For most of the 1950s, it seemed like the Canadian aviation industry always made the right decisions and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) always got the best aircraft. The Canadair version of the F-86 Sabre was the primary fighter of No. 1 Air Division until joined by the CF-100 Canuck, which was produced by A.V. Roe (Avro) Canada. Avro was a successful aviation firm during the 1950s and had some of the best and the brightest aerospace engineers and the sharpest test pilots. After selling the Canuck to the Air Force, Avro came out with its masterpiece.

The CF-105 Arrow, rolled out in 1957, was the RCAF’s choice for its next generation fighter and years ahead of its time. It awed spectators when it first flew in 1958.

And it was fast (Mach 2 or twice the speed of sound), manoeuvrable and looked like nothing else being flown at the time.

But it wasn’t to fly for the RCAF. In February 1959, the government cancelled the Arrow.

The decision to shut down production of this capable but very expensive aircraft has ignited “what if” debates amongst Air Force historians and aviation enthusiasts ever since.

Instead, the RCAF acquired used American-made CF-101 Voodoos and Canadair-produced CF-104 Starfighters. Both were around until the CF-18 Hornet came into service, beginning in 1982.

The Avro Arrow


428 All Weather Fighter Squadron Badge

428 All Weather Fighter Squadron, which had reformed at RCAF Station Uplands, Ontario, in 1954, was the unit chosen to be re-equipped with the new CF-105 Avro Arrow. When the Arrow was cancelled, the squadron was stood down. Ironically, the squadron’s badge depicted a death’s head in a shroud and its motto was Usque Ad Finem or “To the Very End”.