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Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

Supersonic Interceptor Aircraft Prototype [ 1958 ]

Rising development costs and politics ultimately doomed the very promising Canadian Avro CF-105 Arrow supersonic interceptor.

Authored By: Alex Czek | Last Edited: 06/05/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Avro CF-105 "Arrow" was born out of an indigenous Canadian aviation effort during the Cold War intended to counter the threat posed by newer, high-flying, high-speed Soviet bombers. The United States and Canada both held the charge of protecting the vast airspace formed over North America and an attack from Soviet forces in an all-out war would clearly have originated from across the Pacific, targeting key war-making infrastructure and production during opening maneuvers. This threat therefore spurred several interceptor programs to develop during the period that went on to include the several famous American designs. Interceptors would form the backbone of air defense forces during the 1950s and 1960s, built around sophisticated avionics and weapon suites through sleek, aerodynamically-refined shapes intended to reach speeds above Mach 2.

The Canadian Arrow was developed as a wholly-Canadian effort A.V. Roe ("Avro") Canada Ltd which served as a subsidiary of the Hawker Siddeley Group. Hawker Siddeley Group was formed in 1934 prior to World War 2 (1939-1945) which led to the establishment of Avro Canada in 1945. During the design and development of the Arrow, the company went on to become one of the largest in the country and its product recognized in its time as one of the most advanced aircraft anywhere in the world - a true triumph for Canadian aviation.

Avro Canada had previous completed work on an earlier interceptor in the well-regarded CF-100 "Canuck", a rather conventional, no-frills aircraft powered by two wing-mounted turbojets (Avro Canada Orenda) within a two-seat airframe. The type saw a prolonged developmental period beginning in 1946 and first flew in January of 1950, was adopted for military service in 1952 and served until 1981 through 692 examples - proving it an early success for Canadian industry - largely reliant on Europe and American designs to stock its inventory. Belgium became a notable CF-100 global operator.

However, despite its usefulness, the CF-100 was a limited straight-wing, jet-powered aircraft appearing at a time when swept-wings were refined, offering increased performance as well as stability at higher operating speeds. Swept-wings were a product of the Korean War (1950-1953) where Soviet MiG-15 "Fagots" squared off against North American F-86 "Sabres" in history's first jet-versus-jet duels. In utilizing swept-wings, airframes could then be designed through a more "dart-like" shape useful in cutting through the atmosphere at speed. Such designs also allowed engines to be buried within the airframe and not left exposed along the wings and adding to aerodynamic drag. The delta wing concept itself was gathering steam and this configuration took on a triangle-type shape which did not require the traditional horizontal tailplanes seen in countless aircraft. The delta wing planform not only offered increased speeds but allowed for increased internal storage for fuel, avionics and weaponry - the latter having evolved from machine guns and cannon to guided missiles.

By the time of the Canuck's introduction in 1952, Soviet technology had advanced to the point that a new, supersonic, missile-carrying solutions was already needed as a counter in the West. Avro engineers set to work on such a solution and submitted a single-seat, single-engine concept in the C-104/4 and a single-seat, twin-engine concept in the C-104/2 to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Both designs made use of the delta wing planform and utilized an internal weapons bay. The concepts were delivered to the RCAF in 1952 and, in 1953, the RCAF finalized its requirements further after no foreign solution was found. Avro responded with a revised two-seat, twin-engine design and this became the C-105 submission.

The early years of the jet age (generally the period following World War 2), turbojet powerplants proved full of potential but short on practical successes. They were accordingly infant in their technology, proving rather unreliable, and thirsty in terms of fuel consumption. Couple this to aviation experts divided on the merits of swept-wing aircraft design over the delta wing planform as the more efficient route. Swept-back wings certainly offered improved air flow and reduced drag while the larger continuous surface of the delta wing provided increased internal capacity for fuel and equipment while maintaining the qualities of swept-back performance - at the cost of increased drag, particularly at low speed flight and lower operating altitudes.

The early years of the jet age (generally the period following World War 2), turbojet powerplants proved full of potential but short on practical successes. They were accordingly infant in their technology, proving rather unreliable, and thirsty in terms of fuel consumption. Couple this to aviation experts divided on the merits of swept-wing aircraft design over the delta wing planform as the more efficient route. Swept-back wings certainly offered improved air flow and reduced drag while the larger continuous surface of the delta wing provided increased internal capacity for fuel and equipment while maintaining the qualities of swept-back performance - at the cost of increased drag, particularly at low speed flight and lower operating altitudes.

Avro eventually made the decision to design the C-105 as a pure delta-wing platform for the aircrafts rather single-minded purpose in intercepting targets was to travel a generally straight line at speed, attempting to arrive at the weapon launch point in the shortest amount of time. This was in contrast to a conventional "dogfighter" requiring agility and speed to achieve the best firing angle. The increase in drag for a delta wing was deemed offset by the additional fuel stores which allowed for use of two turbojet engines, each with afterburner capability - this being additional fuel pumped into the powerplant for short bursts of speed. An all-new turbojet engine by Orenda would be paired within operational-quality C-105 airframes while early developmental models were to make use of a new Rolls-Royce turbojet instead .©MilitaryFactory.com
The finalized C-105 design was given the delta-wing shape with high-mounted, heavily-swept wings and a single, large-area vertical tail fin. The fuselage utilized a tubular forward section with extended nose cone and a slab-sided central portion. The cockpit incorporated two positions in tandem with heavy framing along the forward canopy and minimal windows at the rear position. The twin engine arrangement utilized two rectangular intakes seated to either side of the exterior cockpit wall and nearly ran the length of the entire design. A conventional tricycle landing gear arrangement was used though the main legs - with their twin-wheeled design - required some engineering expertise to fit into the thin wing assemblies. These retracted inwards towards the fuselage centerline. The main leg sat under the cockpit flood and retracted forwards into the design. The crew of two consisted of the pilot and a radar operator. The radar was housed in the nosecone. Overall, the CF-105 proved an exquisite design and a feat of Canadian aviation engineering, incorporating many modern methods and the latest in technology. Due to the expected high speeds of the aircraft, thusly generating heat, titanium surfaces would be used as well as magnesium.

In March of 1955, the RCAF commissioned for five C-105 aircraft under the formal designation of CF-105 "Arrow" to begin with the "Arrow Mk.1" variant representing a developmental form. The Mk.2 would become the initial operational-quality forms with their true engines (the Orenda "Iroquois" TR.13) and Fire Control System (FCS) included. Some 35 Mk.2 aircraft were expected.

Movement on the CF-105 proved a contrast to the years of design, testing and development witnessed in the preceding CF-100 program. The first Arrow to roll off the assembly lines became prototype "RL-201" in October of 1957 though this Mk.1 airframe was fitted with the lower-powered Pratt & Whitney J75 engine when other developmental powerplants fell through and the Iroquois was still being formalized. The formal unveiling of the CF-105 was also intended as a huge public affair but the successful launch of the Soviet satellite "Sputnik" removed most of the attention away from the Canadian effort. Delays then greeted several of the proposed internal systems which only added to the ballooning cost of the CF-105 program. First flight was achieved on March 25th, 1958 and proved the design, on the whole, aerodynamically sound. Successive tests then followed to which the Mk.1 officially broke the sound barrier in its third flight. It had reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.98 while flying at 50,000 feet. Four additional Mk.1 models followed. Over the months of testing, a major issue arose with the complex main landing gear leg arrangement. The design relied upon the two main, inline wheels to fit into the rather thin wing assembly and this necessitated that the gear rotate before settling fully into the thin delta wing design - complicating design and construction. After addressing several key issues, the five CF-105s were moved out of the AV Roe internal company test program and forwarded to official Canadian military trials set to begin in 1959.

Despite it promising results, the expensive CF-105 program began to draw fire from the new Progressive Conservative government coming into power (following the outgoing Liberals) despite it delivering thousands of jobs to Canadian industry. The new government formally moved on a deal with the United States to share the capabilities of NORAD across North America, serving as a dedicated air-defense network against Soviet attack. Ballistic missiles were now en vogue and the Soviet's achievement in space began to minimize the threat from conventional bomber aircraft at this point, in turn minimizing the usefulness of an expensive interceptor program such as the CF-105. At its core, the CF-105 was designed to intercept conventional bombers through quick response times and applicable weaponry and not counter incoming nuclear ballistic missiles launched an ocean away.

In August of 1958, an official request to cancel the CF-105 was put forth, essentially signaling the beginning the end of the CF-105 dream. Its formal cancellation then occurred on February 20th, 1959, terminating thousands of jobs dependent on the program. Canada would once again become reliant on its American neighbor for its aircraft stable and moved on procuring dozens of McDonnell F-101 aircraft in 1961 to fill the void (as the CF-101) . The type was fielded across three RCAF interceptor squadrons though, interestingly enough, it was initially rejected by the RCAF years prior.

As it stood, only five Arrow prototypes were ever completed (as well as one incomplete Mk.2, the "RL-206") and it is estimated that its cancellation touched some 50,000 total jobs - approximately 80% of Avro Canada - and permanently damaged the Canadian aerospace industry for decades. Data collected during its development was used in other future delta wing designs so not all was lost. However, all airframes were ordered scrapped and little physical evidence of the Arrow exists today (a nose section of one prototype exists at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). During development, officials did attempt to sell their Arrow product to top foreign Western powers but this initiative fell to naught, further damaging the program's long-term reach. Hawker Siddeley eventually ended the Avro Canada brand in 1962.

As completed (Mk.1), the Arrow was given a length of 77 feet, 9 inches with a wingspan measuring 50 feet and a height of 21 feet, 2 inches. The airframe managed an empty weight of 49,000lb with a maximum take-off weight nearing 68,600lb. The installed Pratt & Whitney J75-)-3 turbojet offered up to 12,500lb of dry thrust each and 23,500lb of thrust each with afterburner engaged. Performance specifications included a maximum tested speed of Mach 1.98 though it was always understood that the aircraft would have operated at speeds beyond Mach 2.0. Cruising would have been done around the 600 mile per hour range. Internal fuel volume allowed for a combat radius of 410 miles. Armament would have revolved around up to 4 x AIR-2 Genie unguided nuclear-tipped rockets or as many as 8 x AIM-4 Falcon or 3 x AIM-7 Sparrow II guided missiles (both missile projects eventually seeing cancellation as well). Tracking and engagement would have been managed through the Hughes MX-1179 Fire Control System (FCS).©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Canada national flag graphic

Development Ended.


National flag of Canada Canada (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

77.8 ft
(23.71 m)
50.0 ft
(15.24 m)
20.5 ft
(6.25 m)
Empty Wgt
49,042 lb
(22,245 kg)
68,608 lb
(31,120 kg)
Wgt Diff
+19,566 lb
(+8,875 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow Mk 1 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Pratt & Whitney J75-P-3 afterburning turbojet engines developing 47,000 lb of thrust.
Max Speed
1,307 mph
(2,104 kph | 1,136 kts)
58,563 ft
(17,850 m | 11 mi)
410 mi
(660 km | 1,222 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow Mk 1 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
Armament included any combination of the following munitions (1 internal weapons bay):

8 x AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles
8 x "Velvet Glove" semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles.
2 x AIM-7 "Sparrow II" 2D active guidance air-to-air missiles.
4 x AIR-2 Genie unguided nuclear rockets

Supported Types

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of a medium-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an air-launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-radar/anti-radiation missile

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 8

Mark 1 (Mk.1) - Developmental models numbering five examples; fitted with Pratt & Whitney J75-3/5 series afterburning turbojet engines (47,000lbs).
Mark 2 (Mk.2) - Production-quality models; 2 x Orenda TR.13 Iroquois turbojet engines (56,000lbs); single example nearly completed before project's cancellation.

General Assessment
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 1400mph
Lo: 700mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,307mph).

Graph average of 1,050 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow Mk 1 operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (5)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).

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