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Canadian classic – Fleet 80 Canuck page 3

report by neil macdougall • photography by doyle buehler

The following comments are derived from the report: Directional control is very good with only a small amount of initial yaw using the ailerons alone, feet off. Similarly, directional control, hands off, using rudder alone, produces only a small amount of initial sideslip.

The aircraft can be brought out of tight spiral turns, using the ailerons alone, feet off, or the rudder alone, hands off. The aircraft is difficult to spin, and must be forced into the spin and held in with the rudder. With the centre of gravity furthest forward, it is impossible to spin, according to Chief Engineer G.E. Otter. In all normal conditions, the aircraft recovers immediately on the release of the controls. The aircraft will not spin when in a 60-degree banked turn with full-up elevator and when full rudder is applied in either direction.

Told of this saintly performance, Canuck owner Harry Fase tried to duplicate it. “I don’t know what the plane did,” he said later, “but I wouldn’t dare to do it again.”

Bill Tee recalls that using full rudder and full aileron would produce a sideslip perfectly lined up with the runway, and a stone-like sink rate. “Crosswind landings were a snap, but on takeoff you had to be careful not to lift off too soon. The controls were heavy, but effective.”

Like many 1946 handbooks, the owner’s manual gives no takeoff and landing data. Fleet’s tests showed the 75-hp prototype taking off over 66 feet in 1,275 feet. No figures for landing over 50 feet were given, but the landing roll alone was 390 feet. “I could never match those figures with my 85-hp Canuck,” Tee says.

“It was a great plane on skis. The Fleet skis had stiff, rigid legs, and being wide, easily rode up on snowbanks.”

Fleet built two models of floats for the Canuck. Neither required the usual ventral fin under the tail. The Mark 1s had conventional steel tube mounts and very narrow tails. If the aircraft was landed at too flat an attitude, the floats would pitch down violently, perhaps because the step was behind the centre of gravity. When Jim Pengelly, Sr., now a Transport Canada inspector, checked me out, he said, “Make sure you touch down nose-up.” Unknown to me, he had 80 pounds of water in the baggage compartment as a precaution.The Mark 2 floats are attached to the axles of the land undercarriage, with an additional strut aft. Some pilots believed the floats spread apart on touchdown because no spreader bars connect them, a common arrangement. An owner who put a cable between the float tips reported a big improvement in water handling. A Transport department inspector insisted he remove the cable. The owner did, only to put it back the next day.

Fleet exhaustively tested the cabin sound level. The noise level in the cockpit was 115 decibels, compared to 106 in a B-24D Liberator, 118 in a B-25B Mitchell, 111 in a Douglas DC‑3B and 115 in a Stinson Voyager. A rock band also hits 115 dB, a level likely to damage your hearing permanently and to make “Say again?” and “Eh?” your most common remarks.

A thick windshield and elimination of cracks were found to reduce noise. Mica and fibreglass panels helped, but an exhaust muffler would not work unless propeller noise was first reduced. Two sound-reducing packages, weighing 56.8 pounds and 16 pounds, were proposed, but it is not clear whether either was adopted. The real solution, the report said, was slow-turning propellers, then not available, but now used in Germany, especially on glider tugs.

Most Canucks were sold in Canada, but 3 went to Brazil, 19 to Argentina (where one is still active) and even 1 to the Portuguese Navy. The only sale to the United States fell through. The standard yellow and dark blue colour scheme was so common that oldtimers consider a Canuck in the five optional colours unauthentic. A lone three-seat Canuck was built, in which the third person was seated in the former baggage compartment. This Model 81, C‑FFAL, is inactive after a private attempt to convert it into a four-seater.

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