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Requiem for a
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Requiem For A Giant: A.V. Roe Canada and the Avro Arrow
By Palmiro Campagna

Reviewed by Marty Murray

At the end of the second world war the Canadian aircraft industry found itself in a unique position. Many plants had been built to fill the needs of the war effort, and entire companies had switched from making things such as railway cars to building aircraft for the military. When the war ended the contracts also dried up, but the expertise, the facilities and the workforce still remained. Some companies decided to remain in the airplane building business, to supply civilian needs as well as to fill peacetime military contracts, and one of the biggest companies to take up the challenge was A.V. Roe Canada, located in Malton, Ontario.

With a visionary outlook towards the future, and with some of the best aeronautical designers in Canada, A.V. Roe set out to ride the cutting edge of what was technologically possible in the late 1940's, taking advantage of new aircraft design techniques and utilizing the latest jet engine technology. In the company's short but brilliant career they would build North America's first jetliner and one of the finest jet interceptor aircraft ever to come off the drawing board, the Arrow, both years ahead of their time, and yet in both instances the company would find the rug pulled out from under it by bad business decisions, government and military meddling, and outright sabotage. What should have been a series of proud national triumphs for our country, at a time when we were world leaders in the aerospace industry, turned into some of the biggest letdowns and debacles in Canadian history.

Author Palmiro Campagna, himself an employee of the Department of National Defence, has previously written about the Arrow in his 1992 book, "Storms Of Controversy - The Secret Avro Arrow Files Revealed." In this latest volume he gives an extensive history of the A.V. Roe company, and utilizing a large number of recently uncovered government and military documents, many of which are reproduced in appendix form, shows who and what was ulitimately responsible for the company's demise. Those who think Prime Minister John Diefenbaker was behind the cancellation of these projects may be surprised where this paper trail leads.

The Avro Arrow and the fall of A.V. Roe are still hotly debated topics to this day, and anyone with an enthusiasm for aircraft and their history will find this book a fascinating read. The series of events which transpired saw some our country's greatest talents heading south to work for NASA and other American interests, and changed the face of Canada forever. Sadly, we can only imagine what might have been, had things turned out differently.

 

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