One of Canada’s leading aviation journalists and publishers was Robert G. Halford of Winnipeg. Having served in the Merchant Navy in WWII, Bob learned to fly, then was a cub reporter in Dryden in Northwest Ontario. In the late 1940s he became a junior writer at “Aircraft and Airport” magazine in Toronto.
Bob Halford as a young man in the Canadian Merchant Navy. Then the famous quartet with whom I enjoyed many an inspiring lunch at The Brogue in Port Credit: Fred Hotson (DHC, nearest) and Ron Picker (Canadair) on the left, and Bob Halford (nearest) and Dave Clark (Canadair) on the right. When “Aircraft” magazine folded, Bob and his wife established The Canadian Aircraft Operator in Mississauga, a solid publication for readers in all aspects of aviation. “The Operator” continued to about 1990, when the Halfords retired. A few years later, Bob handed over his complete aviation archive to me. Many CANAV Books titles are the richer, thanks to Bob’s thoughtfulness. De Havilland Canada had figured hugely in Bob Halford’s world, beginning with the little DHC-1 Chipmunk in the late 1940s. This week let’s have a look at a fraction of the photos comprising the Halford/CANAV Books Collection:
With wartime contracts cancelled and most employees laid off over the summer of 1945, de Havilland of Canada had to scurry to keep its doors open. The old pre-war Fox Moth was reintroduced, some Mosquitos were sold to Chaing Kai-Shek’s army fighting Mao Tse Tung, and some PBYs were civilianized. But something more future-oriented was needed. The solution was a new basic trainer to replace the old wartime Tiger Moth. This project became the DHC-1 Chipmunk. Shown is the beginning of Chipmunk production at DHC. The Chipmunk first flew on May 22, 1946.
Details of this era are best found in Fred Hotson’s landmark book The De Havilland Canada Story (later revised as De Havilland in Canada). Copies can be found at http://www.abebooks.com … no kidding, you need this one.
Sleak and shiny Chipmunk No.1 CF-DIO-X at Downsview in 1946 with a crowd of proud DHC fellows. A.F. “Sandy” MacDonald is 2 nd from the right, then are W.J. “Jaki” Jakimiuk, P.C. “Phil” Garratt and W.D. “Doug” Hunter.
Chipmunk CF-FHY in the early years at DHC. Note how the canopy had changed from the squarish look to the bubble type. Most Canadian Chipmunks featured the bubble, while those built under licence in the UK, India, etc. had the squarish look.
A pair of early Chipmunks on a bright winter’s day at Downsview. Then, a fine air-to-air shot of CF-CXB, part of a batch built for the Canadian Flying Clubs Association.
Following the Chipmunk came the DHC-2 Beaver. First flown on August 16, 1947 by Russ Bannock, the Beaver went on to global fame as one of the great bushplanes. I found this historic view of prototype CF-FHB-X in Bob’s DHC files. It was taken a few minutes before Russ fired up “FHB” on first flight day at Downsview. The crowd would have been anxious to see how “their baby” was going to fly! Where is “FHB” today? Thanks to the stalwart efforts of the very founder of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ken Molson (nothing seems to work to get Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) “FHB” today is a premier display at the CASM in Ottawa.
The Halford files have endless surprises. For example, I only lately noticed this photo – “FHB” with an early Chipmunk.
Beaver production gets under way. Some 1600 eventually would be built. Beavers remain popular far and wide to this day and come in many versions compared to the “basic” old DHC-2.
The standard Beaver cockpit set-up c1950.
People around “de Hav” were known as a jolly bunch, who loved their jobs. Here’s a typical scene from early Beaver days. Test pilot Russ Bannock, “big boss” Phil Garratt, and some co-workers are getting a good laugh out of something. Russ was a famous WWII Mosquito ace, while Phil had been a WWI DH bomber pilot.
Here’s the “big picture” at DHC in the early 1950s. We’re looking north. At the bottom is some of the new housing spurred on by jobs at DHC. Notice the tightly-packed parking lot – things were hopping. You can see the big new post-war DHC factory in the middle ground. Across the field are the wartime hangars where the Mosquito was built. See the twin white towers to the left of there? Those were newly-erected jet engine test cells needed to support DHC’s contracts overhauling jet engines for the RCAF. These solid concrete structures still stand as artifacts of a forgotten era. Much of the land in the mid-part of this scene today comprises Downsview Park. New production bays have been added over the decades. Today, these turn out Bombardier Q400s and bizjets.
Here’s a lovely 1951 Beaver pose: Serial No. 19 CF-FHF purring over Toronto Bay with the city’s iconic islands below. Soon “FHF” was delivered to the BC Pulp and Paper Co. Sadly, it would crash disastrously in Labrador in 1996. As often happens with wrecks, however, it was recovered, rebuilt, and flies to this day back on the BC coast.
There were many Beaver R&D projects, including CF-GQE with its ungainly empennage. This was the prototype for the Beaver with a 550-hp Alvis Leonides engine (vs the standard 450-hp P&W R985). After years in the UK, “GQE” served on missionary duties in South America. It later had a Polish PZL engine. In the 2010s it was in Saskatchewan as C-GHGN. Really … Beavers do have their stories to tell. Happily, these are beautifully covered on Neil Aird’s website dhc-2.com … make a point to visit!
Fred Hotson writes hilariously about efforts one day to launch a Beaver from a makeshift dolly. But dolly takeoffs soon became common. Here, the Ontario government’s CF-OBS (Serial No.2) “has a go” at Downsview. “OBS” today resides in the Bush Plane Heritage Museum at Sault Ste. Marie.
Beavers quickly were at work around the world, whether as US Army L-20s doing air ambulance work in Korea, spraying the dreaded spruce budworm in New Brunswick, or as “ag” planes dropping fertilizer on sheep grazing lands in New Zealand. Fieldair’s ZK-CKC had begun as a 1956 US Army L-20, then reached New Zealand in 1964 to do ag work. It was wrecked in a 1968 prang. ZK-CLP (beyond) had also been a military L-20. It was destroyed by fire in a 1969 ag accident.
Beaver No.500 at Downsview in May 1962. It may read “For Export” on the side, but No.500 became CF-MAA with the Manitoba government. Today it resides with the (presently dormant) aviation museum in Winnipeg.
DHC-3 Otter prototype CF-DYK-X ready at Downsview for its first flight on December 12, 1951. The great test pilot, George Neal, did the honours that day. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did. Note DYK’s small vertical tail. This quickly was redesigned to give a lot more area. “DYK” later was RCAF 3667 used for some exotic flight test programs at DHC. From 1965 it was CF-SKX for further trials, then was sold to Lamb Airways in 1969. While with Laurentian Air Service, on May 1, 1970 both wings came off “SKX” during a fatal test flight from Ottawa.
Even by May 1951 DHC still was referring to the Otter by its original name — King Beaver. This diagram shows it configured for aero medical evacuation.
One of many US Army U-1A Otters from the 1950s. 55-3290 shows how it could carry a ready-to-fight squad. U-1As served in many theatres and were (along with L-20s) prominent in the Vietnam War. “3290” eventually ended back in Canada – at Kenora on Lake-of-the-Wood as C- GCQK with a 1000-hp PZL engine. In 2004 it migrated to Alaska to work as N560TR. By that time it had logged more than 15,000 flying hours.
Otter No.45 at Downsview on wheel/skies in 1954 ready for delivery. RCAF 3654 would have a short life. While on a supply run on the Labrador coast on December 15, 1956, it cracked up on landing. The damage was severe, so 3654 was “written off” as a dead loss.
Otters would serve on every continent. PAL Otters PI-C51 and C-52 were welcomed when they reach the Philippines in 1955 to serve remote communities. The great Otter aficionado Karl Hayes explains, “The benefits of these Otter services were clear. The land journey from Gingoog to Buenavista took five hours by car and cost 40 pesos. The Otter took 20 minutes and the fare was 9 pesos. Bislig to Davao was a 50 minute Otter flight – the alternative was a week on a coastal freighter, which sailed once a month. North from Lianga, the flight to Buenavista took 30 minutes by Otter and there was no land communication except a three-day foot trail.” On June 21, 1957 PI-C52 had to make a forced landing on a road due to engine failure. Both wings were torn off in the attempt, C52 was a complete loss, but all eight aboard were OK. Sadly, on May 20, 1954 PI-C51 crashed, killing all 11 aboard.
Otter production at Downsview.
Many Otter mods were devised over the decades. Today, most Otters use turbine engines, mainly the PT6 or Garrett. The first such conversion was done in the 1970s by Ray Cox of Edmonton. The Halford Collection includes this lovely air-to-air photo of his prototype C-FMES-X. Originally (1961) with McMurray Air Services, “MES” next served Gateway Aviation, which crashed it badly near Cambridge Bay in 1973. Cox bought the wreck, repaired it and installed a PT6-27 to prove his brilliant idea that the turbine engine was the way to the Otter’s future. “MES” later was N4247A, when Cox moved to Seattle. On December 19, 1984 it crashed near Boeing Field. There were no injuries, but Cox then was forced to leave his vision behind. Others soon picked up on his PT6 idea and the “DHC-3T” now rules Otter skies.
Here are a few miscellaneous DHC photos from my Halford files. This of CF-AGL is a rare one (aviation fans just love oddball conversions, right). In 1930 DHC executive Phil Garratt had this Gipsy Moth modified so he could more conveniently make the flight to his Muskoka summer cottage from Downsview. “AGL” simply was mounted to a centerline float and used underwing sponsons for stability on the water. Now, Garratt could take off from Downsview on wheels and land on the lake at his cottage. Later that year “AGL” was sold in Newfoundland. While on a 1932 flight, it disappeared forever. In later years, DHC provided Garratt with Beaver No.1000 CF-PCG, which he flew for years on his Downsview-Muskoka cottage get-aways.
Even in tough Depression times, DHC kept its doors open. One profitable sale was of several D.H. 90 Dragonflies to the RCMP. This was the beginning of the now-famous RCMP Air Division. Here is the first aircraft awaiting delivery at Downsview in 1937. CF-MPA served into late 1942, then went for scrap.
The Sparrow glider was designed and built during the war by members of the DHC gliding club. Members included W.J. Jakimiuk, who later headed the Chipmunk design team; and Walter Czerwinski, who would create the project-saving fix when a grave design flaw arose with the CF-100 wing-to-fuselage attachment.
As so well told in Fred Hotson’s book, DHC was swamped with work through WWII. Tiger Moths were mass-produced for the wartime air training plan, then a Mosquito line was established. Meanwhile, much overhaul work was completed. When the war ended, all this came to a screeching halt. To keep something going, the last few Mosquitos were completed while, behind the scenes in Ottawa, a deal was made with Chaing Kai-Shek for about 200 Downsview-made “Mossies” (mainly RCAF aircraft in postwar storage). This rare view shows the last of the DHC Mossies being completed. Beyond, you can see some war surplus PBYs being converted for commercial operators. This “busy work” served its purpose until DHC could find its way in the new peacetime economy.
Also in this period, DHC took the ancient D.H.83 Fox Moth, engineered a few improvements, and offered it to commercial operators. 54 were sold, mainly to Canadian bush operators, but a few were exported as far away as India and Pakistan. Using a bank loan, a young Max Ward purchased a new Fox Moth, set up in Yellowknife, then went on to build Wardair into a respected global airline with 747s. Shown at DHC in August 1946 is postwar Fox Moth CF-DIR. Within a year it was with Nalanda Airways in India.
In 1946 the RCAF acquired its first jets – two Meteors and a Vampire. It then ordered 85 Vampires — its first operational jet fighters. These were assembled at Downsview and, later, went back and forth there for overhaul (D.H. Ghost engines included). Shown at Edmonton is TG372 — the first Vampire in Canada. TG372 remains in storage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Its experience with the Vampire engine likely helped DHC win major overhaul contracts involving the GE J-47 and Orenda series engines used by the RCAF.
A busy scene in the DHC engine shop. These look like D.H. Goblins used in the Vampire. For this little-known DHC story see Fred Hotson’s book pages 141-143.
The Boeing era at DHC in the 1980s involved several R&D projects including a VTOL fighter project (about which little is known). Looking over an engineering model of this design in 1988 are veteran DHC men, Don Whitley, Director of Advanced Projects, and Mike Davey, VP
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