Avro Canada

Avro Canada

Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = Avro Canada
fate = aircraft divested, remainder restructured
successor = Hawker Siddeley Canada
foundation =1945
defunct = 1962
location = Toronto, Canada
industry = aerospace
key_people = Crawford Gordon Jr James C. Floyd Jack Frost Janusz Zurakowski
products = aircraft, turbojet engines
num_employees = 15,000 (1958) [Stewart 1991]
parent = Avro
subsid = Orenda Engines, Canada Car and Foundry

Avro Aircraft Limited (Canada) was a Canadian aircraft manufacturing company, that was in business from 1945-62. The company was known for their innovative designs, including the famed Avro Arrow fighter.


During the Second World War, Victory Aircraft in Malton was Canada's largest aircraft manufacturer. Prior to 1939, as National Steel Car Ltd. of Montreal, the concern had been one of a number of "shadow factories" set up in Canada to produce British aircraft designs in safety. National Steel Car had turned out Avro Anson trainers, Handley Page Hampden bombers, Hawker Hurricane fighters and Westland Lysander army cooperation aircraft. National Steel Car Corporation of Malton, Ontario was formed in 1938 and renamed Victory Aircraft Limited in 1942 when the Canadian government took over ownership and management of main plant of the National Steel Car Corporation at Malton. During the Second World War, Victory Aircraft built Avro (UK) aircraft: 3,197 Anson trainers, 430 Lancaster bombers, six Lancastrian, one Lincoln bomber and a single York transport.

A.V. Roe Canada

In 1945, the UK-based Hawker Siddeley Group purchased Victory Aircraft from the Canadian government, creating A.V. Roe Canada as the wholly owned Canadian branch of its aircraft manufacturing subsidiary, A.V. Roe and Company. Avro Canada, as it was commonly known, began operations in the former Victory plant. Avro Aircraft (Canada), their first (and, at the time, only) division, turned to the repair and servicing of a number of Second World War-era aircraft, including Sea Furies, B-25s and Lancasters. From the outset, the company invested in research and development and embarked on an ambitious design program with a jet engine and a jet-powered fighter and airliner on the drawing boards.

First projects

The first major project was the Orenda jet engine in 1949 which had been developed from the earlier Chinook design of the Turbo Research Ltd. company that was included as part of the start-up Avro organization. Turbo Research was originally a small firm involved in research and cold-weather testing of jet engines for the RCAF, although the company had started work on a number of their own engine designs. When they were purchased by A.V. Roe, they were mid-way through their TR.4 design, which was renamed the Chinook. The company would eventually be renamed in honour of their later TR.5 design, becoming Orenda Engines. The Orenda engine from the Gas Turbine Division (later Orenda Engine Division), would be destined to power fighter aircraft for the RCAF from Avro and Canadair Aircraft Ltd. (Canadair Sabre and Canadair T-33).In 1946, A.V. Roe Canada's next design, the Avro XC-100, Canada's first jet fighter, started at the end of the era of propeller-driven aircraft and the beginning of the jet age. Although the design of the large, jet-powered all-weather interceptor, renamed the CF-100 Canuck, was largely complete by the next year, the factory was not tooled for production until late 1948 due to ongoing repair and maintenance contracts. The CF-100 would have a long gestation period before finally entering RCAF service in 1952, initially with the Mk 2 and Mk 3 variants. The CF-100 Canuck operated under NORAD to protect airspace from Soviet threats such as nuclear-armed bombers. A small number of CF-100s served with the RCAF until 1981 in reconnaissance, training and electronic warfare (ECM) roles. In its lifetime, a total of 692 CF-100s of different variants, including 53 aircraft for the Belgian Air Force, were produced. Work was also underway on a civilian inter-continental transport known as the C102 Jetliner [http://www.avroland.ca/al-c102.shtml] . It nearly became the first jet transport in the world when it first flew in August 1949, a mere 13 days following the first flight of the de Havilland Comet. The Jetliner represented a new type of regional jet airliner that would not see comparable designs until the late 1950s. Despite an aggressive marketing campaign directed at US airlines and the USAF, the sales prospects of the Jetliner floundered after the launch customer, Trans-Canada Airlines, reneged on a letter of intent in 1948. The company was still attempting to get the CF-100 into production at the time and, consequently, the Canadian government cancelled any further work on the C102 project due to the Korean War priorities. Reacting to a direct order from the government, the second C102 prototype was demolished in the plant in 1951, with the first prototype relegated to photographic duties in the Flight Test Department. After a lengthy career as a camera platform and company "hack," "CF-EJD-X", the Jetliner prototype was broken up in 1956. The nose section now resides in the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Expansion and collapse

A.V. Roe Canada was restructured in the mid-1950s into two separate divisions: Avro Aircraft Ltd. and Orenda Engines, both facilities located across from each other in a complex at the perimeter of Malton Airport. The total labour force of both aviation companies reached 15,000 in 1958.

During the same period, A.V. Roe Canada also purchased a number of companies, including Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation and Canada Car and Foundry (1957) and Canadian Steel Improvement. By 1958, A. V. Roe Canada was an industrial giant with over 50,000 employees in a far-flung empire of 44 companies involved in coal mining, steel making, railway rolling stock, aircraft and aero-engine manufacturing, as well as computers and electronics. The companies generated annual sales in the $450 million range, ranking A.V. Roe Canada as the third largest corporation in Canada.

Avro Arrow

The need for a newer and much more powerful interceptor aircraft was clear even before the CF-100 entered service, and a number of design studies on swept-wing versions started as early as 1952. A switch to a more advanced swept wing was studied as the CF-103, and this led eventually (through a series of other designs) to the larger delta-wing CF-105 Arrow interceptor. The sudden cancellation of the Arrow project by the Canadian government on 20 February 1959 led to a massive corporate downsizing and an attempt to further diversify. Many Avro Aircraft Ltd. engineers who remained were reassigned to marine, truck and automobile projects while Orenda Engines continued as an engine manufacturer, albeit on a smaller scale. Numerous engineering and technical staff left Avro Canada primarily to the United Kingdom and the United States in a so-called "brain drain."

Experimental programs

In 1952, the Avro Special Projects team had started research and development work on a series of "flying saucer"-like vehicles. The only design that materialized was the VZ-9-AV Avrocar, funded entirely by the U.S. military from 1956. The Avrocar was proposed to the U.S. Army as a type of "Flying Jeep" that could also serve as a proof-of-concept test vehicle for a later supersonic flying saucer design, the Weapon System 606A for the USAF. Two Avrocars were built, one for wind-tunnel testing at NASA Ames and the other for flight testing. The designs were underpowered and only operated in a ground-cushion effect, much like a hovercraft. When the Avrocar prototypes failed to perform at heights above three feet off the ground, the U.S. Army and USAF cancelled the project, in 1961. Both Avrocars were on public display, one in Building 22 of the Smithsonian Paul E. Garber facility, the other at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, Ft. Eustis, Virginia. The latter Avrocar was dismantled and put into storage c. 2002, due to increasing deterioration (it was displayed outside, and the museum is very close to the ocean). The curator of the US Army Transportation Museum stated in 2008 that it would take between US$500,000 and US$600,000 to entirely restore it. Furthermore, because it is at a federal (military) installation, the work must be done by contractors, rather than volunteers. A grant of US$80,000 was received to begin restoration, however this amount was only enough to restore one piece approximately five ft by five ft.


In 1962, the Hawker Siddeley Group, formally dissolved A.V. Roe Canada and transferred all A.V. Roe Canada assets to its newly-formed subsidiary Hawker Siddeley Canada.

Hawker Siddeley Canada, at that time, among its diverse holdings, included major manufacturing units:
* Canadian Car and Foundry
* de Havilland Canada
* Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation
* Orenda Engines Limited

The former Avro aircraft factory in Malton was sold to de Havilland Canada in the same year. This facility, located on the north end of Toronto Pearson International Airport, was later operated by several other owners:

* Douglas Aircraft of Canada 1963-1981 - manufacturer of aircraft components (tail and wing sections for DC-9)
* McDonnell-Douglas Canada 1981-1997 manufacturer of aircraft parts for KC-10 and MD-11 wings, MD-80 wings, empennage and cabin floors, and F/A-18 side panels and pylons
* Boeing Toronto Limited 1997-2005 - manufacture of 717 wings, parts for the Delta rocket, the C-17 airlifter and 737 jetliners

The plant shut down before being demolished in 2005.

Hawker Siddeley Canada has since dissolved after divesting itself of almost everything other than its pension fund by the late 1990s.

Orenda Aerospace, as part of the Magellan Aerospace Corporation, is the only remaining original company from the A.V. Roe empire, although greatly diminished in both the size and scope of operations.





* Campagna, Palmiro. "Storms of Controversy: The Secret AVRO Arrow Files Revealed." Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1992. ISBN 0-7737-2649-7.
* Campagna, Palmiro. "Requiem for a Giant: A.V.Roe Canada and the Avro Arrow." Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2003. ISBN 1-55002-438-8.
* Dow, James. "The Arrow." Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, Publishers, 1979.
* Gainor, Chris. "Arrows to the Moon: Avro's Engineers and the Space Race." Apogee, 2001.
* Page, Ron, Organ, Richard, Watson, Don and Wilkinson, Les. "Avro Arrow: The Story of the Avro Arrow from its Evolution to its Extinction." Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 1979, reprinted Stoddart, 2004.
* Peden, Murray. "Fall of an Arrow." Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1987.
* Shaw, E.K. "There Never was an Arrow." Toronto: Steel Rail Educational Publishing, 1979.
* Stewart, Greig. "Arrow Through the Heart: The Life and Times of Crawford Gordon and the Avro Arrow." Toronto: McGraw-Hill-Ryerson, 1998.
* Stewart, Greig. "Shutting Down the National Dream: A.V. Roe and the Tragedy of the Avro Arrow." Toronto: McGraw-Hill-Ryerson, 1991.
* Whitcomb, Randall. "Avro Aircraft and Cold War Aviation." St. Catharine's, Ontario: Vanwell, 2002.
* Zuk, Bill. "The Avro Arrow Story: The Revolutionary Airplane and its Courageous Test Pilots," Calgary: Altitude Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-55153-978-0.
* Zuk, Bill. "Avrocar: Canada's Flying Saucer... . " Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 2001, ISBN 1-55046-359-4.
* Zuk, Bill. "Janusz Zurakowski: Legends in the Sky," St. Catharine's, Ontario: Vanwell, 2004, ISBN 1-55125-083-7.
* Zuuring, Peter. "Arrow Countdown." Kingston, Ontario: Arrow Alliance Press, 2001.
* Zuuring, Peter. "Arrow First Flight." Kingston, Ontario: Arrow Alliance Press, 2002.
* Zuuring, Peter. "Arrow Rollout." Kingston, Ontario: Arrow Alliance Press, 2002.
* Zuuring, Peter. "The Arrow Scrapbook." Kingston, Ontario: Arrow Alliance Press, 1999.
* Zuuring, Peter. "Iroquois Rollout." Kingston, Ontario: Arrow Alliance Press, 2002.

External links

* [http://torontoaerospacemuseum.com/projects/arrow/arrow_story/content.html Arrow's story, Toronto Aerospace Museum]
* [http://www.avroarrow.org/ The history and related information re the Arrow, the Avrocar, and the Avro Jetliner]
* [http://www.avroland.ca/ A site dedicated to the people and projects of Avro Canada and Orenda Engines Limited "(AvroLand)"]

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