By going through the door at the bottom of the stairs you will be in the aircraft display area. From time to time we reposition the airworthy aircraft so you may have to look for the aircraft which is being described. On your right as you come through the door is a wingless Cessna Crane. This aircraft is set up so that children may climb into it and pretend they are flying it. The ailerons, elevators and rudders work and it does give the youngsters, of all ages, some amusement to see what is like sitting in the pilot’s seat. The Cessna Crane was the type of aircraft that flew out of this very hangar back in the 40's.The name and a brief description are in front of each of the aircraft and will provide you with basic information.
When you enlisted in the air force you went to Manning Depot and were subject to many physical tests. Depending on the results of these tests, the individual’s education , and to a small extent the individual’s wishes, the recruit was sent to either Initial Training School for air trades or Technical Training School for ground trades.
At these Training Schools they sorted out the various trades, pilots, navigators, aero-engine mechanics, riggers, etc. After ITS, student pilots went to an Elementary Flying Training School and learned to fly a Tiger Moth or a Cornell. If the student was going to fly more advanced single engine aircraft then he would go to a Service Flying Training School, finish his pilot’s training on a Harvard and graduate as a full-fledged pilot. If it was decided that the student would become a pilot of multi engine aircraft then he would go to an SFTS, finish his pilot’s training on Cessna Cranes, Oxfords, or Ansons and graduate as a full-fledged pilot. The other air trades would go to the appropriate schools, Navigators to an Observers Training School, Bomb Aimers and Air Gunners to a Bombing and Gunnery School, and Wireless Operators to a Wireless School. As Wireless Operators had to know how to use machine guns, and Navigators had to learn how to drop bombs, the students didn’t spend all their time at the same school. The Lysander, the Bolingbroke, and the Anson were a few of the different types that the Navigators, Bomb Aimers, and Air Gunners trained in.
TIGER MOTHIf you went to an Elementary Flying Training School before 1943, you would start off on the Tiger Moth. The Tiger Moth is a biplane and was the real work horse of the first training era. Some B.C.A.T.P. bases, such as #21 elementary flying training school at Chatham, NB and #35 E.F.T.S. at Neepawa, MB, used the Fleet Finch.
After 1943 the student completed his Elementary Flying Training on the Cornell. Note the picture showing the condition of this aircraft when the Museum retrieved it before restoration.
The Harvard aircraft was the Cadillac of all of the training planes. This is a beautiful flying aircraft that unfortunately was a little too much air craft for some students to handle and so quite a few got racked up.
All of the training aircraft are painted a bright yellow colour and that was to make the aircraft highly visible in winter or summer thus enabling search parties to more easily locate a crashed aircraft.
ROUNDELA lot of our visitors ask “Why do you paint a target on the side of the aircraft?” The item that looks like a target is actually called a “roundel” and indicates this is an aircraft of the British Commonwealth. If you compare the Union Jack flag and the German flag, you will notice that from a distance, they look very much alike. During the First World War it got to the point where it was very difficult to identify friends from foe. The British, in their typical British manner, said we’ll soon fix that, so they took the red white and blue, put it in a circle and called it the roundel. To the left of the door you just came through is a display of a number of engines which were used in the training aircraft and some of the operational aircraft. For example, the V-12 engine is a Rolls Royce Merlin engine which was used in a Mosquito bomber which crashed up near Riding Mountain in 1957. You can see that this one will never run again.
V-12 ROLLS ROYCE MERLIN ENGINE (from Mosquito)
As you look at these aircraft, you should remember that these aircraft were all flown by eighteen to 23 year old men and it was very hectic for some of the instructors when they had to contend with these young guys wanting to do their best, particularly to show their girlfriends how well they could operate.
The Avro Anson was strictly a training aircraft. It was never an operational aircraft. These aircraft were built by MacDonald Brothers in Winnipeg, were built out of plywood and used primarily for navigational training. Please note the picture of this aircraft before restoration. Behind the Avro Anson MK I is a wing on large rollers. This is for the Cessna Crane in our workshop. The purpose of the rollers is to enable workers to turn the wing over to always work from the top.
BOLINGBROKE (BLENHEIM)The Bolingbroke flew on operations out of England and was known as the Blenheim. It was one of the top aircraft Britain had when the war broke out. Bolingbrokes were operational in Canada as sub hunters off the east coast and west coast. When the Japanese started to come up the Aleutian chain of Islands in 1942, the Americans ran short of air power so they called on Canada for a couple of squadrons of aircraft. Canada sent a squadron of Bolingbrokes and a squadron of Kitty Hawks up to give them a hand. In 1996, the Anchorage Museum paid recognition to the contribution of the Canadians by putting up a display. We were able to provide them with material from this museum pertaining to the RCAF activities in Alaska. When the Bolingbroke became obsolete, as far as the European operations were concerned, they were brought back to Canada and were used both for bomber and air gunner training. If you look on the top of the Bolingbroke, about half way back, you will see a turret, that was where the air gunner operated out of during operations and training. In the nose of the aircraft is where the bomb aimer was located.
BOLINGROKE GUN TURRET & BOMB-AIMER NOSE
LYSANDERThe big high winged aircraft is a Lysander. This was a short take off and landing aircraft. It had the short take off and landing features because of the additional flap on the front of the wings and could take off in little more then the length of this hangar. You’ve all seen pictures of the War when the people behind the lines would light little fires of hay and aircraft would come in and land to exchange agents, drop new agents off and pick-up those who had done their duty. Those were primarily Lysanders. The aircraft were painted black so they would be hard to see at night and with their short landing take off features they were ideal for this type of operation. When they came to Canada, they were used to pull the drogues.
Drogues were wind socks that were pulled 250 feet behind the aircraft and they were used as targets for air gunners practice. The gunners fired at the drogue from either a Fairey Battle or the Bolingbroke aircraft. Each of the students going up in the training aircraft would have bullets with a different colour wax on them so when the exercise was over they could determine who was hitting the drogue and who was missing it.
William G. Hillman
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
Photos by Bill Hillman ~ Copyrighted 1999/2010