On October 1, 1956 Avro Aircraft Limited of Ontario, Canada submitted its proposal to fulfill US Navy specification TS-140 for a vertical take-off jet day fighter. It was a small flat-rising canard-type aircraft with two pairs of simple unswept wings of low aspect ratio. A Bristol Orpheus jet engine was mounted on each wing tip, the vertical thrust being derived by the use of jet-deflectors in the engine tail-pipes. In order to keep the efflux of the front engines from interfering with the rear engines, the forward wings had pronounced anhedral, while the rear wings had significant dihedral, giving the Avro VTOL fighter an “X-wing” configuration when viewed from head-on. The podded engines left the fuselage free for installations of the cockpit, fuel, armament, and equipment. Either 2″ rockets or four Sidewinder guided missiles could be carried in the belly of the aircraft. The undercarriage had no wheels; instead, pads were attached to the ends of conventional oleo legs with a simple operating mechanism. Take-off gross weight was 16,250 lbs and maximum speed at 60,000 ft was estimated at 1,146 kts. Overall length was 50 ft, while maximum span (including nacelles) was 25.25 ft. The proposal brochure for this remarkable aircraft can be viewed in the slideshow above; click each image to enlarge.
The US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics did not find favor with Avro’s unusual fighter, selecting the Bell D188 proposal instead. This aircraft design would evolve into the troubled D188A (referred to by Bell as the XF-109/XF3L-1, though it never received an official designator), which the Navy eventually abandoned in 1959; the Air Force version made it to the mock-up stage before being cancelled in the spring of 1961. (Material on the Bell D188/D188A will appear in future articles here at RetroMechanix.com). It is likely that the Avro VTOL fighter would have suffered a similar fate, as the successful development of a production supersonic VTOL fighter has remained a challenge to this day. In any case, Avro’s effort was a bizarre and beautiful design from a period in which the Canadian aerospace industry was among the best in the world and could produce advanced proposals worthy of serious consideration by the US military.
All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 72
AD 36, “Proposal for VTOL Visual Fighter, in Accordance with U.S. Navy Specification TS-140,” October 1, 1956, in the files of the National Archives II at College Park, MD, RG 72