The Yellow Wings Flight
VWC Harvard IV
The Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Harvard
The Harvard is recognized as the greatest advanced training aircraft of the war. With its near fighter-like size and handling, the Harvard was the bridge between primary trainers such as the Tiger Moth and the high performance fighters of the day such as the Spitfire or Hurricane. Nearly 50,000 Allied pilots received their wings after qualifying on the Harvard at air training bases across the breadth of Canada as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The Vintage Wings Harvard 4 is painted in the markings of a Harvard 2, known to have been flown by John Gillespie Magee, the poet who penned “High Flight”, the quintessential ode to flying.
The Squadron Leader Hart Finley Finch
The Fleet Finch (Fleet Model 16) is a two-seat, tandem training biplane produced by Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario. There were a number of variants mainly based on engine variations. Over several years beginning in 1939, a total of 447 Finches were built, nearly all (431) of them for use as elementary trainers in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War.
The Vintage Wings Finch will fly in the markings it once wore as an Elementary Flying trainer at No.4 EFTS at Windsor Mills, Québec.
The Flight Lieutenant Archie Pennie Cornell
As the Second World War advanced, the RCAF needed a more advanced trainer for the BCATP. The existing DH 82C Tiger Moths and Fleet 16B’s used for elementary flying training proved to be a significant step down from contemporary service aircraft. In the spring of 1941, the RCAF therefore decided on a development of the Fairchild Aircraft (US) Company’s PT-19 trainer design. The RCAF version was to feature an enclosed cockpit, an improved heating system, equipment changes along with a Ranger piston engine. This modified version was to be known as the Fairchild Cornell in Canada and it rapidly entered production and found favour at elementary flying schools beginning in 1943.
The Flight Lieutenant Bill McRae Tiger Moth
The Tiger Moth was the primary flying trainer used to instruct new pilot recruits of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan at training bases across Canada. Descended from a line of lightweight British general aviation and training aircraft, the Tiger Moth was initially built by de Havilland in England. Soon, de Havilland subsidiaries were churning out Tiger Moths in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Norway and Sweden. More than 1,500 were built at de Havilland Canada’s Downsview facility. Canadian Tiger Moths had modifications to the basic design to enable them to function in more difficult conditions. Most evident was the enclosed and heated cockpit that enabled training to continue though late autumn and winter – virtually impossible in an open cockpit airplane. Also, wheel brakes and a tail wheel were added to take advantage of surfaced runways.
The Flight Lieutenant Tim Timmins Chipmunk
The de Havilland Canada Chipmunk, designed and produced at Downsview, an airfield and production facility on the outskirts of Toronto in the 1940s, was the trainer that took over from the wartime designs and taught basic flying skills to a new generation of future Cold War RCAF pilots of all types. The Chipmunk was not only the basic trainer of the RCAF for twenty years, but was produced under licence in the United Kingdom in large numbers for the RAF, serving there for nearly fifty years. The Chipmunk is renowned for its delightful flying characteristics, often being referred to as the “poor man ‘s Spitfire”, though to own one means you are not poor.
The Vintage Wings Chipmunk, RCAF serial number 18028, wears its authentic paint scheme of the late 1950s, while it was based at RCAF Station Centralia in Southwestern Ontario. Our Chipmunk is dedicated to Flight Lieutenant Patrick Joseph “Tim” Timmins, a former Cold Warrior, flying CF-100 Canuck all-weather interceptors with 409 Squadorn at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island who went on to become a TWA Boeing 747 Captain. Tim is a volunteer at Vintage Wings of Canada
The Warrant Officer Harry Hannah Boeing Stearman
The Kaydet, the two-seater biplane introduced by Stearman Aircraft Division of Boeing in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, became an unexpected success during the Second World War. Despite its almost obsolete design, its simple, rugged construction made it ideal as a trainer for novice pilots for the US Army Air Corps (PT-13/-17) and U.S. Navy (NS/N2S).
Kaydets had fabric-covered wooden wings, single-leg landing gear and an over-built welded-steel fuselage. Only radial engines were used. Between 1936 and 1944, Boeing built 8,584 Kaydets, in all versions, plus the equivalent of 2,000 more in spares.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan acquired 300 Boeing PT-27 (Canadian designation) trainers, but they arrived without the required winter-weather equipment, primarily a coupe-top canopy for winter flying. Within only a few months, they were deemed inadequate for Canadian winters and they were returned to the United States in groups over the next few months. The Stearmans were used only in Alberta, and only to train Royal Air Force flight students.
The Vintage Wings of Canada Stearman (FJ875) is one of only a few remaining examples of the 300 original aircraft purchased and employed in Alberta in 1942. It is dedicated to 602 Squadron, RAF Warrant Officer Harry Hannah, who trained on Stearmans (PT-17s), not in Alberta, but at Falcon Field, Mesa, Arizona. Harry became a Spitfire pilot with 602 and flew ops over occupied France until he was shot down on the French Coast in 1943. He spent the next two years in prison as a POW including one year in solitary confinement for an escape attempt. Harry lives today in Oakville, Ontario.