Aircraft Type
Military Aircraft

HISTORY OF THE HARVARD

The Harvard is arguably one of the best pilot training aircraft ever produced. The original version, the NA-26 first flew in 1935. The RCAF took delivery of its first one in the summer of 1939 and operated them continuously until May 1965.

During World War II, the RCAF used this aircraft as an advanced trainer as the Harvard had more power, a retractable undercarriage, and variable pitch propeller, thus more speed. All these features helped prepared the trainee pilots trained on Tiger Moths, Fawns or Cornells for faster combat aircraft like the Hurricane and Spitfire.

The Harvard is a stable instrument platform, great for aerobatics, can do a vicious spin, and has a tendency to ground loop on landing.It has poor visibility from the back seat for the instructor at night and during flapless landing.

A total of 1,455 fixed-gear and 20,110 retractable-gear variants of the Harvard were produced in the USA, Canada and other countries. Noorduyn in Montreal produced some 2800 Harvards in Canada. Canadian Car and Foundry Ltd. built a further 550 after the war. The Harvard was still serving in large numbers for the South African Air Force as late as 1997. The RAF still operates one Harvard in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to qualify modern jet pilots who have been selected to fly its Spitfires or Hurricanes.

OUR AIRCRAFT

Our Mark IV Harvard # 20273 was manufactured by Canadian Car and Foundry at Fort William (now Thunder Bay) Ontario. It was taken on strength by the RCAF on April 25, 1952 and spent its military service in Alberta at #4 FTS, Penhold before being sold as surplus on October 27, 1964. The Harvard has been placed on loan to our museum since June 1998 by the owner, Mr. Tom Conroy.

FAST FACTS

  • With a total of 3,350, Canada has built more Harvards than any other type of aircraft!
  • When the RCAF went looking for a new generation pilot training airplane in 1950, it chose the Harvard and managed to convince Canadian Car and Foundry Ltd to build new ones, hence the Mk. IV production line was restarted five years after everyone else had quit making them!
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force’s new pilot training aircraft (a Pilatus PC-9 manufactured by Raytheon-Beech) has been named the Harvard II in honour of its immortal predecessor.
  • A lot of Harvards and their American counterparts, the Texan, have appeared in TV shows and Hollywood films, representing Second World War fighter airplanes when original types are unavailable or are too rare.
  • The Harvard has a very distinctive sound in the air, caused by the tips of the propeller exceeding the speed of sound (Mach 1). Once you hear one, you’ll never forget it!

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Wingspan of 12.8 metres (42ft 1/2in)
  • Height of 3.5 metres (11ft 8in)
  • Length of 8.8 metres (28ft 11in)
  • Maximum speed of 290 km/h (180 mph)
  • Rate of climb of 1300 ft/min