- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Apr 1952, p. 360-370
- Dobson, Sir Roy, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The British lion far from decrepit. "She has wings now and what is more is jet-propelled. More important she has beside her the Canadian beaver and the American eagle as well as other well-behaved animals." The British lion's jet air power, particularly its relationship to Canadian aviation. The speaker's participation in the phenomenal development of the aviation industry, a rabid exponent of air power and a very firm believer in the great future of Canada in this air world of ours. A review of aircraft production in Canada and its contribution during the last World War. Liaison between British Group companies and the Canadian factories. Impressions by the British of Canada's potential in the aviation industry. Factors that could be turned to good account in furthering the ever-expanding industrialization of Canada and in building up Canada's vitally important export trade. Export markets. Canada's need for extensive manufacturing facilities to provide goods for her own domestic uses, and to sell in the wide-open markets of the world. Words from the Rt. Hon. C.D. Howe. Mr. Howe's inspiration and support, along with that of the Canadian government and the R.C.A.F. leading to the development of the Canadian aircraft industry and its strength today. The importance of the British aviation industry. Canada's geographical position and hence the need for air defence. The demand for air transports in Canada. The new market for aviation products, which should be supplied by Canadian industry. The Hawker Siddeley Group setting up in Canada under the name Avro Canada. The takeover of Turbo Research, by arrangement with the Canadian Government. The engineering teams at Avro. Details of early assignments undertaken to design and develop an all-weather fighter for Canadian defence; a jet engine to power it, and a medium-range commercial jet transport for Canadian routes. Funds required for such pioneering work. A response to the criticism of such an ambitious venture. Factors for success. The time required to develop a new aircraft or engine. The importation of technical knowledge and new production techniques. Activities of the Hawker Siddeley Group, including Avro Canada, to prepare the defences of the west against possible attack. Some descriptions, and hints of the developments going on in the speaker's company. Much to be proud of in the new jet-powered aviation industry in Canada, and some details of achievement. A prediction of interesting developments from Avro Canada in the future. British, Canadian and American air power, united for defence.
- Date of Original
- 24 Apr 1952
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- Full Text
"CANADIAN AVIATION--ITS POTENTIAL"
An Address by SIR ROY DOBSON, C.B.E.
Managing Director, A. V. Roe & Co. Limited
MR. GIBSON: In the midst of a very busy life, we are honoured and privileged to have with us today Sir Roy Dobson, who we can claim is at least part Canadian in that he occupies the distinguished position of Chairman of the Board, Avro Canada Limited. I wonder if I may say the unusual thing when I express the feeling of all who know Mr. Crawford Gordon that we want Sir Roy Dobson to fully realize that Mr. Gordon is highly esteemed and greatly respected, for he made a contribution to the War years that will be always retained in our minds as a record of unusual distinction.
I believe Sir Roy will appreciate the endorsement I have just rendered as we all covet in our organizations men of promise and men highly regarded.
As I was turning over in my mind last evening this gathering of today, for some unexplainable reason my mind drifted out to sea and I thought of the beginnings of navigation and progressing on to the time when Columbus set sail, I think I am right in saying that his ships were of about forty-ton displacement; then my mind moved on to a remarkable play I once saw in London, England, when standing by the mantelpiece was an aged, brilliant and worthy father, a shipbuilder of the Clyde days, arguing with his two sons that wooden ships would never be displaced. Then coming to my own day, I was privileged to cross, commencing in 1906, when the Campania and Lucania of the Cunard Line were the crack ships of 10,000 ton displacement. Many a conversation I listened to argued that never could a ship be built of a length that would rest on three waves, as the test of a great storm would cause such a ship to break. Well, all these things have passed into ancient history and in this hour we stand in the midst of scientific development that staggers the mind, when we turn to the progress of men's minds such as Sir Roy Dobson in overcoming difficulties in connection with transportation through the mighty sea of air which rests above us.
At a dinner last evening, a gentleman present, who does much flying both in Europe and America, mentioned two facts--that from London to Australia there will come to pass, probably shortly, transportation in twenty-one hours. Some of you have journeyed on the P. and O. Line famous for its British seamanship, and well recall the five to six weeks required for such a journey. Equally startling was the fact of a run which I used to make frequently from Paris to Rome on a crack train leaving at eight o'clock at night and arriving in Rome the following evening at eight o'clock. Well, they tell me that by jet-propelled plane I can be shot from London to Rome in two hours and seventeen minutes.
I only mention these facts to say how privileged we are today to have with us one of the foremost and brilliant minds, a gentleman of world fame, who occupies many high positions and among them Air Commodore City of Manchester Squadron, also a member of the Joint Research Council for the great University of Manchester and also a member of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
Gentlemen, we will await with great interest the message of our friend, Sir Roy Dobson.
SIR ROY DOBSON: It was Sir Philip Sidney who during the reign of that other great English Queen Elizabeth said in his poem, Arcadia, that it is not good to wake a sleeping lion. He knew what he was talking about for he fought gallantly against his country's invaders, the Spanish. And we all know what happened to the Armada.
Gentlemen, I would like to say that Sir Philip's words are even truer today. I say this as an Englishman (almost an expatriate, I admit, as I do so much visiting in Canada) and as a spokesman of the largest aircraft and engine manufacturers in the world, the Hawker Siddeley Group. The British lion is far from decrepit. She has wings now and what is more is jet-propelled. More important she has beside the Canadian beaver and the American eagle as well as other well-behaved animals. It would be a very foolish bear indeed, even if he were joined by a dragon, which would dare arouse us. I assure you we are far from sleeping but very aware of the danger. This is not to say that we do not still have to strengthen our air power to preserve the security and freedom of our people, but at least we have made a good start.
I was told you would like to hear something about the British lion's jet air power, particularly its relationship to Canadian aviation. You see I have been particularly fortunate in being a participant in the phenomenal development of the aviation industry. I am a rabid exponent of air power and a very firm believer in the great future of Canada in this air world of ours.
It was during the last war that I first realized the aviation potential of this great country. I flew over here with my colleague, Sir Frank Spriggs, in 1943, in one of our own aircraft. With Ralph Bell, then in charge of your aircraft production, we toured Canada. You were, I am told, then producing more aircraft per capita than any democratic country. You were not only making such valuable trainers as the Anson but such fighters as the Hurricane which bore the brunt of the Battle of Britain and the Lancaster heavy bomber which did so much to win the war.
These famous aircraft were all designed by member companies of the Hawker Siddeley Group. During the war we produced more than a third of the equipment used by the Royal Air Force, more than 40,000 aircraft and 38,000 engines in all.
Our Gladiators were the first fighters to go into action against the Luftwaffe over Britain. They put up an epic performance in Greece against heavy odds and held off the Italian air force over Malta. It was one of our aircraft which made the first successful jet flight with Sir Frank Whittle's revolutionary engine just 11 years ago. Later models, called the Meteor, achieved fame by bringing down the V-1 rockets. Our defence production record goes back to the first Great War when so many Canadians flew alongside our pilots in Sopwith fighters. Our history goes back to the first days of flight itself.
During the last war there was constant liaison between the Group companies and the Canadian factories making our products, particularly between Avro Manchester and Victory Aircraft at Malton, which was chiefly concerned with Lancaster production. I can recall how impressed we were with how effectively Canadian industry had turned itself from peacetime to wartime output.
We were convinced your infant aviation industry would, when peace came, be of vital importance to the nation's economy, and a great contribution to Canada's growing stature as a world power. We were much impressed to discover the Canadian facilities for technical and scientific education were excellent; the workers had proved they could do a job; the attitude of the Government and the industrialists was helpful; the plant facilities, foundries and forges, were readily available. Most important, many Canadian engineers and scientists had shown a marked ability for original thinking.
It was clear to us that these potent factors could be turned to good account in furthering the ever-expanding industrialization of Canada and in building up Canada's vitally important export trade.
I mention the export trade for a definite reason. It seemed to us that certain exports might well be restricted, due to the fact that in some cases goods and equipment manufactured and produced here, were under licence, having been designed abroad. This meant that Canada could be at the mercy of other countries in the export markets.
My mind travelled over those regions of Canada with their vast mineral resources, and the great natural water supplies, which meant that even if the present electrical power supply was not adequate, it was within the bounds of possibility to double, and maybe treble, the power and hydroelectric installations, and so provide whatever energy was necessary.
It was obvious that a country with such a potential as Canada was destined to be self-reliant and self-contained. To achieve this aim, she must have extensive manufacturing facilities, to provide goods for her own domestic uses, and to sell in the wide-open markets of the world. In addition she must have the basic knowledge and experience to design, develop and perfect her own products.
This was our interpretation of the thinking of both the Canadian government and her leading industrialists.
The Rt. Hon. C. D. Howe, who I believe to be one of Canada's great men, in a speech once said that "If there is any country in the world where unrestrained optimism is justified, that country is Canada." I am sure you will agree that truer words were never spoken. I believe that Mr. Howe has lived this philosophy, and perhaps more than any other individual has helped and pushed Canada towards her ultimate goal, that of being one of the world's most powerful industrial nations--and one of the most self-reliant and self-sufficient.
To a large extent it was with Mr. Howe's inspiration and support and that of the Canadian government and R.C.A.F. that the Canadian aircraft industry developed the strength it enjoys today.
In Canada there are some of the finest and largest universities in the world. I was shocked to learn that a large proportion of the graduates of these universities went "south of the border" to get work wherein to use the knowledge they had gained and the training they had received at the expense of Canada. It seemed to me wrong to allow too much of this useful talent to leave the country. The interests of Canada seemed to be in the direction of using these young and welltrained brains to develop her own industrial and technical undertakings.
From what I have said, you will realize that we were being forced to the inevitable conclusion that in this great country there was a place for the development of aircraft and aircraft engines. Such an industry could become a major national asset, not only in terms of defence, and for Canada's domestic needs, but also to help the national budget in the export field.
Gentlemen, it is no misstatement when I tell you that had it not been for the vision and resourcefulness of the British aviation industry, there would be no mother country today. The industry on its own initiative had already begun to build Britain's aerial defences prior to 1939. Today we are also building our air power. But the leisurely days when Drake might finish a game of bowls and still have time to defeat the Armada are gone forever. Our attackers can now come in perhaps faster than the speed of sound, loaded with atomic bombs. We need ever-better interceptors and guided missiles as the speed of enemy bombers increase. The British aviation industry must spend more and more time on the development of fantastic new aerial weapons.
I am not an alarmist, but if you look at a map of the world you will note that Canada is exactly athwart the shortest air routes between the Soviet Union and the United States. A war of the future--and pray God it never come--might well be decided over the skies of Canada just as a few short years ago democracy was saved in the Battle of Britain by the "gallant few" of the Royal Air Force. Your pilots should have all the advantages of flying up-to-the-minute aircraft. The only way your pilots will have aircraft specially designed for Canadian defence conditions is when a self-sufficient Canadian aircraft industry is encouraged to develop them. Fortunately this need is fully recognized by your government and the R.C.A.F.
I also do not need to tell you that distances between industrial centres in Canada make travel by air a sheer necessity. Today there is a great shortage of air transports in this country and a great demand for them. This has opened up a great commercial market for aviation products, which should be supplied by Canadian industry. Here again the export possibilities are immense.
The defence and commercial needs of Canada in aviation persuaded the Hawker Siddeley Group that here was a good country to start a self-sufficient, healthy aircraft industry. There were facilities available both to begin and see such a project through.
Accordingly, with the help of the Canadian authorities, we took over after the last war the facilities of the crown company, Victory Aircraft, which was virtually an empty factory. We transferred from the United Kingdom to this new company, which was named Avro Canada, the nucleus of a skilled aircraft design team, and recruited and trained Canadian men and women as we grew.
On the engine side of the business, we were a little more fortunate in that we took over, by arrangement with the Canadian Government, an existing organization, Turbo Research, which we transferred to Malton where it was augmented and transformed into a workable design unit, backed up by the appropriate development facilities. Many of these young Canadians had worked with Sir Frank Whittle on his first jet engine.
During the last war, experience had proved that it was necessary to design and build Canadian aircraft engines to make the aircraft industry truly self-sufficient and this was the reason the Canadian Government had started Turbo Research.
Today this country has at Avro Canada two complete engineering teams. One fully skilled in the design and development of aircraft and the other the same on engines
In the early days we tackled three tough assignments. One, the design and development of an all-weather fighter for Canadian defence; two, a jet engine to power it; and three, a medium-range commercial jet transport for Canadian routes. All three are now recognized as engineering achievements. The fighter, known as the CF-100, and the Orenda engine are in production. Only the outbreak of the war in Korea forced us to postpone quantity production of the Jetliner, the first and only transport of its type on this continent. To have all three products reach such a degree of success is an accomplishment in itself. Designing and developing modern aircraft and engines is a field where many are called and few are chosen, believe me.
We were fully aware that the launching of an organization to develop two new aircraft and a new engine would be a tremendous undertaking. It may appear a simple and straightforward job. In reality it involved frequent transfers of staff across the Atlantic, the movement of technical data and information, processes and materials. We knew considerable time and money would be involved in successfully completing the design, building, testing and developing of both aircraft and engines. However, we were confident that whatever the cost, it would eventually be justified. I am sure you will all agree with me that the investment was a wise one for the good of Canada and indeed for all democratic countries.
Pioneering in any sphere is an uphill task, fraught with difficulties and often discouragement. The CF-100, Orenda and Jetliner have been no exception but they have proven worthy of the effort.
I don't need to tell you that it takes considerable funds to start and develop such an undertaking. Our group has invested a considerable amount of money in the Avro Canada project, despite the difficulties of transferring sterling to dollar areas. We do not regret one cent of it. Incidentally, at this moment, another few million dollars are in process of transfer from Britain. This is the measure of our confidence in Canada and its aviation future.
There may be--and indeed there has been--some criticism of such an ambitious venture. One of the reasons advanced is that the Canadian aircraft industry could never really be up-to-date, because of the intensive research being carried out by our competitors in the United Kingdom and America.
This theory might have been true, but for the following two reasons, which the critics overlooked, it is a complete fallacy:
Firstly, Avro Canada has technical and financial backing in full measure from the Hawker Siddeley Group in England, which means that in fact the new company did not have to travel alone even if it did start from the beginning. A veritable pipeline is in operation between the Group in England and the new partner at Malton.
Secondly, as time goes on Canada will gradually accumulate her own research equipment and facilities--in fact she already has some and is gradually gaining valuable experience, by taking advantage of the already proved experience offered by the various companies of the Group. However, in spite of all the technical information and know how which can be pumped into a new organization, it would not function satisfactorily without wise and energetic management which I am sure you will agree we have got in the person of this young and knowledgeable Canadian, Mr. Crawford Gordon, Junior, now the President and General Manager of our company at Malton, and he is backed loyally and well by a thoroughly enthusiastic team of design and production engineers, of whom we are indeed proud.
Experience has proved that the development of a new aircraft or engine absorbs not less than five years and in many cases a longer period. In this respect Canada is just about on schedule. Perhaps it is only natural for Canadians to expect production miracles, but it must be realized that the modern airplane takes more than three times the number of man hours to produce, than did its counterpart in the last war.
To produce aircraft and engines of the high calibre of the CF-100 and Orenda many kinds of special materials and equipment were required, most of which were not available in Canada when Avro Canada commenced operations. For defence and economic reasons the Canadian Government very wisely insisted that we should be self-sufficient by having everything made in this country. This involved the establishment of numerous new industries. Some were transferred from the United Kingdom and, interestingly enough, a few came from the United States.
Much technical knowledge and many new production techniques have been imported. The introduction of skilled and specialist labour was also undertaken. Large numbers of capable workers have arrived here during the last five years, to swell Canada's industrial population as an example, consider Avro Canada's young chief aircraft designer, Jim Floyd, formerly of Avro Manchester, who last year was the first non-American to capture the Nobel prize of aviation--the Wright medal of the United States. He once was an Englishman but now is more Canadian than most Canadians. Then there is the general manager of the Gas Turbine Division, Tom McCrae, who came to us from the Allison Division of General Motors in the United States. The other day we transferred Jan Zurakowski, one of the world's leading test pilots, from Gloster Aircraft to Avro Canada. These are a few of the outstanding examples.
The Hawker Siddeley Group, and of course I include Avro Canada, is doing much to prepare the defences of the west against possible attack. Due to the secrecy of our work, I cannot say much about our products. However, I can assure you that developments are being carried on in our shops and in our laboratories which would stagger the imagination. Our current aircraft and engine production cover every military requirement. The Hawker Hunter, which we maintain is the best fighter in the world today, is being produced in quantity for the R.A.F. Our Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbo-jet engine, now being manufactured in both Britain and the United States, is the most powerful engine in the democratic arsenal. Just today it was announced that the Sapphire has successfully passed the stringent Britishtype test at 8,300 lb thrust. This is the highest power ever achieved on an official type test by any jet engines. Our Group have made many outstanding aero engines including several types of rocket motors. The Gloster Meteor, most versatile of jet fighters, is still in service in large numbers and is a very important factor in Western Union Defence. Hawker Sea Hawks are serving with the Royal Navy while in Korean waters Sea Furies operate with units of the Far Eastern fleet. The Avro Shakleton is acknowledged to be the most versatile and powerful aircraft in the world for submarine hunting and killing. Aerial research is being carried out on the Avro Ashton and delta wing models. Recently the Gloster company unveiled a sansational new twin jet delta fighter.
Needless to say, the Avro Canada Orenda and the CF-100 projects have aroused international interest. I venture to predict that once the needs of the R.C.A.F. are met they will be in demand by the air forces of our allies. The Orenda has already been chosen to power Canadian-built Sabre fighters of U.S. design. Undoubtedly we will see this powerful combination operate in English skies by the pilots stationed there with the R.C.A.F. as well as elsewhere.
Gentlemen, it is obvious to me and I hope to you that we have much to be proud of in this new jet-powered aviation industry in Canada. The Orenda has successfully passed its official acceptance tests by the R.C.A.F. and now is well into quantity production in recently-completed facilities. The first of the CF-100 fighters have been delivered to the R.C.A.F. and the delivery pace is quickening. You have a good commercial jet airliner, ready and at your disposal, the only one on the continent. This, I submit, is a good beginning. I forecast even more interesting developments from Avro Canada in the future.
Believe me our aim is to encourage your desire to be independent and to achieve something distinctly Canadian. We in the Group are proud of Avro Canada's record just as we in the United Kingdom are proud that our senior commonwealth partner, despite its relatively small population, is the third democratic air power today. We see, and I believe, you see in this partnership, the surest hope in the troublesome days ahead. With our air power allied to yours and that of the United States, there is no combination on earth which can equal us.
In closing let me say this to you. Let us unitedly look to the future with optimism and without fear. The development and expansion of Canada should be without parallel. But let us strive to make Canada more and more self-sufficient.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John Griffin, Third Vice-President and President-Elect of The Empire Club of Canada.