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Arrow Pilots:Jan Zurakowski

Jan Zurakowski:
Test Flying the Arrow. pg6

And Other High Speed Jet Aircraft

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TEST FLYING THE ARROW

and other high speed jet aircraft.
Jan Zurakowski


continued from page 5,

"You shall cease all work immediately, terminate subcontractors or orders and instruct all your subcontractors and suppliers to take similar action."

     From this moment, approximately 13, 000 workers were no longer employed. The next day in Toronto's Royal York Hotel, representatives of American companies were hiring our specialists for work in United States industry, and thousands of unemployed were looking for jobs.

     The destruction of everything connected with the Arrow followed. The five aircraft which had flown and others on the production line were cut to pieces for scrap. Blue­prints, brochures, reports and photographs were all reduced to ashes. There was a common impression at the time that politicians wanted all tangible evidence rubbed out to prevent it returning to haunt them in later years.

     For many months before the cancellation of the Arrow, a strong anti-Arrow campaign was run by the press. Many arguments were presented in a highly misleading manner and to my surprise suddenly we had plenty of experts on aviation. The press was full of articles by high-ranking retired army officers about the uselessness and obsolescence of the Arrow. The Telegram on 24 September 1958 reported a statement by Lt-Gen. Guy Simmonds: "The day of the airplane is finished as a defence mechanism. It has been replaced by the missile as the primary weapon." Gen. Simmonds said that he had criticized from the beginning any plan to spend large sums of money on "the last of the fighters. The Arrow is just that the last of its line and kind."

     Canadian Air Force officers were prohibited from discussing or even asking questions about the Arrow.

     The Globe and Mail, dated 21 February 1959, reported the statement by Air Marshal Roy Slemon, second in command in North America Air Defence: "Regardless of what the actual decision is, and it certainly must be a proper one, I will be unable to comment on it."

     Reading 19 years later the text of the Prime Minister's announcement of the decision to scrap the Arrow, I have the impression that army and American experts convinced Mr. Diefenbaker that the aircraft was dead as a weapon and only missiles had any future.

    I like best this statement: "Although the range of the aircraft has been increased, it is still limited." I suppose that the Voodoo which the Prime Minister ordered shortly afterwards had unlimited range?

     The press was quick in catching the idea. In the Toronto Telegram the next morning were the headlines: "Arrow short range." - and later: "Operational range of the Arrow (700 miles) was less than the Government had hoped for." I do not know what the Government had hoped for, but certainly the Canadians were convinced of the short range of the Arrow.

     The employees of Avro and Orenda were shocked by the Prime Minister's statement: "And frankness demands that I advise that at the present there is no other work that the Government can assign immediately to the companies that have been working on the Arrow and its engine."

     Going back for a moment to the aircraft industry in England, I remember that only a small percentage of new prototypes flown ever reached the production stage, and probably even a lower percentage reached operational use. Cancellation of programmes in the initial stages of development or during initial production was quite common, but I had never heard of sudden cancellation without preparations being made to use released manpower and facilities. In England it was generally accepted that the aircraft industry was a national asset, one which helped so much in saving the country in the most difficult times like the Battle of Britain, and that destroying it would be against the national interest.

     It appears that the Canadian government did not make any effort to save the design teams or production facilities of Avro and Orenda. As I mentioned before, everything about the Arrow was destroyed, no attempt was made to save the results of millions spent in research, results which could have been used in other countries like England and France, which were working on the design of a supersonic transport, or useful to other industries in Canada where experience of Avro and Orenda companies in electronics, hydraulics and air conditioning manufacturing could have been a tremendous asset.

     For the cost of one or two percent of the money already spent on research, the knowledge accumulated could have been properly collected and documented to be useful in the future. I am sure that the designers of the Concorde or, even fifteen years later, the designers of the Tornado built by the joint effort of England, Italy and Germany could have learned a lot from our experience, even from our errors. It is strange how the same problems are showing up in design and development of nearly all aircraft.

     During the development of the Arrow and Iroquois we were using the experience and knowledge of other countries, mainly England and the United States, but we destroyed the results of our work. Does that make sense?

     With the cancellation of the Arrow, and without any programme for a large part of the aircraft industry, Canada lost the opportunity to establish an advanced industry, which had a very good chance to become an economical means of satisfying a large part of our demand in defence and to become an exporting industry.

     Last year saw the publication of a book by John Diefenbaker, called "One Canada". In Volume III of this book a number of pages deal with national defence and the Arrow. I quote from page 35:­

     "There is no doubt that from a construction standpoint the Avro Arrow was an impressive aircraft, superior to any other known contemporary all-weather fighter - some­thing all Canadians could be proud of as their product. The Orenda Iroquois engine boasted the highest thrust, the lowest specific weight, the greatest mass flow and the greatest growth potential of all known engines under deve­lopment. I said at the time it was a tribute to the high standards of technological achievement and development of the Canadian aircraft industry."

     But on page 36 Mr. Diefenbaker wrote: -

"And (the Arrow) would be out of date by the time it got into production..."

     About the Bomarc he wrote:­

     "Our decision to introduce the Bomarc did not work out well. To begin with, the Bomarc was very soon proven to be virtually obsolete even before it was set up."

     From the same book we also learn that the proposal by Defence Minister General Pearkes for procurement of the F-101B interceptor aircraft was made during June 1960, just over a year after the Arrow cancellation. The F-104 purchase followed shortly. Canada purchased over 400 fighter class aircraft after cancellation of the Arrow.

     This year the government is deciding which type or types of aircraft it will buy to replace the CF-101B, CF-104 and CF-5. And twenty years ago they thought the Arrow was obsolete because it was only an aircraft!

     A special report in the Financial Post, dated 19 February of last year, shows some photographs of aircraft likely to be in future Canadian service. Apparently all these aircraft in the fighter attack class carry external armament and fuel. There was one feature of the Arrow which I liked very much, and this was an armament bay. A really big armament pack, sixteen feet long by eight feet wide and three feet deep. It was attached to the aircraft at four points and easily removable. An arrangement like this allowed quick changes in the type of armament (missiles) and a flexible role for the aircraft. For example, long­range reconnaisance or bomber. Internal carriage of armament and fuel did not alter flying characteristics and performance of the aircraft. Somehow on the latest aircraft I cannot see good high-speed performance with all these stores under the wings or fuselage.

     It is a bit funny to see a graph in the Financial Post showing that Canada will buy a fighter with delivery dates between 1980 and 1988 - about thirty years after the Arrow was declared obsolete because it was an aircraft and not a missile. Where are our Bomarc missiles today?

     Other graphs are not that funny, One shows that Canadian capital spending in defence in the last twenty years dropped

 

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