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Multipurpose Orenda OT-4 gas turbine

fortrena

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In early 1960, Orenda Engines, a division of Avro Canada, began to develop a gas turbine to meet a U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships specification for the development of engines for a new type of minesweeper. The Canadian company and two American companies, including Ford Motor, received development contracts in July 1961. With financial support from the Canada government, what was by then the Orenda division of Hawker Siddeley Canada developed the OT-4 turbine.

Even before the summer of 1963 was over, the Orenda division found itself alone in the race. Better yet, the U.S. Army was considering the possibility of funding the development of a version of the OT-4 for use in main battle tanks. The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, was considering several applications, from minesweepers to landing craft, including amphibious vehicles. It was also interested in hovercrafts and hydrofoils. The two departments would now work together on an ambitious and well-coordinated project, the Army-Navy 600 HP Gas Turbine Development Program.

The years 1966-67 were a turning point in the history of the OT-4. A coastal minesweeper re-equipped with two OT-4s, the U.S.S. Bittern, carried out fairly successful sea trials. The Orenda division and an American diesel engine manufacturer initiated research to reduce the fuel consumption of the OT-4. Feasibility studies carried out by the two companies also examined the chances of success of the Canadian gas turbine in the field of road transport.

The Ontario-based company and a respected American heavy truck manufacturer, Autocar, were also beginning to cooperate. In 1967, the subsidiary of White Motor conducted road tests on Canadian soil with a heavy truck powered by an OT-4. That same year, two M48 Patton main battle tanks were apparently tested to verify the OT-4's effectiveness in very hot and very cold weather.

All of these efforts ended in September 1967. The U. S. Army came to the conclusion that OT-4 did not produce the power that future main battle tanks needed. The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, decided to use helicopters for its mine clearance missions, thus reducing the number of minesweepers it kept on duty. It could no longer justify additional expenses related to other applications that interested it.
 
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fortrena

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If I may, the story is not all bleak.

An interesting phase in the history of the Orenda division of Hawker Siddeley Canada Limited, then known as Orenda Engines, began in early 1959, with the decision to develop industrial gas turbines derived from the Orenda turbojet engine. Preliminary discussions with potential customers revealed that they were interested in two main types of equipment: a heavy duty gas turbine for forcing gas or oil into pipelines and a lighter one, closer to the original engine, to produce electricity. A Canadian company created by federal law, TransCanada Pipelines, ordered the first heavy duty OT-2 gas turbine in 1962. This equipment entered service in October, at a north-west Ontario pumping station. The National Research Council of Canada, on the other hand, received the first OT-3 aeroengine-derived gas turbine. This equipment turned the fan on one of the wind tunnels in Ottawa. The first OT-3 used for power generation entered service in December 1963. Over the years, the Ontario company built 30 or so OT-2 turbines and 90 or so OT-3 turbines. These equipment were the first industrial gas turbines designed and produced in Canada.

In 1960, Canada's Department of National Defence began a program to modernize the Pinetree line, one of the three elements of the alert network set up by the United States and Canada to detect possible attacks by Soviet bombers equipped with nuclear weapons. Some of the new radar stations were to have their own power generation system based on the use of gas turbines. Four companies, two Canadian and two British, submitted proposals. Orenda Engines offered an OT-2 derivative called the OT-5. The form got an order in August 1961. The eighteen systems were installed in 1962-63. Over the next several years, the company delivered OT-5s to other users, for a total of 55 or so units. It should be noted that the OT-5s of the Pinetree line were coupled to a heat recovery unit powered by their exhaust gases - a Canadian first in cogeneration and one of the first applications of its kind in the world.
 
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fortrena

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Some additional info I had forgotten to include.

Between the early 1960s and the late 1970s, Orenda Engines, later the Orenda division of Hawker Siddeley Canada, delivered 175 or so industrial turbines, primarily to civilian users. This equipment operated in Canada (Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta) and abroad (Venezuela, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, India and, perhaps, elsewhere).
 

Archibald

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Orenda's luck was they were not closely related to Avro Canada nor to the Arrow. They had diversified not only with the CF-100s and Sabres, but also in many other domains, as shown in the previous posts here. They still exist today, as part of Magellan aerospace.
 

fortrena

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Orenda Engines was also the only Canadian company able to manufacture the General Electric J79 engine of the Lockheed CF-104 Starfighters ordered by the RCAF. The Department of Defence Production negotiated the purchase of the production rights with American aeroengine giant General Electric, possibly via Canadian General Electric of Toronto. Orenda Engines received the plans and specifications for the J79 in October 1959. The company completed an around December 1960. Orenda Engines ultimately produced nearly 480 J79s. The last one left the factory in the mid-1960s.

Orenda Engines produced the General Electric J85 engine of the Canadair CT-114 Tutor trainer, but that story proved far more convoluted. A story for another day perhaps.

Incidentally, in 1966, Hawker Siddeley Canada considered parting with its Orenda division. As fall began, she started negotiations with Canadian General Electric. These discussions went nowhere. At the end of the year, however, the Orenda division becomes Orenda Limited. The new company was controlled by both Hawker Siddeley Canada (60%) and United Aircraft (40%), the other American aeroengine giant and the parent company of United Aircraft of Canada, the new corporate name of Canadian Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Orenda's primary function was the production of parts for Pratt & Whitney civilian and military jet engines. Hawker Siddeley Canada regained full control of Orenda in 1973. The latter's activities were hardly affected by all these changes.
 

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