Home » Articles » Speed Brakes

SPEED BRAKES ... SPEED BRAKES ... GO!

by Turbo Tarling

F/O George Peck, F/O Turbo Tarling
& CF-100 #491 at RCAF Station Chatham NB
15 Oct 59 

 

The T-33 Silver Star and the F-86 Sabre had small speed-brake panels on the bottom and side of the fuselage, respectively and, to be charitable, they were adequate. The CF-100 Canuck, on the other hand, was endowed with massive serrated-edge speed brakes on the upper and lower surfaces of the wing and they were very impressive and effective.

The speed-brake selector switch, mounted on the forward face of the right-hand throttle lever, was identified as Drag Flaps for some strange reason - no one ever called them "drag flaps" ; they were always called "speed brakes" or "dive brakes". In actual fact they were spoilers.

The CF-100 was never flown with speed brakes extended during the final turn or approach to the runway because of the high sink-rate or premature stall that inevitably resulted. This fact was driven home to us when we began our CF-100 training at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta. Only months before there had been a tragic fatal accident when a CF-100 crashed on final approach - the cause was improper use of the speed brakes.

On March 25, 1957 I had my first dual flight in the CF-100 with my instructor, Don Lamont. As we got station passage for our radio beacon instrument approach I eased the nose down, threw out the speed brakes, and promptly left the seat, much to the amusement of Don in the back seat - talk about deceleration! We soon got used to it but as a courtesy I always gave my navigator a few seconds warning when the speed brakes were coming out so he could brace himself.

In October, 1959, 428 Ghost Squadron participated in Operation Checkerboard at RCAF Station Chatham, New Brunswick, home of the F-86 Operational Training Unit (OTU).

One afternoon, on a day when we were scheduled for night missions, I managed to scrounge a CF-100 to take up a hometown (Toronto) buddy, Flying Officer George Peck, a student on the F-86 OTU.

The trip went well and George amused himself playing with the radar set, eventually picking up a target. With a little coaching he got me a lock-on and we attacked and "splashed" an F-86 which had been stooging along without watching for "bandits".

The pilot, an instructor, unaware that he was officially "dead", asked if he could join up for a little formation. As we got closer to the airfield and preparing to descend I advised him that our speed brakes were very effective and that he should anticipate them a bit to stay with us. His reply was a nonchalant, "Rog" (short for Roger), so I called, "Speed brakes ... speed brakes ... Go!"

Almost immediately George began chuckling and described what had happened - the F-86 had wobbled left and right, then went sailing by in a near-vertical bank to miss our wing, its tiny speed brakes frantically clawing the air trying to slow down. I looked over and sure enough, our Sabre was gone.

Perhaps a touch more anticipation next time, Sir?