When I launched The Canadair North Star in 1982, I mentioned that I hoped to publish a book about the Canadair Argus and Yukon. I carried on to produce The De Havilland Canada Story the following year, then 30+other books, including Sixty Years, Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace (Vol. 3) and Canadair: The First 50 Years each with some decent Argus content. But I failed in the end to do the Argus book.
In the end some ex-RCAF Argus folks got themselves organized “committee-wise” to gather enough material to turn out The Canadair Argus: The Untold Story of Canada’s Cold War Maritime Hunter. And a fair effort it is — all things considered (lots of anecdotes, tons of photos, etc.). The book gives some basic background about RCAF Maritime Air Command in its early postwar days, when the Lancaster and Neptune “held the fort” against a formidable Soviet submarine fleet. As the Cold War heated, a more capable anti-submarine plane was needed and that gave rise to the Argus.
There follows the story in good detail of this grand RCAF legend in service with the Argus Conversion Unit, 404, 405, 407, 415 and 449 squadrons, on test and evaluation tasks, etc. Amazing stuff about training & tactics, weapons and the previously secret guts of the operation. Through the 1960s-70s the Soviet submarine service knew it would take a beating if push came to shove in the cat-and-mouse game that went on 24-365 on Canada’s coasts. The Argus would ensure that.
Besides the ASW game, the book mentions Argus squadrons on such special taskings as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also “Fincastle — the Commonwealth ASW championship exercise, where the Argus always shone. Search and rescue, Arctic patrols and mishaps also are covered.
The “committee” part of the book comes through with the lack of so much as a table of contents, let alone an index (forget about a bibliography, eh!). As for typos? Well, they are always a real bugger to chase down. We scramble like mad at CANAV to put out a clean book and haven’t yet succeeded to perfection. However, the Argus committee don’t appear to have bothered at all with copy editing, and don’t seem to realize that there is such a thing as photo-shopping to clean all the dust and crap from a photo. From what I can see, they went 90% – 95% of the distance, then pooped out. Oh well … if you’re an RCAF bibliophile, you still need this one. So says ye olde scribe.
NB … The Argus book is no longer being carried by CANAV. Please order from Aviation World in Toronto (check their website for the details).
Right behind the Argus book … here comes Night Fighters: Stories from the Flyers of Canada’s All-Weather Fighter Force, Canada and Europe 1953 to 1984. Compiled by an all-weather committee headed by John Eggenberger, Bob Merrick, and Doug Munro, this new title focuses on CF-100 and CF-101 days.
Very cleanly done, very much worth the price of admission, Night Fighters is packed with “True stories told by those who watched over Canada’s and NATO’s airspace during the crucial years of the Cold War. Whether scrambling to intercept a Bear, taking part in realistic exercises to maintain their combat readiness, flying in the daily training adventures, or thrilling airshow crowds with thunderous formation displays, these flyers were constantly honing their arcane skills.”
Now available … basic book specs: 216 pages, 8.5 x 8.5 in., softcover, photos. List price $24.95, CANAV price $22.50 + $10.00 postage +$1.62 GST = $34.12 . Cheque or PayPal only, as usual.