Manufacturer: Avro of Canada

Model: CF-105A

Name: Arrow

Type: Jet interceptor

Date: 1960

Status: Experimental

Country: United States of America

Service: U.S. Air Force

Designation: YF-109A

For the first time, I'm showing here the color version of the image above...

... and here is the original image I worked from, a superb photo by Simon Blakesley.


After rejecting three times the use of the F-109 designation, the USAF finally allocated it in 1956 to an Americanized version of the Canadian Avro CF-105 Arrow.

While the program was experiencing trouble over the border, the USAF was thinking of the Arrow as a possible standup for the yet-unbuilt Rapier. The reasoning was that the Arrow had already reached the engineering phase, and that with minor modifications, it could be operational within two years; the configuration of the F-108 Rapier, on the contrary, was not quite frozen yet, and it would take another four years before a prototype could be test-flown.

Avro of Canada was contracted to produce two prototypes for the USAF. Interestingly, these did not receive the "X" prefix, which would have indicated a strictly experimental testing, but the "Y" that was used for pre-production evaluation articles. This can be explained by the fact that Canada had done most of the testing on the type, and it was now just a case of evaluating the Americanized variant which was basically the same apart from the weapon bays, the electronic equipment and the ejector seat.

The first YF-109A first flew on June 15, 1957 and performed well, while the second article was used for static tests only and never flew. The Arrow was a victim of changing priorities, and when the Rapier was cancelled, the need for the Arrow vanished quickly. Next generation fighters such as the F-5 and the F-111 were considered more flexible and cost-efficient fighters, while the YF-12A Blackbird was being developed as the ultimate high-altitude interceptor.


Being one of the myriad Avro Arrow lovers, I thought it would be nice to depict it as a U.S. Air Force (I discovered since then that others had had the same idea too). Instead of working from the photo of a real Arrow, however, I prefered to pick a modern picture of the full-scale Arrow replica that was built in Canada by a group of enthusiasts (see bottom of the page, right).

After removing all markings and all every undesirable detail from the picture (such as the house at the back for instance) I decided on a scheme for an aircraft that would be a company demonstrator in U.S.A.F. evaluation colors. The Avro logo on the tail is legit, but the Arrow logo on the nose is pure invention!

Viewers' comments:
  • I really love this idea with the Arrow!!! You're description too is additionally creative and certainly adds to the art. I still think the Arrow was an airplane that deserved better than what it got. You give it further hope and a chance, but still it's probably right that it still wouldn't have gotten much further due to the F-5 and F-111 and the soon to come F-14 and F-15 planes. (dinobatfan)

My comments:

The amount of available designations for imaginary works being limited, I found myself using "F-109" here, though I later reused it for the Ryan Fireshark...

For another Avro Arrow image, you can also see my Rapier and Arrow montage.