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Avro Arrow-An Aviation Chapter In Canadian History
following article was originally published in the September/October
issue of Engineering Dimensions, 1988.
It has been republished with permission from Palmiro
Campagna, P.Eng., and the Association of Professional
Engineers of Ontario. (PEO).
The follow up Article "Bringing
Down the Arrow: A 30-Year Retrospective" Jan/Feb1989,
Thank You for the many
requests for accurate information, which is what made this
Arrow Recovery Canada Inc.
biggest, most powerful, most expensive and
potentially the fastest fighter that the world
has yet seen. . . " -Flight Magazine, 1958
1958, the heroes of every Canadian boy (and probably
quite a few girls) were the test pilots flying
the CF-105, known as the Avro Arrow. Behind the
test pilots were the engineers, creating what
was to be the fastest, most powerful aircraft
yet conceived. 1988 marks the 30th anniversary
of its first flight, 1989 the last. Many articles
have been written about the Arrow, some true,
many false. Here, for the first time, are the
engineering facts, painstakingly researched by
a young Canadian engineer as a testament to the
integrity of the team which created the Arrow.
was the Arrow Cancelled?
the Record Straight: The Designer's View by
Flawed Plane and an Inept Corporation"?
The Historian's View by Margaret
Down the Arrow: A 30-Year Retrospective"
years of excellence in Canadian engineering, research
and design culminated in the maiden flight of the CF-105
Avro Arrow all-weather, supersonic jet interceptor from
Malton, Ontario, on March 25, 1958. The world watched
Canada's major contribution to aerospace engineering
but not for long. On Friday, February 20,1959, the Canadian
government ordered all work on the Arrow cancelled.
Some 14,000 employees were fired immediately. Within two months,
five superb flying machines and a more powerful sixth, which had been within
days of takeoff, were ordered reduced to scrap. Also, 31 others in various stages
of assembly, along with all parts, drawings, accessories, blueprints and photographs
were ordered destroyed.
Even today, some Canadians are unaware of the aircraft's existence,
yet it still ranks as one of the most technically challenging projects ever undertaken
in this country. Design of a supersonic interceptor with the parameters of the
Avro Arrow presented colossal engineering problems which were systematically
overcome. However, less than 30 years later, much misinformation exists about
the Arrow, such as the number of aircraft that actually flew, what speeds were
reached and technologically just how far ahead it really was.
Roe Canada Limited was established as a subsidiary of
the British Hawker-Siddeley Group in 1945. On purchasing
the Malton based Victory Aircraft Ltd, which was producing
Lancaster bombers for the war effort, A.V. Roe turned
its attention to commercial jet transports and military
jet aircraft. On August 10, 1949, some two weeks after
the British Comet made a short hop from its runway, Avro
flew the C-102 Jetliner on its maiden flight to 13,000
feet, becoming the first commercial jet transport to
fly in North America.
Unlike the Comet, the jetliner was not plagued with catastrophic
fatigue failure. Despite meeting the Trans-Canada Airlines specifications to
which it was designed, the jetliner never went into production. Instead, the
company was told to focus on producing the CF-100 all-weather fighter, partly
to support the Korean war effort. After flying for seven years, the lone jetliner,
a milestone in aviation, was cut to scrap, forcing Canada to depend on foreign
markets for jet transport aircraft.
Although the CF-100 project was a success, it was decided that
a new all-weather, supersonic jet interceptor would be required to meet Canada's
expanding defense needs. In May, 1953, in response to an RCAF specification,
A.V. Roe Canada submitted its report which examined five possible delta winged
configurations, with varying wing sizes and engine types. In July, 1953, the
Department of Defence Production chose the 1,200 square foot version, thus launching
the CF-105 program.
set the record straight, the first
production CF-105 aircraft, dubbed
the Arrow, was rolled out on October
4, 1957, only four years after the
start of the program a major achievement
in itself. Its first flight was March
25, 1958. On its third flight, the
aircraft was flown supersonically at
Mach 1.1. On its seventh flight, it
exceeded 1,000 mph while climbing.
Four more production aircraft were
flown. Eventually, the Arrows would
fly to Mach 1.98 (approximately 1,300
mph), although they were never pushed
to their performance limit.
five aircraft were equipped with two Pratt and Whitney
J75 engines, each with approximately 18,000-Ib static
thrust and 26,000-Ib with afterburner. A sixth aircraft
was produced and ready for roll-out at the time of
cancellation on February 20, 1959. This aircraft
was equipped with the more powerful Iroquois engine,
at 23,000-ib static thrust and 30,000-Ib with afterburner.'
Arrow number six was expected to break all speed
No "prototype" Arrow was ever built, only production aircraft.
To move from drawing board to produc- tion line, one of the most extensive programs
of wind tunnel, structural and systems testing ever undertaken on any aircraft
was conducted. In addition, detailed mockups were built for checking system installation.
Part of the test program involved the use of fully instrumented
one-eighth scale free-flight models launched on Nike rocket boosters. These models
would telemeter information concerning various flight parameters including drag
and stability. Today, those stainless steel models rest in Lake Ontario, ap- proximately
13 miles off Point Petrie, waiting for some enterprising underwater enthusiasts
to retrieve them.
striking feature of the Arrow was its
large delta wing. It was determined
that the delta was the most aerodynamically
efficient platform for high speed and
high altitude performance, while providing
a large internal fuel capacity for
the required range. To permit higher
angles of attack and greater stability,
the leading edge of the wing was extended,
drooped and slotted, creating more
favourable airflow conditions over
the wing. These features had been used
singly on other aircraft, such as the
notch on the English Electric F-23,
the leading edge on the Grumman F-9
and the droop on the F-102, forerunner
of the F-106 Delta Dart. To- day, combinations
of these are used on most fighters,
including the Russian MIG series and
the F/A-18 Hornet. An early prototype
of the F/A 18 incorporated the notch.
At the time, the combination of notch,
droop and leading edge extensions made
the Arrow unique and aerodynamically
Another addition was negative camber, a slight concavity in
the upper surface of the wing that helps to reduce the amount of elevator deflection
required for stability and control (trim) during supersonic flight. This, in
turn, reduces the amount of drag that would otherwise be created with greater
Campagna is an Engineer with the Department of National
Defence. He has been researching the Arrow story
since the early eighties and has been responsible
for the declassification of many of the Arrow files
thought to have been destroyed back in 1959. His
books are based on those files. He is also the author
of The UFO Files: The Canadian Connection Exposed,
which has a detailed chapter on the Avrocar, Avro's
flying saucer for the USAF/US ARMY.
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