potential customers and the general public.

While both locations were perfectly suitable, Abbotsford ultimately won out.

Aside of the existing aerial fire fighting culture and airshow, Abbotsford had an available hangar that was large enough for us to start some small scale production while building a larger purpose built production facility on a nearby piece of land that the airport offered to let us purchase."

At the end of February of 1965, the deal for Canadair to move into the available hangar at Abbotsford and begin construction of a dedicated production building had been finalized.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2023, 03:10:54 AM by upnorth »
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #72 on: November 12, 2023, 03:50:43 PM »
I love the way the ancillary details are developing as much as the main story.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #73 on: November 13, 2023, 02:38:53 AM »
I love the way the ancillary details are developing as much as the main story.

Thanks1 I'm glad you're stil enjoying and following along.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #74 on: November 21, 2023, 05:20:44 AM »
Paris Airshow, Le Borguet airport, France - June, 1965

As the crowds moved through the static park of the show and the various displays there, the rumble of six turboprop engines caught the attention of many.

A trio of CL-215 waterbombers approached low from one side of the field and made a spectacular dump of water in the colours of the Italian flag at the mid point of the showline. The formation did a few more passes before two of the aircraft broke off to land and leave the lead aircraft to do the solo part of the demonstration.

The solo pilot recalled the day some years later:

"There wasn't really a well fitting adjective to describe how good it felt to be demonstrating the CL-215 at a show as prestigious as Paris. Not only did I have the honour to fly the formation lead and the solo, but the other two aircraft in the formation were the first two CL-215s we had built for the Vigili del Fuoco. We had officially handed them over a week before the Paris show.

I was using 'Teresa' to lead the formation and do the solo. She deserved to lead, she had served us well as a prototype in testing and was continuing to do great work for us as a company demonstrator aircraft. We had put a ton of hours on her and she wasn't complaining one bit, it was a great example of how tough and reliable the CL-215 was.

Once the water tanks were empty, the CL-215 was a remarkably agile and responsive aircraft given its size and what it was designed for. Sure, it was no fighter or aerobatics plane, but it had some moves in it that surprized the crowd.

As I finished up the solo and got ready to land, I could see 'Dorothea' at the company display in the statics. The crowd was gravitating toward her and I imagined things were about to get quite busy for our people down there.

We were the first of the company's flying demonstrations at the show and we definitely made a good impression all around.

As I taxied back to my parking spot, I could see our ground crews getting the aircraft of our MB.326 demo prepared for their performance later in the day."

A former Canadair public relations officer:

"I wasn't yet on my shift at the company stand when the CL-215 demo took place. I watched it from on top of the hangar that our company display was placed in front of.

The demo was an amazing thing to see. Some people asked me if it bothered me to see the aircraft drop Italian national colours in spite of the fact that the aircraft was of Canadian design, I must say that it didn't bother me. The aircraft benefited from the Italian involvement and flew much sooner that it would have otherwise.

Were it not for Italian involvement, the CL-215 would probably have been fitted with radial piston engines rather than turboprops and would likely not have the performance that was seen at the show that day.

The first CL-215s were built and flown in Italy and the first customer was Italian. It was only fair that they should show some national pride through it as well.

After the CL-215 solo was done, I looked down at our company display. I saw the crowds build around 'Dorothea' and the first shift of our PR people talking with people and handing out brochures and so forth.

In that moment, it also hit me that we had the biggest display in the static park.

Our display was a combined effort of Aermacchi, Canadair, Embraer and FMA. Pride of place in the display was given to 'Dorothea' and she turned out to be very popular indeed. We had one of her engines exposed; this worked well as the General Electric display was adjacent to ours and they gave the T64 engine, which we selected to power the CL-215, a place of prominence among their products at the show.

At the Canadair end of the display, we had a CF-104 Starfighter in the highly polished bare metal finsh that was standard in the RCAF at the time. We also had one of our F-104 training versions of the MB.326 on display. We also had a large model of the Prairie Rattler, with an example of the real thing set to be part of the flying display.

The Aermacchi display included a standard trainer version of the MB.326 and an example of their AL.60 light civil aircraft. They also had models and information about a business jet design they had designated as the MB.330.

Embraer had brought one of their MB.362 company demonstrator aircraft for the company display. They also had a model of a very handsome looking turboprop airliner that they had named the EMB-110 Bandeirante. The model generated a good amount of interest not only for its looks, but also that it had been designed by the Frenchman, Max Holste.

FMA brought the prototype of their IA 50 Guarani II turboprop utility aircraft for their part of the company display. The Guarani II generated some interest, but mostly because it was the first aircraft of Latin American design to be flown across the Atlantic. It was definitely dated in many aspects of its design.

FMA was the weak end of our combined company display at the show. It was clear they would need some help to become a stronger link in the chain.

By the time the 1965 Paris airshow was over, we would make sure FMA had something good to sink their teeth into."
« Last Edit: November 21, 2023, 05:26:00 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #75 on: November 22, 2023, 01:18:50 AM »
By the time the 1965 Paris airshow was over, we would make sure FMA had something good to sink their teeth into."

We await the news...
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #76 on: November 22, 2023, 03:11:26 AM »
Paris Airshow, Le Borguet airport, France - June, 1965

An hour after the CL-215s had done their show, four MB.326s made their way to the runway and took of in two pairs.

The first pair were and MB.326C, with the F-104 nose, and a Prairie Rattler. The MB.326C was an Aermacchi company demonstrator while the Prairie Rattler was from 443 Squadron, based at RCAF Station Zweibrucken in West Germany. 443 had recently been reactivated and was the first Prairie Rattler squadron in Europe.

The second pair were a basic MB.326 of the Italian air force and an MB.326D that the Alitialia airline used for training.

Once aloft, the aircraft assembled in a diamond formation to make their opening flypast.

The Prairie Rattler was the lead aircraft, with the Italian air force and Alitalia aircraft at the #2 and #3 positions and the MB.326C in the slot.

After a couple of flypasts, the formation broke. The Prairie Rattler and MB.326C flew out of sight of the crowd and left the other two aircraft to carry out a very well received aerobatics performance.

As the first pair landed, the Prairie Rattler roared back into the show area and demonstrated a series of tactical strike manouvers that were equally appreciated by the crowd.

The sound of the Prairie Rattler landing was fully drowned out by the MB.326C coming back into view of the crowd in the company of a pair of F-104 Starfighters, one each from the Italian air force and the RCAF.

After a pair of low and slow passes, the MB.326C broke away to land and the Starfighters were let loose for their own display.

A former Aermacchi executive recalls:

"Another wave of people made their way to our display on the heels of the MB.326 demonstration. We also saw a notable increase of people moving towards the MB.326D at the Alitalia display nearby.

The model of the Prairie Rattler at the Canadair end of our display was also getting a lot of attention.

Our model of the MB.330 and Embraer's EMB-110 model were drawing steady, if not so intensive, attention through the duration of the show. People were clearly going to be watching for more on those two aircraft.

The FMA guys knew they were the quiet end of the display. Despite that, they kept up brave faces and hid their discouragement behind full professionalism when people took even a passing interest in their aircraft.

Even before the show was over, multiple orders for the MB.326 and CL-215 had been confirmed by Aermacchi, Canadair and Embraer agents. We were all going to be very busy soon.

I knew we'd have a lot on our plates between the MB.326 and CL-215.

I looked at how few MB.330 brochures we had left from what we had brought with us and made a call to our headquarters in Italy for approval of an idea I had.

After the show concluded and we had dismantled our display, we had a small after party to celebrate our success. With blessings given from my higher-ups in Italy, I handed the model of the MB.330 to the FMA guys and announced the project was theirs. They would have full authority to develop it as they saw fit and put their name on it.

It was not right to let them go home empty handed."

A former FMA public relations officer:

"Holding the MB.330 model at the after party of the 1965 Paris Airshow was like coming up for air. I called my superiors in Cordoba before the party was over to let them know. I could hear the excitement in their voices.

I was to go directly to Aermacchi headquarters from Paris to collect the existing research and development documents and bring them home with the model."

A former FMA executive:

"Getting that call about the MB.330 was the silver lining we needed. We needed a whole aircraft, and now we had one.

There were lots of happy people around the Cordoba offices and the gesture went a long way to easing any remaining feelings FMA people may have had about only being made a sub-contractor to the MB.326."
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #77 on: December 16, 2023, 01:14:55 PM »
Okay, you've got me intrigued now.  What aircraft is "Dorothea"?  A CL-215 variant without water-bombing capability but with an adaptable cabin or some other aircraft?

Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #78 on: December 16, 2023, 07:18:12 PM »
Okay, you've got me intrigued now.  What aircraft is "Dorothea"?  A CL-215 variant without water-bombing capability but with an adaptable cabin or some other aircraft?

"Dorothea" is the sister aircraft to "Teresa", and both are water bombers.

The pair were the engine testing prototypes I mentioned on the second page of the story. "Dorothea" was originally powered by RR Dart engines while "Teresa" had the T64 engines.

The T64 won out and "Dorothea" was converted to T64 engines and kept flying.

They changed her engines, but kept her name.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #79 on: July 07, 2024, 06:10:49 AM »
Aermacchi facilities, Venegono airport, Italy - July, 1965

A pair of freshly assembled MB-326 trainers took off into the morning sun for their respective shakedown flights. Both aircraft were destined for the Tunisian air force, the first African nation to have the aircraft in service. South Africa had held a production license since 1964, but it would not be until 1966 that their version would enter service.

A former Aermacchi marketing executive:

"We walked away from the 1965 Paris airshow with a healthy interest in the MB-326 shown by a number of African nations. It was a simple enough aircraft that less developed nations could service and operate it themselves, yet still modern enough to be of interest to more developed nations in Africa.

It seemed Africa was set to play a bigger part than Europe or the Middle East in keeping the Italian MB-326 lines busy.

However, we were planning to market the aircraft aggressively to both Switzerland and Austria in the near future. Both nations had fleets of old DeHavilland Vampires as trainers. Austria also had Fouga Magisters, but they would most likely need replacing before the 1960s were out.

Canadair had helped set up assembly lines for the MB-326 at MBB in West Germany and at Fokker in the Netherlands. That companies capable of building the aircraft in those two countries existed, took a lot of pressure off the people in Cartierville."

If there was a downside in this period of time, it was that one of the CL-215 demonstrators, Dorothea, had been damaged when her nose landing gear collapsed on landing at Venegono shortly after returning from the Paris air show.

A former Aermacchi assembly line supervisor:

"Dorothea wasn't so badly damaged that she couldn't be fixed, it was a question of it being worthwhile to fix her. We had already learned a lot from her and her sister ship, Tereza, and put a lot of hours on both airframes.

Ultimately, it was decided to retire Dorothea from flying. She had served well, so we decided to carry out the cosmetic repairs needed to make her fit for display near the company offices at the airport.

A very impressive plinth was created to place her on. It was modelled after water being dumped from the aircraft. Once Dorothea was placed on the plinth, she was an amazing sight to behold."

« Last Edit: July 07, 2024, 03:29:25 PM by upnorth »
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Jackrabbit
« Reply #80 on: July 08, 2024, 05:00:01 AM »
RAAF Station East Sale, Victoria, Australia - September 1965

A six ship formation of MB.326 trainers resplendent in RAAF training colours flew low over the main parade square, the crews were a mix of RAAF and RNZAF pilots.

The formation was part of a welcoming salute to a delegation made up of defense ministers and high military brass from Malaysia and Thailand. Both nations had committed to buying MB.326 fleets.

The first MB.326 pilots of the two nations were to be trained by the RAAF.

A former Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation executive:

"It was an exciting and tense time all at once. Australia was the big power in the region and we were also combatants in the war in Vietnam at the time. It was in our interests to help smaller militaries in allied Southeast Asian countries modernize, as many of them very much needed to.

We were lucky to get our first batch of MB.326 aircraft to the RAAF as soon as we did. This was partly because all but the last few aircraft in that batch were kits from Canadair that we just had to assemble. The second batch was already underway with the first ones due to be delivered to RAAF Pearce, on the west coast, in the very near future.

Malaysia committed to MB.326 purchase at Paris and their pilots would be the first of the two nations' crews to start training. While most of the training would happen at RAAF Pearce once a full complement of MB.326 aircraft were in place there, this first group of Malysian pilots would start their training at East Sale."

A former Malaysian air force pilot:

"It was great to know we would get something modern. The smaller nations in the region were quite behind in military technology. With the war in Vietnam nearby, the Malayan Crisis not so far in the past and Indonesia something of a powder keg waiting to explode; running on second hand World War Two gear and 1950s technology would not be useful to us.

Malaysia ordered the armed version of the MB.326 and entered a training agreement with Australia for our pilots.

It felt like a bright time to me, in spite of the conflicts in the region."

A former RAAF instructor pilot:

"I think everyone was cautiously optimistic about the training agreement. We were certainly happy about providing those smaller countries with something modern for their arsenals."

A former Thai air force pilot:

"We had Cessna T-37 trainers from America and some older T-33 trainers, but these were 1950s aircraft and we needed something newer.

We wanted the A-37 development of the T-37, but were told we wouldn't get it anytime soon because of how much it was needed in Vietnam.

In the armed version of the MB.326, we saw the light strike aircraft we wanted and that we could have now."

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