Saturday, September 20, 2008

Return of the Avro Arrow

Well, sort of. At the model club I occasionally attend, one of the guys who works at a model shop brought in a box of built models that had recently been 'donated' (dumped). Most were of no great interest, and were badly constructed and mostly unpainted, but one caught my eye. It looked like a giant paper 'plane lurking at the bottom of the box.

The Arrow's roll out.

It was a model of the Avro CF-105 Arrow, Canada's great, abandoned aviation achievement.

More intriguingly, it was a kit I'd never heard of before, and going by the engraved positions for the markings, was from the same era as the real thing. All the main bits seemed to be there, and it seemed like a fun thing to waste some time 'restoring' to a more appropriate state. It was going to start with a wash, as it appeared to be covered with dirty marmalade. Then a bit of research to see what I had.

After a bit of interwebby work, I was able to establish that the kit was an Aurora 'fit the box' kit in (about) 1/78 scale. Aurora were obviously counting on good sales as the aircraft went onto a great career... so it wasn't just the Avro employees, and RCAF that were disappointed.

The info (on one of the many Arrow fan websites) on the Aurora kit says:
"Though its price of $1.39 was steep for 1960, many thousands of kits found their way in to modeller's hands.

... the Aurora model still became an instant collector's item when it went out of production. Commanding an average price of $50.00 for an unbuilt kit and as much as $400.00 for an expertly finished model, the Aurora Arrow became one of the most highly desirable kits in the black-market trade that has become part of the plastic model kit collector's headache. The introduction of the Hobbycraft models should bring prices of the Aurora kit back to reasonable levels."

So as usual I've got something that should be valuable - but isn't. Ah well. As I write, I've washed, cleaned and split apart the model (where the old plastic broke and tore in a few places, but was mostly OK) re-cemented it, filled it, sanded it, sanded it, sanded it...

Chopped. Montreal Standard's Weekend Magazine chartered a helicopter and had a photographer take pictures as the planes were dismantled.

I know what they felt like when they trashed the blasted things. However, 'I have plans' for this so the sanding and filling will continue. In the meantime...

The Avro Arrow was just one from the era of real 'paper darts'. There seemed to be a fashion for 'square' aircraft for a while. Here's four that I think fit the theme. Of course, we must remember that there's no fashion in aviation design. Oh, no.

The British equivalent was the BAC TSR-2. Unlike the Arrow (an interceptor) the TSR-2 was a bomber, but was also cancelled and the political saga continues to rumble on as well.

Biggest and most impressive was the North American XB-70 Valkyrie - a Mach 3 superbomber that was so expensive and complex even the US military-industrial complex found it a bit much.

Then there is the MiG 25 'Foxbat' a very practical (if such a thing can exist) Mach 2-3 interceptor. It was designed to catch the Valkyrie - which never entered service...

We don't normally mess about with such silly modern aircraft here, but I thought the theme, of square flat-section aircraft (apart from pencil noses) was interesting. Of course there's the ridiculous as well. This item was spotted outside the Headquarters of the RAAF Museum.

It's actually a piece of local installation art, not a random Australian Defence project, but I don't think I'll try and model that... (Note the accurately 'crumpled' nose.)


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