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Bringing Down The Arrow: A 30 Year Retrospective


A revision to this page:
Re: Guest Hake reference: Mail of Eric A Westall
* Comments : On this page the information regarding Guest Hake is erroneous. My Father was with AVRO until after the cancellation of the Arrow and he never worked in the US. He was a project designer on the CF100, the Jetliner and the CF105. By March 1958 he had been appointed Quality Control and Inspection Manager. Following the cancellation of the Arrow he returned to England for a little over a year. He then returned to Canada and was the manager of Nuclear Safety Engineering for AECL and later chair of the CNA Committee of the Standards Council of Canada.
John Hake

I have also had to correct that other story on Guest many times myself. I don't know where that erroneous original info came from. Guest was a very senior member in our Engineering Division and a great guy.-------------Jim Floyd.--------

Engineering Dimensions Jan/Feb 1989

Our September/October feature on the Avro Arrow attracted more attention than we bargained for! It made the front page of the Giobe & Mail on election day and was then carried in newspapers coast to coast. Several of the article's key characters were subsequently interviewed on TV. February 20 marks the 30th anniversary of the Arrow's cancellation. In this issue, we publish some of your responses to our call for memories of the Arrow.

The Consequences
John L Orr,P.Eng.,then director of engineering research with the federal Defence Research Board, now retired, Victoria,B.C.

  The cancellation of the Avro Arrow airccraft and its challenging development program had a profound impact on technological innovation in Canada, the adverse effects of which persist to present day.
  The obvious solution to the funding dilemma was to seek U.S. support for the Arrow program, based on our common concern with the air defence of North America. This was a realistic possibility, since in 1955 the U.S. Air Force had established a requirement for a 'long range interceptor" aircraft (LRI) having similar characteristics to the RCAF specification for the Arrow issued in 1953. The LRI program was never implemented; the proponents of ballistic missiles wrongly insisted that manned fighter aircraft were obsolete.
  Nevertheless, when the capabilities of the Arrow aircraft became apparent, strong interest developed in both the operational and technical echelons of USAF. This interest was tangibly demonstrated by the provision of access to USAF technology and testing facilities. Unfortunately, this interest was not consummated contractually before Prime Minister Diefenbaker prematurely terminated the Arrow development.
  At the same time, the U.S. aircraft industry had become alarmed by the prospect that they might lose a major USAF procurement contract to Avro Canada. U.S. aircraft firms lobbied against procurement of the Arrow for the USAF in hopes that the LRI project would be revived.
Finally, when the Canadian government became concerned about the rising development costs of the Arrow, a confidential evaluation by USAF of its technical and operational capabilities was requested. It is my understanding the that this task was assigned to a junior officer based in California and subject to influence from U.S. aircraft rnanufacturers having a potential interest in the the outcome. Consequently, his report was highly negative, but nevertheless was accepted unquestioningly by the Diefenbaker government without providing either Avro or the RCAF any opportunity to refute its criticisms.
  The demise of the Arrow had a traumatic impact on government policies and public support for research and development. In particular, the possibility of Canada undertaking any major technological initiative (especially in the defence field) was foreclosed due to loss of confidence in Canadian capabilities. Moreover, the government apparatus was unable to comprehend the key role of technological innovation in economic development and therefore incapable of providing the neces- sary leadership and stimulus.
  In the course of the abortive negotiations to solicit USAF funding for the Arrow, the U.S. Department of Defense offered to allow Canadian industry to bid on U.S. military procurement contracts in compensation for the industrial dislocation caused by cancellation of the Arrow program. As a result, the Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement was instituted in 1959 with the objective of achieving reciprocity in military equipment trade between the two countries. This arrangement locked Canada into the U.S. defence system and guaranteed that the Canadian Armed Forces would henceforth be equipped mainly with U.S.-developed hardware.
  The fundamental error in the Canadian government's handling of the Arrow affair was its failure to pursue the development program through to feasibility demonstration, given that a major portion of the development costs had already been incurred by February 1959. Only on the basis of such proof could the USAF be expected to make any serious commitment to participate. In retrospect, the decision to proceed with production concurrently with development substantially increased initial program costs and was evidently ill-advised. Finally, the destruction of all prototype aircraft and records was a vindictive act of vandalism which precluded all possibility of salvaging anything from our heavy investment in advanced aeronautical technology.

Line drawing of the 6th Arrow.

Still Classified
Professor Desmond Morton, Principal, Erindale Campus, University of Toronto, and contributor, The Illustrated History of Canada.

  I think that Professor Granatstein (Engineering Dimensions, November/ December 1988, P. 6) is a little sanguine in saying that all the material is in the public domain. My own approach, through our friends in D. Hist, was for technical information which I certainly could not understand but which one of my students with a background in engineering thought he could manage.
  Probably he could not because that was how I was misled on the Arrow weapons system but there were many other technical documents which were not available. If you believe the Arrow promoters that their technology would still be "state of the art," I suppose the classification is understandable.

For The Record
Jim Floyd, P.Eng., then vice president, engineering, AV. Roe, Canada, now retired, Etobicoke, Ont

  I congratulate Mr. Campagna and yourself for undertaking to address this controversial and important issue and for rnaking such a good job of it (Engineering Dimensions, September/October 1988, pp. 46-53).
  There are, however, one or two points that I would like to make.
1. The coloured drawing on p. 49 is not of the Arrow! It is one of our early design studies carried out in 1953. The wing area is shown as 1,300 sq ft, whereas the Arrow wing was 1,225 sq ft. None of the dimensions in the sketch or the positioning of the avionics, equipment or fuel relate to the final configuration of the CF105 Arrow, which was also distinguished by the notch at the leading edge at mid-span and the extension of the leading edge on the outer wing.
2. On p. 52, under the heading "The Consequences," third paragraph, the article reads: "Back at Avro, the remaining 2,000 engineers continued . . .." In fact, we never had 2,000 engineers even at the peak and I think that fewer than 200 engineers were left after the cancellation.
3. Page 53: In the first of my suggested reasons for why Diefenbaker might have backed off from the Arrow project I mentioned the rising costs, but I also qualified that by saying that Avro's final fixed price of $3.5 million for the aircraft, engines and all technical support was the "bargain of the century." I wish to make that point very firmly.
4. A couple of the titles of the Avro executives are misquoted. Joe Morley was Vice President-Sales and Service and Fred Smye was the Chairman of the Board at Avro at the time of the Arrow cancellation (not general manager).
  Having pointed to these discrepancies, I hasten to add that I think that Paul Campagna has produced a well-balanced and exceptionally well researched summary of the Arrow story and deserves great credit for taking time out to put the record straight on this controversial issue.
  Dr. Desmond Morton, however, having admitted his monumental error concerning the function of the weapon pack, now states that "since the plane's weapon 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."
   As in his earlier statements, due to lack of adequate research, (surely unforgivable for a professor of history) he is apparantly unaware that the weapon system for the Arrow was originally designed was a derivative of the Hughes MX1179 fire control coupled with the Hughes Falcon missiles. This was also the final configuration offered to the RCAF before cancellation of the Arrow. The Astra/Sparrow combination had been cancelled earlier. Far from " not being flight tested," the Hughes system and the Falcons had been standard equipment n the Convair F102 and F106 series of supersonic fighters for some time before the Arrow had even flown and thousands of Falcon missiles had been delivered by the time the Arrow was cancelled!
  As a Canadian, a distinction I chose almost 40 years ago, I feel privileged, humble and very lucky to have been chosen to lead one of the finest teams of engineers ever assembled in our country. Their loss to Canada can never justified or reversed.

Giving Credit Where Due
Rodney Rose, unofficial historial for 'The Canadians," ex-Avro employees who joined NASA now with Rockwell Shuttle Operations Company, Houston

  In his article, Mr. Campagna is in error when he says on page 48 that ". . . At the tune the combination of notch, droop, and leading edge extensions made the Arrow unique . . .."
  In fact, this combination was developed by Vickers-Armstrongs Supermarine for their "Sift" interceptor in the early 1950s-a fact I am very conversant with as I was Chief of Performance in the Superrnarine Aerodynamics Department at the time! We also incorporated the best of these developments on the Supermarine N113 "Scimitar" which went into service with the Royal Navy. Incidentally, I left Supermarine to join Avro Canada, also in the Aerodynamics Department, in April, 1957.
  When Mr. Campagna talks about the drag reduction on the Arrow, I'm surprised he doesn't mention the integrated intake/engine by-pass/aerodynamic ejector system used on the Arrow--again, well ahead of it's time. This system placed the shock wave on the leading edge of the intake at all Mach numbers, giving maximum intake efficiency and therefore performance, while the aerodynamic ejector reduced the base drag at the back end significantly. It was really quite a system!

Arrow Telemetry- A First
Dennis E. Fielder, P.Eng., then a member of the Flight Test Department, AV. Roe, now a consultant, Houston, Texas

  I think Mr. Carnpagna's article is as good a story as can be told in four pages and, as my memory serves, is correct. I worked at Avro in the Flight Test Department from 1955 until the infamous "Black Friday" on February 20, 1959. Then, I became part of the "brain drain reversed " and went with Jim Chamberlin to join NASA along with 23 other ex-Avro employees. It is some times difficult to accept that that was 29 years ago. I believe, with one possible exception, that none of those people remain with NASA, being either deceased (as is Jim Chamberlin), relocated within the industry or retired.
  One item not mentioned, except in passing was the telemetry system used to bring the flight instrument measurements to the ground test control area where the information was available in what today is often called "real time."
  Other than the sensors that were distributed all over the initial aircraft, the instrumentation system, including the recorders and telemetry equipment, was located in the so-called armament bay. As I recall, two of these instrumentation bays served as the "pay- loads" for all the flight aircraft. To my knowledge, the test program had not progressed to the point of carrying any active armament. However, the ground development and testing of the armament pack and the deployment systems for the Sparrow IID was ongoing. In addition to these conventional weapons there was provision for deploying. a weapon system then known as Genie which, I believe, had nuclear characteristics. All these systems were scheduled for flight development and qualification in the flight test program.
  Whatever Dr. Morton's definition of "flawed," it seems to me that an in-production, all-weather aircraft, which in March of 1958 flew supersonic on its third test flight, and grew to a fleet of five operating aircraft with 66 test flights by February of 1959, and suffered only two landing gear problems, has to be classified as a success-even if it never carried any armament, ever!
  The irony here is that the nuclear warheads for the Bomark, the then-cited NORAD missile to be deployed in Canada which (according to the in-famous Honourable George C. Pearkes, Minister of National Defense at that time) pre-empted any need for such as the Arrow, were never made available in Canada.

Designs Into Reality
Eric A Westall, P.Eng., then project supervisor, control surfaces and rear fuselage, on the Arrow, now retired, Willowdale, Ont.

   Congratulations on an excellent article, with correct facts as I recall, except for one minor point.
In your photograph (p. 52) you give Guest Hake a title that is misleading. Guest was head of production engineering with several project supervisors reporting to him, I was one of them.
  Each supervisor was assigned sections of the aircraft, mine was control surfaces and rear fuselage. With my group of about 20 people, mainly manufacturing engineers, in those days called planners, we worked with the designers to ensure what was designed could be manufactured.
  When design was finalized, we then designated equipment, tooling and methods to be used in the manufacture of components, sub-assemblies and final assembly of the sections.
  Another group under Buz Could was responsible for final assembly, the marrying-up of the sections into the complete aircraft.
  The photograph must have been taken in the very early days of the project because Guest was only with the company for, maybe, two years before resigning and returning to the United States; his replacement was a Canadian, Ron Drake, who still held the position at the cancellation.
  While not in any way detracting from the credit given Jim Floyd, I have always thought there should be mention of the contribution to the design by a young Canadian, Jim Chamberlin.
  In your credits you do not mention the Canadian Aeronautical and Space Institute, Ottawa. Founded in 1954 as the Canadian Aeronautical Institute, membership was only accepted from people with proven knowledge and experience in aeronautics, many Avro people were members. I was accepted in 1955, and remained a member until I retired in 1985.

Scott McArthur.




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