Skip to comments.Not all Canadian inventions fly
Posted on 09/15/2012 1:19:15 PM PDT by Squawk 8888
TORONTO - In a weekend article in the Sun, Simon Kent recalled Canadas impressive record of innovation and aspiration ranging from the zipper (1917) to the first experimental hydrofoil (1919).
He could have included the butter tart.
Kent did include the Avro Arrow, considered the most advanced interceptor fighter of its generation until production was cancelled in 1959 because of escalating costs and because Canada opted for the ground-to-air Bomarc missile defence that was deemed to make manned bombers obsolete.
With the cancellation, Canadas blossoming aircraft industry died. Desperate efforts to justify the Arrows cancellation led to DND sponsoring a visit of journalists to NORAD headquarters in Colorado where NORADs Deputy Commander, RCAF Air Marshal Roy Slemon, let slip that bombers werent obsolete and fighter aircraft would always be needed regardless of how effective Bomarcs might be.
There was political hell to pay, as the parliamentary opposition erupted.
I was one of the journalists at NORAD immortalizing Slemons political gaffe. History has tended to validate Slemon, but it didnt save the beloved Avro Arrow. The Diefenbaker government ordered the Arrow to be chopped up and disposed of.
Being Australian, Kent likely wasnt aware of Canadas sorry record of cancelling impressive innovations, especially when it involved national defence.
Some 40 years after Alexander Graham Bells experimental hydrofoil set the worlds speed record (70 km/h) on Cape Bretons Lake Bras dOr in 1919, Canada developed the first hydrofoil warship the HMCS Bras dOr.
Tested and modified from 1960 to 1969 when it became the fastest unarmed warship in the world (117 km/h), it was designed with anti-submarine warfare technology. Several prototypes were made, and the ship literally flew over the water.
Costs more than doubled from $5 million to $12 million and, as the 1960s evolved, Canadas naval priorities changed from submarine detection to coastal patrolling and sovereignty protection.
The Bras dOr was dry-docked for five years, and then the whole program was cancelled and Canada was deprived of what might have been the most advanced warship of its kind in the world.
And then there was the Bobcat an armoured personnel carrier (APC), started in the early 1950s as an improvement on the Second World War APCs, which had the potential of being sold to the Americans and allies.
When the Second World War ended, allied countries raced one another to downsize and then did an abrupt about-face when the Cold War began (with the defection of Igor Gouzenko from the Soviet embassy in Ottawa with files revealing a massive Soviet espionage network), and when North Korea invaded the South and started the Korean War.
Allied countries waited for the Bobcat, which was ahead of its time and had amphibious capabilities as well as better protection, more firepower and better cross-country speed. Modifications were made, the design was adjusted then re-adjusted and costs escalated. A prototype was developed and sent for testing at the armour facility at Camp Borden. More improvements were suggested. Several versions of the Bobcat were made, including one with self-propelled artillery capabilities.
After a decade, the Bobcat had been tested and re-tested and was ready for mass production and inclusion into the Canadian army and ready for international sales. Alas, in 1960 (see the Avro Arrow fiasco) Canada was again in military cut-back mode and the Bobcat program was scrapped. It was deemed too expensive anyway.
The Americans, impatient with Canadian dithering, had developed the M113 APC which was used in Vietnam, and which Canada then bought to replace the Bobcat.
Another Canadian innovation bit the dust.
While not exactly a Canadian innovation, Canadas adoption in 1994 of the LSVW (Light Support Vehicle Wheeled) to replace the armys 5/4 truck is one of those things DND would like to forget.
Canada was in line to buy 2,879 of these trucks from Western Star, based in Kelowna, B.C. The LSVW was an Italian-designed truck and relatively cheap. The vehicle went to the militarys Land Engineering Test Establishment (LETE) before Canada committed itself to the purchase.
LETE was one of the more valuable assets of DND, where imagination and innovation saved countless expenses. For example, LETE devised armoured floor plates for APCs that protected crews against land mines in the Balkans.
As for the LSVWs, they failed virtually all of LETEs tests. For what its worth, I went to the LETE testing area in Orleans, near Ottawa, and attended some of the testing. The vehicle was top heavy, under-powered (115 horsepower), capable of only 40 km/h, its braking system was unreliable, access to the engine was difficult, but most of all it would not start in sub-zero weather. In other words, it verged on being a lemon.
Non-experts like myself wondered why Canada would buy an Italian-designed truck, when next door in the U.S., General Motors was producing the most effective and inexpensive army trucks in the world? The answer, of course, was to give the contract to a Kelowna firm, perhaps because the Conservative government wanted votes in B.C.
On the heels of LETEs devastating critique and rejection of the LSVW as an adequate truck for the Canadian army, in 1994 the Chretien government shut down LETE, killed it, and new testing for the LSVW was shifted to the Nevada Automotive Testing Centre (NATC) in the U.S. where the vehicle passed with flying colours and was incorporated into the Canadian army.
It didnt last its 20-year life expectancy. It lasted three years by 1997 a search began for the next generation of truck.
DND is notorious for acquiring equipment that disappoints and one could mention the Iltis as a replacement for Jeeps.
Sometimes Canadian innovation becomes a cropper. Or is too costly. One only has to think of the F-35 to wonder if history is about to be repeated.
It was chopped up because it was infiltrated by the Communists who had a direct pipeline to not only the Canadian developments but the American developments in aviation.
Canada shouldn't feel completely rejected: the Marine Corps has bought a bunch of their Light Armored Vehicles and love 'em.
Desgned to be fast enough to run away from any ship it couldn't sink?
If you read further on, it was designed for anti-submarine warfare. The project was cancelled before they were able to install armaments, presumably depth charges and/or torpedoes.
May Canada's long, liberal nightmare be over and may we please follow suit.
Yeah, I’ve gone QR-crazy this past week. I’m redoing my website to be mobile-aware and am integrating a code into my business cards and promo materials to point to it.
HMCS Bras d'Or's trial program was abruptly cancelled on 2 November 1971 by Minister of National Defence Donald S. Macdonald, attributing it to a change in defence priority (from anti-submarine warfare to sovereignty protection).is cobblers. The Canadian Armed Forces were still concentrated on anti-submarine warfare throughout the 70s and 80s. 1988 they had 23 ASW Destroyers and Frigates, 18 Canada-eh versions of the Orion, 18 S-2 Trackers, 35 Sea King helos.
HMCS Arm of Gold was clearly though up by someone on heroin. How was it supposed to detect Subs while travelling at 60 kts? Stop and deploy sonar? A ship launched helo could do that and would be faster.
And packed with engines and fuel only it had limited range. A Tracker/Orion carrying sensors and weapons had a longer range and was also faster.
Good points, probably why they cancelled it. Would have been useful in a world without aircraft maybe.
That's funny. I just discovered them last week.
Downloaded the app, found a decent free encoder and have been annoying everyone with them since. Can't pass a can in the grocery store without scanning it.
A few years ago I was visiting the Air Museum in Ottawa and lamented to one of the staff that the Avro Arrow would have been a magnificent aircraft. He agreed but then said the Arrow was so far away from production when it was cancelled, that people sometimes make more of it than it deserved. For example, the decision had not even been made about what kind of weapons the aircraft would carry, or if it was to be used for anything but air superiority.
Meanwhile, back to the future, I personally think we are heading down the same road with the F-35 Edsel.
Anyone ever look at the ROSS rifle, one of the most dangerous bolt action rifles ever made.
It could be reassembled and look of but when you pulled the trigger the bolt would fly out the back and kill you.