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The record-breaking jet which still haunts a country

On 4 October 1957, 14,000 people watched a large hangar on the outskirts of Toronto open to reveal a beautiful, large, white, delta-wing aircraft. The plane was the Avro Arrow interceptor. A third longer and broader than today’s Eurofighter Typhoon, the Arrow could fly close to Mach 2.0 (1,500 mph, or the maximum speed of Concorde), and had the potential to fly even faster. It was Canada’s Can$250m (US$1,58bn today) bid to become an aviation superpower. ( More...

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sparkie624 14
Nice looking plane... Would have been nice if they saved at least one of them for a Museum!
Joe Hutchison 24
I wonder how history might have been changed if the Avro Arrow had gotten the funds needed to become the great intercepter it deserved to be.Nevertheless Canada should still be very proud for making such an awesome and beautiful plane.
it was USA interference that killed this aircraft.
skylab72 -1
Not so much interference as failure to cooperate. Had Northrup or Grumman teamed with Avro=Canada they could have "anchored" the "Century Series" and given the world, it's first Mach2 air-superiority fighter.
bentwing60 0
To appreciate what area rule means, means to 'know' It was built to go 'fast'. particularly back in the day! My lust was the F104, first flight 1954! With my Lear hot rod background, I have always looked at these airplanes and said, I'd do that, with their training and what I know now.
Dan Chiasson -3
I do not think history would have changed all that much. Perhaps another "Sweden" type manufacturer in the military aircraft manufacturing line of business leading to just another choice of destruction based technology.
Ray Toews -5
Yeah,,,instead we should stop all military expenditures and ask our neighbor to the north to protect us from the evil in the world. How would that work out for us.
Dan Chiasson 1
Not sure where you are going with your commentary but with enough military power to kill every human multiple times over, not sure having had the Arrow in production would have made that much of a difference at this point in time.
Ray Toews -7
It's not about nuclear war, nobody is going to do that, except maybe one of the crazy bastards we are allowing back into the country. It's about the saber rattling, penis waving all countries do to show theirs is bigger than yours. It's always the guy who gets attacked, WE Didn't Think You Would Fight.
Perhaps we should try to pull our weight on the world stage as far as military expenditure. We can't even patrol the arctic we claim. We stage our Hornets out of Yellowknife, I assume, when they show us pictures of us "intercepting" Russian bombers entering our airspace. The Arrow had the speed and range to patrol the high arctic, it was designed specifically for that. We can't even protect our own airspace, depend on the US for that. Sweden and Norway on the other hand do a very good job of protecting their airspace.
Pride of my country! But Prime Minister Diefenbaker lied about this jet's cost, so he didn't purchase this for the RCAF.
and he had strong interferance from the USA ...
In July 1958 I attended the official debut of the "Argus" anti sub plane at the Maritime command base in Greenwood Nova Scotia. On hand was a delegation from Ottawa that arrived in a RCAF DH Comet - one of 3 in RCAF service. I'm afraid the rest of the inventory was very much out of date. When the Argus arrived it replaced the Neptune and even Avro Lancasters. The Arrow was so much superior to anything around (CF100's and Sabres) I'm afraid it was a "bridge too far". I bought 2 model kits of the Arrow back then. One I completed and sent on to Diefenbaker with a note to put it on his desk. The other I still have - unopened
djames225 4
Great story, Wayne..and how very true.
What many don't realize, and not much is or was ever out there about it, the Arrow could switch from being interceptor to missile carrier, to yes, even a bomber. I'm thinking that is what scared other "bigger with more pull" aircraft manufactures. It was fast, maneuvered excellent slow or fast, turn around time was very quick, engine start to 58,000 ft in a tick over 4 minutes
canuck44 13
It cost Canada more than the immediate financial costs. There was a "brain drain" of very talented designers, engineers and developers. US manufacturer lured many of this talent over the border bringing not only their abilities but also there experience that they had put into the Arrow....not unlike what Airbus obtained taking over the C-series program.
Quite a few of these talents ended up working for NASA or subcontractors.
djames225 4
It wasn't just engineers that got "swiped " away by NASA, canuck. Ken was smart to have absconded with those blueprints, the cost did not "balloon to $250m", and the titanium division...somehow the cutting edge way Avro Works was able to manipulate titanium, ended up getting leaked that the technology was now south of the border in 1961.
bentwing60 3
A lure is used on a fish, the engineers that bolted en masse went where the money was when Canada ran out.

A few more obstacles,, much to the chagrin of the not ready for prime time German AF. KJ wasn't just the most brilliant designer of the day, but also the best salesman!

At the time, if memory serves correctly, much of the blame for the failure of the program was attributed to the ugly American, not an empty purse as this article so clearly details.

And they chopped them up just like the Northrop YB49. Thank you Convair and the B36.
skylab72 2
Not sure if you had a point in all that. Convair (F-106) was one of the employers of ex-AvroCanada engineers. The 104 was a solution looking for a problem and what success it had, as you indicate, came via a "supersalesman". The "Ugly American" is a whole other thing and am unsure how you might link it to the Avro-Canada story. The Northrop YB-49 also has no bearing on the Arrow. It was literally "Unsafe at any speed." That airframe, as-built, needed a fly-by-wire control system with a bandwidth over double that of the F-16 to be even flyable above 450 knots. There is no way Jack Northrup could have known that at the time. He did know that airframe (including the B-35) had a long history of pitch instability throughout the subsonic domain, yet stubbornly refused the obvious simple solution, a boom-mounted, lightweight flying tail, with enough moment-arm to damp the problem..., solely because he wanted a "pure" flying wing. By 1949 Chuck Yeager had documented that the major stability issue facing aero engineers in the transonic range was pitch stability. They had to chop it up because Jack would not put a tail-boom on it. Chopping up the Arrow was ill-informed paranoid behavior. Without second-guessing the existence of the military establishment or the efficacy of Mutually-Assured-Destruction as a policy. In the environment in which it cane to be, by the values and logic of the decision-makers who made the decisions that lead to the destruction of the Arrow, that decision did not serve the best interests of either side of 54-40. Sorry, but with all these wandering posts, I needed to make some stuff clear.
bentwing60 1
I guess, since I posted them, I might have! Had the RCAF and Diefenbaker committed the funds to procure and operate the Arrow, after the huge developmental costs, they might have had a stab at the success in sales that they promised in both technology and performance. Both of which were proven in flight test modes. But, as the article so succinctly states, They didn't have the funds for either. And 'no foreign buyers'. Chop, chop.

Both the F102 and F104 were not exactly secret developmental projects under way at the time and to a newly unemployed Avro engineer, I'd guess they looked at the prospects for U.S. employment by major airframers 'with contracts' as an opportunity. What better lure could there possibly be with no similar prospects at home? Today, Boeing calls them H1B's.

As for the diatribe on the YB49, which I off handedly mentioned, don't know about the tail bidness, but there was this,

In a 1979 videotaped news interview, Jack Northrop broke his long silence and said publicly that all Flying Wing contracts had been canceled because Northrop Aircraft Corporation refused to merge with competitor Convair at Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington's strong suggestion, because, according to Jack Northrop, Convair's merger demands were "grossly unfair to Northrop."[11] Shortly thereafter, Symington became president of Convair upon leaving his post as Secretary of the Air Force! wiki. YB49 Chop, chop.

Didn't hurt the prospects for the B36 or F102, nee f106, and Lockheed and KJ went on their merry way to outsell everything else back in the day and apparently the RCAF learned how to 'fly the CF104' better than the Luftwaffe .
skylab72 2
Let's be clear. Chopping up all the Arrow airframes was unnecessary, ill-informed, paranoid, behavior. Canceling the project was a politically expedient and perhaps fiscally prudent as well. I don't have access to the figures. BUT chopping up essentially three squadrons worth of B-35 & B-49 airframes was for safety reasons, their airworthyness certificates were revoked (There may be one some where on static display). And yes the end of Jack's control of Northrup did begin in a manner of speaking, with a "hostile" take-over bid from Convair, but I really do not want to rabbit trail off into the consolidation of the military-industrial-complex. Suffice it to say both the F-17 and the B-2 (a real flying=wing with a fly-by-wire control system) were sold before the "Horthrup" name dropped from Corporate letter-head of the company on the contract.
Karen Paisley 6
My husband was an Air Force AME tech in the 90s when they filmed the movie in Winnipeg On the base. Dan Akyroyd bought them popsicles (it was disgustingly hot) and chatted with the techs between filming.
Gary Bain 5
Man, that's one gorgeous airplane!
Larry Stock 5
A group at the Calgary Springbank Airport is currently building what will be a scaled flyable replica of this aircraft. Stay tuned for more from the group.
See for more details.
Eve Olson 10
Dief the chief really screwed Canada on that one.
Robert Salton 9
...if there are any Diefenbaker statues, let's take them down!
Mark Kanzler 4
It's the thing to do, these days.
J B 3
Most comprehensive write-up I've seen about the episode - no punches pulled for either boosters or sceptics. Canada went on to squeeze its money's worth from the CF-18s.
Dan Chiasson 3
There was a large scale model that was being made a while back. Actually saw it in outdoor storage at YYZ - white shrink-wrap protected.
djames225 2
That was the model replica that was finished in 06. It was at C.A.S.M. till 2011 when their lease was terminated, transported to storage, then to a few tech shows. It was at The International Center in late 2013, then back to storage. Funny thing is many buildings at International Center were part of Avro Canada.
Thanks to greatness of an individual, Milan, the replica now displays at Edenvale Aerodrome, up near Collingwood, along with the rest of the C.A.S.M. works.
Martin Grieve 3
It looks a bit like a cross between a Mirage III and an F4 Phantom
I was brought on the east coast of Canada and followed the Arrow story through the saga. I recently got my hands on a copy of "The Arrow" DVD which is a CBC home video production, It contains the "movie" plus many other elements such as the original RCAF operational requirements, recreated pilots training manual with control systems, and basic panel frame etc. Lots of content also on the debate over its demise. In the 1960's I worked with a former Orenda engineer who helped with the development of the engines. I remember the Bomarc missles had sand as their payload. But, that was then....
Dan Drimmie 3
There is a full scale static of this aircraft now residing at the Edenvale Airdrome north of Toronto.
Not to be too picky, but the article states that many U.S. aircraft are stored at the "Boneyard" in Pima, AZ. The "Boneyard", officially the 309TH Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), is in Tucson, AZ, next to Davis-Monthan AFB.
strickerje 1
Perhaps they were confusing the adjacent Pima Air & Space Museum with the town of Pima, AZ.
Alan Kenfield 3
Actually the town of Pima,AZ is on the easten edge of the state, quite far from both Davis-Monthan and the Pima Air and Space Museum, which are both in Pima County, Arizona. (And for those who have never been to the Pima Air and Space Museum - it's an impressive place.)
David Baird 6
The excuse at the time was that the USA convinced Diefenbaker Canada "needed" Bomac and Nike missiles, not a fighter jet. And, by the way, USA can sell them to you if you ditch that Arrow. And don't keep any of it, so no one will know how superior it was... Massive political hit job.
Highflyer1950 6
I also think Dief wanted to be in the nuclear game and the USA could deliver 56 Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center BOMARC missiles to the Quebec/Ontario regions. If my memory is right (rarely these days) the US also proposed nuke tipped surface to air missiles that could be mounted on the CF 104.....Dief just had to cancel the Arrow to get them. Then I think the Canadian government said no to nukes!
skylab72 1
??!?!?!?? "nuke tipped surface to air missiles that could be mounted on the CF 104" A: That would make them Air-to-Air, B: No F-104 ever had the muscle to lift a nuke, the legs to carry it near mach-2 far enough to actually intercept and still make it home, and C: The Bomarc may have been presented as "obviating" a need for the Arrow in someone's presentation at some time, but unless it was also pitched as "obviating" a need for the whole Century Series, the claim is disingenuous at best, and a bald-faced lie at worst. The only ground-launched nuke anti-aircraft weapons of the era that got anywhere near operational status were the Air-2 Genie, the Nike Hercules & Zeus models only, and the Bomarc. But all these programs were riddled with their own problems, and none of them achieved anywhere near the deployed dollar levels any one of the Century Series aircraft achieved. None of them could top the performance or the operational potential of the Arrow. I really wonder how many Canadians would have approved of detonating nukes over their homeland. That question eventually killed all nuke antiaircraft plans. Diefenbaker got hornswoggled by the USA's "Military-Industrial Complex". Had the Arrow had the continuing refinement afforded Northrup's F-17 Avro's beast would be smoking FA-18E&F models to this day. It is too easy to second guess. I am sure Diefenbaker had "good" reasons for what he did, but they were political and-or economic, not based on known aero-technology of the era.
djames225 3
We do not think of it so much as an excuse, but more along the lines of the truth.
David Baird 5
It was the devious Diefenbaker's truth. A known liar for whom the truth is elusive. I was there. There was no reason to destroy perfectly flyable jets. There was no reason to try and destroy every document and every part of that great aircraft. Diefenbaker was a puppet of the USA war machine who could not stand being upstaged.
djames225 5
I agree..the truth being, "ditch the Arrow and don't keep any part of it" There was no excuse, just blatant lies and cover-up. So glad Ken was able to abscond with the prints.
They always yammered on about "oh we don't need a supersonic aircraft blah blah blah...but it was so much more than just a supersonic interceptor.
David Baird 5
Shortly after, my uncle was searching for exhibits for the new Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. The best he could find was a piece of the cockpit. Not even any other part, let alone a whole aircraft which is what he sought for the museum.
David Baird 3
David Baird 4
The Museum possesses the largest surviving piece of an Avro Arrow: its nose section. When the aircraft was disassembled after 1959, this piece was saved for use as a pressure chamber at the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Toronto. The Institute donated the nose section to the Museum in 1965.

Other Avro Arrow components in the Museum's collection include two undercarriage legs, an Orenda Iroquois engine, a Pratt & Whitney J75 engine that was used for test flights, wingtips and other small parts, along with memorabilia.
djames225 4
Actually I think the largest surviving piece right now...the paperwork Ken hid in his basement and that Gord turned over to the University of Saskatchewan.
That Iroquois engine could kick out serious numbers.
The Arrow was so far advanced that it embarrassed anything made in the US at that time. Eisenhower couldn't have that so he strong armed Diefenbaker to kill it (or else). Pure and simple, the US killed the Arrow, Period!
skylab72 0
That does sound like something the USA aero industry might do. It does not sound like Ike. It does not sound like something Ike would even allow if he had a way to shut it down. You might want to listen to his Farewell Address again.
Tom Bruce 4
US helped stop the project-- sold the F101 VooDoos to Canada... this and the British TSR2 strike fighters were ahead of their time and superior to anything else... politics in Britain stopped the TSR... similar to the Texas
congressional delegation stopping the Northrup B49 flying wing in favor of the B36 being built in Texas...
Symington (Texas guy) then ordered all the B49s scrapped immediately
Larry Toler 1
The B36 was kind of bad ass but due to corrosion issues the Air Force ditched the model after about 10 years for all jet bombers.
flyerh 1
My wife who worked for AVRO was there when they rolled the Arrow out from the hanger. She couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Dief the Chief gets all the blame but I am sure there are other bonifide reasons that the general public does not know about. The Arrow still is a beautiful plane and as Canadians we are justly proud.
Ivan Blakely 1
interesting story, reminiscent of the TSR-2 in UK
It is too bad about the Avro Arrow , it happen to the US as well, I still think the YF23 was better then the F 22 that is why the Chinese choose to copy it!
Robert Cowling -4
Sad, but if the project had bankrupted Canada, that would have been sad. It's too bad no one would help them. Tragic...
Ray Toews -2
Could still be, but nothing has changed, as long as the laurentian criminals run the country we will always be a third rate dictatorship.
Ray Toews 1
I have a problem with this assertion (Ottawa’s decisions didn’t always help the manufacturer. In 1950 the Cold War turned hot when North Korea invaded the South. CD Howe demanded that Avro cancel the Jetliner project and prioritise the manufacture of the Canuck. In a foreshadowing of the fate of the Arrow, American interest in manufacturing the plane was ignored and workers cut up the Jetliner prototype.)
According to the book it wasn't the gov't decision to prioritise Canuck production, that airplane was NEVER going to be used in Korea or anywhere else.
It was TCA's decision to not buy the airplane.
Quess qui a toujours contrôlé TCA.


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