Aircraft History

Fairchild 71

During World War I, Sherman Fairchild invented an advanced aerial camera. At the end of the war Fairchild set up his own aerial survey company, but soon found that existing aircraft did not suit his photographic needs. He designed a high-wing aircraft, the Fairchild FC-1 (Fairchild Cabin #1) to satisfy his purpose. The engine on the FC-1 was later replaced with a 200 horsepower Wright J-4 Whirlwind engine. This aircraft went into production as the FC-2 and was an instant success. It had many innovative features: an enclosed heated cockpit, shock-mounted undercarriage, quick conversion to floats and skis, and an arrangement that allowed the wings to fold back along side the fuselage for easy storage.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) became interested in the FC-2 in 1927, and after Canadian Vickers obtained the Canadian manufacturing rights, the Company eventually built 27 FC-2's for RCAF use. The FC-2 was later enlarged to have a greater wing span, a 300 horsepower engine and larger carrying capacity. This became the Fairchild Model 71 which proved so successful in Canada that Fairchild Aircraft Limited was established at Longueuil, Quebec in 1929.

The FC-71 was test flown in mid-June 1930 and delivered to the RCAF on June 30th. The RCAF used the FC-2 and FC-71 for photographic and transport work. In November 1934, the RCAF amalgamated its five detachments flying in the Maritimes to form No. 5 (Flying Boat) Squadron at RCAF Station Dartmouth. The squadron flew the FC-71 primarily on anti-smuggling (rum running) and illegal immigration patrols for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Thirty four FC-71's were flown by the RCAF from 1930 to 1946.

During coordinated air-sea searches for rumrunners, there were no radio communications between the FC-71aircraft and the RCMP launches. Therefore, the only effective means of passing information from the aircraft was to place a message in a wooden box, which was dropped just in front of the launch. The FC-71's were crewed by a RCAF pilot and a RCMP observer whose duties included leaning out of the window to drop the box. The FC- 71's did have High Frequency communications with the Navy radio station at CFH Halifax using a 50 foot trailing wire antenna, which was known to be occasionally lost in the masts of ships being investigated for smuggling rum. Most surveillance flights were conducted within twenty miles of the Nova Scotia coast.

Specifications: (Landplane - without floats)

Type: Passenger or cargo aircraft adapted to maritime reconnaissance

Wing Span:
17.68 m (58 feet)

1314 km (817 miles)

Max. Speed:                       249 kpm (155 mph)

Cruising Speed:                   209 kpm (130 mph)

Max. Weight:                     3175 kg (7,000 pounds)

Empty Weight:                   1544 kg (3,405 pounds)

Power Plant:                                                                                                                        one 388 kW (520 horsepower) Pratt & Whitney Wasp 9 cylinder radial piston engine