The CF-5 Freedom Fighter on display at The Military Museums was designed in the mid-1950s as a lightweight, well-armed, inexpensive supersonic fighter.
The Canadian version (the CF-5) had two major differences from American F-5s: an air to air refuelling probe and a reconnaissance nose that housed four 70 mm cameras.
433 Squadron in Bagotville and 434 Squadron in Cold Lake were equipped with CF-5s in 1969. The CF-5A (single seat fighter version) continued in service as a tactical fighter until 1988, when the CF-18 Hornet replaced it. Canada's Air Force continued to use CF-5s with 419 Squadron in Cold Lake as advanced trainers until 1995.
The two tactical squadrons in Bagotville and Cold Lake, with a few years in Chatham, provided valuable training and support for army formations across Canada. Close Air Support skills were maintained as ground based Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP) vectored CF-5s in on targets in close cooperation with helicopters, artillery and ground movement units. This was a crucial skill required in all NATO combat formations.
ACE Mobile Force
Before the Warsaw Pact began to build up its conventional warfare arsenal in the 1970s, NATO's Allied Command Europe (ACE) was concerned that the Soviets might employ smaller conventional operations against their northern and southern flanks. As a result, ACE Mobile Force (Land) and ACE Mobile Force (Air) were formed.
These multinational formations would deploy in the early stages of a crisis to show that NATO was ready to match any Soviet aggression. Two CF-5 Freedom Fighter squadrons (434 Squadron, Cold Lake AB; and 433 Squadron, Bagotville QC) were sent to NATO's northern flank in Norway and Denmark. If war broke out, they were ready to provide close air support to NATO ground troops stemming a Soviet invasion.
The CF-5s of 433 and 434 Squadrons flew a trans-Atlantic flight directly from Canada to Norway in the 1970s and 1980s. This was made possible by air to air refueling using CC-137 tankers.
The CF-5 at TMM
The CF-5 on display at TMM was built by Canadair in Montreal, Quebec in 1968. A total of 135 aircraft were built in Canada of both single-seat and two-seat variants.
This CF-5 last flew in 1995. The Museum received the aircraft from DND in November 2005 and erected it in May 2007. Col Don Matthews (ret’d) of the Air Force Museum Society of Alberta flew this particular CF-5 aircraft on seven occasions at CFB Cold Lake in 1974, 1985 and 1987.
CF-5 - Freedom Fighter
- Crew - 1-2
- Maximum Takeoff Weight - 9,250 Kg
- Powerplant -2x Orenda GE J85-15
- Thrust with Afterburner - 8,600 lbf
- Maximum Speed - 1,575 km/h or 850 Knots
- Service Ceiling - 41,000 ft
- Guns - 2 x 20 mm M39A2 Cannons
- Rocket - 2x LAU 3 Rocket Pods, (19 rockets per pod)
- Mk82 Bombs