Friday, June 19, 2020

Canada's Little Known Mach 2 Fighter Plane

I found this article fascinating.

What I found more fascinating than that is that it was written by the BBC and was actually a good article without some sanctimonious political agenda.


daniel_ream said...

That's a surprisingly even-handed article from the BBC. Up here, the national mythology is that the 'Murricans forced us to cancel the project because they didn't want us building a better plane than them (I'm not kidding; people actually believe that).

What every article on the Arrow leaves out is two very important facts:

One, the plane was a long way from being finished. It had no engines (the Iroquois engines were off-the-shelf units used to test the airframe; they weren't the final engines intended), avionics, armaments, etc.

Two - and more important - the Arrow was obsolete before it was even built. The Arrow was not a fighter jet, it was designed as a high-altitude supersonic bomber interceptor, because that's how the Russians were going to deliver nuclear payloads to their targets. But the Arrow program was barely underway when bombers were superseded by ICBMs, making interceptors useless for everyone, not just Canada.

For comparison, look at the F-4 Phantom project, where the USAF did build an interceptor and then tried to turn it into a fighter jet. Ask the Vietnam-era pilots how well that worked out.

heresolong said...

Little known, Cappy?

Anyone who knows anything about airplanes (or cares) knows about the Avro Arrow.

Unknown said...

My aunt worked there. What REALLY doomed the program, in my opinion, was the Royal Canadian Air Force's obsession with developing the Astra fire control/nav system and the Sparrow II fully active radar guided missile, along with Avro/Orenda doing the airplane and engine. Sparrow II was abandoned by the US Navy and the RCAF took on funding. They were totally out to lunch in what they were trying to do. The first missile that could do what Sparrow II was supposed to do, in the small envelope required, was AMRAAM in the early 90s (Phoenix was early 70s but was very large). Astra was the same. They were trying to build a 80s technology weapon and fire control/nav system with pre-IC 1950s solid state surface mount electronics. I realized all this when I watched a Fairchild Semiconductor film about the mid 60s IC revolution. Half of the program money went down those two black holes, with Avro having no control. If they had just done the airplane and engine and used the existing state of the art Falcon and Hughes fire control, the program had a good chance of following through.

Jeff Wood said...

The moment I saw the photo of the prototype, I thought "TSR-2".

In the 1960s, Britain designed a low-level, high tech bomber which reached the prototype stage, and promised to be a world beater.

About 1970, the then government cancelled the project, citing cost. Oddly, the prototypes were also cut up.

Yes, I am prepared to consider that the missing Arrow was smuggled to the UK. If it could approach Mach 2, the aerodynamics would have been of great interest to us in Britain.

Joe Bar said...

Yes. That, And the TSR-2 (look it up) marked the end of English domination of the aviation industry. Quote a pity. CF-105 and TSR engineers migrated to the US aviation industry.

favill said...

Got rid of a high-tech industry (and its high costs)--and replaced it with universal healthcare and the welfare state (with its ongoing high costs)...Hmmm...aeronautical engineers, technicians, etc versus welfare queens.