Friday, November 16, 2012

Remember when we were awesome? pt.3

At its peak in 1958, Avro Canada was the third largest company in Canada, with about 50,000 employees. It is best known today as the company that designed the Avro CF-105 Arrow, one of the most advanced fighters of its day, intended to achieve speeds in excess of Mach 2 and operate at altitudes exceeding 50,000 ft. Only five were built before the project was cancelled in 1959. All materials and prototypes were destroyed. To this day, many Canadians see the Arrow as Canada's Apollo project and its cancellation still rankles.

The Arrow was not the only audacious design to come from the Avro Canada braintrust. One of the crazier ideas was the VZ-9 Avrocar, a VTOL aircraft designed as part of a classified US military project. Resembling a flying saucer with a single large turborotor in the center, it was hoped the Avrocar would function like a high-performance attack helicopter, but it never performed satisfactorily and was ultimately cancelled in 1961. Only two prototypes were built.

Though not as impressive or cool as the Arrow or the Avrocar, the most successful design to come out of Avro Canada was the CF-100 Canuck, the only Canadian-designed jet fighter to ever reach mass production. First entering service in 1953, 692 CF-100 variants were built. Most were used by the RCAF/CAF, but 53 were purchased for the Belgian air force. Though not as maneuverable or glamourous as Canada's top day fighter at the time, the Canadair Sabre, the Canuck was a solid night and all-weather interceptor and served the Canadian air force well for decades.


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