The Post-War Era (1945 - 1959)
The period from 1945 to 1959 saw the slow growth of civilian aviation in Canada. In British Columbia as in the other provinces, most of the former RCAF bases became civilian airports used by fledgling airline companies and flying schools. Victoria International Airport is one example that has retained a military presence. The post war was a period of transition from military to civilian aviation at most of Canada's airports.
Auster AOP 6
The initials stand for “Air Observation Post”. Three American manufacturers built large numbers of these military artillery spotters during the Second World War. Auster was a British company, but it was set up as Taylorcraft UK to licence-produce one of the US designs. The post-war AOP 6 was Auster’s own design, but it was closely based on its US predecessors. It had an in-line 4 cylinder deHavilland engine rather than an American flat four, and had trailing flaps added.
Thirty six AOP 6s were bought by the RCAF and the Army Air Corps, and they served with distinction in the Korean War. All were retired by 1958. The Museum’s Auster was built in 1947 and served with 444 Squadron and the Joint Training School. After a period in storage it was sold commercially in 1969, and flew for twelve years before going back into storage. It was acquired by the Museum in May 2000, and subsequently has been completely overhauled under Transport Canada supervision. It has been repainted in the Joint Training School’s colours and markings. Volunteer work was led by Morris Sweet.
Avro Lancaster FM104 was built in Toronto in 1944 but did not see combat service after arriving in the United Kingdom in January 1945. In June 1945 the aircraft returned to Canada and subsequently was converted for use in coastal surveillance and search and rescue. It served in that capacity for many years until retired in 1964. The aircraft then spent more than three decades on display at the Toronto lake shore. Restoration work on the aircraft was commenced by the Canadian Air & Space Museum in 1999 but that organization was unable to continue the work after they lost their hangar space to redevelopment.
The BC Aviation Museum was awarded custody of the disassembled aircraft in the late summer of 2018. The aircraft, still in pieces, has been moved to the Museum's complex near Victoria and the multi-year restoration project is in progress. Visitors to the Museum can see the restoration progress in the Restoration and Henderson Hangars.
The Americans' first turbojet-powered combat aircraft, Lockheed’s P-80 “Shooting Star” entered service just before the end of the Second World War, but it did not see combat. As the F-80 it did see considerable action in the early stages of the Korean War. By then a two-seat trainer version, the T-33, was entering service. It was built in far greater numbers than the fighter – 6,686 in total. They became very widely used, over many years.
The RCAF used the T-33 mainly for advanced pilot training and weapons training, with a few modified as ECM target aircraft. They served in considerable numbers, from 1953 until the last was retired in 2002. Canadair built 656 under licence as the “Silver Star” powered by the Rolls-Royce “Nene” turbojet. Our example was purchased from a farmer in Stony Plain, Alberta by Palmer Dahl. It underwent an extensive restoration and was rolled out in 2010.
Luscombe Aircraft Engineering built metal light aircraft from 1933. The “Silvaire” Model 8 was introduced in 1938, but production was interrupted by the Second World War. It was one of the first light aircraft to be built entirely out of aluminum, though ours has acquired some structural duct-tape over the years!
Our Luscombe is a two-seat Model 8A, built in 1946, with an 85 hp Continental engine. It was salvaged in pieces in South America, and was donated to the Museum in 1988. Restoration work of the structure was carried out by students at Camosun College, under the direction of Bill Lawrie, and it was reassembled by Museum volunteers. The aircraft has been completed in the livery of Bill Sylvester's B.C Airlines Ltd., one of the province's first airlines.
Republic RC-3 “Seabee”
The first amphibious light aircraft intended for private ownership took to the air in November 1944. With the end of the Second World War approaching, Republic Aircraft hoped that “everyman” would want to fly when the war was over. The “Seabee” amphibian was their response, offering an aircraft as low cost and versatile as possible. The demand proved to be limited. Prices rose and production ended after 1060 aircraft were built when it was found that they were being sold for about half of the production cost!
The Museum’s example is an RC-3 model, serial #710, built in 1947. It was originally the personal aircraft of the Manager of Alaska Coast Airlines, but was subsequently purchased by Norie Brothers Logging. Henry and Frank Norie donated it to the Museum in 1991.
Vickers “Viscount” 757
Towards the end of the Second World War the British formed the Brabazon Committee to recommend types of civil aircraft that would be needed when peace returned. Vickers responded with a project that became the “Viscount”, which proved to be the most successful British commercial airliner of all time. It was the world’s first turboprop powered airliner, and the prototype flew in July 1948. The larger and more developed production airliner obtained its Certificate of Airworthiness and entered service in April 1953.
Trans Canada Airlines started operations with the first of fifty-one that it purchased in early 1955. Our “Viscount” was delivered in 1957 and served until 1974. It was then owned briefly by Harrison Airways. It was subsequently used by the British Columbia Institute of Technology as an instructional airframe at Vancouver International Airport, before being acquired by the BCAM. “Recovery” was relatively straightforward, with the aircraft being carried by barge from Vancouver International to the seaplane ramp at Patricia Bay. Restoration was by an enthusiastic and skilled team under the leadership of former “Viscount” pilots Al Catterall, Bob Hallworth and Dave Peters. Our “Viscount” takes pride of place in the new Henderson Hangar.