THE AVRO CF-105 ARROW - WAS IT REALLY THAT GOOD?!?

FLYBOYJ

"THE GREAT GAZOO"
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I've been wanting to put this out there for some time, I'm sure all of our Canadian friends will enjoy this one. The CF-105 was supposed to be an innovative fighter aircraft in it's day. Fast, sleek, it had all the makings of your typical 1950s interceptor. At the time it was being developed, other aircraft like the F-4 Phantom, F-106 and the BAe Lightning were also blooming as well. My time in Canada, many enthusiasts I met made the -105 this "super jet" and even by today's standards. I always liked her, but let's face it, she carried the doctrine of the 1950s. I think an aircraft like an F-5 would of flown rings around her in a dogfight, but then again that wasn't her mission...Or maybe it would of been?!?

PM Diefenbaker killed 90% of the Canadian aircraft industry with his decision, but let's imagine things were different. If built, how do you think her mission would of changed? Would a gun been installed like on the F-106? How long would she of lasted in service and was she really cranked up to what she was supposed to be? :-k
 

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Nonskimmer

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The CF-105 Arrow would have been an excellent airplane, I have no doubt about that at all. But I for one think that a good deal of the hype surrounding the Arrow was due to the fact that it was completely designed and built in Canada, the exceptions being the Hughes MX-1179 radar that had been initially selected for it and the Pratt Whitney J75 engines of the prototypes, where at that time nothing of quite that scope had been achieved before in the fledgling domestic aerospace industry. The sixth prototype never got to fly with the domestic Orenda PS-13 Iroquois engines that had been designed for the production aircraft, so we'll never know how she would have flown at her "full potential" so to speak. These engines would have supposedly allowed her to reach mach 2.5 but as I said, things didn't get that far. It had been conceived as primarily an interceptor. Would it have in fact done the job far better than a lot of it's contemporaries? Who can say? No one honestly knows. She would have undoubtedly been modified for varying roles, such as attack. As for how long she would have lasted in service? Well if we're talking the RCAF/CAF, we'd probably still be using it today. :lol:
No, I don't know. Probably well into the 70's at least. With upgrades, maybe even the early 80's.

Much of the regret that exists over it in Canada isn't really so much over the cancellation of that particular aircraft, but rather over the fact that Avro Canada completely shut it's doors following the cancellation. The project's expense ultimately proved to be their undoing. Consequently, more than 30,000 skilled aerospace workers and engineers were quickly gobbled up by US companies like Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing, McDonnell, and even NASA. It was a black day. Nothing quite that ambitious and costly was ever attempted again, and we lost a lot of expertise in one fell swoop.
 

FLYBOYJ

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I figured you would answer this NS - I saw a painting that showed a pair of Arrows intercepting a Backfire. The Arrows were painted up in a low vis camouflage - the title - "What If"

OK - we got this interceptor that goes 2.5 mach. How can it maneuver? I always wondered about that SR-71 cockpit (maybe the guy who designed it worked on the Blackbird after black Friday!)

Yes - and the frugalness of the CAF! Maybe it would of been cost effective to build it - shoot, it would of been in service for 25 maybe 30 years, talk about "bang for your buck!"
 

Nonskimmer

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Well like I said, it was designed primarily for interception over the arctic. Namely high flying Russian bombers like the Backfires you mentioned. As an air-superiority fighter, I don't think it would have exactly manoeuvred like the F-15. The CF-105 was a big plane too. I've never actually read any reports on it's manoeuvrability during the trials, but it would be interesting. I could definitely see it being used in the reconnaissance role.

I've heard that former Avro Canada engineers worked on the Blackbird, but I have no idea if it's actually true or not. I wouldn't doubt it for a second though.

BTW, the Armed Forces are only frugal because we have to be. That sounds like so much whining, but it's not. Believe you me, we don't cheap out because we enjoy purchasing second-rate equipment all the time, or keeping things in service for thirty to forty years at a stretch. In some cases even longer.
 

evangilder

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Well, it's pretty much that way here too now. Look how long the F-15 and F-16 has been in service. They are just now looking at replacing the M-16, which is an old rifle as well. I know you guys have been on the short end of the stick when it comes to hardware though. It would have been something to see what AVro Canada could have done after that. They had some great engineers.
 

Nonskimmer

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I'm sure they'd have come up with some interesting designs given the opportunity, but I don't really think it would have made a lot of difference as far as the home market was concerned. Defence spending would've remained as unpopular as ever. The foreign market however...:-k

We'll never know.
 

FLYBOYJ

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I could tell you that when I worked at Lockheed there were dozens of ex-Canadians and Brits who came to the states via Canada whose employment at Lockheed came as a result of the Arrow demise. I know they were eventually investigated and nationalized so they could have access to the Skunk Works. Many of these folks were picked up between 1960 and 1963.....

I'm trying to research the maneuverability of the Arrow, if anyone has any information, let us know!
 

Nonskimmer

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I've been looking too, and I can't find a thing.

*EDIT*
About all I've really found so far doesn't amount to much. It's just a second hand account of a vague assessment given by the chief test pilot, Jan Zurakowski. It's nothing more than a "would have been", and doesn't really tell us a thing. I'm still searching.

"Jan stated the Arrow handled beautifully. Considering the low wing loading, extremely high thrust to weight ratio and very low drag of the airframe, even when loaded, indicate that the Arrow would have been an exceptionally maneuverable aircraft contrary to the opinion of many “experts.”. "

Taken from: http://www.avroarrow.org/AvroArrow/JanZurakowski.html
 

Glider

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FJ. Sorry but this is the best that I can do.

On 25 March 1958 Zurakowski took the CF-105, number 25201 (coded RL-201) into air for the first time. Apart from a landing gear warning light, the flight was without problem. Zurakowski declared that the Arrow was easier to fly than the F-102 or the Gloster Javelin, two other delta-winged fighters. This would later be confirmed by other test pilots, who praised the handling of the CF-105 highly. Zurakoski complained about the high workload in the cockpit, despite the sophisticated AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System), but on the other hand the reliability of the electronic systems was better than expected
 

Archangel

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Dec 20, 2004
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Welcome to the Arrow Recovery Canada website. We are the non profit corporation that has been actively searching for the missing Avro Arrow flight test models since May 1999.
The Avro Arrow was a revolutionary jet interceptor, designed and built by the
A.V. Roe Aircraft company of Canada. The Arrow was a plane of firsts, fly by wire, computer control, integral missile system and capable of MACH 2+. The year was 1958, and the COLD WAR was raging. For more information on our mandate and our group please see our "Mission Statement".

taken from http://www.avroarrow.org/

maybe you already know it, but i havnt seen a link here till now :)
http://www.avroarrow.org/AvroArrow/factualarrow.html a fact pafe about it. im still looking for maneuverability, but its looking good so far :)

Thirty years ago, the Canadian public was cheering the launch of an aircraft that made headlines around the world. Three years ago, one of Canada's foremost historians, Dr. Desmond Morton, principal of Erindale College, University of Toronto, described the Avro Arrow as "a fatally flawed weapon, on a par with those earlier monuments to our military-industrial blundering, the Ross rifle or the MacAdam shovel." In an article in the Toronto Star, he said: "Politicians, our professional scapegoats, took the blame for aborting a design whose irnperfections should have been obvious to a first-year engineering student."
In The Illustrated History of Canada, a text which most Canadian school-children will read, Professor Morton claims that then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow, not because guided missiles had made it obsolete, but because it was "a flawed plane and an inept corporation."
In A Military History of Canada, Dr. Morton refers to "crippling design flaws in a reputed triumph of Canadian engineering. The Arrow's Mach-2 speed depended on carrying its missiles in a belly pack. Opened for action at high speeds, the rocket pack acted like an air brake-or threatened to tear off."
The basis for Dr. Morton's claims of technological flaws are the presumed effects if the Arrow's weapons pack had been lowered during flight. Yet, as several engineers have since informed Dr. Morton, it was never designed to be lowered in flight, only on the ground. Engineer Paul Campagna comments: "The scenario of instability previously described (by Dr. Morton) in fact occurred on the CF-100, Mark IV prototype. The author seems to have gotten the two aircraft confused."
Were the engineers who designed the Arrow no better than Dr. Morton claims they were-or was he himself the victim of misinformation? And if he was misinformed, why? Like any journalist, Dr. Morton won't name his Ottawa sources, who, he says, "believed there was a lot more to the story than they were able to tell." He admits that he "was misled" about the design for the weapons pack, but contends that there were other problems which would still justify the description of the Arrow as "a magnificent airplane that had major flaws." He maintains that since the plane's weapons and avionics systems "were being bought off the American shelf" and had not been tested in flight, their incorporation would have caused major problems "that would have involved considerable redesign."
In this interview with Engineering Dimensions' editor Margaret McCaffery, Professor Morton explains why the story of the Arrow is itself flawed.
ED: Do you think you will change your account of the Avro Arrow in subsequent editions of your books?
Morton: I may reflect on this controversy. Particularly when you're dealing with contemporary history, you've got a very partial access to sources. You have people alive with very strong feelings and knowledge, which they may or may not share.
ED: Would it be fair to suggest that your sources wanted to see an opinion expressed that the cancellation of the arrow was the fault of the company and the engineering?
Morton: They may have, although that wasn't how I approached them. I simply wanted to know if there was more to this than defenders of the Arrow have said. The problem with the Arrow is that it has become another myth of absolute perfection. When the politicians came to make their decision about the Arrow, though they had a lot of faulty information, they also had some facts, some of which we know, some of which we don't know. When I look at the story of the Arrow, which was only a quarter of a century ago, there's a great deal that's hidden. I'm denied access to what went on in Cabinet, in the Prime Minister's Office, in the Department of National Defence. What I'd like to see come out of this, and what I suspect my sources would like, would be access legislation being used to open up all the records related to the Arrow, including the decision to destroy the prototypes.
Who precisely ordered the destruction of the existing prototypes and why? It was an act of extraordinary vandalism and vengefulness and no one has formally taken responsibility for it. I'm told there were American arguments that the aircraft was flawed-although that may be the same sour grapes attitude that you've suggested. I think it was a tragedy that the opportunity to perfect it was never achieved.
ED: Did you ever speak with Mr. Floyd, who was vice-president of engineering at Avro during this time?
Morton: No.
ED: What do you think his response would have been?
Morton: Oh I know what it is, because I've received a copy of the letter he and a group of engineers sent to the Toronto Star. That's one of the reasons why I wrote the Star article-to see what response I'd get, who was willing to talk. I've learned a great deal since then.
ED: It's been suggested that there's more on file in Washington about the Avro Arrow than there is in Ottawa. With the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, wouldn't it be easier to get information from Washington?
Morton: Yes, but I was led to believe that if I saw what was on file in Washington I would have an even more hostile view of the Arrow. Arguments were certainly put up for the U.S. not to buy it. It would be inherently improbable that they would try to suppress a good aircraft to produce an inferior one. They would be more likely to try and acquire the technology for themselves.
ED: In an ideal world, what kind of access to information would you want?
Morton: Our Access to Information Act is a very imperfect document; in fact, it's worse than no access legislation. At several points in the '70s, beginning with the first cabinet order on access and ending with the Access to Information and Privacy Act, researchers found themselves pushed out of information sources that they had been able to use before. While the government of the day could proclaim in glowing terms that they had opened the books, in each case they had not.
The downside of a freedom of information act is the fear that people will prune the records. As a historian, in contrast to journalists, I would rather have the record complete and postponed for 20 years, than have it destroyed and available tomorrow.
you might want to read this. (itf taken from the facts page )
 

Nonskimmer

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Yep, there was and is a tonne of hype about it. Like FJ said, there are those in Canada who'll make the Arrow out to be a wonder plane. But I'm still convinced that if they'd been allowed to stick with it, they'd have worked out the bugs to make a superb aircraft. The thing is, it's not exactly the most cost effective way to go in a country like this one when you're really only looking to equip the RCAF with an interceptor.

Still...:rolleyes:
 

FLYBOYJ

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Great stuff Archangel - I really enjoyed the sites you shown....

Another myth I used to discuss with some of my friends while living in Canada was the rumor that the some in the US did not want the Arrow built because it was better than some of the US planes being developed at the same time the F-4, the F-106 and the BAe Lightning were just as capable interceptors as the Arrow.

Agree?!?!
 

Nonskimmer

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Hogwash. The cancellation had nothing to do with the US or anyone else. There are more conspiracy theories surrounding the Arrow than you can shake a stick at. The fact is that development was running far behind schedule, and it was a huge cash cow. The government finally cancelled it. There's no more mystery to it than that.
 

plan_D

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Being that the CF-105 was primarily an interceptor it's handling wouldn't need to be amazing. The EE Lightning didn't have a very good turning circle but it was quite manuverable in other areas due to the whole tail-plane moving instead of just elevators at the back. The F-5 could run rings around a Lightning. My dad saw it many times but the Lightning's job was never to dogfight, it was to get up fire off it's missiles and return home. With a cruising speed of Mach 0.87 and top speed of Mach 2.3 it could enter combat quickly and leave combat just as quickly. I imagine the same would apply to the CF-105.

I don't believe the U.S had anything to do with the cancellation. As you said, the Lightning was just as, if not more, capable than the CF-105. The CF-105 shared the same fate as the TSR.2, it was expensive. It was too expensive for the government to continue with it, so they cancelled.

That's what I think anyway.
 

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