Aircraft History

Vickers Vedette

The Canadian Vickers Vedette was the first aircraft in Canada designed and built to meet a Canadian specification for Canadian conditions. It was purchased to meet a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) specification for an aircraft suitable for forestry survey and fire protection control work. The Vedette design was a conventional single-engine pusher biplane flying boat. The hull was constructed of cedar planking over laminated elm frames. The planking above the chine was of a single thickness laid fore and aft and covered with two layers of linen. The bottom planking consisted of an inner layer laid at a 45-degrees and an outer layer laid fore and aft, with a layer of nainsook (fine soft cotton) interposed between the two. The wings were conventional wire-braced wood construction and the whole tail unit was made of steel tubing. The fuel system consisted of a header tank in the engine nacelle supplied by an engine-driven fuel pump from the main tank in the hull.

The prototype, the first of 44 Vedettes was taken on RCAF strength, was put into service in July 1925 to determine its suitability in operation. It worked out well and the Vedette was put into production with only minor changes. The Vedette went on to have a long and distinguished career performing civil operations assigned to the RCAF. Five versions of the Vedette were produced, including two amphibious versions and one with an enclosed cabin on an all-metal hull. With the exception of these major changes however most of the remaining differences between versions were relatively minor and not externally visible. Each version was produced with a range of optional engine types with the Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx IV being the most common.

The Vedette became the backbone for RCAF flying operations through the difficult depression years. In fact, during the inter-war years it proved so popular and versatile that it became the most famous of all the RCAF's flying boats. During this period, Vedettes flown from RCAF Station Dartmouth conducted forestry survey and fire protection patrols as well as fisheries and anti-smuggling patrols. As war clouds gathered in the late 1930's, No. 5 Squadron conducted photographic and survey flights on the East Coast with the aim of selecting future airfield sites. The squadron also provided coastal artillery gunfire spotting for the army and participated in joint exercises with navy, which were made more realistic by the presence of visiting British warships.

The Vedette lasted well into the Second World War with the last Vedette being struck off RCAF strength in January 1941.

Type : General reconnaissance and patrol aircraft

Upper Wing Span : 12.8 m (42 ft 0 in)

Length : 10.0 m (32 ft 10 in)

Height : 3.58 m (11ft 9.0 in)

Max. Speed: 153 kph (95 mph)

Max. Weight : 1,432 kg (3,155 lb)

Empty Weight : 972 kg (2,140 lb)

Power Plant : One 185 hp, Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx IVB engine

Armament: None

Service Ceiling : 3,962 m (13,000 ft)

Crew: One pilot, two passengers