International Operation Name:  Not applicable

International Operation Dates:  Not applicable

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name:  Europe

Location:  West Germany

Canadian Operation Name: Operation MAGNIFICENT

Canadian Operation Dates: 1957/02/02 – 1957/02/14

Mission Mandate: To return Canadair Sabre Vs to Canada

Mission Notes:

Throughout the mid-1950s, the RCAF was improving the quality of its aircraft. A contract had been signed with Canadair to produce the North American F-86 Sabre under license in Montreal. As Canadair built newer, improved versions of these aircraft, they were flown to Europe to equip No. 1 Air Division. In 1956, the Mark VI Sabres flown to Europe created a surplus of Mark VI aircraft, which had been allocated to the RCAF Auxiliary. The problem was how to get them back to Canada.

In the autumn of 1956, the RCAF asked the Royal Canadian Navy to transport the Sabre Vs to Canada on the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent. The RCN agreed, with the task being given the name Operation Magnificent. On 7 November, Maggie was waiting to sail from Belfast for Glasgow to pick up 50 Sabres. At 2000 hours, she was ordered back to Halifax to pick up the Canadian contingent for the first United Nations Emergency Force.

Having completed her delivery, Maggie returned to her previous task. On 2 February 1957, she hoisted 59 Sabres onboard – 48 on deck and 11 below. Severe storms enroute caused the ship to heave to on three consecutive nights. At one stage it was feared that some of the Sabres might break loose from their moorings. On 14 February she entered Halifax for the last time before she was paid off. The Sabres were off-loaded, thus ending Op Magnificent.


Aerial view of HMCS Magnificent; Halifax, NS, with R.C.A.F. Sabre Jets on the Flight Deck.

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