Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 6: Jets, Avro CF-105 Arrow

Avro CF-105 Arrow

Data current to 13 January 2020.

(Avro Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25201). 

The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft designed and built by Avro Canada.  The CF-105 held the promise of Mach 2 speeds at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet (15,000 m) and was intended to serve as the RCAF's primary interceptor into the 1960s and beyond.  The Arrow was the culmination of a series of design studies begun in 1953 that examined 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.  The aircraft was 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 for public viewing on 4 October 1957, the same day as the launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik I satellite.

Flight testing began with RL-201 on 25 March 1958, and the design quickly demonstrated excellent handling and overall performance, reaching Mach 1.9 in level flight.  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 a planned project review had taken place.  Canada tried to sell the Arrow to the US and Britain, but no agreements were concluded.  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 contentious topic.  (Wikipedia)

 (Avro Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (Serial No. 25201), coded RL.

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (5), (Serial Nos. 25201-25205)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25201), on rollout, Downsview, Ontario. 4 Oct 1957.  (Library & Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 359416)

 (RCAF Photos)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25201).  

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25202).  (Avro and RCAF Photos)

(RCAF Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25203). 

 (Don Rogers Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25204).

 (RCAF Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25205).

 (Author Photo)

 (AHunt Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 25206), Canada Air & Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.


 (EyeNo Photo)

Avro CF-105 Arrow (Serial No. 252003), full size replica with the Toronto Aerospace Museum, Toronto, Ontario.

Artwork by Thorium, projecting what might have been the colours of Avro CF-105s in service.  Each illustration shows an Arrow armed with one of the possible missile configurations, either the AIM-4A Falcon, the cancelled Canadair Velvet Glove or the AIM-7 Sparrow II.  One illustration depicts an Arrow armed with an early anti-ship air-to-sea missile, the Nord SS.12/AS.12.  The Arrows are drawn with the weapons bay deployed in order to show their weaponry.

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (Serial No. 25456), coded VQ, armed with eight AIM-4A Falcon Anti-aircraft missiles, No. 419 All Weather Fighter Squadron, RCAF, hypothetical colours, CFB Baden Soellingen, Germany, 1964.  (Thorium illustration)

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (Serial No. 25837), coded E, armed with three AIM-7 Sparrow II missiles, No. 439 All Weather Fighter Squadron, RCAF, hypothetical colours, CFB Marville, France, 1968.  (Thorium illustration)

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (Serial No. 25523), armed with Canadair Blue Velvet missile, No. 414 All Weather Fighter Squadron, RCAF, hypothetical colours, CFB St. Hubert, Quebec, 1967.  (Thorium illustration)

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (Serial No. 25428), armed with four NORD SS.12/AS.12, No. 405 Patrol Squadron, RCAF, hypothetical colours, CFB Comox, British Columbia, 1967.  (Thorium illustration)

Source (

Avro CF-105 Arrow Mk. I (5), (Serial Nos. 25201-25205), data bank: 

            The Arrow was a supersonic all-weather two-seat delta interceptor designed and built for the RCAF by Avro Aircraft Limited, Malton, Ontario.  The Arrow was a result of a design study that began in 1953.  The Arrow was considered to be both an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry; the CF-105 held the promise of Mach 2 speeds at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet and was intended to serve as the RCAF’s primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond.

            The Arrow Mk. I was powered by two Pratt & Whitney J75 jet engines, the Arrow Mk. II was to be powered by two Iroquois jet engines designed and built by Orenda Engines Ltd., of Malton, Ontario.  A speed of Mach 1.96 was recorded during test flights but a Mach 2+ potential was possible (1,307 mph, 2,104 km/h) at 50,000 ft (15,000 m. The first prototype took to the air on 25 March 1958.  Five Arrow Mk. Is were built and test flown.  Another 32 Arrows were in production when the program was cancelled on 20 February 1959.  The controversy over this decision continues.[1]

            The RL-201 first flew on 25 March 1958 with Chief Development Test Pilot S/L Janusz Zurakowski at the controls.  Four more J75-powered Mk 1s were delivered in the next 18 months.  The test flights went surprisingly well; the aircraft demonstrated excellent handling throughout the flight envelope.  Much of this was due to the natural qualities of the delta-wing, but an equal amount can be attributed to the Arrow ‘s stability augmentation system.  The aircraft went supersonic on only its third flight and, on the seventh flight it broke 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) at 50,000 feet (15,000 m) while climbing and still accelerating.  A top speed of Mach 1.98 was eventually reached at three-quarters throttle, even with these lower-powered engines.

            No major problems were encountered during the testing phase, though some minor issues found with the landing gear and flight control system.  The former problem was partly due to the tandem main landing gear (two wheels and tires: one in front of and one behind the gear leg) being very narrow, in order to fit into the wings.  The leg shortened in length and rotated as it was stowed.  During one landing incident, the chain mechanism (used to shorten the gear) in the Mark 1 gear jammed, resulting in incomplete rotation.  In a second incident with Arrow 202 on 11 November 1958, the flight control system commanded elevons full down at landing.  The resulting reduction in weight on the gears reduced the effective tire friction, ultimately resulting in brake lockup and subsequent gear collapse.  A photograph taken of the incident proved inadvertent flight control activation had caused the accident.

            The stability augmentation system also required much fine-tuning.  Although the CF-105 was not the first aircraft to use such a system (the Arrow used this system for all three axes, other aircraft did not) it was one of the first of its kind, and was consequently problematic.  By February 1959, the five aircraft had completed the majority of the company test program and were progressing to the RCAF acceptance trials.

            The Mk 2 version was to be fitted with the Iroquois engine.  The Astra/Sparrow fire control system had been terminated by the government in September 1958 with all aircraft to employ the Hughes/Falcon combination.  At the time of cancellation of the entire program, the first Arrow Mk 2, RL-206, was nearly complete.  It was expected to break the world speed record but never had the chance.

            Top speed would have been limited by atmospheric frictional heating, but according to project engineer James Floyd, “the aluminum alloy structure which we favoured was good for speeds greater than a Mach number of 2.”

            Avro Canada had a wide range of Arrow derivatives under development at the time of project cancellation.  Frequent mention is made of an Arrow that could have been capable of Mach 3, similar to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat.  This was not the production version, but one of the design studies, and would have been a greatly modified version of the Arrow Mk 2, featuring revised engine inlets and extensive use of stainless steel or titanium to withstand airframe heating.[2]

            The cockpit and a few parts one Arrow have been preserved in the CA&SM, Ottawa, Ontario (Serial No. 206).  The R-AM, Wetaskiwin, Alberta has the full-scale replica used in the CBC docu-drama about the aircraft’s history.  The CASM, Toronto, Ontario, has full-scale replica on display.  The ASMC, Calgary, Alberta, has an Arrow nose cone.  Various small parts of Arrows are in the hands of private collectors.

[1] Internet:

[2] Internet: