Monday, February 19, 2007

February 20: The Day Canucks Curse Diefenbaker

It was on this day in 1959 that Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow project, wrecking Canada's cutting-edge aeronautics industry and destroying 30,000 jobs in one fell swoop.
Just one result was the loss to Canada of more than 30 top scientists and engineers who were immediately scooped up by NASA for the Americans' Mercury, Gemini and Appollo manned space programs. The Canadians ended up playing leading roles in putting an American on the moon.
My pal the space nut and historian Chris Gainor tells the whole astonishing tale in his book Arrows to the Moon: Avro's Engineers and the Space Race. You can watch a CTV interview with Chris about it all right here, and he's taken a closer look at starstruck Canucks in his latest book, Canada In Space.
(Chris is on a break from his weird post-doc space studies at the moment. He's working for the New Democratic Party's communications staff, having survived the recent Potato-Head Purge.)
Damn you, John Diefenbaker!

3 Comments:

Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Terry: The Arrow story is a Canadian myth. It was a good plane but was designed to RCAF specs, based on requirements to cover the Canadian north, that were not needed by anyone else. The range was far too great for European NATO requirements.

The US had adequate interceptors of its own developed around the same time as the Arrow:

F-101B Voodoo (which Canada evenually acquired as the CF-101F)
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-101b.htm

F-106 Delta Dart
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-106.htm

We were the only country that had a requirement for a plane with the Arrow's capabilities and it was far too expensive to build for us alone. Sad but true; all the myths about it should be put to bed.

Mark
Ottawa

1:55 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

First they came for the Arrow. Then they came for our cherished myth about the Arrow. Next they'll be claiming we can do more than be blue-helmeted peacekeepers.

Curse you, Mark Collins!

Cheers.

3:35 PM  
Blogger D-Rock said...

i am thankful for diefenbaker's descion to not equip us with the atmoic bomb if it wasn't for his action to decline the american's purposel to equip us with the atomic bomb we might not be here today. Sure he put 30,000 people out of work but if he didn't we would be a major target of the USSR. sincerly a grade 10 learning hisroty..

11:28 AM  

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