Frontier Former Editor

April 3, 2008

Of great white hopes . . . .

Filed under: ancient history, Cold War, dumbasses, history, tragedy — Tags: , , , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 3:54 pm


As my Canadian acquaintances will note, the Avro Arrow was a world-beater of a design which died an abrupt and painful death because the United States had something cheaper and supposedly better available.

And so did something American, cheaper and supposedly better help kill the TSR. 2.

The TSR. 2 died its rather brutal, quick and typically British bureaucratic death because of a combination of factors, although the promise of the American F-111, a clapped-out modification of the F-4 Phantom, and leftover Royal Navy S2 Buccaneers helped push along the process.

Granted, the TSR. 2 probably would have suffered its share of technological teething pains if the project had stayed alive. But those problems would not have been any worse than those suffered by the F-111 or many other contemporary military and civilian aircraft.

And if its development had continued . . . . what a world-beater it would have been.

Sadly enough, the gentleman exiting the cockpit at the end – Roland Beamont – helped preside at the gestation of two legendary British aircraft: the Hawker Typhoon and the English Electric Canberra and was poised to the be midwife for another if the TSR. 2 had survived. 


Google some of the histories of the TSR. 2 or, better yet, go find some books on the subject. If one compares it to the development and acquisition of the Hawker Hunter and other postwar British types, it makes one wonder if Britain as an institution was aiming for technological suicide.

On a lesser scale, my personal disgust for Dick Cheney began long before that scumbag declared himself vice president. As Secretary of Defense in 1988, he helped scuttle the F-14D Tomcat – what the Tomcat could have been 15 years earlier and what could have kept the U.S. carrier fleet a viable instrument of power as opposed to a deck full of short-ranged jets. 

It would have been a bargain, since the cost of remanufacturing more than 400 Tomcats and producing about 200 new F-14D’s would have been, per plane, about a third of the cost of a now-new F-18E Super Hornet. But Cheney pushed for its demise and for the development of a new fighter which, in one of its big selling points in advertisements and literature by McDonnell Douglas, could bring back more underwing stores than could the F/A-18C Hornet.

 But I digress . . .

“All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right.”

-Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hart, Fury, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, Fury, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk, Hunter, Kestrel, Harrier . . . .


  1. poignant song choice

    Comment by nursemyra — April 3, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  2. Correction: the Avro Arrow was killed because the US made it a condition of Canada continuing in NATO in good standing, is how I heard it.

    Comment by raincoaster — April 4, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

  3. Since I was half asleep, I’ll add the translation I heard – the U.S. Government and the U.S. aviation industry were scared silly at the possibility of an aircraft and jet engine that could sell just as well as the best we had to offer.

    And that we were willing to sell Voodoos and Genies to arm the RCAF.

    The “kill Arrow or be a second-class NATO member” aspect wouldn’t surprise me at all, but the American military-industrial complex’s fear of competition from a damn fine Canadian aviation sector was probably the key element.

    Either way, it was a crying shame.

    Comment by Former Frontier Editor — April 5, 2008 @ 12:04 am

  4. Indeed, they are one and the same. It was my understanding that the US wanted to own the market for planes with these kinds of capabilities and had no wish for competition from an ally.

    Comment by raincoaster — April 7, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  5. And in all probability, the TSR. 2 would have gone through many of the same teething troubles of the F-111 but would have become as fine a warplane as the final F-111 did.

    The F-111 as a plane was a victim of politics as well – McNamara wanted a repeat of the interservice success of the Phantom as well as a multi-role role airplane that wasn’t really going to happen.
    Even our Navy said the F-111 was just too big and unwieldy for its needs.
    And after all that pressure on its allies to ‘go F-111,’ the only foreign sale was to Australia and two sqdns’s worth at that.

    Comment by Former Frontier Editor — April 7, 2008 @ 5:49 am

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