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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3577
Joined: 2004
What an a/c!
6/19/2020 8:46:32 PM
For some reason, BBC Online is pushing this story, in that it has been up for more than a week. It's a Cinderella story without a handsome prince, and it remains dear to the hearts of many Canucks.



For her time, she was a striking a/c and a world-beater: so goes the mantra for many Canadians; an a/c shut down by a combination of bribes and threats by the US and DDE, for many others; How the US won the race to the moon according to still others. Some feel that the marvellous USAF F-4 Phantom is a design clone of the Arrow.

Primarily, however, I post this because I never really believed the Cinderella story anyway.

[Read More]

Hope that, if you give it a read, you might see what happens when you're told the shoe doesn't fit, and you never get a chance to wear it.

Cheers, and stay safe,
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 91
Joined: 2010
What an a/c!
6/19/2020 10:52:44 PM
Brian,

Several years ago I obtained a collection of old magazines on aviation. Among them I found a three part series on the Avro Arrow. It was written by Murray Peden and he clearly was impressed by the potential of the plane. Sentry Magazine published two magazines alternating each month between Wings and Airpower. The series started in February 1979 in Wings with the second article in March 1979 in Airpower and the final article in April 1979 in Wings. The title on the front page of the first article (February) was:

THE TRAGEDY OF CANADA'S CF 105 ARROW
WHY WAS THE MOST ADVANCED AND
POWERFUL FIGHTER PLANE OF IT'S DAY
NEVER PUT INTO PRODUCTION?

I'm not going to go into Peden's view of the Arrow but suffice it to say he was a true believer. What I found particularly interesting was a letter written to the magazine by a former RCAF pilot who had some knowledge of the plane. It was printed in the May 1979 Airpower magazine. The pilot was Jerry Billing and I believe he is the same individual who is described here: [Read More]

Here is what he had to say in that letter from 1979:

Quote:
I have read Pt. 1 of your story, (Feb. Wings) regarding the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Could I add here, that in my estimation, it was the most sane move during that period.
I personally had just finished a two (2) year exchange (flying) tour with the R.A.F. Fighter Development Squadron. I make mention of "flying" because a considerable amount of our R.C.A.F. senior staff personnel were simply "not" qualified in actual Mach 1 technique, but paper merchants they were.
On arriving back in Canada I was put on the Flight Test, Sub Committee of the Avro Arrow, as well as Modification Committee of the F-86 and CF-100. Our F-86 with the Orenda 14 engine was in fact superior to anything in Europe and our squadrons revelled in the fact that we could, and did, wax the ass, of anyone who became airborne, anywhere in Europe 1955-56.
Thus the boffins at home gloried in the Orenda name.
To me the Avro Arrow had the following:
1. a good hull. (But the drawers were full of such designs in the U.K. at the time of my departure, June '56.)
2. It had no fire control system. Hughes had turned it down and wanted no part of it, simply had no time, so RCA was approached and accepted it without even seeing the machine.
3. It had no weapon, and nothing could be seen on the horizon, in time for acceptance.
4. It flew with a borrowed engine.
5. The Iroquois (Orenda) was simply disintegrating during heat trials and showed no concrete proof of delivering. (To this date, I have never heard of this so-called magnificent Orenda Iroquois engine being mounted into any Mach 2 or 3 hull.)

Millions of dollars had been spent, why then didn't some country latch on to this marvel, and capitalize?
The introduction to every problem was always first confronted with the $ sign and the government was worried as to costs, a bad, bad sign, in my opinion.
Problems of the tail drag chute were a headache, not to mention the "frightening" problems of the flying controls and flexing linkages etc. ref. heat and associated effects, to me a major bug.
Again, in my opinion, I believe, and even to this day, that the entire program was introduced, put into action, and effectively operated as a five (5) year program to stimulate the economy and industry, as well as to create a reason for immigrating droves of people from the U.K. which worked far in excess of the expected. One thought that one was back in the U.K. when visiting any part of the Avro plant in that area. When the program was stopped, Douglas simply took over and the personnel were absorbed either on the CF-100 project or by Douglas.

Jerry Billing
South Woodslee, Ont.
Canada


Gary
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11529
Joined: 2009
What an a/c!
6/20/2020 9:29:34 AM
I knew two people who were employed by Avro Canada or by Orenda and worked on the development of the Arrow.
The project was cancelled on a Friday evening without warning and both men were then unemployed.

One man was my father-in-law, George, who was an RCAF veteran and post war managed to find a job as a machinist working on the Iroquois engine at Orenda. Working men like my father-in-law lived in a community of strawberry box houses that had been constructed in Downsview, Ontario (north Toronto) to house the large work force.

He told me that when the Arrow went over and broke the sound barrier, the whole neighbourhood stood out on their front lawns to watch and cheer. I can tell you that many Canadians were equally as proud of this achievement.

On the day that the programme was cancelled, all the workers went outside to commiserate. F in L told me that they scrounged up all the booze that could be found in the neighbourhood and everyone "got pissed".

My uncle was working for AVRO and was part of the design team for the tail section of the Arrow. He lost his job on the same day and he knocked around in Canada for a couple of years before taking his family to the Boston area where he finished his engineering degree and worked for a US company involved in the aircraft industry in some way. He was compelled to take out US citizenship so that he could continue to work on certain projects.

Both men were Canadians and while many Brits came over to work in the Arrow programme, the loss to Canada of Canadian born men with brains and talent, nearly destroyed our aerospace industry which was punching way above its weight at the time. AVRO was involved in several other projects in addition to the Arrow including work on what looked like a flying saucer.

NASA benefitted greatly from this brain drain from the north and that included Canadians and Brits who headed south for work.

There was something very strange about the way that the government determined to destroy all of the prototypes that had been built. Everything was cut up for scrap. The reasons for this action have never been explained though there are rumours that the Canadian government receive some pressure and promises from the US government that was determined that this plane should not compete for business with any of their planes.

There is a rumour that one of the prototypes wound up in the UK, fully intact. I haven't been able to confirm that.

How good was it? I thank Gary for his reference to the Billings comments. I would say however that the plane was still in development and that some of its technological features were unique for the day and innovative. So I think that a lot of the criticism is toward aspects of a plane in developmental stages. Some of the claims made by proponents regarding these innovations have been overblown I admit.

EDIT: At the time of the cancellation, the Mk II Arrow was still on the drawing boards


Quote:
You see, the thing about the Arrow was, it was breathtakingly beautiful - perhaps, and I say this with some conviction, more beautiful than any aircraft, civilian or military, under development or operational anywhere in the world at the time. I am certain in fact that if the Arrow was a dog, a fat turd-like aircraft, an ill-proportioned aircraft, a work-a-day journeyman aircraft, we would not be so possessed by it today. But it wasn't. It was futuristic beyond our imaginations in 1958 when it first flew - sleek, lean, gigantic and so not like us. By any standards of design today, it was a stunner. It held the promise on its broad white wings that Canada would be vaulted into the future ahead of everyone.


[Read More]

Fairly recently, the blueprints developed by A.V. Roe for the Arrow were found intact. Someone spirited them away and ignored the government order to destroy everything to do with the project including the five planes, blueprints and jigs and tools used in the machine shop.

The blueprints are on display at the Diefenbaker Museum in Saskatchewan.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11529
Joined: 2009
What an a/c!
6/20/2020 6:28:26 PM
I meant to add that a Canadian whose company specializes in the repair of turbine engines, found an Orenda Iroquois (series 2) engine in the UK. He is restoring it.

The existence of that engine and the fact that two ejector seats designed for the Arrow have also been discovered in the UK, helps fuel the theory that one of the Arrows was spirited to Britain.

As I understand it, there is nothing special about the seats. They were manufactured by a company that makes them for other planes. But these seats were confirmed as Arrow ejector seats and they have been well used.

The owner of the Iroquois engine is skeptical that a plane the size of the Arrow could have flown to Britain.

There is a photo record of the destruction of the Arrow Mk 1 planes. But the owner of the engine notes that the photo record indicates the position of all of the planes as they waiting to be cut apart. These would be planes RL 201 through RL 205.

Later pictures do not show RL 202. It went missing from the photo record. RL 202 had just been repaired and restored to flight ready status and was ready to join the programme once again when the programme was cancelled. So what happened to RL202?

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3577
Joined: 2004
What an a/c!
6/20/2020 9:47:13 PM
Gary, wonderful counterforce to the BBC Online article. I believe that – years ago now – I read Murray Peden's Fall of an Arrow, and remember the book fondly, but I read it uncritically.

I think much of what Jerry Billing says could have some value. And he itemizes rather nicely: Quote:
1. a good hull. (But the drawers were full of such designs in the U.K. at the time of my departure, June '56.)
2. It had no fire control system. Hughes had turned it down and wanted no part of it, simply had no time, so RCA was approached and accepted it without even seeing the machine.
3. It had no weapon, and nothing could be seen on the horizon, in time for acceptance.
4. It flew with a borrowed engine.

But IIUC, the Arrow was never presented as a perfect, polished, complete a/c. It was presented as a flight-capable, future-friendly a/c with a frame that was strong and could probably take modification, a design that could deal with issues of the sound barrier and more, speed greater than anything else in the pipeline. It probably had no fire control system because there were no systems designed to work at that speed, but that isn't a reason to cancel the a/c. It should have been a challenge to system engineers.

I'm not, of course, a military designer. Nor am I a Specification writer. But I can think of few a/c to that time which began life with the same engine they were wed to during their career. I might note the P-51, a mediocre a/c until given hard points and wedded to the Merlin engine. Or to the Me-262, which flew with crap engines and would have flown even better with others. The Do-17 "schnell Bomber" that set the world on edge in Munich in 1937 flew with engines Do-17's never again were powered by, but the frame was sound enough to go through myriad adaptations before the end of the war. Even the iconic B-17, though it never circumvented its notoriously limited range under full bomb load, was able to add outrageous additional defensive armament and go through major if not radical design change because the basics of the a/c were sound.

I'm particularly interested by Billing's third comment. I'm not a devotee of the Arrow, but I don't remember any importance attached to a timeline by which it had to be accepted. By whom? For what role/reason?

As to the possible reasons why a nation as small as Canada would fail in the attempt to play with the world leaders, that's a totally different discussion. Sweden, I believe, flies Saab a/c, and they are IIUC fine a/c for what they were designed to do.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6206
Joined: 2006
What an a/c!
6/21/2020 2:43:16 PM
[Read More]

:)
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 91
Joined: 2010
What an a/c!
6/21/2020 10:30:16 PM
Brian,

When I first read Murray Peden's article I did so uncritically. It wasn't until I read Jerry Billing's letter that I questioned the article. Billing is clearly a man of experience, and the fact he was on the "Flight Test, Sub Committee of the Avro Arrow" is significant. Having said that, I still am not certain he is correct on some of his assertions.

You did not include the 5th point that Billing made. Points 4 and 5 go together in my opinion.

Quote:
4. It flew with a borrowed engine.
5. The Iroquois (Orenda) was simply disintegrating during heat trials and showed no concrete proof of delivering. (To this date, I have never heard of this so-called magnificent Orenda Iroquois engine being mounted into any Mach 2 or 3 hull.)



The Orenda Iroquois engine was intended to be for the Arrow what the Merlin engine was for the Mustang. Instead they had to put an inferior engine in it. Also, his comment that twenty years after the death of the Arrow the Iroquois still had not been put into a Mach 2 aircraft is curious, since I've read elsewhere that the Iroquois was to be installed in the next Arrow (no. 6?) at the time of the cancellation. The U.S. Air Force allegedly expressed an interest in the Iroquois in late 1960 but changed their mind a few months later.

You mentioned that some see the F4 as a clone of the Arrow. The Arrow was designed with a fly-by-wire flight control system, while the F4 had the more conventional flight system. That is a big difference.

Quote:
I'm particularly interested by Billing's third comment. I'm not a devotee of the Arrow, but I don't remember any importance attached to a timeline by which it had to be accepted. By whom? For what role/reason?


I read Billing's comment as being a bit sarcastic and suggesting that if the plane was as great as some have claimed then other countries would have offered to buy it.

Gary
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 581
Joined: 2004
What an a/c!
8/24/2020 12:08:18 PM
My partner's stepfather, Peter Cope, was on of the last of the test pilot group to fly the Arrow. He loved it as a pilot's aircraft (said that ergonomically it was the best-designed cockpit he ever flew), but had little tolerance for the B/S stories surrounding it. According to him the rumor that one survived was just that, a rumor, and that all were in fact destroyed. He blamed the Arrow movie for all the nonsense surrounding the plane, declaring the movie a complete fantasy.

When Arrow was cancelled, Peter moved to the States and joined Boeing, becoming one of the managers for the 747 roll-out.

BTW, IIRC Peter is in the pilot seat in the CF-100 photo in the article. Also BTW, neither he nor Janusz Zurakowski were Canadian-born. Peter was born outside London and Janusz in Russia, albeit of Polish parents and he considered himself Polish.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11529
Joined: 2009
What an a/c!
8/24/2020 3:32:32 PM
There was another Pole in the mix of 5 test pilots who were selected to fly the Arrow. Zurakowski was hired as the chief test pilot for A. V. Roe. He had been the test pilot on the UK's first jet after a busy career in the RAF including the Battle of Britain.

Prior to joining the Arrow programme, he had tested the Avro CF100 and broke the sound barrier

A lot of immigrants have been embraced by this country and Zura was one of them. When the programme was cancelled, he headed north and opened a resort near Barry's Bay, not far from beautiful Algonquin Park. He died at his home in Barry's Bay.

In 1973 he was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and the Royal Canadian Mint placed his face on a $20 commemorative coin.

So we have claimed him.





One of the 5 pilots, Lorne Ursel, never got to fly the Arrow as the programme was suddenly cancelled.

The other Polish pilot, named Potocki actually had more hours on the plane than did Zurakowski. When the programme was cancelled, he left for the US as so many in the programme did.

The only Canadian born test pilot was Flight Lt. Jack Woodman, RCAF. WWII vet, he entered the Empire Test Pilot school in England. Hired to test the Avro CF100 as well, he transferred to the Arrow programme. He wound up with Lockheed in California.


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