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Sarnia's F-86 RCAF Memorial

Hidden photo gallery

  • CF86 Sabre Jet #403
    (Click for more images)
  • plaque

Municipality/Province: Sarnia, ON

Memorial Number: 35071-006

Type: Aircraft (CF86 Sabre Jet #403 and plaque)

Address: 900 East Street N

Location: Germain Park

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 42.97555   Long: -82.3841

Photo Credit: Terry MacDonald; Richard Quinn

Located in Germain Park is Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial. Along with an RCAF memorial plaque, there is an F-86 MkV Sabre Golden Hawk fighter jet, serial number 23164. The plane was a surplus jet, one that had come to Sarnia when purchased by members of Sarnia’s air force association from a London, Ontario hanger in 1970. Originally it had been stored in a warehouse and was almost burned beyond repair in a fire in 1970, while in storage. It was restored in 1971 by the 403 Wing Sarnia RCAF. In September of 1973, the restored F-86 Golden Hawk was put up on the mount over the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial in Germain Park, as a memorial to honour the airmen who died in the Battle of Britain of World War II. In 1985, the Golden Hawk underwent a second on-site restoration.

The Germain Park jet is a Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mark 5, a variant of the North American F-86 Sabre, manufactured by Canadair Limited in Montreal. The first Canadair CL-13 Sabre flight took place in 1950. Production of the jet increased during the Korean War, and they were produced until 1958. They were used by the RCAF and also exported to several NATO allies. Canada did not send any fighter squadrons to Korea, but it did supply sixty F-86 Mk 2 Sabres to the United States Air Force. Canadian pilots were also sent there on “exchange” with the United States Air Force, where they flew in 1,036 sorties in Korea. For the United States Air Force, the F-86 was used very successfully as its primary air-to-air fighter jet against the Soviet-built MiG-15s. The F-86 was the RCAF’s principal fighter during the first decade of the Cold War, with 12 squadrons based in Europe and several stations in Canada. The Royal Canadian Air Force retired the F-86 Sabre from fighter operations in 1963.

The F-86 jet in Germain Park is painted in the metallic gold and red colours of the RCAF “Golden Hawks” aerobatics flying team. The “Golden Hawks” were a Canadian military aerobatic flying team established in 1959 to celebrate the R.C.A.F.’s 35th anniversary and the “Golden” 50th anniversary of Canadian flight. The initial six-plane team flew Mk V aircraft, later the Mk VI, and the team was very popular, doing many shows a year across North America. The Golden Hawks were the predecessors of the modern-day Canadian Forces “Snowbirds” aerobatics flying team. The Golden Hawks team continued in operation until February 1964.

In the fall of 2013, Sarnia’s Golden Hawk was removed from its Germain Park pedestal to undergo an extensive third restoration thanks to the efforts of a volunteer team of aeronautic enthusiasts, including the 403 Wing Sarnia RCAFA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA Flight 7) and members of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets 44 Sarnia Imperial Squadron. The volunteer team dedicated thousands of hours to restore the plane to its original state, and support and donations were received from individuals and businesses across the community. Sarnia’s Golden Hawk was remounted on its pedestal in Germain Park in December 2014. The Sarnia F-86 Golden Hawk Memorial was rededicated in May 2015 as part of a tribute in honour of all of the RCAF pilots and personnel who have served for this country, past and present, and also in honour of the Golden Hawks aerobatic team, including the pilots, crew chiefs, and ground personnel. The Sabre jet's most notable Golden Hawk pilot, F/L Jim McCombe and his flight crew--LAC Harnum and LAC Campbell—were honoured by having their names lettered beneath the canopy trim in the tradition of the Golden Hawks. Among those in attendance at the May 2015 rededication ceremony were; Lt. Col (Ret) Joseph “Fern” Villeneuve, the first leader of the Golden Hawks aerobatics team in 1959; Ferne and Karyn McCombe, the wife and daughter of F/L Jim McCombe; and Sarnia-born former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who remembered being inspired to dream big as a child, after watching the Golden Hawks aerobatic team in action.

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Inscription found on memorial

1939 1945
IN HONOUR AND MEMORY OF THE MEN
OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE
WHO PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE
WHILE SERVING DURING THE SECOND
WORLD WAR

D. AIKEN
G.V. ANDREWS
W.J. BARR
H.H. BORCHARDT
C.J. BRAKEMAN
G.W. BROWN
D. BURKE
R.J. CAMERON
W.D.J. CAMERON
A.J. CAMPBELL
S.A. CARR
R. CLARKE
W.B. CLARKE
D. CRAWLEY
J.J. DAWS
J.F. DOWDING
J.W. DRINKWATER
J.W. DUNCAN
H.O. EARNER
T.H. ELLIOT
O.C. EVERS
G.W. FORDYCE
C. FOSTER
J.M. FOWLIE
L.G. GALLOWAY
A.F. GANDER

C.A. CORING
T.C. CORING
L.T. GRAHAM
H.J. HAGGERTY
J.N. HALLAM
J.M. HARRIS
J.S. JOHNSON
R.J. KEE
W.J. KNIGHT
G.W. KNOWLES
W.E. LANG
J.L. LECKIE
R. LOCHEAD
J. LOWRY
A.R. MC CALLUM
G.C. MC FAYDEN
D.G. MC GREGOR
V.H. MC KEOWN
L.R. MEERE
R.J. MELLON
R. MENDIZABEL
D.D. MILLER
E.P. MISNER
H.P. MORRIS
E.R. MYLES
G.A. NASH

J.M.B. O’CONNER
W.J. OLIVER
A.E. PARSONS
D.C. POLE
R.N. POLE
T.E. POWELL
J.E. QUINN
M.H. RAMSEY
C. RIDDOCH
J.D.C. ROSS
J.R. SHANKS
A.G. SMITH
M. SMITH
G.W. STONE
J.G. STRONACH
S.J. TESKEY
C.H. THAIN
J.A. THAIN
A.G. THOMPSON
F.F. THOMPSON
D. VAIL
E.C. WATSON
F.E. WISE
J.L. WRIGHT
E. ZEILER
THIS MEMORIAL WAS PROVIDED AND
ERECTED BY THE MEMBERS OF
403 WING R.C.A.F ASSOCIATION

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