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TinWiki: Avrocar

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posted on Jul, 11 2009 @ 11:43 AM
In the 1940s and '50s the US military were thought to be testing flying UFO design aircraft. It was thought they had as many as 35 saucer projects with vertical lift off and descent, the most highly classified was known by the code name Project Silverbug.


The SSE and Vril societies near the end of WW2 were said to be building UFO like craft that were capable of vertical take-off and landings as most of their runways had been destroyed. Dr. Richard Mehta, sometimes known as the ‘Father of Saucerology’ headed the project. He was hired by the German air force to build a saucer shaped craft that could vertically ascend and shoot down allied planes with rockets. Allegedly the war ended before Mehta developed his ship. The American government recruited some of the German scientists after the war to go to Canada and continue their work. Dr. Mehta was one of these men. He was reputed to continue his work on a secret aircraft program at A.V.Roe Canada in Canada; these were said to be saucer-type flying machines. These saucers were designed to do approximately 2300 miles per hour at an altitude of roughly 80,000 feet. Although designed in the 1950s, documents were not released to the public and declassified until 1995. For over 40 years this project, America’s number one flying machine remained a secret.

Design and development

The Toronto Star reported in 1953 on the development by Avro Canada of a "spade-shaped" VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft. It was officially announced in February that a mock-up of the craft had been made, The design was the work of British engineer John Frost and later developed by Special Projects Group at the Malton, Ontario plant. The original project was named "Project Y," and was an experimental program that merged the circular turbojet technology Frost pioneered with a cutting-edge tail-sitter fighter aircraft.

Project Y, named "Avro Ace" in company documents, was designed to ascend vertically and reach flight speeds of up to 1,500 mph. Aero News, a Canadian paper, reported that a prototype that was being built was ‘revolutionary’ and that it would make other designs obsolete.

By 1953, with the company having little more than a wooden mock-up, paper drawings and promises to show for a $4-million (Cdn) outlay, a more critical eye was cast on the project. Not surprisingly, the plug got pulled when government funding from the Canadian Defence Research Board dried up.

Frost wouldn't accept defeat; in addition to being a gifted designer, he was also a talented promoter and salesman. In late 1953, a group of U.S. defence experts visited Avro Canada to view the company's new CF-100 fighter jet. Somewhere along the way, Frost co-opted the tour and rerouted it to the Special Projects area where he proceeded to show off his mockup, models and drawings (some never before seen by senior company officials) for a completely circular disk-shaped aircraft known as "Project Y-2."

The USAF agreeing to take over funding for Frost's Special Projects Group and with American dollars rolling in, Project Y-2 received a new moniker -"Project 1794"- and a new lease on life. Frost and his team began pursuing a real flying saucer, one that would have advanced weapon systems and produce speeds in excess of Mach 2. Under the cover of the purported Project Silverbug, research continued into both propulsion systems and aerodynamics.


A test model, Project PV704 financed by Avro Canada, powered by six Armstrong Siddeley Viper jet engines driving a central rotor, was built and housed inside a small, brick testing rig. Unfortunately, testing was anything but smooth. In fact, it was downright scary. The supersonic test model, PV-704 (PV stood for Private Venture), suffered from hazardous oil leaks, resulting in three fires. It eventually got to the point that staff were afraid of the machine, even when safely ensconced in a booth constructed of bullet-proof glass and quarter-inch-thick steel. A final, disastrous and nearly lethal engine test in 1956 which involved a Viper jet engine "running wild" convinced Frost that a less dangerous test vehicle was necessary.

Redesigning the supersonic platform to a simpler flying model led to the only design that materialized from the Avro Special Project Group, the VZ-9-AV Avrocar. The Avrocar was proposed as a proof-of-concept test vehicle for a later supersonic flying saucer design, the Weapon System 606A for the USAF, and, subsequently, was offered to the U.S. Army as a type of "Flying Jeep." Utilizing the Cook-Craigie system, two Avrocars were built on a production line, the first used in tethering testing before departing for wind-tunnel testing at NASA Ames and the other reserved for flight testing at the Malton plant.

Tethered tests on the craft revealed that it was unable to lift off the ground more than four or five feet without being unstable, subsequent attempts were made to alter the design in an attempt to increase the stability of the craft but these were only marginally succesful. The first free-flight test occurred on 12 November 1959. Additional tests were carried out in January 1960, and between July 1960 and June 1961, for a total of 75 hours. The results of the testing revealed a stability problem and insufficient performance due to turbo-rotor mechanical tolerances. The Avrocar was underpowered and could only operate safely in a ground-cushion effect, much like a hovercraft.


Before modifications could be achieved, funding ran out in March 1961. After Frost's proposals for a modified design were not accepted, the Avrocar and related supersonic VTOL programs were officially cancelled in December 1961 by the U.S. military. Avro company executives encouraged additional VTOL research projects, but no further interest resulted from Canadian or other sources, to cap the end to the Special Projects Group.

Judged by its performance, the Avrocar was an abject failure: it couldn't lift itself safely more than a few feet off the ground, and its bulbous design limiting high-speed performance accompanied by unbearable heat and screaming exhaust noise, made it impractical for the military. Although considered a technical failure, its design would be prophetic: it was a rubber skirt shy of being one of the world's first hovercraft, the Saunders Roe SR.N1 also taking off in 1959. Nevertheless, company designer, John Frost applied for a number of patents in Canada, the UK and the US that established the pivotal role that the Avrocar and related Avro experimental vehicles, made in the VTOL world.

Description of the Avrocar

The Avrocar which ultimately appeared was a disc-shaped craft resembling those flying saucers popular in the movies of the period. Measuring 18 feet across by 7.7 feet high, it was designed for an empty weight of 3,000 pounds, with a crew of two (pilot and observer housed in opposite cockpits in clear, dome-shaped canopies). Power was supplied by three Continental J69-T-9 jet engines. Maximum speed was anticipated to be around 300 mph at an altitude of 10,000 ft with an estimated range of 79 miles. The thrust from the jet engines turned a central rotor, which, in turn, vented air through a series of vanes and ducts under the aircraft, thus propelling it and providing directional control.

Sixty years later, we have other VTOL aircraft, including circular drones with a central propeller, undoubtedly mistaken for extraterrestrial aircraft on the occasion, but we still do not have a decent supersonic flying saucer of terrestrial origin. A controversial theory that historian Pamiron Campagna circulated was that this craft was merely to cover tests that were done on supposed captured Alien craft


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