Modelling the Avro Arrow


*A beginner's guide to modelling in general, by Bill Zuk

*Modelling the Avro Arrow

*Radio Controlled Modelling of the Arrow


Modelling the Avro Arrow by Bill Zuk
HTML'd By R. Kyle Schmidt

Titanium Model Image

Titanium Desk Model

The Avro Company of Canada made a number of desk models for promotional purposes in the 1950's beside the usual wing-tunnel and testing models that were constructed. These models remain elusively intangible and their value, including the incredible cast-metal Arrow models would be fantastic. (A project to recover some of the rocket-borne test models from Lake Ontario is presently being considered.) There are five Avro Arrow models produced including two relatively new releases from Hobbycraft Canada.

Two of the kits are expensive and difficult to find vacuform 1/72 scale models from Astra and Victoria Products of Canada. The newest models to be released are injection molded Hobbycraft 1/72 and 1/48 scale Arrows that were introduced in 1987. The Hobbycraft kits are the ideal choice for the Arrow enthusiast although for years, the only Avro Arrow kit that was available to the modeller was the famous Aurora No. 124.


Building the Aurora CF-105 Avro Arrow

Aurora Kit in Box

RL-202, the second of the Arrows was the subject of this model project. The Aurora kit scaled out to approximately 1/78 scale which was not untypical of the times, based on the record of the odd-ball scales issued by other North American model manufacturers.

Planned at the time of the Arrow test flights, the Arrow model, instead of being cancelled, as most observers would have assumed, was released and continued in production until about 1974. It likely was even re-issued or, at least, stocks of models were re-released, even after this period. Though its price of $1.39 was steep for 1960, many thousands of kits found their way in to modeller's hands.

To expert modellers, the Aurora model represented a "start point' but since it was the only model of the Arrow, it remained a popular kit throughout its production life. Crude in some ways with its engraved markings, poorly registered decals and inaccurate contours, the Aurora model still became an instant collector's item when it went out of production. Commanding an average price of $50.00 for an unbuilt kit and as much as $400.00 for an expertly finished model, the Aurora Arrow became one of the most highly desirable kits in the black-market trade that has become part of the plastic model kit collector's headache. The introduction of the Hobbycraft models should bring prices of the Aurora kit back to reasonable levels.

The first step was in assessing what had to be done to the Aurora model. The request had been for a desk model which meant that constructing new landing gear, weighting the nose for the Arrow's unique nose-high stance and full detailing of the cockpit was not required. However, there was still a lot of preliminary work to be done.

Smaller parts were made and mounting holes were drilled for their fitting later. At this point, the rest of the project was planned out using an old IPMS CANADA RT detail page on building the Aurora model. A number of alterations had to be made to have the model conform to scale drawings provided by the Astra models' instruction sheet (drawn by Jan Strommenbergh) and photographs in the Boston Mills Press book, "The Arrow". The nose cone and tail were re-worked, the lower fin probe was removed and new panel lines were scribed using the Olfa P-cutter. The first stage of construction was completed with careful filling of all join lines at 15 hours.

The second stage turned out to be the longest and most involved operation, that being the painting stage. After grey primer, the colour scheme of RL- 202 was determined from colour photographs. It was decided to depict the aircraft as it looked on November 11, 1958 when the Avro Arrow suffered an accident- a gear failure on landing at its main base at Malton, Ontario. The main colour was the glossy anti-radiation white that was carried overall.

In order to achieve a deep, luxurious finish, Flecto Varethene liquid plastic was chosen. Painting took an extremely long time as each coat had to be masked, lightly sanded and painted. Over a day of drying was required between coats. After mastering the difficult medium which was prone to running and cracking, five coats of paint were applied to complete the white finish.

Other areas that were gloss or semi-gloss were painted next- including the nose cone (Tamiya flat black and gun metal mix), the heat exchanger outlets on the spine (Testors flat silver) and the air intake (Tamiya semi-gloss black). This last area was carefully masked because a Testors flat aluminum colour was chosen for the bleed inlets. The afterburner cans were painted a mix of Tamiya flat black and gun-metal to duplicate this area. An overall coat of Acrylic floor wax was sprayed to seal the paints and the second stage was over at 40 hours.

The final stage of construction involved detailing. Using the excellent Astra decal sheet and its accompanying instructions, RL-202 was depicted in its test markings. A further coat of wax was applied to seal the decals which had been applied using the Micro-Scale system. The flat finish of the anti-glare panel and fin tip were then painted using Tamiya Flat Black.

A display stand was obtained from another Aurora kit and the final operation of restoring the canopy with Kristal Klear solution and adding the pilot figure of "Spud' Potocki, completed the Avro Arrow project- two months and 50 hours of work later!


Building a 1/72 Astra Avro Arrow Vacuform

Victoria Arrow Image

Astra Arrow in Bag

In 1982, the first new and accurate model of the Avro Arrow was released as a vacuform. Astra Scale Models' Hugh Gilliland managed to get it right, and make it buildable. Despite its seemingly simple shape, the Arrow had quite a number of subtle shapes that made it very difficult to vacuform.

The kit comes complete with decals, and a five page instructional booklet incuding a bibliography. Apart from the major components, there is a complete undercarriage, bogies for the main wheels, nosewheel gear, inner and outer wheel door detail, separate splitter plates, and resin tail cone. Much thought has gone into the way the fuselage goes together. It is split horizontally, and the cockpit and nose assembly is added later.

Sanding down the wings, fin and rudder and the upper and lower fuselage halves is the first step. A quick dry fit will show the excellent fit of all the parts including the nose section. Where the wings and fin join the fuselage, they are deliberately made oversize saving on filling later. The set of plans included in the kit are useful in obtaining the correct wing anhedral and the accurate "look" of the nose. Bulkheads to strengthen the interior also fit well. Be sure to build adequate mating areas in all subassemblies.

The first major piece to be assembled is the exhaust cone section. Glue in supports (the instruction sheet recommends a strengthing gusset in the centre) and place to one side until other subassemblies are ready. Then while the fuselage sections are still on the carrier sheet, cut out and install the fuselage bulkheads, noting that bulkhead D2 is on the bottom. Remove the upper and lower fuselage halves from the carrier. Glue the top and bottom fuselage together and add the exhaust section. Install the rear fuselage upper panel component that has the two raised portions that lead into the exhaust pipes and blend all the sections together. Install the tail cone stiger with epoxy or crazy glue.

Remove the nose sections, being careful to cut out the cockpit glass areas. If you are detailing the cockpit, you may consider cutting the front clamshell canopy apart. An interior floor and ejection seats could improve the cockpit but would be hard to see if the canopy is closed. Paint the cockpit interior dark gray, fix enough weight to counteract taildragging, and glue the two pieces together.

The wing halves can then be cut out and rubbed down. Wheel wells are provided and can be used as a guide for cutting out the wells as the scored lines on the lower wing panel are not the same as the wells. Glue the wings together, and then install the wheel wells Install the wings simply by gluing them to the fuselage. Check the plans to make sure that there is the correct 4 degree anhedral.

Glue the nose solidly into place then cut out the intake module along with the splitter plate in place and in line with the rest of the fuselage. Now cut out the spine, remove the rounded portion at the front, along the engraved line, and decide whether you want to open up the airconditioning outlet on the top. It is marked on the spine, with a light hatch area. Check the installation along the top of the wing and to the rear of the cockpit. Cut out and assemble the fin, cut off the excess plastic at the base, and file to fit the top of the spine.

Before installing the undercarriage, check the kit over for any filling that you might have missed. Spray it with a white or gray flat primer to show up any surface imperfections. Cut out the nosewheel bay area and install a box section for the nose gear. The highly detailed wheels and undercarriage legs are well done, and are sturdy enough not to require any wire or metal pins as supports, although axles for the wheels are useful additions.

The subject for the model was RL-201 on roll-out day at the Avro factory. Matching the photographs that appeared that day confirmed that it was a basically all-white scheme with a dark matt gray radome. Tamiya Gloss White that could be flattened a bit with a matt base or paint makes a close match. The black antiglare area was sprayed with Tamiya Matt Black. Intake shrouds, and sections of the spine were variations of semi-gloss black. The other colours included a light gray semi-gloss undercarriage and natural metal wheels and wheel wells. Using the Astra models decal sheet provides all the necessary other markings including the walk-ways and even a splitter decal to recreate the mesh area.

Another scheme that might be contemplated is that of RL-201 in day-glo. Day-glo orange bands were painted on RL-201 during the winter of 1958-59 in order to spot downed aircraft in the snow and for better bservation during flight. This paint was next applied to the tail, nose and wing-tips. A mix of Metalizer day-glo orange and red can produce the unique colour. These were its colours on Thursday, February 19, 1959, when RL-201 completed its last test flight and the last flight of any Arrow.


Building a VP Products 1/72 Avro Arrow Vacuform

Victoria Arrow Image

Victoria Products Arrow Kit

The VP (Victoria Products) 1/72nd scale Avro Arrow kit from 1986 came vacuformed on five sheets of .030 inch styrene. The kit was vacuformed from female molds, with exceptional quality moldings. The surface detail rivals that of many injection molded kits.

The kit comes with a canopy molded in clear plastic and is also molded as part of the forward fuselage. You have a choice as to whether to open up the windows on the canopy molded to the fuselage and use clear sheet styrene, or cut out the canopy, and replace it with the clear canopy provided. Since the actual canopy was of the clamshell type, it has been molded in two halves to facilitate modelling it open. If you plan to do any superdetailing of the cockpit, plan to model the canopy open.

The kit comes with the gear doors molded closed, and on a separate sheet, a set of gear doors, and wheels are provided. Unlike some vacuform kits, the wheels can be used. Unfortunately, the landing struts are not provided. No decals were available with the first release, although a decal sheet is available through Astra Models which made a comparable vacuform Avro Arrow kit.

The instruction sheet is on two sheets, one 11" x l5" (both sides) and one 8" x 14" (one side), containing a three-view 1/72nd scale drawing, a three-quarter exploded view of the model assembly, of the main and nose gear, cockpit drawings, and colour scheme notes and some construction tips.

Construction is divided into three main subassemblies, the tail cone subassembly, main fuselage, and nose section. Be careful with the main fuselage as the fuselage cross section templates (parts 11, 12, and 13) are not deep enough. There is no problem assembling the fuselage, but when the engine intakes are dry fitted to the fuselage, these are about two millimetres too large for the fuselage.

The solution is to begin by assembling the nose section. The engine intakes and splitter plates (parts 14-16 and 17-19) were assembled, and after the cockpit had been scratchbuilt and detailed, the forward fuselage (parts 1, 2, 3 and 6) can be assembled. In detailing the cockpit, consider a minimum of addditional detail since almost no cockpit detail is visible through the small cockpit windows.

Assemble the nose section and engine intakes being careful to adjust for fit before the subassembly is set aside. The tail assembly (parts 31-33) and the tail cones (parts 27-30) can then be assembled. Using a No. 11 blade, the landing gear door panels on the wings can be carefully opened up with the pieces removed used to fabricate the wheel wells.

The outer wing panels can then be attached to the inner panels and backed with strip plastic before attaching upper and lower wing halves to gave the wing more strength, and kept the wing tips from drooping when the wings were attached to the fuselage. To maintain the correct wing cross section at the wing root, wing cross section templates may need to be constructed and attached. This may be necessary because cutting out the gear wells weakens the wing near the wing root.

The heat exchanger outlet on the spine should be opened up with a piece of scrap plastic attached on the inside to form a channel. The completed wing should then be attached to the fuselage. Almost no filling is required. After attaching the wing to the centre section, the nose and tail assemblies can then be attached.

The advantages to this approach include a perfect match of the engine intakes to the main fuselage, large bonding surfaces when the subassemblies were mated added strength and no alignment problems. Finally, the vertical stabilizer is assembled, and attached to the completed aircraft. A minimum of filling and sanding was required to achieve a smooth join.

Scratchbuilding the landing struts from aluminum tubing, scrap plastic, and bits from the spare parts box is needed. Before the aircraft is airbrushed, the gear is dry-fitted into position and holes marked and drilled with a pin vise.

After a light sanding the model requires a primer coat of light grey, to check for any rough spots. The paint scheme overall was Tamiya Gloss White. After allowing a couple of days to dry, the Day-Glo markings are then masked and airbrushed. The Day-Glo red/orange is a mixture of Tamiya gloss bright red and orange. Aluminum and Gunmetal can be used to airbrush the spine aft of the heat exchanger, and a mix of black and silver works for the exhaust burners.

After the areas to be painted gloss black have been masked and airbrushed, the model was ready for decaling. After the decals are applied and allowed to dry, a thin coat of Future floor wax can be applied to fix the decals. The tail pipes, nose probe, landing gear, and gear doors can then be attached.

The subject chosen was RL-203, because it was the only Arrow to sport both the Red Ensign and Day-Glo markings. The Astra decal sheet was used. The decal quality was quite good overall, and settled very well without use of any setting agents. One very nice touch was with the decals provided for the bleed inlets. If the splitter plates are first airbrushed natural metal, and the decals provided slid into place, a very fine mesh appears which simulates the bleed inlets very well.

No weathering is needed since RL-203 only accumulated 13 1/2 hours flight time before the Avro Arrow project was scrapped. All the tires on this aircraft were painted black and white on the outer edges, possibly for photo recognition. In the later test period, extended exhaust cones also appeared. Check references carefully for the exact details.


Building the Hobbycraft 1/72 Avro Arrow

HC Arrow Box Image

Hobbycraft 1/72 Arrow Box (new style)

The newest injection kits of the Avro Arrow are the easiest to build. Hobbycraft Canada's kits are produced in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales. The smaller scale Avro Arrow model (HC 1392) was the first to be released in 1986 and subsequently reworked. Hobbycraft Canada is a marriage of a Canadian marketing firm and a Korean kit manufacturer.

The 1/72 scale CF-105 is molded in 52 white and one clear styrene part. The kit goes together fairly well but if you have one of the first series, you will notice a major error in the wings. The small teardrop-shaped hinges are molded on the top of the wings instead of the bottom. Cutting out the hinges may help but you may have to cut out the entire aileron and reverse them.

The moldings feature recessed panel lines and most of the detail that is missing in the Aurora version. However, finer detail can be found on the vacuforms. The outline shape is close to that of the earlier vacuforms but some modellers are still on the lookout for the Astra or VP kits because of their better accuracy. A large fold-out instruction sheet includes assembly drawings and hints along with a decal and painting guide.

The kit can be made with gear retracted or extended although no display stand is included for a flying version. A scribed location is made for the main undercarriage members on the inside of the wings. Sand off these areas if you are using an extended undercarriage.

Some other areas to be careful of include the cockpit. It is very basic with pilot figures, floor and simple ejection seats. Once installed not much can be seen through the tiny windows. The clear canopy also has to be carefully masked to get a good front windshield section and unfortunately no indication is made of the small windows that were used by the observer in the rear cockpit. Consult drawings and references to correct this as well as other detail areas as the undercarriage and wheel wells.

The main landing gear can be modified by mainly shaping the elements from the models original square section to the required round and diamond profiles. The nose gear well is the wrong shape and is too shallow. I made the well profile rectangular (it narrows on the model) and deepened the well to provide reasonable space. The intake ramps on the model are also poor. The profile is close to correct, but the back side (the side facing the fuselage) is hollow, and this is not the case on the aircraft. It needs to be filled with putty and sanded to shape. With the addition of some narrow styrene strip, the duct that allows entry of the air conditioning air is added. This is between the ramp and the fuselage. Another error in the model is the shape of the airconditioning hot air outlet. This is shown as having the top part of an octagon shape on the model. In fact, the sides are rounded, with the top not flat but angled. The shape of the exhausts is incorrect for all but the first few weeks of RL201. The later exhausts did not curve in, rather the were larger and had a straight profile.

The decals are not very useful and should be replaced by the Arrow Graphics (RR No. 1, York, Ont. NOA 1 RO) Decal Sheet (D1-72) which is available. There are complete markings for all the Avro Arrow Mk.1s which not only have letters, tail markings, inlet mesh, wing-walk areas but also stencil details. Modelling RL-204 as it appeared at CFB Trenton makes a different Avro Arrow subject. A minor landing accident by an Air Canada airliner had closed the Arrow's home base down at Malton and RL-204 diverted to Trenton. It flew in day-glow markings on the tail and nose that day.


Building the Hobbycraft 1/48 Avro Arrow

Hobbycraft Kit No. HC 1651, the 1/48 scale CF-105 is molded in 62 white and clear styrene parts. Looking like a scaled up version of the 1/72 scale Arrow, there are recessed panel lines, but there is too little detail in this scale. In addition, drop tanks and rockets are included which reflect later developments of the Arrow.

The nine-step instructions have a couple of errors. The installation of the main gear struts is shown incorrectly as the main strut should be attached to the outboard edge of the gear well and the retraction struts go inboard, not rearward. Also the painting guides for the fluorescent red markings are inaccurate for some aircraft.

Although it is a straightforward, simple kit to build, there are fit problems. The nose, wing, and stabilizer areas go together quickly, but the upper and lower main fuselage halves require a lot of careful fitting. Before gluing the upper and lower pieces together plastic strips along the interior joint area were addded to provide support and prevent the joint from cracking during cleanup. This long join line still requires much careful filling and a stretched plastic sprue piece may have to be inserted. Other problems exist in the rear exhaust area and with the main wheel halves.

The rest of the assembly is better with fit of the wings to the fuselage being right on and requiring little sanding.

A light gray primer coat first showed any areas of concern especially around the fuselage joins. Although the decals offer markings for RL-201, the Canadian flag was only used by RL-203. The decals were out of register and are best replaced by other decals. Arrow Graphics Decal Sheet (D2-48) has markings for tail markings, inlet mesh and stencil details. New decals can be used to make another Avro Arrow subject come to life. RL-205 was the last trial aircraft and looked like the other Arrows that flew with day-glo markings. It flew only once.

The photograph referred to as "Death Row" in the "Arrow" book shows the 5 completed Mk. 1's with #202 on the outside right side. It appears in overall white with no red markings. (It never was painted in day-glo.) All of the other Arrows wore red day-glo at the end of their life. After the cancellation of the project and the destruction of the aircraft. #202 seems to be the first to be hacked up. Although it had not flown since its accident on Nov. 11, 1958, it had been scheduled for flight testing of the Hughes MA-1 fire control electronic system in mid-May, 1959.

#206 and other Arrows on the production line were destroyed as workers moved up and down the line, cutting up the airframes. Originally the plan was to use a wrecker's ball but when the ball bounced off the aircraft acording to one worker I spoke to, they resorted to axes and torches. All 37 Arrow Mk. IIs and the 5 Mk. 1's were destroyed in that way.

Only pieces of RL-206,the first Mk. II (nose and main landing gear as well as an Iroquois engine) are preserved at the National Aerospace Museum.



Drawings of the Avro Arrow in 1/72 and 1/48 scale are available from Howard McLean, RR No. 1, York, Ont. NOA 1 RO . Also available are similar type drawings of the CF-100 in either Mark 4 or 5 variants.

AVRO ARROW by the Arrowheads

This is an excellent reference source on the Avro Arrow for both modellers and historians. The 180 page hard cover book covers the development of the Avro Arrow, right from the initial design to the final cancellation of the project. The focus of the material is mainly technical but there are many useful black and white and colour photographs. Line drawings includie colour profile drawings of RL-201- RL-206. Other illustrations of landing gear, gear wells, cockpit and weapons systems provide valuable references for the serious modeller.

* An Avro Arrow Bibliography

Engineering Drawings of the Arrow:

Drawing 1
Drawing 2
Drawing 3


A Response to Modelling the Avro Arrow

From:R. Kyle Schmidt

Subject: Avro Arrow model articles

To:Bill Zuk


Thanks for sending the model articles directly to me, it saved grabbing them from r.m.s. I will be including them in my next revision to the page (coming within the next week, I hope). This revision will be a major change in structure, with some new stuff added. In particular, a modelling section. I am currently working on a 1/72 Hobbycraft Arrow ( a later version). I would have been done months ago, but I have made numerous changes that are still in the works.

Kyle's Arrow Image

Kyle's HC Arrow under construction

For instance, I have opened the canopy (both front and rear) and this necessitated the installation of a cockpit. I am not a huge fan of 1/72 but I perservered and now have a completed cockpit (from scratch but with resin ejection seats). The seats are for a T-33, and are not correct (They are too thin) but they look good in the cockpit. Styrene sheet and strip formed the rest of the cockpit.

I have a fascination with landing gear, and the HC models are terrible in this respect. With the help of the Arrowheads book and about 40 pictures I took at the NAM, I was able to modify the mains and the nose gear to adequately model the real thing. The nose was a tricky problem, and I originally tried to model the gear with brass tube, but gave up and sliced and diced the original styrene. The mains were modified by mainly shaping the elements from the models original square section to the required round and diamond profiles. With the addition of some bare metal foil and some string, I now have reasonable looking gear. The nose gear well is the wrong shape and is WAY too shallow ( a common fault on many models). I made the well profile rectangular (it narrows on the model) and deepened the well to provide reasonable space. I have yet to detail the well, but I do have several pictures of the area. The intake ramps on the 1/72 HC model are also poor. The profile is close to correct, but the back side (the side facing the fuselage) is hollow, and this is not the case on the aircraft. This I filled with putty and sanded to shape. With the addition of some narrow styrene strip, I added the duct that allows entry of the air conditioning air. This is between the ramp and the fuselage. The shape of the exhausts is incorrect for all but the first few weeks of RL201. The later exhausts did not curve in, rather the were larger and straighter (this is shown to good detail in the Arrowheads book).

I would probably be done now if not for the fact that I was ambitious and cut out the weapons pack. Since I have chosen to model RL201 near rollout time, I plan to fill the pack with telemetry equipment. This is not the problem. The problem lies in detailing the cutout in the fuselage. I am currently working on that, with the addition of rounded air ducts. I plan to add the stringers and piping/electrical runs soon.

Oh, I almost forgot. Another error in the model is the shape of the airconditioning hot air outlet. This is shown as having the top part of an octagon shape on the model. In fact, the sides are rounded, with the top not flat but angled.

That is about all I can remember right now, but I plan to display it in a diorama with a tractor, ladder, weapons carriage dolly, Iroquois engine (I know that doesn't fit with the period, but I will tell why in a minute) and an engine dolly. Most of these components are modified versions from the Revell Germany F-16 that comes with tractor / ladder / engine and dolly.

The reason for the Iroquois is that the F-16 engine is more readily transformed into an Iroquois than a J75.

Also, regarding your comment about desk models of the Arrow, I have a Titanium Arrow on a marble base with a brass dedication to the maiden flight of the Arrow. This is one of my most treasured possestions.

Thanks again for the articles, keep in touch, and let me know if you have any problem with me using them on the page (you get the credit of course).


R. Kyle Schmidt

Lucas Three Position Switch: Dim, Flicker, Off.


Update to modelling the Avro Arrow:

Arrow Graphics Decal 

Arrow Graphics Decals

Decal sheets are available for the Mk.1 Avro Arrow in both 1/72 (D-1-72) and 1/48 (D-2-48) scales from Arrow Graphics (Howard and Sandra McLean, RR # 1, York, Ontario, N0A 1R0). The smaller sheet includes all the code letters to build any of the first series Arrows as well as stencil markings, inlet mesh, wing-walk areas and tail markings. The 1/48 decals only include stencils, tail markings and mesh decals. Each of the sheets is acompanied by an extensive black and white set of plans to assist the modeller in placement of the decals.

Bill... in my other life, a meek and mild librarian... Zuk


And Now for something completely different...

LEGO Modelling of the Arrow

John Robertson and his son created this beauty, a LEGO Arrow. Click on the small image for a larger peek. Thanks for sending this in, guys!


Created: January 23, 1996
Last Updated: 12 May 2016 (Corrected link to Bill Zuk's modelling series)

Layout Copyright R. Kyle Schmidt 1996, 1997
Article Copyright Bill Zuk 1996, Used with permission
Most Photos Copyright R. Kyle Schmidt 1996, VP Arrow and Aurora Kit Photos Copyright Nick Tan 2006