Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft designed and built by Avro Canada. The Arrow is considered to have been an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry. The CF-105 (Mark 2) held the promise of near-Mach 2 speeds at altitudes of 50,000 feet (15,000 m) and was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond.

The Arrow was the culmination of a series of design studies begun in 1953 examining improved versions of the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck. After considerable study, the RCAF selected a dramatically more powerful design, and serious development began in March 1955. Intended to be built directly from the production line, skipping the traditional hand-built prototype phase, the first Arrow Mk. I, RL-201, was rolled out to the public on 4 October 1957, the same day as the launch of Sputnik I. Flight testing began with RL-201 on 25 March 1958, and the design quickly demonstrated excellent handling and overall performance, reaching Mach 1.98. Powered by the Pratt & Whitney J75, another three Mk. Is were completed, RL-202 through -204. The lighter and more powerful Orenda Iroquois engine was soon ready for testing, and the first Mk.II with the Iroquois, RL-206, was ready for taxi testing in preparation for flight and acceptance tests by RCAF pilots by early 1959.

On 20 February 1959, the development of the Arrow (and its Iroquois engines) was abruptly halted before the project review had taken place. Two months later, the assembly line, tooling, plans and existing airframes and engines were ordered to be destroyed. The cancellation was the topic of considerable political controversy at the time, and the subsequent destruction of the aircraft in production remains a topic for debate among historians and industry pundits. "This action effectively put Avro out of business and its highly skilled engineering and production personnel scattered...."

Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Avro Canada
Origin Canada
Country Name Origin Year
Canada 1958
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Avro Canada 5 View

In the post-Second World War period, the Soviet Union began developing a capable fleet of long-range bombers with the ability to deliver nuclear weapons across North America and Europe. The main threat was principally from high-speed, high-altitude bombing runs launched from the Soviet Union travelling over the Arctic against military bases and built-up and industrial centres in Canada and the United States. To counter this threat, Western countries strenuously undertook the development of interceptors that could engage and destroy these bombers before they reached their targets.

A. V. Roe Canada Limited had been set up as a subsidiary of the Hawker Siddeley Group in 1945, initially handling repair and maintenance work for aircraft at Malton, Ontario Airport, today known as Toronto Pearson International Airport. The next year the company began the design of Canada's first jet fighter for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Avro CF-100 Canuck all-weather interceptor. The Canuck underwent a lengthy and troubled prototype stage before entering service seven years later in 1953. Nevertheless, it went on to become one of the most enduring aircraft of its class, serving in a variety of roles until 1981.

Recognizing that the delays that affected the development and deployment of the CF-100 could also affect its successor, and the fact that the Soviets were working on newer jet-powered bombers that would render the CF-100 ineffective, the RCAF began looking for a supersonic, missile-armed replacement for the Canuck even before it had entered service. In March 1952, the RCAF's Final Report of the All-Weather Interceptor Requirements Team was submitted to Avro Canada. The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft designed and built by Avro Canada. The Arrow is considered to have been an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry. The CF-105 (Mark 2) held the promise of near-Mach 2 speeds at altitudes of 50,000 feet (15,000 m) and was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond.

The Arrow was the culmination of a series of design studies begun in 1953 examining improved versions of the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck. After considerable study, the RCAF selected a dramatically more powerful design, and serious development began in March 1955. Intended to be built directly from the production line, skipping the traditional hand-built prototype phase, the first Arrow Mk. I, RL-201, was rolled out to the public on 4 October 1957, the same day as the launch of Sputnik I. Flight testing began with RL-201 on 25 March 1958, and the design quickly demonstrated excellent handling and overall performance, reaching Mach 1.98. Powered by the Pratt & Whitney J75, another three Mk. Is were completed, RL-202 through -204. The lighter and more powerful Orenda Iroquois engine was soon ready for testing, and the first Mk.II with the Iroquois, RL-206, was ready for taxi testing in preparation for flight and acceptance tests by RCAF pilots by early 1959.

On 20 February 1959, the development of the Arrow (and its Iroquois engines) was abruptly halted before the project review had taken place. Two months later, the assembly line, tooling, plans and existing airframes and engines were ordered to be destroyed. The cancellation was the topic of considerable political controversy at the time, and the subsequent destruction of the aircraft in production remains a topic for debate among historians and industry pundits. "This action effectively put Avro out of business and its highly skilled engineering and production personnel scattered...."

Canada tried to sell the Arrow aircraft to the U.S. and Britain, but had no takers. The aircraft industry in both countries was considered a national interest and the purchase of foreign designs was rare; and in this era the Arrow was far from the only heavy high-speed interceptor to end in cancellation.

From 1955 onwards, the UK had shown considerable interest in the Arrow; in April 1956, the UK's Air Council recommended a purchase of 144 Arrows for the RAF to serve alongside the Saunders-Roe SR.177 mixed power interceptor, instead of the "thin-wing" Gloster Javelin then under study. Projected power plants for the RAF Arrow were the Bristol Olympus 7R - 17,000 lbs dry, 23,700 lbs with reheat, the Rolls-Royce Conway Stage 4 - 18,340 lbs dry, 29,700 lbs with reheat, and the de Havilland Gyron of 19,500 lbs dry, 28,000 lbs with reheat. Procurement of the Arrow from both Canada, and setting up a production line in the UK, was studied, the unit price per aircraft built in the UK being estimated at £220,000 each for a production run of 100 aircraft, as opposed to the estimate of £150,000 per aircraft for the "thin wing" Javelin. The CF-105 would serve as a stopgap until the UK's F.155 project came to fruition; however with the F.155 due in 1963 and the Arrow not likely to reach the RAF before 1962, there was little point in proceeding. The infamous 1957 Defence White Paper, described as "the biggest change in military policy ever made in normal times", led to the cancellation of almost all British manned fighter aircraft then in development, and completely curtailed any likelihood of a purchase. In January 1959, the UK's final answer was no; and introduced an offer to sell Canada the English Electric Lightning instead.

Acting on media speculation that the Iroquois engine program was also in jeopardy of being cancelled, the French government whose original intention was to place a major order for 300 Iroquois engines for the Dassault Mirage IV bomber, chose to end negotiations in October 1958 and opted for an upgraded version of the indigenous SNECMA Atar engine.

The U.S. Air Force had already developed three aircraft with performance intended to be broadly similar to the Arrow, originally as part of their "1954 Interceptor" project—the McDonnell F-101B Voodoo, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger and Convair F-106 Delta Dart. Two more advanced interceptors, the Republic XF-103 and North American XF-108, were under development, although both were ultimately cancelled in the early design and mock-up phases. The U.S. decision to cancel many of their own interceptors, along with a firm rejection of an offer to procure Arrows for their own use, added weight for the justification of cancelling the Arrow. In 1958, Avro Aircraft Limited President and General Manager Fred Smye elicited a promise from the USAF to "supply, free, the fire control system and missiles and if they would allow the free use of their flight test centre at... Edwards AFB."

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 77 ft 9 in (23.71 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Height: 21  ft 2 in (6.25 m)
  • Wing area: 1,225 ft² (113.8 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 0003.5 mod root, NACA 0003.8 tip
  • Empty weight: 49,040 lb (22,245 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 56,920 lb (25,820 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 68,605 lb (31,120 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J75-P-3 turbojets
  • Dry thrust: 12,500 lbf (55.6 kN) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: 23,500 lbf (104.53 kN) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.98 (1,307 mph, 2,104 km/h) at 50,000 ft (15,000 m) max. recorded speed; Mach 2+ potential[118]
  • Cruise speed: Mach 0.91 (607 mph, 977 km/h) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m)
  • Combat radius: 360 NM (410 mi, 660 km)
  • Service ceiling: 53,000 ft (16,150 m)
  • Wing loading: 46.5 lb/ft² (226.9 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.825 at loaded weight

Armament

  • Rockets: 1–4× AIR-2 Genie unguided nuclear rockets[citation needed] or
  • Missiles: Up to 8× AIM-4 Falcon, Canadair Velvet Glove (cancelled 1956) or 3 AIM-7 Sparrow II 2D active guidance missiles (cancelled)

Avionics

  • Hughes MX-1179 fire control system

End notes