Tag Archives: RCAF

The Douglas B-23 Dragon + Big News from Buffalo Airways

As the 1930s came to a close, America’s aircraft industry was booming, and the US Army Air Corps and US Navy were ordering new aircraft fleets in the rush to be ready for potential war. In one case there was a competition among manufacturers to produce a new medium bomber to surpass the current frontline type, the Douglas B-18 Bolo. Douglas proposed a revamped B-18, the result being the B-23 Dragon, first flown in July 1939. However, as impressive as the B-23 was – it was fast, had good range, carried a load, etc., it  did not compare overall with the competing North American B-25 and Martin B-26. In the end, only 38 B-23s were built and these spent their forthcoming war on the home front more or less in the shadows as advanced trainers, glider tugs, etc., and UC-67 transports.

What makes the story of extra interest by 2022 is how – immediately after the war — the B-23/UC-67 became a sudden star, once discovered by corporations needing a fast, comfortable, impressive executive transport plane. Soon many large companies and some wealthy individuals were operating UC-67s. That’s how we young “airport rats” got introduced to the UC-67 as we hung around Malton airport near Toronto, and travelled around with our cameras spotting between Chicago and Montreal.

As promised a few weeks ago, here are some of my UC-67 black-and-whites. For a good source of B-23/UC-67 history, google “Warbird Information Exchange B-23 Project”. For simplicity, in the captions I call these planes B-23s, but feel free to substitute UC-67.

B-23 Dragon N58092 caught my eye during my visit to Malton on a gorgeous June 16, 1960. The first things we noticed about the B-23 was its DC-3-style wing and massive empennage. Originally USAAC 39-0053, among other things during the war, N58092 was an RB-23 reconnaissance plane based at Muroc Lake, California. At war’s end it joined the countless thousands of surplus equipment being disposed of by the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and was sold for scrap. Instead, however, it was acquired by some dealer, converted for executive use, then served Lehman Brothers in NYC from 1946. Next (1954-64) it was with H.K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, a famous manufacturer of steam locomotives by this time in the defence industry, one product line being components for the Nike series of anti-aircraft missiles. One wonders all these 60+ years later what N58092 was doing at Malton this day. Little is known about this impressive big corporate plane’s history, but what stories its log books could tell, right! Later owners included Monarch Aviation of Monterey, California (1966) and Trans Aero Systems of Miami (1969-70), whatever such companies were doing with N58092. Its ultimate fate is not known.
Frequent visitors to Toronto in the 1950s-early 1960s were General Electric’s N33310 and N33311 (GE had operations in Hamilton, Peterborough and Toronto). N33310 had been 39-0062 through the war, then was with such owners as Pan American World Airways of NY, the famed air racer Roscoe Turner, and Fairbanks-Morse Company (manufacturer of scales, pumps and engines). In 1954 it joined GE. It served there into 1966, when it was sold to Florida-based Palm Beach Yacht Sales; then various change-of-ownerships followed. By 1973 the once glorious executive plane was derelict in Panama. It’s said to have gone for scrap in 1978. Here is N33310 at Malton on July 12, 1960. Then, N33311 (39-0064, the final B-23) landing at Malton on August 11, 1960, then on the ramp there in the same period. It had a similar history, going postwar to Pan Am, then to GE in 1954. A decade later it was sold to the Los Angeles Board of Education. One wonders for what purpose. There’s a story that the majestic old plane was destroyed in a fire during the LA riots of 1965. While serving GE, these two lovely UC-67s were based at White Plains, NY.        
B-23 N4000W (39-0031) at Detroit Municipal Airport on April 16, 1963. It also had been acquired postwar by PanAm, which seems to have been brokering B-23s and maybe doing the conversions. I didn’t make a note this day about its ownership. Note the modern Douglas logo on the rudder. In 1968 N4000W was sold to an operator in Ecuador and survives today in Ecuador’s national aviation museum in Quito.
Pittsburg Construction Co.’s N34C (39-0051) at Detroit Municipal on the same day as N4000W. It also had begun postwar with Roscoe Turner, then was with Celanese Corp. of America. Also on the ramp was a new Grumman G.159 Gulfstream, a sign of things to come. About this time, the Gulfstream and F.27 were starting to nudge the older DC-3s, B-23s and Lockheed twins out of their envied position at the top in corporate aviation. Then, N34C landing at Dorval  September 5, 1960. In 1966 N34C moved to Ohio State University, then had further owners. Today it may be seen in Tucson at the renowned Pima Air and Space Museum.

News From Buffalo Airways of Yellowknife (March 26, 2022)

Buffalo Airways is on the verge of the jet age. Famous for its DC-3s, DC-4s, C-46s and Electras, the company has just announced its purchase of a Boeing 737. Here’s the work straight from Mikey McBryan of Buffalo: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

CANAV’s Late Winter BLOG for Early 2022!

This quintessential CF-100 photo shows prototype 18101 from a wonderful angle. One of history’s great CF-100 photos, right! Avro always had the best photographers, and this image says it all. In this era the fellows normally used the Avro Jetliner, a Lancaster or a B-25 as their photo ship. The CF-100 made its first flight on January 19, 1950 (72 years ago) with the great Bill Waterton at the controls (see Bill’s excellent book The Quick and the Dead). It then evolved into one of the famous “Fighters of the Fifties”. Deliveries totalled 692 by 1958. The last CF-100s retired in 1981 from 414 Sqn at a great event in North Bay, which hundreds of us attended. Happily, many CF-100s have been preserved. You can google this recent CBC item to see how one is getting a long-overdue facelift this year: Historic Canadian aircraft set to get a facelift, courtesy of the City of Moncton

Welcome to the CANAV Books blog for February 2022. As usual, there’s a lot to cover. You can start right here by downloading our Spring/Summer 2022 Booklist. Any reader will find something enticing — guaranteed! For one thing, you’ll spot some excellent Avro Canada books, including a top new CF-100 history, Canadian Cold Warriors. “CCW” nicely complements the Jan Zurakowsi and Bill Waterton test pilot autobiographies. Chris Gainor’s Who Killed the Avro Arrow caps off this selection. There’s also Paul Ozorak’s new Abandoned Military Installations of Canada, Vol.4, a massive production for anyone with the least interest. Covering Gander in wartime, North Atlantic Crossroads is another gem. What else? Any Canadiana reader will revel in The Company, ditto for Chris Hadfield’s Apollo Murders. And don’t miss our special offers on Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace and Air Transport in Canada, two monumental and legendary Canadian aviation book publishing projects that are beloved anchors in many an aviation home library. Here’s your list … have at it!

Russian assault on Antonov airport February 24. If you google these bits, you should be able to see these dramatic scenes as Russian commandos take the airport by helicopter assault. Not a happy sight — so far not a single nation is willing to help Ukraine. Putin has the world terrorized. pic.twitter.com/SnvmwQ1Ge

t.me/operativnoZS

9:03 AM · Feb 24, 2022·Twitter Web App

Two of our top new titles this season.

Vintage Canadian Aviation

It’s not too well known by 2022, but Canada had an aviation industry as long ago as 1915, when Glenn H. Curtiss established a small factory and flying school in Toronto. In late 1916 this was taken over for wartime needs by the Imperial Munitions Board, which turned out more than 2000 Curtiss JN-4 airframes in the city’s west end. Through the 1920s other companies got into the business, including De Havilland in Toronto and Canadian Vickers in Montreal. By 1930 there was a blossoming industry, one of several Montreal companies being Reid Aircraft at Cartierville Airport. Founded early in 1928, at year’s end it was acquired by Curtiss, to become Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Co. Only one production design was turned out – the Rambler, a tandem 2-seater that for some years was an important club and RCAF trainer. According to the great K.M. Molson’s seminal book, Canadian Aircraft since 1909, 43 Ramblers were built. These were powered by D.H. engines of 80, 90 or 120 hp. Unfortunately , the Depression by then was getting into full swing. Even with its US backing, Curtiss-Reid did not make it and folded in 1933. Shown is Rambler CF-ABO in an evocative Cartierville scene. Built in 1928, “ABO” was short-lived, being wrecked in an accident on October 6, 1930. The Curtiss-Reid hangars beyond survived into modern times. I remember them from the 1960s, but am not sure when they finally went. No original Rambler exists, although the outstanding Montreal Aviation Museum has created an excellent replica that has a few original parts. Definitely tour the MAM website: https://www.mam.quebec › discover-our- museum-2
Our second vintage photo for this session is a rare aerial view of Vancouver Airport c.1930. I have no idea how this tiny, original print got into my collection eons ago, but it’s sure worth a look in 2022. Beyond the new terminal building is the Lower Fraser River and miles of farmland, which today make up the sprawling Vancouver suburb of Richmond, where a tiny patch of land sells these days for $1 million. The cornerstone for Vancouver’s modern terminal building was laid on September 13, 1930, then the airport opened the following July 22. For 1931 the original “YVR” welcomed 536 passengers on 309 flights. The basic source of all such history is Tom McGrath’s incomparable 1992 book, History of Canadian Airports. Do yourself a favour and find yourself a copy.

Old Hamilton Airport

If you scroll back you can find one of our more popular blog items, “Old Hamilton Airport”. Why this topic again? Mainly because a few fascinating archival photos have surfaced in one of my dusty old Fred Hotson files. For any fan of Canada’s early airports, you’ll enjoy today’s aerial view of this long ago redeveloped urban landscape (see Tom McGrath’s book for details). Dated June 30, 1937, this original 8×10 was taken by a long-forgotten Toronto company called “Airmaps Limited”. Great name, eh! This is one of those delightful old photos that interested folks love to sit and stare at. The longest runway seen here measured about 2800 feet. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a photo from the same vantage point as per 2022?
Here’s another photo at old Hamilton Airport, this one c.1940. This style of stacking planes allowed a lot more to be kept inside. Some of these planes? CF-AWF Taylor E-2 Cub probably when W. Nixon of Woodstock owned it; CF-BGE Taylor J-2 Cub owned by Fred Gillies of St. Catharines; RCAF Stinson 105 No.3486; and J-3 Cub CF-BOU. “BOU” ended badly, crashing vertically into a farm field near Campbellford, Ontario (east of Peterborough) on October 24, 1956. Owner George Stafford age 30 and Gary Stapley age 17 died. Young Gary recently had earned his wings and his father had just purchased him his own Cub. George had his own airstrip near Campbellford from where he did some flying instructing, and where several local people kept their planes. Formerly in the RCAF, George had flown during the war as an air gunner. No reason for the crash ever was found.
Here are two ancient gems from my ever-fascinating Fred Hotson files. First, a spectacular scene with G-CAOT, one of the few Loening 23 Air Yachts (three of about 15 manufactured served in Canada). Designed in the early 1920s by Grover Loening, the Model 23 used a 400-hp Liberty engine, similar to that in the OPAS’s HS-2L fleet. The design concept was unique: instead of being an integral flying boat, the Model 23 cabin, wings and engine were mated to a flying boat hull. G-CAOT was purchased from Loening in New York City in January 1926, but was wrecked one day following a hard landing on Ramsay Lake in July 1927. Then, probably the most modern airplane to visit Canada this year — the Cities Service Oil Company’s DC-2 NC1000 at the Toronto Flying Club’s North Toronto airstrip on October 19, 1934. NC1000 went to Pan American Airways in 1939 and later (1942) to South American owners. Eventually, it was seized for smuggling and went for scrap in 1951. But … in this scene it was a marvel of modern aeronautics to behold.

More Oldies — Wartime National Film Board Aviation Short

During WWII, Canada’s National Film Board’s primary job was turning out propaganda shorts. 75-80 years later these are a window on the day’s documentary standards from storyline to editing and presentation. By today’s standards, the acting seems almost ridiculous in how the NFB narrators (this one is the great Lorne Greene) put across their message in that panicky style of the times, but that was then and this is now. Here’s a good example of the NFB’s wartime effort. I’m sure you’ll be able to overlook the aggravating presentation to enjoy the fascinating film clips from Canadian aviation “way back in the day”. Google it at:

45594 1942 ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE DEVELOPMENT OF

More Martin Martin News: The mighty Mars miracle

Cargo Airlines Post-WWII

In Air Transport in Canada all of our post-WWII air carriers are covered in decent detail, for such a general book. You see all about the roots of such carriers as Maritime Central Airlines, Mont Laurier Aviation, Wheeler Airlines, Transair, Queen Charlotte Airlines, etc. for which air cargo was so important. “ATC” provides solid background for what was happening – the war was over, surplus airplanes were available, markets beckoned (or did they?), on and on. To the credit of the visionaries, many companies survived for decades, until gradually absorbed into larger ones. If this sort of business/aviation story interests you, there are good books to track down. Besides “ATC” for the Canadian story, two of my favourites are R.E.G. Davies Airlines of the United States since 1914 and Commuter Airlines of the United States, but so far I’ve yet to see a book about the US postwar cargo airlines. Is this one in the works? Here’s an excellent old movie covering Sante Fe Skyway, a short-lived 1940s carrier with DC-3s and DC-4s. It’s an excellent business case study and the ancient propliner footage is not to be missed. Sante Fe Skyway reminds me of such great Canadian companies as QCA and World Wide Airways. For an informative and enjoyable 18 minutes, google The Failure of Santa Fe Skyway – YouTube

More of Les Corness’ Unique Photography

Two ex-RCAF P-40 Kittyhawks that Les Corness spotted at Edmonton “Muni” on July 18, 1968, a time when such rusty old wrecks still went to the scrap yard. This was at the beginning of the serious warbirds movement in Canada, when pilots and mechanics showing an interest in such exotic planes were considered a bit eccentric. Now we realize what a debt we owe those pioneers. Where are these historic old Kittyhawks in 2022?

Any time I glance through a pile of old Les Corness transparencies from the 50s, I spot many that I’d like to share. Regardless of their sometimes rough condition with scratches and crud, or Les’ preference (when called for) to favour content over form, there’s always something inspirational about his photos. You’ll know what I mean if you have your copy of The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection (if you don’t, see the booklist for a great deal). Also, you can search for earlier blog items featuring Les, this item included: “Leslie Corness Propliner Review” which features lots more of his magnificent photos.

During his years toiling in the High Arctic, Les went through many rolls of Kodachrome. If a subject looked interesting, he got out his 35mm range-finder and shot off at least a frame, even if at too great a distance to make for a prize- winning photo. Case in point … this abandoned Avro York freighter at Hall Beach, NWT on June 15, 1957.
At Hall Beach the same day, Les grabbed this distant photo of one of the most legendary DEW Line freighters, DC-3 CF-JIZ “Arctic Rose” of Don McVicar’s Dorval-based World Wide Airways. Problem? Blurred DC-3, but any view of this famous plane is fascinating for the true fans. After all, this gives a good idea of the colours for the next modeller to built “JIZ”, or, the next artist to start a painting. A photo that’s a “dog” to some perfectionist can be the solution to someone else’s niggling question about paint details. Arctic pilot Tony Jarvis adds about this scene: “Hall Beach was the settlement and the Dew Line site there was Fox Main. Many years later I dug through the York site was and recovered the instrument panel, which you photographed in Yellowknife. CF-HFQ was the first Avro York brought into Canada for Arctic work.”
An everyday scene at Frobisher on July 25, 1957. One of Kenting’s Oshawa- based, aerial survey B-17s has dropped by, and a USAF Grumman Albatross is getting ready for a transit maybe up to Thule, or it could be on a search. A USAF C-54 is off on its next long leg north to Thule, east across the pond, or back south. This exact line of hills could be used today to frame a photo of something like a 737, ATR or Dash 8 taking off.
Les appreciated the close-up. This RCAF Neptune was in Frobisher Bay on a search on November 17, 1958, when Les got interested in its big engine heaters steaming away, so he snapped off a frame. Then his excellent detail shot out the window when he was a spotter in RCAF Lancaster FM122 on a search of November 4, 1958. What you see below is pure Baffinland. Having flown once each in the North Star and Lancaster, I still can here the roar of those Merlins!
Every airplane was a photo op for Les. He’d have been ecstatic this day (May 22, 1959) when nine ex-RCAF Expeditors passed through Frobisher with their C-47 mother ship on the way to France. (Canada recently had gifted a large number of “Exploders” to France, where they gave years of good service.) Even though the day was bleak for photography, Les didn’t let this historic moment pass.
Les’ postwar photo of Lancaster FM159 in Nanton, Alberta. This old relic subsequently was saved and meticulously restored by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton. Today all its engines are serviceable. For the detailed story of FM159, google Dave O’Malley’s superb history — LAST CALL FOR LANCASTERS – Vintage Wings of Canada
In September 1980 Les photographed this rare ex-RCAF CF-100 Mk.IVB at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Behind is Britain’s great technological wonder, the TSR-2, which was terminated at the height of the Cold War due to budget and technical issues. Writer David Nolan has commented about the TSR program: “Nearly 50 years later, TSR-2 cultists still talk of conspiracies, cover-ups, and sinister U.S. efforts to sabotage the project.” Sound familiar? Isn’t this exactly what we never stop hearing from Canada’s Arrowmaniacs – those “cultists” who’ve never done any actual research into the demise of the Arrow? Then, a lovely Wilf White photo of 18393 while in squadron service. Wilf spotted it one day c.1960 at Scottish Aviation Ltd. at Prestwick. It looks factory fresh, so could be on its delivery flight from Avro, or, maybe it’s right out of overhaul at SAL. Happily, it evaded the breaker’s torch.

RCAF Procurement

Northrop Delta NC13777, the Richfield Oil Company’s speedy executive plane c.1930. For high-class air travel, the “Richfield Eagle” would have had no rival for several years in speed, comfort and ability to “impress the Joneses”. You may see NC13777 today in the National Airline History Museum in Kansas City, MO. The civil Delta became the basis for one of the RCAF’s first modern airplanes 85+ years ago. (William J. Wheeler Col.)

Over the decades CAF/RCAF aircraft procurement has been a subject of discussion, analysis and befuddlement. Project timelines themselves have been mindboggling at times. How long, for example, long did it take to replace the Argus? It seems that since the late 1960s the Argus was going to be “replaced”. Finally, the Aurora arrived at Greenwood in 1980. So it went with the F-104/CF-5/CF-101 replacement, which culminated with the delivery in 1982 of Canada’s first CF-188 Hornets. Then there was the Sea King replacement, which finally has arrived in the form of the Cyclone, a much modified civilian Sikorsky. Most recently, the fantastic old Buffalo has been phased out after 50+ years of stellar service. Its replacement, the C-295 Kingfisher, has arrived, but with a list of either unacceptable features or yet-to-be sorted out mods (so it also went with the Cormorant). Somehow, each such fleet gradually has been sorted out. The main thing about DND procurement seems to be that Canada rarely acquires an airplane without massive gobs of time to contemplate and complicate everything, plus astounding (sometimes unjustified) over-spending.

When, lately, I spotted the wonderful old photo (above) of Richfield Oil’s NC13777, I was reminded of how the RCAF had acquired its first modern, all-metal airplane in 1936. Just then it needed a new type to replace its ancient Bellancas and Fairchilds of 1920s vintage. Somehow, RCAF engineering HQ learned of the Northrop, maybe simply by a salesman knocking at the door, or spotting a trade magazine advertisement or article. It looked like a good airplane, and (RCAF HQ soon learned) industrial and trade skills spinoffs were available. But the Delta was a civil design. The great Joseph P. Juptner describes it as “a highly advanced single-engined airliner, a speedy conveyance … for medium roads on the trunk airline routes”.

Unfortunately, TWA had cancelled its order for 15 Deltas when the US government ceased licencing single-engine airliners for night schedules. Northrop was left holding the bag, but the RCAF came to the rescue, buying three Deltas from Northrop’s surplus, then contracting with Canadian Vickers for licence production of 17 more. These served well into early WWII, then had extra duty into late the war as ground training aids. In the end, the RCAF saved Jack Northrop’s bacon by buying his orphan. In RCAF service, the Delta proved to be a solid, versatile plane. Meanwhile, it must be admitted that DND procurement can get things rolling in a hurry if necessary, not just with the Delta. Look how it acquired its fleets of C-17s and C-130Js – they seem to have come out of nowhere compared to the decades needed to replace the Sea King or Buffalo.

The first RCAF Delta at Canadian Vickers in Montreal before its delivery in September (CANAV Books Col.)
RCAF Delta 675 (left) at Vancouver, where No.1 Squadron recently had accepted 10 newly-arrived (by sea) Hurricanes. The Delta served here as a makeshift advanced trainer to give 1 Squadron’s pilots some time on a reasonably modern plane before trying out the Hurricane. The Delta had some similar features, but not a retractable undercarriage. This role illustrates how versatile the Delta could be. While acquired for aerial photography (at which it proved to be excellent), it also was a useful trainer, and flew many armed coastal patrols on the East Coast in the first year of WWII. It’s odd how the RCAF acquired this Northrop orphan and on the spur-of-the-moment. A plane was needed, RCAF engineering liked what it saw, some irresistible offer likely was made by Jack Northrop (“Have we got a deal for you.”) and the rest became history. Try pulling off something like that at DND procurement in 2022. This is thought to be a Gordon S. Williams photo.

Canada’s Hornets –Retrospective

CAF “Desert Cats” Hornets that I shot at Doha back in January 1991 during Gulf War I.

We fans started following the CF-18 Hornet back in 1982 and since then haven’t missed much about this exciting, ongoing episode in CAF/RCAF fighter history. My first chance to photograph Hornets was at Cold Lake in 1983. Since then I’ve chased them all over the place, and even had some backseat rides (starting at Baden-Soellingen in 1987). Other highlights were at Maple Flag at Cold Lake, various exciting events at Bagotville, fighter meets at Tyndall AFB, Langley AFB and Burlington, Vermont, a few days with 437 Sqn refuelling Canada’s last NATO Hornets between Lahr and Goose Bay via Keflavik, Doha for Gulf War I, and airshows from coast to coast. Another historic event occurred in 1993, while I was waiting at CFB Lahr to catch a Hercules back to Canada. There on the ramp sat a lone Hornet getting ready for departure. Here’s that story as it appeared in the November 1993 edition of “Wings” magazine.

Hornet 188761 has had a typically fascinating history. Having risen like a phoenix, it served on the line at Cold Lake and Bagotville, and from Bagotville was an airshow demo jet for three seasons. Here are three great Richard Girouard photos of ‘761 wearing its special airshow colours. This month ‘761 made the trip from 410 Squadron at Cold Lake to begin another tour at Bagotville. To date it has logged more than 4900 flying hours. As such it’s one of the RCAF’s “youngest” Hornets, certainly when compared to 787 at more than 8300. Theoretically, Canada’s Hornets are time-expired at about 10,000 hours. This is spectacular for any third or fourth generation Western fighter.
Canada’s Hornets continue to give solid service decades after the process started to find their replacement. So far our only “replacement” has been a batch of ancient RAAF Hornets, which the Aussies put out to pasture starting in 2018, when they started taking delivery of their 72 F-35s. One consolation for Canada? When it ordered the Hornet more than 40 years ago, DND made the best possible choice.

Harsh Realities in Space Flight

Terranauts … here’s an important Space Program retrospective. The topic is melancholic, but needs to be contemplated to have a realistic sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going tomorrow in space exploration. Chris and Helene Hadfield are the guests. Google this: We remember – A special episode of Terranauts with Helene …

Scrolling Back

You’ll never run out of solid history to read or photos to enjoy on our blog (which dates back to 2009). What are your interests? Here are some of the worthwhile topics you can find in a flash via the search box or by scrolling back through the years:

440 Squadron Gets Together in Ottawa
A History of Austin Airways
Aircraft of the USAF Museum
Antonov AN-124
Apollo 40 th Anniversary
Beech 18 Boeing 727 Turns 50
C-119 The Travels of Nick and Larry
Canada’s Enduring DC-3s
Canadian Fighter Pilots Association
Canadian Forces in Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda
Canso
CF-104 Warbird Emerges
Dash 8 No.1000 Is Delivered
Fox Moth Discoveries
From the Wilf White Collection
Homebuilding Roots in Canada
Last Lockheed Jetstar Retires
Light Planes
Lockheed Lodestar
More CF-TGE Nostalgia
Norseman
Northern Aviation in 1977
Old Canadair Originals
Postwar Adverts
Super Connie Field Trip
The Crash of CF-100 18417
The Great Bob Halford
The Great War Flying Museum
Toronto/Winnipeg Turn-Around
Winter Photography

Next Time on the CANAV Blog?

I’ll be rolling out some more of my prehistoric black-and-white shots of the great corporate planes of the 1950s. Emphasis on the amazing Douglas B-23 Dragon. Here’s a teaser – Dragon N34C.

Have a close look at our promo sheet for CANAV’s grand history of CAE Inc. of Montreal. If you pride yourself in having a serious Canadian aviation home library, The CAE Story belongs in it. There isn’t a more wide-ranging aerospace history book with this depth of coverage anywhere in the world, nor a more beautifully-produced book at such a bargain price.

TTC Winter Photography in Years Gone By

Since we’ve had a very snowy winter here in Toronto this year, I got thinking about winter photography in years gone by. I was further encouraged by Pierre Gillard’s recent winter aviation photography at St. Hubert — see http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html This is not to be missed!

First, here’s a January 1976 scene from the bad old days of the Queen St. East morning commute. Well do we remember packing ourselves onto such PCCs as 4690. Talk about the wretched lives of sardines, eh! Then, 4449 rounding the loop at Neville Park on January 15, 1968 ready to battle its way on another cross-town Queen Street grind. Finally for this trio … PPCs 4230 and 4309 stored at the Wychwood Barns as I spotted them on December 6, 1969.

Old Magazines Are Real Treasures

There is no more fun with the printed page than flipping through old magazines reading the articles and perusing the wonderful old advertisements. Lately, I spotted these two wonderful old “adverts” in “The Aeroplane” from 1955 — one featuring the Viscount for TCA, the other the Avro CF-100. The first one illustrates the heyday of the UK’s post-WWII aviation industry; the second — Canada’s at its peak, a time when such other types as the Beaver, Otter, Tracker and Argus all were coming off the lines. Canada was at the top of its aviation industry game. For more such delightful reading, see our earlier item “Postwar Adverts”.

Welcome to the CANAV Blog for December/January 2021/22 — Take It all In … Martin Mars for Sale $5m Here’s Your Chance + RCAF 100th Anniversary Project Update + Back in the (Same Old) USSR? + Best Book Deals + F-102 + Early Jetliners in Canada + C. Don Long Photo Collection including Don’s Coverage of “Cambria” in Toronto 1937 + Tugboat Rouille + Plane Spotting Rules + Central Airways and the Resurrection of Apache CF-KFX+ Alaska Crash Landing + Grumman Albatross Revival? + Pierre Gillard Blog

Martin Mars … Many older fans have been watching the great Martin Mars story since several Mars came to Canada in the late 1950s. Lots of us eventually made the pilgrimage to Port Alberni, BC to photograph these giant beauties. Today, two Mars remain at their Port Alberni base, but they’ve been dormant for years, bypassed by newer technology. Now, the last airworthy Mars is for sale. Here are all the details and much more about the classic Mars: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/martin-mars-for-sale-1.6317194

Today’s lead-in photos feature RCAF T-33 21500 and ex-Canadian Army Auster AOP Mk.VI CF-LPA. As young fellows chasing airplanes, we never passed on a chance to photograph a T-bird, but 21500 was especially enticing in its glorious Golden Hawks colours. We caught it “in glorious black-and-white” on the ramp at Trenton for Air Force Day June 1, 1963. Most recently 21500 was C-FUPO based in London, Ontario with the Jet Aircraft Museum. There’s a beautiful model of 21500 available — see aviationmegastore.com
From 1948 air observation post (AOP) Auster CF-LPA served the Canadian Army as 16675 at such bases as Rivers, Manitoba, and Camp Borden and Camp Petawawa in Ontario. When the Army began re-equipping with the Cessna L-19, the Auster fleet was sold by Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. Stored at the RCAF base at Mountain View (near Trenton) 16675 was sold in 1959 to the Brampton Flying Club for $200 less its Gipsy Major VII engine. The DOT opened its file for CF-LPA on April 22, 1959. All such ex-Army Austers then had long careers in civil aviation as club or private planes, and glider tow planes. In 1960 “LPA” was sold to gliding kingpin, Walter Chmela of Toronto, after which it towed for the Aero Club Harmony, a society of German-Canadian flying fanatics. In 1966 Walter (who now is a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) sold “LPA” to the Quebec Soaring Club. A list of owners ensued and accidents (naturally) followed “LPA”. But it always was thought to be well worth the effort to repair. In one prang, on May 28, 1990 “LPA” was cruising on floats around Mascouche, Quebec, when the prop flew off. Pilot Renald Gendron survived after force-landing on dry land — “LPA” ended on its back, but once again was repaired. Finally, in December 1998 this vintage Canadian Auster was sold to Stuart Bain in New York state. Its Transport Canada file finally was closed on January 6, 1999. By now a few Austers have popped up in Canadian museums. Here’s a typical ace of an Al Martin shot of “LPA” taken June 15, 1963 at the Oshawa Flying Club breakfast fly-in. This is from a big 3½ x 2½ Ektachrome, probably shot on Al’s 616 camera. If you search here for “Al Martin”, you’ll find many of his other wonderful photos from this era. Also see the special Al Martin section in Air Transport in Canada. The b/w view of LPA is my own shot taken the same day as Al’s with my trusty “120” Minolta Autocord.

A Bit of News – CANAV’s RCAF 1924-2024 Project

Hello to all our great fans keeping up with the CANAV blog. Nothing much huge to report this time, other than about how we are making solid progress with our 2024 book to cover the history of the RCAF in its 100th year. This will be the ultimate among all general RCAF books over the decades. If you have our 1984 60th Anniversary book Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 or any such other CANAV book (Canada’s Air Force Today, etc.) you’ll know what to expect. Our “2024” book will have no equals. So far we’ve laid the groundwork and roughed out our coverage of lead-in and interwar years chapters, and now are starting to put together the many chapters covering 1939-1945 on the homefront and overseas. In case you have anything that’s unique re. hardcore history (log books, other original documents) that you think might fit in, let me know larry@canavbooks.com

Back in the (Same Old) USSR?

Mr. Putin seems to be an old time Stalinist, so things could go hard on Ukraine, etc:
https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-memorial-putin-totalitarian-transition-rights/31631864.html
https://www.google.es/amp/s/www.rferl.org/amp/russia-memorial-putin-totalitarian-transition-rights/31631864.html

“The” Canadian Aviation Book Deals of 2021-22

Speaking of books (which is what we do, right) … we still have a few sets of our glorious large-format, hardcover Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace Vols.1, 2 & 3 (1072 pages) at the final give-away, all-in price per set of (always in Canadian $): Canada $75, USA $90.00, Int’l $180. Also, we’re down to the final part-pallet of Air Transport in Canada (2 volumes 1030 pages) now at the all-in price for Canada $65, USA $80, Int’l $160. Jump in for these world-class titles. Talk about ultimate VIP aviation gifts for this time of year! Order your books by PayPal or Interac paying straight to larry@canavbooks.com Questions to the same address.

Fighters of the Fifties

Nothing suited we airplane chasers from the 1950s-60s more than a chance to shoot some sleek jet fighter, and nothing was sleeker than Convair’s F-102 and F-106. On our airshow trip to Niagara Falls, NY on May 16, 1959, Mo Reddy and I couldn’t have been happier when we spotted a line of One-0-Twos appearing to be straight from the factory – shiny as could be and with no unit markings. Here sits 55-3418 as we shot it. It’s thought to have been with the 323rd FIS from Truax AFB, Wisconsin. ‘3418 enjoyed a long and interesting career, staying on the line into 1970, when it finally went for scrap. I note that on flicker there’s a photo of ‘3418 flying over Mount Fuji in Japan.

The First Generation Jetliners

In the early 1960s we still were shooting North Stars, Super Connies, Viscounts and all such propliners out at Malton airport (today’s YYZ). Suddenly, things started to perk up when BOAC started showing up with the Comet 4. Service was infrequent. Several times I hitchhiked out to Malton after school on Fridays to try to catch the Comet on its weekly run, but always missed it. It wasn’t ‘til a trip to Dorval on July 26, 1959 that I finally got to shoot Comet G-APDB. ‘DB was the first Comet that I got close enough to at Malton to catch the registration, that being on April 29 the following year. Then, on May 6, I spotted G-APDD. Still, I came away with no photos.

Finally, the first 707s and DC-8s started to appear at Malton, making for really exciting times. Now we were turning up our noses (like little idiots) at the propliners. The big jets had us mesmerized for a while. Here are a few of my early photos from this period.

The first big jet that I shot at Malton was BOAC 707 G-APFB with Rolls-Royce Conway engines. Here it is on arrival on Saturday afternoon May 22, 1960. BOAC’s first 707, it had been delivered a bit earlier on the 9th. This likely was BOAC’s first 707 service to YYZ. I saw it again here on July 2. ‘FB served BOAC into 1974, then flew in various other colours until going for scrap at Kingman, Arizona in 1979.
In September 1960 American Airlines took delivery of Boeing 720 N7520A “Flagship Alabama”. I caught it that winter on a sparkling day landing on Malton’s R28. My first AA Boeing jetliner photo. These still were the days when the common AA types here were the DC-6, DC-7 and the still new L.188 Electra. N7530A served into mid-1971, then was sold to the Dubai government. In 1985 Boeing bought it back to cannibalize for the USAF KC-135 program. It’s bones went for scrap in 1991. On this day, however, there couldn’t have been a more glorious sight at Malton for any airplane photographer. The horizon here looks towards narrow little old Airport Road — not a car in sight. In the distance you can see the newly- built Woodbine racetrack stands. Today? Airport Road is a 6-lane raceway. If you could match this scene today, you’d see a wall of industrial/commercial development, no horizon visible, mainly shoulder-to-shoulder high rise hotels and office buildings. A lot has happened at YYZ over 60+ years since N7520A came whistling in to land as a couple of keen young spotters lined up their shots on their twin-lens camera ground glass viewfinders.
On June 4, 1960 I caught a glimpse of my first TCA DC-8 CF- TJD, but couldn’t photograph it for some reason. Then, on Tuesday, August 16 I was back at Malton and there was “TJD” doing circuits and bumps on Runway 32. Wasting no time, I hustled out behind the old WWII hangar line and set myself up close to the runway. We had found a good spot there where we couldn’t be seen from the tower due to a hump in the runway. The WWII hangars also helped covered us. Of course, none of us had telephoto lenses back then, so we had to get fairly close to the runway. We always got away with this little skit out by R32, never were rousted. I sat on my spot watching ‘TJD make several touch-and-goes. All my shots turned out – they were real set-ups, as you can see by this one. Notice how there still were active farms right on the edge of the airport, no fences in view. ‘TJD had been delivered a few months earlier on February 7. Such training flights were essential, since there still were no DC-8 flight simulators in Canada (CAE at Montreal soon would fill that shortage). In 1977 “TJD” moved on the Air Ceylon and 2 or 3 other outfits. It went for pots ‘n pans in 1979. Aeroclassics has a 1:400 scale diecast model of “TJD” in these very colours.
On May 22-24, 1961 I was on a solo hitchhiking expedition from Toronto to Dorval. This trip paid off with a long list of great types to shoot from the Avenger to the C-46, Canso, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, North Star, Britannia, L.49, CL-44, Argus and F.27. In those days we never had trouble getting on the ramp at Dorval. Staff would notice us and if they came by it would not be to roust us, but to chat and even answer our questions or give us leads. Jetliners spotted on this trip included the 707 (BOAC and Air France), Convair 880 (EAL) and DC-8 (EAL). Here’s EAL’s “Golden Falcon” N8604 taxiing away from Dorval’s main terminal. N8604 had been delivered to Eastern in February 1960, stayed to September 1973, then flew for several other outfits until going for scrap at Smyrna, Tennessee in 1978.
CPA’s glorious new DC-8 CF-CPH “Empress of Winnipeg” at Malton on October 6, 1961. We soon realized that this slightly rear angle on a taxiing 707, DC-8 or Convair jetliner was quite nice, although the wing could obscure the markings, as in this case. However, this angle always showed us the registration and fleet number. “CPH” served CPA into 1980, when it was sold to a parts and scrap dealer, and cut up in Opa Locka, Florida in 1983.

C. Don Long — Aeronautical Engineer, CAHS No.104

One of the great early members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (Member No.104) was C. Don Long. From the first days of the CAHS Journal, Don contributed many authoritative articles, often covering the history of De Havilland of Canada, but also such special topics as the Toronto-Buffalo air service using Sikorsky amphibians c.1930.

Born in Toronto in 1911, Don was smitten by aviation as a boy. Cycling to old Leaside aerodrome, he got to know and photograph dozens of local and transient planes. Leaside, of course, had trained WWI pilots in 1917-18, then was home to the Toronto Flying Club from 1928, before being ploughed under for industrial use. Graduating in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1933, Don was hired by De Havilland of Canada. Soon he was known as the go-to man whenever any UK DH type needed Canadian “mods” – winterized cowlings, skis, etc. Just before WWII, Don created the mods for the Canadianized D.H.82C Tiger Moth – its sliding canopy, brakes, tail wheel and skis. Next, he became chief inspector of Mosquito production.

Postwar, Don had positions with such other organizations as AVRO Canada, DH in the UK, Canadair, Spartan and the National Research Council. He returned to DHC in 1959, then joined the staff of McMaster University in 1970. Other organizations to which he contributed included the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and the Society of Automotive Engineers. Don died fairly young on May 18, 1972. Here are some of his wonderful pre-WWII photos. I don’t have many details about these, but here’s a chance simply to enjoy some historic photos taken around Toronto by a keen young spotter (probably before the term was in use). Most of these would have been taken at Leaside and the airports around what today is Downsview. One of these strips was the second home of the TFC, another belonged to International Airways. These all had disappeared by the time DHC had developed Downsview into a modern airport just before WWII. Sometimes Don could get his subject “in the clear”, but even if there was a mob scene he was keen to shoot off a frame. Thank goodness that he did.

A diligent spotter could catch the most exotic planes around Toronto 90 years ago. Don Long would have been excited about these two: Western Canada Airways’ Fokker F.VIIb triplane G-CASC and Ford Trimotor NC1076. Acquired by James Richardson’s WCA in December 1928, ‘ASC normally was in Winnipeg. It was lost there in a hangar fire on March 4, 1931. Don may have caught ‘ASC, when it was passing through Toronto on delivery to Winnipeg from the Fokker factory at Teterboro, New Jersey. NC1076 likely is seen at Leaside, where various Trimotors visited from the USA during Toronto Flying Club summer events, and during the 1929 Ford Air Tour. NC1076 came to an early end. Soon after taking off from Toledo, Ohio on an airmail run to Detroit on January 16, 1929, there was a fire, followed by a crash landing. The lone occupant, pilot J.L. Brandon, was injured and NC1076 was destroyed.
Another big modern airliner to visit Leaside was Curtiss Condor NC984H captained by Curtiss test pilot William J. Crosswell. The occasion was the 1929 Ford Air Tour. The tour’s 29 airplanes refuelled at Leaside on October 6 on their way to Ottawa. Thousands of visitors flocked to Leaside to watch all the action.
Famous Canadian Fairchilds shot by Don c.1930. G-CART was an FC-2W2 of the Canadian Transcontinental Airways fleet. It was delivered in July 1928, sold to Canadian Airways of Montreal in January 1932, then scrapped in 1933. Its wings were used in building Fairchild 71 CF-AUA in 1933. Then G-CATR of International Airways, a Toronto company carrying airmail, passengers and freight between Windsor and Montreal with intermediate stops. ‘ATR served International from August 1928 to November 1930, when it went to Canadian Airways. It was wrecked in a storm in Charlottetown, PEI on February 9, 1933. Finally, Canadian Transcontinental’s Fairchild 71 CF-AAT at Leaside. It was sold in 1932 to Canadian Airways in Montreal. On March 12, 1936 it was flying from Sioux Lookout to Red Lake (about an hour’s flight) when the engine quite and ‘AAT ended wrecked in the bush.

Short Flying Boats in Canada

In 1937 Britain’s Imperial Airways and America’s Pan American Airways began experimenting with flying boats on the North Atlantic. The dream for Britain was to add to its growing system of routes that eventually would encircle the world, bringing the old “Empire” closer together. Pan Am had its own global dreams. This challenging effort commenced on July 5/6, when 4-engine flying boats took off from opposite sides of the Atlantic — the Imperial Airways Short “C” Class “Caledonia” flying from Foynes, Ireland to Botwood, Gander Lake, Newfoundland; and the Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42 going from Shediac, New Brunswick to Foynes. Canada was involved, having helped to finance facilities at both western termini. This was just as Ottawa, under the determined drive of J.A. Wilson (Controller of Civil Aviation) was on the brink of launching Canada’s national airline.

Establishing a North Atlantic air service was vital for Great Britain, which already had flying boat links as far as distant Australia. Now, Ottawa envisioned Canada being part of Great Britain’s globe-encircling plans. Meanwhile, France and Germany already were well-entrenched on the Atlantic, operating flying boats and Zeppelins. Imperial Airways, unfortunately, was at a disadvantage, since its Short “C” Class boats lacked range, so could not carry loads on the Atlantic. For its flights “Caledonia” had all excess weight stripped out and long range fuel tanks added, then it barely could make it across to Botwood. America’s Boeing, Martin and Sikorsky flying boats, on the other hand, were built from the outset for range and payload. Imperial Airways’ Short “G” Class flying boat, which would match the American designs, still was on the drawing boards.

After landing at Botwood, “Caledonia” pushed on to Montreal, where its arrival was a huge media event. Its sister ship, “Cambria”, already having made proving flights to the Mediterranean and Azores, also was involved, but its first crossing to Botwood was a near-disaster, when navigation and radio equipment broke down. Temporarily lost, “Cambria” finally reached Botwood. Next, it continued on a public relations trip to Montreal, then Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor and Hamilton. Cambria’s arrival in Toronto Bay was heralded by the local press: “The Cambria’s landing will be marked by a shrieking outburst from factory and locomotive whistles.”

Instead of boisterous headlines the next day, the front page of the “Toronto Daily Star” reported grim news. Front and centre was a large photo of “Cambria” floating cockeyed on Toronto Bay with the caption, “Flying Boat Soars above City, Breaks Pontoon in Landing”. On touching down on Lake Ontario in front of the Canadian National Exhibition, Captain Griffin J. “Taffy” Powell seems to have miscalculated, perhaps fooled by a crosswind. His port wing dug in, the huge sponson near its tip tore off, and the mighty flying boat slewed dramatically to a stop.

Once the situation was under control, “Cambria” was towed into Toronto Bay. A repair crew from De Havilland of Canada (including Don Long) was organized and eventually completed repairs (needed parts were shipped from Belfast aboard the Queen Mary and on by surface express to Toronto). On September 23 Captain Powell test flew “Cambria”. Next day he flew to Hamilton for a civic event, then left for the long flight home. “Cambria” landed in Foynes on September 28 after a record-setting 10:35 hours for the eastbound leg.

These C. Don Long photos of “Cambria” rarely have been seen. They show Don’s great facility with a camera, getting wide, medium and close-up views, taking it all in, as we used to say. I’m sure that somewhere there are other photos from this series, but these are impressive enough.

n.b. For the in-depth story of the “Cambria” in Toronto see Patrick Fitz Gerald’s 2005 history “The Cambria Incident: A Very Public Mishap” in the Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal Vol.43 No.4. Also see Ray Crone’s 1998 summary “Canada and the Short Empire Boats” in CAHS Journal Vol.36 No.4. For membership in the CAHS please go to www.cahs.com If you are not a member yet, you will thank yourself for joining.

This series of Don Long photographs shows “Cambria” moored in Toronto Bay. There were no telephoto lenses in everyday use in 1937, so this is enlarged from a small part of Don’s negative. Then, a series of photos of “Cambria” in the Toronto Islands lagoon near the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, where repair work was done. Any true aviation history fan will revel in these scenes. The cockpit photo will really get the flying boat aficionados going. I haven’t seen such a nice one.

In 2013 I was honoured by the CAHS with its prestigious “C. Don Long” award.

Toronto Bay History Treasure

Also among my small collection of C. Don Long negatives is this one of the Toronto Harbour Commission’s 214-ton tugboat Rouille. I’m guessing that it was named for Fort Rouille, the original European settlement here. Fort Rouille was a small French trading post somewhere on the Lake Ontario shore where York later was founded in 1793 by Governor Simcoe (York became Toronto in 1834).

Tugboat Rouille was built by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. in During WWII it was impressed by the RCN. Postwar, it worked for J.P. Porter and Sons of Toronto, but ended badly. On December 3, 1954 it was sailing from Sydney, Cape Breton Island to Rimouski on the lower St. Lawrence River, when it got into stormy waters. Just off Cape Smokey, about 60 miles north of Sydney, it sank, taking its five crew to their deaths.

Here, Rouille is tied up in the Keating Channel near the mouth of the Don River. To this day, the scene is not hugely different, although the Keating Channel is destined for a major facelift as the Lower Don is redeveloped. This photo exemplifies the stalwart photographer. Airplanes are of great interest, of course, but a fellow like Don Long always had his eyes open, looking for other fascinating subject matter. What great work such hobbyists do in preserving ordinary Canadian history.

Plane Spotting

Lately, the fabulous AeroTime News website has featured some items about the plane spotting hobby. Here’s the introductory part of it. What an excellent summary, but has the hobby ever changed since we old timers got interested. Who would have thought that a hobbyist could end in jail over his simple interest in photographing airplanes? Well, it’s happened, mainly because there actually are rules … and always have been. One day at Malton, for example, I had cycled up to the Avro end to see what there was to see. Spotting some CF-100s about a half mile away, I decided to have a go at them by trudging through some fields of thick grass and weeds along the Avro fenceline. We always had known about this spot, but had been warned by pals that Avro sometimes patrolled the fence. Finally I reached the CF-100s, which were parked on a run-up pad. Nobody was around, so I took a few snaps through the Frost fence. All of a sudden I heard yelling, turned and spotted a couple of uniformed Avro security cops huffing and puffing through the field heading my way. Soon they had me cornered and were giving me the gears. Who did I think I was, etc., etc. After confiscating my roll of 120 and jotting down my particulars, we parted on good enough terms. A couple of weeks later my negatives came in the mail, all of them, so Avro security had a heart after all. However, it had been a good lesson for a kid. After that I was a bit more cautious about when and where to push my luck at the airport. We had other even more exciting run-ins with airport security, about which I’ll write in a future book.

Planespotting … The Dos and Dont’s

Famous Central Airways Piper Apache Restored

About two years ago Don McVicar of Hamilton put a team together to restore Canada’s first Piper PA-23 Apache – Central Airways’ CF- KFX. “KFX” was brought into Canada by Central’s always forward-thinking owners, Bobby and Tommy Wong. This is really a newsworthy story that any fan will enjoy. It’s all about how CF-KFX recently has risen from the boneyard. There are many interesting threads and the project has spun off some worthwhile activity. In one case, it’s brought some old time Central Airways (Toronto Island Airport) staff and former students back in touch with each other. Here’s your link to this nifty story:

C-117 Loses and Engine at Anchorage

Click on this link to see the stills and action-packed videos showing the crash landing on December 9 at Anchorage airport. In spite of it all, this C-117 “Super DC-3” should be flying again before long:

https://www.alaskasnewssource.com/2021/12/08/transnorthern-plane-makes-emergency-landing-merrill-field-no-injuries-reported/

Grumman Albatross Revival

In the late 1950s the RCAF ordered a small fleet (10) of Grumman G-111 Albatross amphibians for its search-and-rescue units. These replaced Canada’s long-serving Cansos and complemented the RCAF’s Otters, Dakotas, etc. doing SAR work. Retired in 1971, our Albatrosses returned to Grumman, then were re-sold, some to the Mexican military.

In 2022 the Albatross is having a revival. Many of the 466 built survive, and there is a plan to refurbish some, and maybe build new examples in Australia powered by Canada’s famous PT6 turbine engine. Will this actually happen? We shall see, as usual. Pratt & Whitney Canada’s recent press release explains (the PT6 stats are amazing):

The G-111T is the only large transport category amphibious aircraft for passenger, cargo and utility in the marketplace,” said Chairman of Amphibian Aerospace Industries, Khoa Hoang. “Because of its ability to land and take-off from both land and water, the G-111T is ideal for use in inland rivers, ocean rescue, mountainous terrain and tropic river basins.”

Pilots and operators fly the PT6A engine with confidence, even in the most challenging of conditions. The engine builds on the experience gained from more than 900 million hours of operation expertise across our portfolio and reliability of the PT6 family. With more than 50 years of experience in general aviation, the PT6A engine further benefits from 425 million flying hours – more flying hours than any other engine on the market – the PT6A is a proven engine and the most prolific in the segment.

PT6A-67F engines have been identified as the engine of choice from within the PT6A family for the G-111T aircraft application,’ said Anthony Rossi, vice president, Business Development, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “We have been working with Amphibian Aerospace for the past five years on this program and have developed an effective and productive relationship that bodes extremely well for the success of the program.

Pierre Gillard Blog

If you are not familiar with the superb aviation blog by Pierre Gillard, please take a look. This week, Pierre features a wonderful gallery of Nordair 737 photos:

http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

*If you’re not exhausted by now, start scrolling back. You’ll find an encyclopedic amount of Canadian aviation history that you’re bound to enjoy.

Here’s the CANAV Books Blog for September 2021: Some Exotic Flying Test Beds; Canada’s 414 Sqn & the Vermont ANG in Electronic Warfare + Vermont’s Scorpions; 49th FIS F-106 Air-to-Air; and Not To Be Missed — 3 Books for the Avid Aviation Reader. Enjoy!

One of the best sources for news and developments for Canadian aviation fans is Paul Squires’ monthly “News Round Up” blog-0-paul-squires. You can get on Paul’s list by checking in with him at paul.capa@aol.com or paul.squires.capa@mattamatic

Save DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon

Check in here to see the latest progress on Red Lake Norseman CF-DRD. See photos of the wings and fuselage recently coming together again. Here’s your chance to send your gofundme bit along to help with this very important (and expensive) Canadian aviation heritage project.

Some Exotic Flying Test Beds of the Fifties

When it comes to old airplane photos, treasures keep popping up in dusty files, boxes and forgotten albums. Recently, in sorting some things, I found this exotic black-and-white by aviation photographer, Ira Ward, of Needham Heights, Massachusetts. In 1964 Ira had mailed this one to his pal in Toronto, the great M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, an early member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Subject matter? The one-off Curtiss Wright B-17 engine test bed N6694C, which Ira had shot at Woodbridge, Connecticut. Built as a B- 17G by Lockheed-Vega in Burbank in May 1945, it originally rolled out as USAAF 44-85813, but would not see military service. Instead, it went straight to Curtiss Wright that October for engine testing as a civil B-17. The major mods were done at Wichita by Boeing. N6694C’s initial “5 th ” engine was the 5500-shp Wright XT35 Typhoon turbine. First flight was in September 1947, but the T65 proved to be a dud. Not everything has been published about N6694C’s career, but its second big assignment seems to have been testing Curtiss Wright’s licence-built version of the UK’s Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet. In the US, this became the J65, widely used in such fighters as the FJ-4 Fury and Grumman Tiger.

In 1966 Curtiss Wright sold its exotic test bed to Ewing Aviation. It then was ferried to South Dakota for conversion back to a more usual B-17 for fire bombing. On April 16, 1980 it crashed while working a fire at Bear Pen, North Carolina. For further details see Scott A. Thompson’s essential book, Final Cut — The Post-War Flying Fortresses: The Survivors. Having a chance to catch such a nice set-up of N6694C would certainly have made Ira Ward’s day. Mac, of course, would have delighted in getting Ira’s print in the mail – those were the days when most of us swapped airplane photos using the always-efficient postal services of the day. We never followed the Curtiss Wright B-17, but as kids used to delight in seeing any B-17. In the late 50s we often saw Kenting’s aero survey “Forts”, CF-HBP and CF-ICB at their base in Oshawa, then at Malton, starting around 1960, once Field Aviation had built its new hangar at the north end of the airport. The Kenting fleet then started using Field for mods and servicing.

Local Flying Test Beds

This is mostly forgotten history, but Toronto had some flying test beds of its own. In the early 1950s Avro Canada was using a Lancaster to test the jet engines being developed by its Malton subsidiary, Orenda Engines. These were produced initially for the CF- 100, but they later powered hundreds of Canadair-built F-86s. I never saw this “Lanc”, since it was destroyed when Avro’s flight test hangar burned on July 24, 1956 – a bit before my time at Malton.

Avro Canada’s Lancaster FM209 was on loan from the RCAF. It first flew as a test bed for the early Orenda jet engine in July 1949, then served usefully until the fire. Also seen here is the USAF F-86A on loan to Avro for testing early Orendas. USAF tail number 47-616, this Saber was the first airplane to fly solely under Orenda power.

In 1956, when Orenda was developing the Iroquois engine for the Avro CF-105 Arrow, USAF B-47 51-2059 was borrowed from the USAF to use as a test bed. For this program the B-47 was taken on RCAF strength as X059. Its first destination in Canada was Canadair at Cartierville, near Montreal, where the mods were installed to accommodate the 30-foot-long Orenda engine. This made X059 one of the rare 7-engine B-47s (a second was used to test fly the GE TF34). For Canadair purposes, the B-47 was designated the CL-52.

Here’s an excerpt from our book, Canadair: The First 50 Years, that explains a bit about the B-47 Orenda Iroquois test bed. The Iroquois eventually flew 31 running hours in flight on X059.
X059 flying gear down near Malton during the Iroquois program. Test pilots Mike Cooper-Slipper of Avro Canada and Len Hobbs from the UK, and Avro flight test engineer, Johnny McLaughlin, spent 10 weeks training on the B-47 with the USAF in Wichita. This made the trio very exclusive airmen, since the B-47 was ultra-secret. It almost was anathema for the Americans to allow such “foreign aliens” to get so close to the B-47. However, it was in their interest, since the Iroquois was destined for the Arrow, which was to be a key NORAD fighter. Besides, along the way the Americans certainly would have gleaned some worthwhile technical “intel” about the Iroquois. There might even have been an information sharing agreement. Long ago Mike Cooper-Slipper told me about what a dicey plane this exotic test bed was to fly. It was a slide rule operation all the way. Landings were especially tricky, since the huge engine pod at the tail created its own ground effect just as the pilot flared to touch down. At the end of the test program (February 20, 1959, when the Arrow suddenly was cancelled) the B-47 was re-converted to standard configuration, then the Avro crew ferried the plane to Davis Monthan Air Force Base near Tuscon. “DM” was the USAF’s main storage and scrapping facility. There, X059 soon was unceremoniously chopped to pieces and melted down. History bites, right!
The P&WC Beech Expeditor flying test bed. Then, the fine crew of Fowler and MacNeil who first flew HB109 from Downsview in 1961. When the Arrow and Iroquois were cancelled, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth throughout the land. How could there not be, since something like 15,000 people instantly were out of work on that February 20 – “Black Friday”. This soon worked itself out, however, since pretty well anyone of the 15,000 who wanted a job soon had one somewhere in Canadian industry. A few even moved south, finding jobs in the US aircraft industry and NASA. In this bubbling atmosphere, a number of Orenda engineers got wind that Pratt & Whitney Canada at Longueuil, near Montreal, was looking for engineers. These fellows packed their bags and, as they used to say, “went downstream” to join “Pratt”. There, they eagerly started work on an exciting new project to develop a revolutionary small gas turbine engine that became the PT6. Soon the PT6 needed a flying test bed. The RCAF obliged, lending Pratt its Beech C-45 Expeditor HB109 for the duration. The contract to modify HB109 to 3-engine configuration went to De Havilland of Canada at Downsview. On May 30, 1961 DHC test pilot, R.H. “Bob” Fowler, and P&WC ‘s John MacNeil flew HB109 initially with the PT6. Soon the program was under way. Although it was a long learning curve, MacNeil eventually was satisfied, commenting in a report of September 7, 1961: “I am very pleased with our engine operation to date. It starts quickly both in the air and on the ground, and makes its thrust very obvious from the surface to 25,000 feet. The engineers and technicians who have made this possible have my humble respect and heartiest congratulations.” As we all know, the PT6 has become a world class engine. More than 41,000 have been delivered. The wee engine that started its flying days on the nose of an Expeditor by today has logged an astonishing 335 million flying hours in a host of versions on thousands airplanes. After more than 60 years the PT6 remains in development and production. As to Pratt’s faithful test bed, it’s been saved for museum purposed by L’École nationale d’aérotechnique St. Hubert airport, Longueuil. For more info about this P&WC Expeditor (also about Pratt’s 3-engine CF-100) see   https://www.pierregillard.com/blog/page65.html#20211555
HB109 in a classic in-flight portrait. See more about Canada’s flying test beds in such books as Canadair: The First 50 Years, De Havilland in Canada and Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story. This is a fascinating and important bit of our aviation heritage. I wonder if there’s “someone” out there willing to research this important subject in proper detail? The story is certainly worthy of a book.

NORAD ECM/EW – The Story of 414 Squadron and the 134th DSES of the Vermont ANG

Beginning in the 1950s, the RCAF began experimenting with a new concept – electronic counter measures (ECM). This eventually became known more commonly as electronic warfare (EW). The first I wrote about this was a 1980 feature item in Carl Vincent’s superb journal, “High Flight”. The topic was enticing, especially since NORAD was using some interesting airplane types.

In Canada, the first RCAF EW unit was 104KU (Composite Unit) at St. Hubert. Using Dakotas and C-119s, “104” trained ground radar stations to deal with airborne radar jamming using electronic means and chaffe dispersal. In 1956, 104 added its first CF-100 equipped for the same tasks. Communications jamming soon was added. In April 1959 the RCAF stood up its Electronic Warfare Unit at St. Hubert with C-119s and CF-100s. The CF-100 pilots came from existing NORAD squadrons, while their “back seaters” – the electronic warfare officers (EWOs) — usually had been CF-100 navigators, trained later in EW by the USAF. The EWU came to be a busy operation, always in demand to fly ECM exercises across North America. In September 1967 the EWU became 414 (EW) Squadron. For all the details of the famous RCAF EW unit see the detailed history in my 1980 book The Avro CF- 100.

While the RCAF was perfecting its EW capabilities, the USAF had a similar but much grander operation, comprising several squadrons flying the EB-57 Canberra. In the early 1980s I was getting deeper into this special NORAD topic. Having covered the EWU/414 closely and flown with 414 in 1980 (by then at North Bay), I needed to learn about the USAF operation. This led me to spend a few days in Burlington, Vermont with the 134 th Defense Systems Evaluation Group of the Vermont Air National Guard (part of the 158 th Defense Systems Evaluation Group). This really solid field trip (the 134 th was all in with me for this project) culminated on March 17, 1980 with a 2-hour flight in a B-57. To my delight this included shooting air- to-air Kodachromes of EB-57s. Under the heading “The Black Knights and the Green Mountain Boys: Electronic Warfare in NORAD”, my story appeared in October 1980 in the lead UK aviation journal, “Air International”. Here it is for your enjoyment.

By 2021 NORAD’s EW training role is very different from CF-100 and EB-57 days. To a large degree, such training is done by commercial contractors flying civil-registered types including the Lear Jet, Alpha Jet and MU-2. Much training also is done using simulators. Such types as the USN EA-6B and EA-18G are important EW operational assets. Electronic warfare has become a huge specialty by comparison to 1980.

134th Scorpion Nostalgia

My first meeting with the 134th was one of the most exciting that a 16-year-old aviation fan could have. The date was May 16 1959 and my sidekick Merlin “Mo” Reddy and I were visiting the USAF base at Niagara Falls, NY. It was “Air Force Day” and turned out to be one of the highlights of our airplane spotting hobby. We drove down from Toronto early to make sure we got as many photos before the place got too crowded. Naturally, the sight as we arrived of such aircraft as the B-47, KC-97 and H-21 got us fired up.

Then various visitors started arriving, the highlight for me being a flight of five gorgeous F-89D Scorpions of the Vermont ANG. This was really something and there we were wandering around the ramp with our cameras. Can you imagine? An F-89 taxiing in but no one yelling at you to clear off. Talk about the good ol’ days, right! As you can see, Scorpion 54-0193 was magnificent as I photographed it. Doesn’t it look 100% operational with its wingtip rocket pods, long- range fuel tanks and VTANG markings. (Aircraft of the 134th VTANG: P-47D 1947-51, P-51D 1951-54, F-94A/B 1954-58, F-89D 1958-65, F-102A/B 1965-74, EB-57 1974-81, F-4 1981-86, F-16 1986-2019, F- 35 2019-XX. For an excellent history of the 134 th … google “Vermont Air National Guard” to get on the unit’s excellent website.)

“The Six”

In our last blog session, I wrote a bit about the Convair F-106, one of NORAD’s greatest interceptors. Here’s one of the Kodachromes that I shot off on January 6, 1985, when the 49 th FIS took me up in a 2-seater “Six” from Griffis AFB, New York. Talk about a golden opportunity for any aviation writer/historian, but these did arise back in the day, if a fellow was giving something worthwhile back to the airforce, navy, etc. I remember, for example, when my (late) UK pal, Roger Lindsay, crowned his many long years compiling the history of the RAF’s Lightning interceptor with a flight in that exotic Mach 2 fighter. Happily, the USAF, RCAF, etc. have always fairly recognized we aviation historians, writers and publishers.

This Month’s Reads … Three Books for the Avid Reader

Three aviation books are on my list this time around. To start there’s the incomparable Fate is the Hunter. This is the great Ernest Gann’s 1961 in-depth history covering his days starting back in the “Golden Years” of aviation when he started into his career at the very bottom. You absolutely will be spellbound by this gem of a classic. Inch by inch Gann progresses, at first spending years as a lowly American Airlines co-pilot on the DC-2, then DC-3. He learns the ropes and eats a lot of crow, as captains and other superiors show their distain for his nothingness as an aviator. His captaincy finally arrives, but he’s still at the bottom.

Along the way Gann describes in his inimitable style all the adventures of flying, the many close calls in those early years, the sheer joy of being in the flying game, yet its all-too-many tragedies. A stint delivering Lodestars to South America ensues – the details will make you squirm. With WWII, Gann flies the global airways on the DC-4 and C-87. The adventures multiply, then the war ends and he strikes out to make his way (rather than returning to American Airlines with his low seniority number) with a new trans-Pacific carrier using DC-4s. This soon falls apart and the once proud captain of the airways finds himself scrounging for jobs.

All along, Gann his weaving his story in wonderful prose, just the best you’ll find anywhere, while philosophizing about aviation and life. How have things panned out? How is it that so many of his aviation friends have given their lives? How is it that fate in the hunter? If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of this aviation beauty, here you go! 390 pages, paperback. $38.00 all-in

A Wrench in the Wings is a fantastic book covering Sam Longo’s busy and productive aviation career on the technical side. One of the early graduates in the 70s of the unique Centennial College aviation technicians course in Toronto, Sam works far and wide in aviation, maintaining everything from DC-3s to Electras and Twin Otters . He has but 3 words for the Twin Otter – “Simple, rugged and reliable.” He also covers his years at De Havilland Canada and Air Canada, so you’ll be reading a lot of history and inside stuff about anything from the Dash 7 to the DC-8 and L-1010 (how about the shift at Air Canada when some tech retracted the nose gear on a 747). Sam even has a few pages about his most favourite aviation book Fate is the Hunter – fancy that! He also has some choice things to say about his 22 years teaching aviation mechanics at Centennial College. This book is one fantastic page after another. You’ll love it, guaranteed. (Sam has over 40 years’ experience as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and Professor-Coordinator at Centennial Colleges Aerospace Department. He holds an FAA A&P rating as well as a Certificate in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University. He’s a qualified trainer in Aviation Human Factors and is the past president of both the AME Association of Ontario and Aircraft Maintenance Engineers of Canada. His extensive writing has been published in aviation and motorcycle publications across Canada. What’s the bottom line about Sam’s book? Cheap at twice the price. $32.00 all-in
Sprog is the very close-in story of young men enlisting early in the RCAF during WWII. Author Malcolm Kelly is a former sports columnist turned broadcast professor at Centennial College. Somewhere along the line, he became fascinated by the story of RCAF wartime training. He started reading voraciously. He read everything he could find, even a bunch of CANAV books, then started envisioning the daily, weekly, monthly lives of all those kids “joining up” to do their wartime bit. Sprog (the RCAF slang term for a raw recruit) covers some keen young fellows, including the inevitable “Tex”, who came up from the States to try his luck in the RCAF. It takes the readers from enlisting to the fellows starting their indoctrination at RCAF No.1 Manning Depot in Toronto. Of course, there are all sorts of shenanigans, and every day is an adventure. From manning depot the fellows progress through the predictable stages – guard duty at Camp Borden, ITS (Initial Training School) back in Toronto, etc. Malcolm introduces a host of sprogs, delving deeply into each fellow’s character and experiences. Definitely a book for anyone with a yen for RCAF WWII history. Something really quite different. 592 pages paperback. $35.00 all-in

*Any two of these $60.00 all-in. Buy the three for $95.00 all-in. You can order via PayPal or Interac paying straight to larry@canavbooks.com Any questions? Email me at the same address. Good reading to one and all. Cheers … Larry Milberry

PS … Scroll back for loads of other Canadian aviation history coverage. CanForces readers will be interested in some of these stories:

Canadian Forces Supports the Former Soviet Union: 1993 Mission to Krasnoyarsk

Canada’s C-130s to the Rescue – “Operation Preserve” August to December 1991

East Africa Adventure, Summer 1994

Also … you can google this item about Canada’s military assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras: Canada to the Rescue in Honduras

A Few More Norseman Tidbits for the Fans

RCAF Norseman 3528Check out this lovely period photo showing RCAF Norseman 3528 at Watson Lake in the Yukon on June 15, 1944. Whatever task 3528 was about, in these few moments the crew was not too worried. Who would know there was a war on, eh, with the fellows having knocked off for some fun in the cool, fresh water under the wing of their big yellow bird.

Earlier, Norseman 3528 had been on strength at 124 (Ferry) Squadron based at Rockcliffe, but in August 1942 had be reassigned to Northwest Air Command for duty in the Yukon, mainly supporting the Northwest Staging Route and CANOL Pipeline projects. In the Yukon, 3528’s usual pilot into 1943 was a pre-WWII northern legend, F/L Carl Crossley. See Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.1 for the Crossley/Norseman story.

And what of 3528 in the end? It’s not a happy tale. Moments after taking off from Fort Simpson, NWT on July 10, 1945, it crashed. Crewman LAC Sidney B. Ladell freed himself from the wreck, but powerful currents in the Liard River carried 3528 away with pilot F/O Charles T. Wheeler trapped in the cockpit. He was never seen again. (DND PL25434, click to see full screen) CF-DTL  refuelling at Green's dock, Red Lake (ON)  26-7-2009 (M. Léonard)One of Canada’s best-known Norsemans in recent years has been CF-DTL, owned by Gord and Eleanor Hughes of Ignace, Ontario. Since the 1980s, it’s been a regular summer visitor across the North. Having begun as RCAF 2484 in 1941, postwar CF-DTL had served the Department of Transport and Wheeler Airlines, until wrecked at Moosonee in 1965. Rebuilt by Lauzon Aviation, it flew again for years in the Quebec bush. Gord and Eleanor eventually did their own restoration of this historic Norseman, and still care lovingly for it. While visiting Red Lake from France for the 2009 Norseman Festival, Michel Léonard photographed CF-DTL with Gord up top refuelling.

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