HISTORY OF THE CRANE
At the start of the Second World War, the RCAF began looking for a newer twin-engine flying trainer for its training programs. They decided on the Cessna T-50, a commercial five seat aircraft built in the Wichita, Kansas by Cessna. The US Airforce also began using the T-50 for pilot training and light communication missions. When the RCAF received their first T-50s in 1941, they decided that the aircraft would be known as the Crane in the RCAF.
The Crane was remarkably similar to the civilian aircraft, identical in every way to the American AT-17 model, other than the addition of cabin-top windows, and various radio and instrument improvements. Crane aircraft were built of mostly wood and steel frames and were fabric covered. They were powered by two Jacobs 7 cylinder fixed prop engines.
As with many aircraft used by the BCATP, there was a large surplus of Crane aircraft following war’s end and many were struck off as Crown Assets. They were often sold for as little as $25 to famers who would park them in fields, to be used as chicken coops or sold off as scrap. This is an important part of Western Canadian aviation history that is often overlooked.