ADA-Bringing Down The Arrow: A 30 Year Retrospective pg2
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Bringing Down The Arrow: A 30 Year Retrospective pg2
Photo credit: Scott McArthur
System Not Ready
W. Buskard, BGen (retired), Gloucester,
is true that the AIM 2 Falcon missile was originally
considered, along with others, for the Arrow,
but since the Falcon missile was linked to
Hughes Airborne Intercept Radar, the only missile
tested was the Sparrow 2. The decision to abandon
the Sparrow was made by the RCAF test team
(CEPE ultra west) at Point Mugu, California,
not by Avro.
  An operational fighter interceptor is an integrated weapon system
combining engine, airframe, radar and weapon. The Arrow never was more than an
airframe. As a member of the RCAF armaments test team at the U.S. Naval Missile
Test Centre and directly involved in the weapons trials, it is my opinion that
an integrated weapon system was at least four years away from operational capability
when the decision to cancel was taken. As a result of the delays in the development
of the ASTRA Radar system and the failure to integrate that system with the selected
weapon, there is some doubt as to whether an operational system could ever have
been attained.
  I accept that the cancellation of the Arrow was a major blow to the
Canadian defence industry from which it never recovered. However, as far as overall
Canadian aviation is concerned, the failure to enter into serial production of
the Avro Jetliner probably had a more lasting impact.
Project Never Viable
Julius Lukasiewicz, P.Eng., Department
of Mechanical &Aeronautical Engineering,
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ont.
relative quality of an aircraft or any technology
must be judged on the basis of performance. Such
characteristics as range, rate of climb, ceiling,
maneuverability, endurance under combat conditions,
effectiveness of the armament system are among
the factors which determine the technical quality
of an interceptor, apart from speed and economic
  In Paul Campagna's article no data on the Arrow's performance (specified
or attained) is given and no comparisons with the performance of other aircraft
are made. An expectation of breaking "all speed records" is not a measure
of performance.
  The Arrow project, irrespective of its technical merits, was doomed
for other reasons. Briefly:
* The establishment of theAvro organization was the result of
aggressive entrepreneurship by Sir Roy Dobson of the parent British
company. Dobson exploited the Canadian government's concern for
the future of the huge wartime aircraft industry and the RCAF's
aspiration for an independent role in air defence, requiring
an independent aircraft industry. The Arrow project cost Canadian
taxpayers $400 million, but Avro came through with flying colours.
From 1955 on, it had diversified into manufacturing, steel and
coal, and by 1958 became the third largest corporation in Canada
with $371 million in net sales. When Arrow was cancelled and
cost-plus government contracts were no longer available, Avro
took no risks and did not offer any financial backing for alternative
aeronautical projects.
* A separate RCAF role in northern defence yielded specification
for a heavy, extremely complex and expensive weapon system (aircraft,
missiles and fire controls). Procurement originally forcast at
500 to 600 planes was reduced to about 100 by 1957, and the costs
escalated; an armament system was never developed. The principle
of "independence" was compromised as adoption of major
foreign components (missiles and fire controls) was necessary.
Efforts to rescue the project through foreign sales were blocked
by the same logic that led Canada to decide on the Arrow; neither
the U.K. nor U.S. wished to depend on a yet to be developed foreign
* In embarking on the Arrow project, the politicians and the
military, abetted by an eager contractor, did not appreciate
the resources, experience and large markets necessary to pay
for research and development costs. Sophisticated, expensive
technologies and defence require a larger base than Canada and
most countries can provide. Transnational industrial operations
and military alliances (such as NATO and NORAD) are the answer.
In aerospace particularly, international joint projects have
become standard (such as the Tornado combat aircraft, Airbus
jet liner, Ariane satellite launchers, etc.).
  Canada's Arrow venture was not unique. Attempts to develop jet aircraft
by Argentina, India and Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s also failed, for similar
reasons. Lavi, a supersonic fighter developed in Israel, met the same fate in
1988, after an expenditure of over $1.5 million (U.S.).
  Contrary to the popular myth, the Arrow project was neither militarily
nor economically viable, and its demise was inevitable. The mistake was to be
swayed by notions of technological and military sovereignty, national pride and
prestige while ignoring defence, financial and market realities. The mistake
was not to cancel, but to start the project.
Cancellation Backfires?
House, Office of the Staff Secretary: Records;
International Series, Box 2, Folder "Canada
(2) (Sept. 1959-May 1960)".
SUBJECT: Combined
Procurement with Canada
of F-101B and CL-44 Aircraft
As we have recently discussed, we have
under very serious consideration an
arrangement on the above subject which
should prove to be of maximum benefit
to both the United States and Canada.
I believe that our defense position
can be greatly enhanced while, as part
of the same transaction, we will be
able to make a substantial step toward
our MATS modernization goal.
The proposal is that the Canadians procure
66 F-IOIB aircraft, now in U.S. inventory
and procured with funds from previous
fiscal years, for approximately $105
million. As part of the
transaction, the USAF would procure 35 CL-44 aircraft
for $155 million to be assigned to MATS to meet requirements
for immediate modernization prior to procurement of the
SOR aircraft. On a strictly FY 1961 cash basis, the U.S.
would obtain 35 CL-44 aircraft for $50 million, which
is $1.4 million each. This compares with a figure of
$4.4 million each, the actual program cost including
From our point of view, modern interceptor
aircraft will be deployed as far north
as practicable with very significant
gains to North American defense as an
immediate benefit. In addition, the interim
modern aircraft needed so badly in MATS,
can be obtained on a much more economical
basis than is otherwise possible.
There are also some significant related
benefits to be realized. As I have previously
mentioned, a sensitive political situation
has arisen in Canada due to a series
of events involving the CF-105 cancellation
in favor of Bomark and Sage joint procurement
with the U.S., followed by reductions
in Bomarc and Sage super combat centers.
In addition, the production sharing program
initiated 18 months ago has not produced
the expected results from the Canadian
viewpoint. The exchange-procurement discussed
above presents an ideal opportunity to
improve this situation while simultaneously
attaining a significant benefit to the
United States. In this regard, it is
important to note that neither procurement
would be likely to take place without
the other also being made.
This suggestion has been given to the
Canadians informally and their reaction
is expected when their Prime Minister
visits the President next month. The
proposal is also subject to Congressional
V. Charyk
Acting Secretary of the Air Force
Economical To Proceed
F. Briginshaw, P.Eng., Mississauga, Ont.
most of the seven years before Black Friday,
I was a project engineer in the, A.V. Roe Canada
Gas Turbine Division- later Orenda Engines
Limited-putting 14 years' experience gained
with the Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Division to
work in the development of the Iroquois engine
which received rather slim treatment in Paul
Campagna's article, apart from the picture
and caption on page 47. This engine was, one
of the 12 prototype/pre-production, models
which were bench-tested extensively to prove
the design and continuing modifications to
improve performance and reliability. All these
objectives were achieved through the experience
and dedication of all concerned, until the
Arrow cancellation.
  Much of my last year at Orenda (1958-1959) was spent in two areas'-
marketing research and proposals for other gas turbine applications, in the interests
of diversification and involvement in the negotiations with the then Department
of Defence Production on the Iroquois aspects of the Arrow program, in cooperation
with what had become our "sister" company, Avro Aircraft.
  It is in this latter role that I would take issue with J.L. Granatstein's
statement:"The Chiefs of Staff killed it here because it cost too much...." Even
as early as September 1958-when the writing began appearing on the wall regarding
the Arrow's possible demise- about 70% of the total cost of the Arrow
program, which included six squadrons of Arrows in service with the then Royal
Canadian Air Force, had already been spent. In other words, we were past the "point
of no return" and it would have been more justifiable economically to proceed.
Senior DDP officials were in complete agreement and encouraged us to believe
that a favourable decision would be taken ... just a few days before Black Friday!
  Why, then, the cancellation? Politics: U.S. pressure and a lesser-known,
seldom mentioned personality conflict between two of the leading members of the
cast, both now deceased. John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister, and Crawford Cordon,
President of A.V. Roe Canada. Their notorious meeting in the P.M.'s office on
September 17, 1958 may not be a matter of public record but is still recalled
by contemporary Ottawa mandarins who claim the altercations could be heard from
the next block!
  John Diefenbaker's resulting "vindictiveness" is exemplified
by his personal insistence that all the prototype Arrows be blowtorched and the
scrap metal disposed of by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation-2,785 tons of
exotic, sophisticated scrap for $304,370!- and that all photographs and documentary
evidence of the Arrow's existence be destroyed. It could be said that the only
person in Canada to benefit from the cancellation was the Hamilton, Ontario,
junkman Morris Waxman of Sam Lax Bros.! Our American cousins benefited by selling
us both Bomarc missiles (which soon became obsolete) and their McDonnell Douglas-built
Voodoos (christened the CF-IOI by the RCAF).
  What happened to all the people involved? A group of aircraft designers
under jim Chamberlin joined NASA, other airframe personnel went to Boeing in
Seattle, Washington, and other aircraft companies in California. Several of us
engine people were almost immediately offered jobs by General Electric in Cincinnati,
Ohio, and Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut- at almost twice our Orenda
salaries-but most declined for patriotic reasons; others went to Pratt & Whitney
in Longueuil, Quebec; still others, like myself, adjusted to the realities of
defence and put our talents to work in Canada in the fluid handling field. I
retired two years ago after 15 years with Ontario Hydro, involved with process
systems for nuclear and con- ventional generating stations.
   But for philatelists and other interested parties, the Arrow still
exists: in the 5¢ postage stamps issued on February 23, 1959-only 3 days
after the cancellation-to commemorate the 50th anniverary of J.A.D. McCurdy's
first flight in the Silver Dart at Bras D'Or Lake near Baddeck, Nova Scotia,
the undersides of three Arrows are clearly visible. Obviously the Post Office
had not been advised to destroy this "record."
footnote regarding K.M. Molson, (Engineering
Dimensions, November/ December 1988, p. 6):
Ken was too modest to record that he was almost
single-handedly responsible for establishing
at Uplands, Ottawa, what is now The Aviation
and Space Division of the National Museum of
Science and Technology and the National Aeronautical
Scott McArthur.
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