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An Official USAF History of the Avro Saucer Project

In early January 1966, Air Force historian R. D. Thomas produced a brief history of the Air Force's involvement with the Avro VTOL saucer projects. Classified "Secret" and designed for official consumption, it verifies dates and technical information found in other available documents. It's possible that the document was required when the 1965-66 UFO waves provoked government officials to ask for review of previous UFO-related Air Force programs. The document's comments on the technical problems that developed with the various versions of the saucers are useful in placing the sometimes outlandish claims of the Avro team in perspective.

Since most people who have heard of the Avro saucer project are only familiar with the Avrocar, the small, unimpressive, hovercraft-like disc that was the only hardware to come out of the ten-year Avro development program, it's important to understand that the original intent of the project was to build an exotic supersonic saucer-like aircraft that would imitate the reported performance of UFOs as closely as possible. Note the quoted performance figures on page 3, which are superior to the Lockheed "Blackbird" series which first flew in 1962. The development of the Avrocar itself, a low-performance version of the supersonic design, was not started until 1957. The document's use of the name "Avrocar" applied to the earlier MX-1794 supersonic saucer is not correct.

Of particular interest is the mention on page 4 of the proposed armament of the MX-1794 saucer as of mid-1956, which is described as being similar to the contemporary Lockheed F-104. F-104s in US service were equipped for daylight dogfighting, and carried a fairly basic air intercept radar and fire-control system, an M61 6-barrel 20mm rotary cannon, and two infrared-homing Sidewinder missiles. Other US interceptors, such as the F-102 and F-106, had much more sophisticated armament and radar equipment.

The Air Force issued several press releases beginning in 1955 which strongly implied that the supersonic Avro design was on the verge of a flight test program, but it is clear from this document that it never flew.

(Document courtesy Air Force Materiel Command History Office)