Just a buggywhip moment, or was the AVRO Canada's biggest cuck moment ever?

View Poll Results: Was the cancellation of the Avro a normal, or a cuck event for Canada?
The Avro died a natural death because it was out dated. 0 0%
We were told to drop the project knowing it would kill our competitive aerospace industry. 1 100.00%
Voters: 1. You may not vote on this poll

Free Thinker
"...the newest U.S. paper now says they no longer wish to purchase the Arrow..."
(From the article below)
Just a buggywhip moment, or was the AVRO the biggest cuck moment in the history of Canada?

55 years later, biggest question surrounding Avro Arrow remains “what if?”

Fifty-five years ago today, on March 25, 1958, the infamous Avro Arrow made its very first test flight.

The plane was the crown jewel of Canadian aircraft manufacturer A.V. Roe Canada, better known as Avro, then the third-largest company in Canada. The hypersonic fighter was on the cutting edge of aerospace technology at the time: it could reach a speed nearly three times the speed of sound, travelling at an altitude of 60,000 feet.

The first flight of the Arrow should have been a crowning moment for the Canadian aerospace industry. Yet the plane was scrapped by the federal government just a few months later, in a decision that remains controversial to this day.

For many Canadians, the Avro Arrow has come to symbolize both the potential, and the unfulfilled promise, of Canadian innovation.

“The Arrow represents a period when Canada stood up on its own and did its own thing,” Paul Squires, a historian with the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association, told Global News. “In many ways, it’s become a symbol of the country.”

“At the time, we were in the top three of the largest producers of aeronautical parts in the world. But the cancellation of the Arrow absolutely devastated the Canadian aerospace industry.”

When it comes to the Avro Arrow, the true regret is what might have been: Flying saucers. Hover cars. A Lunar rover – and even the possibility of a Canadian using it.

Among Avro's many innovative projects were plans to design a lunar rover (pictured above).

“If the company had been left alone to continue the development process, Canada would have had a man on the moon,” Rob Cohen, CEO of the Canadian Air and Space Museum, told Global News. Pictured above: Avro’s concept for a lunar rover.

The fall of the Avro Arrow

So why was the Avro Arrow cancelled by the Canadian government in 1959?

“The official reason given by the Diefenbaker government [at that time] was that the Arrow was too expensive, and it was no longer worth the money,” Cohen said. “Avro as a company was going through millions of taxpayer dollars.”

“The government had an agenda to destroy it. They wanted the money for other things, so they came up with all kinds of reasons why they didn’t need it,” Squires said.

The reasons for the cancellation of the Arrow were a mix of politics, timing, and bad luck. The CF-105 (as the Arrow was officially known) was originally designed as a long-range interceptor, meant to meet and destroy Soviet bombers.

But on October 4, 1957 – the same day as the first Avro Arrow rolled off the production line – the Soviets launched the satellite Sputnik, becoming the first nation to put a man-made object into orbit.

And just like that, everything changed.

“It really was a case of the worst timing,” Squires said. “The same day as Avro rolls out their aircraft, you had millions of people around the world looking up at the stars, trying to look for Sputnik.”

That development changed the focus for militaries on both sides of the Cold War, away from conventional bombers and towards atmospheric weapons like intercontinental ballistic missiles.

One of Avro's stranger projects: the "Avrocar" flying saucer.

Pictured above: One of Avro’s stranger projects, the “AvroCar” flying saucer (courtesy: wikicommons).

Then there was the often-contentious relationship between conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and Avro Canada president Crawford Gordon, Jr.

“Diefenbaker didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, he was a complete teetotaler,” Squires said. “And in walks Crawford Gordon with his hip flask, a cigarette in his hand, pounding on Diefenbaker’s desk. They were complete polar opposites.”

There was also the changing politics surrounding the creation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. One of the specifics of this deal was the purchase by the U.S. Air Force of the new Avro Arrow fighter.

“When we were negotiating NORAD under the St. Laurent government, the U.S. would send a note, and the government would haggle over specifics and send one back,” Squires explained. “Well Mr. St. Laurent lost [the 1957 election], Mr. Diefenbaker came in, and the newest U.S. paper now says they no longer wish to purchase the Arrow.”

“Diefenbaker just looked at it, said ‘looks good’ and signed it. Even Americans were shocked, because they expected some pushback.”

The cancellation of the CF-105 Arrow was a deathblow for Avro. It was also a serious setback for the Canadian aerospace industry as a whole.

“Fifteen thousand people lost their jobs at Avro [as a result of the Arrow’s cancellation], but many more people outside of the company lost their jobs too,” Cohen said. “People in the supply chain, parts manufacturers, the support network. Within six months, thousands more were out of work.”

What might have been

To many Canadian aerospace experts, the real loss in the cancellation of the Avro Arrow wasn’t just in the plane itself, but the possibilities for what Avro may have done in the future.

For instance, SPAR Aerospace, the company which designed the CanadaArm, was originally the Special Projects and Research branch (hence the acronym “SPAR”) of Avro Canada.

“Avro had a top secret design department with the brightest and most innovative thinkers. Total out-of-the-box thinking,” Cohen said.

Some of the special projects at Avro were right out of science fiction. Others were years ahead of their time. The company had plans for a lunar rover (pictured), a flying saucer (the “AvroCar”), and even a hovering truck.

Cohen notes other plans, such as a monorail system for Toronto from Union Station to what is now Lester B. Pearson airport, cameras that could capture and airplane travelling 1,300 mph and technology that could capture a rocket blast.

For Squires, the connection to Avro Canada is particularly personal – his father helped worked on the Avro jetliner, the C102.

“It broke four different records during first flight to New York,” Squires said. “If they had built the jetliner, they would have jumped 10 years ahead on commercial aircraft, and it would have given Avro another leg to stand on.”

Avro Jetliner

Today, the legacy of the Avro Arrow is one of both pride and frustration for most Canadians.

This is especially true for Cohen. Two years ago, the Canadian Air and Space Museum was evicted from its home in the old de Havilland building in Toronto’s Downsview Park. The museum is currently trying to find a new home while most of its planes – including a full-size replica of an Avro Arrow – sit in storage at Pearson airport.

Cohen acknowledges that while funding was a problem, the main issue was a change in direction from above.

“Downsview Park has a whole host of new goals, and it’s obvious that the rich aviation history that once existed there is not part of their plans,” Cohen said. “A gun was to our head, and we had to do what we needed to do.”

All photos courtesy of the Canadian Air and Space Museum.
No Party Affiliation
Diefenbaker...hopefully Canada has learned it's lesson in regards to Saskatistan politicians
Free Thinker
Avro Arrow: "There Never Was an Arrow"

The story of the Arrow had its origins in the Cold War and the growing spectre of Soviet bombers invading our northern skies.

Friday 20 February 1959 is known as "Black Friday" in Canada's aviation community. On that day, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker rose in the House of Commons and terminated the A.V. Roe Arrow, the world's most advanced military aircraft.

Only a year earlier, the atmosphere was quite different. At Malton, just outside Toronto, the legendary test pilot Jan Zurokowski eased himself through the clamshell canopy of a brand-new aircraft as sleek as its name. Even with borrowed engines, the aircraft was swiftly airborne. A sense of pride swept through the nation. Canadians clearly had "the right stuff."

Avro Arrow
The Arrow was the most advanced military aircraft of its time but it was cancelled, and Canada purchased American equipment instead (courtesy The Arrow Heads/Boston Mills Press).
The story of the Arrow had its origins in the Cold War and the growing spectre of Soviet bombers invading our northern skies.

Flush from its success in supplying the air force with the Canadian built CF-100, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) laid out a set of ambitious specs for a "supersonic all-weather interceptor aircraft." Demanding an aircraft that would fly faster, higher and farther and carry the most advanced missile system, the RCAF dreamed of a plane that was not even on the drawing boards of any nation in the world. With its CF-100 well into production, its Jetliner prototype turning heads as only the second jet airliner in the world, and even a "flying saucer" on its drawing boards, A.V. Roe felt up to the task.

The first Arrow took only 28 months from the first drawings until roll-out on 4 October 1957. It might have caused more of a stir if it had not been the very same day that the Russians launched Sputnik.

While testing of the airframe was underway, A.V. Roe was also at work on the Iroquois engines that would drive the Arrow well beyond the speed of sound. Using titanium and high temperature alloys, the engineers skipped a whole generation of jet engine development. Powerful enough to drive the ocean liner Queen Mary, the engine was first tested 24 June 1956.

The weapons system proved the project's Achilles' heel. The RCAF's insistence on weapons and guidance systems that didn't exist pushed the cost of the Arrow into an impossible range.

In 1957 A.V. Roe was still riding high, with some 50,000 employees, though the Jetliner had failed to find a buyer and had flown for the last time in November 1956. In June 1957 John Diefenbaker turfed the Liberals out and became prime minister. He had long had a suspicious eye on A.V. Roe, the darling of the Liberal government. When the British military declared that interceptors were obsolete, he was jubilant. "There is no purpose in manufacturing horse collars when horses no longer exist," he said.

On 27 August 1957, the prediction seemed confirmed as the Soviets launched the first ICBM. That same month, Minister of Defence George Pearkes met the American Secretary of Defence, who trashed the Arrow and told him that the Americans would be glad to sell Canada "proven aircraft at cheaper prices." Rumours spread that the Arrow was doomed.

Avro Arrow Orenda Engine
A.V. Roe was also forced to develop the Arrow's engine, Orenda, and fire-control and missile systems, and estimated costs rose to $12.5 million per aircraft.
On 17 September 1958, after numerous evasions, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker relented and granted a hearing to Crawford Gordon, Jr., the president of A.V. Roe. Gordon stormed into the room "incoherent, like a person demented," an aid reported. He pounded the prime minister's desk and demanded that his beloved Arrow not be scrapped. Diefenbaker threatened to have him thrown out. Gordon knew in his heart that the Arrow would fly no more.

When Gordon heard Diefenbaker's announcement, he went straight to the loudspeaker at A.V. Roe. "Notice of termination," he said, "There will be no work for you.”" Some 14,000 lost their jobs overnight. The company was ordered to destroy the eight prototypes — only a nose section of No. 206 survives. "We will now lose the cream of our skilled aircraft technicians to the United States," said Dennis McDermott of the UAW. "History will prove this to be one of the most colossal blunders made by a prime minister in the history of Canada."

The conventional, and no doubt sensible, historical view is that Diefenbaker made the right decision. The Arrow was getting too expensive, though the fault was as much with the RCAF as with the company. But historical events have more than simple economic or policy implications. The death of the Arrow and A.V. Roe was a symbolic set back, not only for arrowhead enthusiasts in love with the technology, or for the thousands of highly skilled Canadians thrown out of work (many moved to the US where they were eagerly taken up by NASA).

Diefenbaker's government rushed to buy American Bomarc missiles, which turned out to be useless without nuclear warheads, and then to purchase American Voodoo interceptors that the air staff had judged inferior years before. For many Canadians, the cancellation of the Arrow was a mortal blow to part of the national dream and confirmation that our leaders did not have the courage or the vision to forge a coherent defence policy independent of the United States.

Well our avro is well named - the paranoid soviet indeed.