The Fleet Finch (Fleet Model 16) is a two-seat, tandem training biplane produced by Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario. There were a number of variants mainly based on engine variations. Over several years beginning in 1939, a total of 447 Finches were built, nearly all (431) of them for use as elementary trainers in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) during the Second World War.

Fleet Finch II at the Canadian Museum of Flight British Columbia
Role Trainer
Manufacturer Fleet Aircraft
First flight 8 February 1939
Introduction 1939
Retired 1947
Status Retired
Primary users Royal Canadian Air Force
Produced 1939– 1941[1]
Number built 606[1]
Fleet 16B Finch in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Hamilton, Ontario – note centre-hinged main LG radius rods
Fleet 16B Finch at the Canadian Museum of Flight in South Surrey BC, July 1988

Design and development edit

The Fleet 16B Finch II was a progressive development of the original Consolidated Fleet primary trainer (Fleet 10), manufacture of which commenced in Canada by Fleet Aircraft in 1930. After a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) evaluation in 1938 recommended a number of changes, a total of 431 Finch trainers were built for the RCAF between 1939 and 1941.[1] The aircraft had conventional construction for the period with a welded steel-tube fuselage having Warren truss structure for its sides; and composite metal, wood and fabric design features, with Frise ailerons, a flat-bottom airfoiled, variable incidence (trimmable) lifting two-piece tailplane; and similarly "lifting airfoil" on the fixed vertical stabilizer, cambered into an airfoil on its port side only, to offset the P-factor of the propeller's swirling slipstream. The RCAF acquired the aircraft type as an elementary trainer. The Fleet 16 first entered RCAF service with tandem open cockpits, but the severity of the Canadian winter necessitated the introduction of a sliding canopy at an early stage in the trainer's service career. The earlier Model 10's centre-hinged main landing gear radius rods were retained for the Model 16 series, as these centre-hinged units had replaced the "looped" left mainwheel's radius rod design that had been on the even-earlier Fleet Models 1, 2 & 7 biplanes from their own origins in November 1928.[citation needed]

Operational history edit

Startup of a Fleet Finch

The Finch was a mainstay of the RCAF prior to and during the early part of the Second World War, flying at the Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) in parallel with the better known de Havilland Tiger Moth, also produced in Canada. The earlier Fleet Model 7 (Fleet Fawn) was also in use for primary training. During 1940, initial production problems were solved and timely deliveries were made to the RCAF, allowing the first training programs to start up. In the following year, the Portuguese Navy purchased ten Model 16Ds (ordered as 10Bs but changed to the higher powered variant) and later a further five 16Ds were delivered in 1942.[2]

A total of 606 Fleet Finches were produced as Model 16s, the majority for the RCAF. They were used as initial trainers in the BCATP at no fewer than 12 Elementary Flight Training Schools across Canada. Both the Fleet Finch and Tiger Moth were later replaced by the Fairchild PT-26 Cornell. The Finch was progressively phased out of service from October 1944 with the last of the Model 16s struck off strength from the RCAF inventory in 1947.

Variants edit

Model 10
Model was an improved Fleet 7 with a deeper rear fuselage from its nearly-level height dorsal turtledeck in side-view, a new two-piece horizontal tail/elevator and a better cockpit.
Model 10A
Model powered by 100 hp (75 kW) Kinner K-5 five-cylinder radial engine
Model 10B
Model powered by 125 hp (93 kW) Kinner B-5, five cylinder radial engine
Model 10D
Model powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner R-5, five cylinder radial engine
Model 10-32D
32-foot-long span wing for high altitude operations in Mexico. Powered by 175 hp (130 kW) Kinner R5, five cylinder radial engine
Model 10E
Model powered by 145 hp (108 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
Model 10F
Model powered by 145 hp (108 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
Fleet 10F in upstate New York. Formally owned by the Nicaraguan Air Force.
Model 10G
Model powered by 90 hp (67 kW) Wright-Gypsy or 130 hp (97 kW) Gypsy Major inline engine, built under license in Romania at IAR, SET & ICAR factories, also used in Portugal.
Model 10H
Model 150 hp (112 kW) supercharged Menasco C-4S Inline
Model 16F
One prototype based on the Fleet Model 10; powered by a 175 hp (130 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
Model 16R (Finch I)
27 built for RCAF; powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner R5-2, five cylinder radial engine
Model 16B (Finch II)
404 built for the RCAF; powered by 130 hp (97 kW) (variously noted as 125 hp (93 kW)) Kinner B5-R, five cylinder radial engine
Model 16D
15 built for the Portuguese Navy; powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner B5-2, five cylinder radial engine

Operators edit

Survivors edit

Model 16
Model 16B
Model 16R
  • registration C-FDAF, serial 92319, at the Guelph Airport in Ontario and painted as 4494.[8]

Aircraft on display edit

Model 16B

Specifications (Finch II) edit

Data from [2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 21 ft 8 in (6.64 m)
  • Wingspan: 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)
  • Wing area: 194.4 sq ft (18.05 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,222 lb (509 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,000 lb (908 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Kinner B-5 five-cylinder radial piston engine , 125 hp (93 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 104 mph (167 km/h, 90 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn)
  • Range: 300 mi (483 km, 260 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
  • Rate of climb: 435 ft/min (2.0 m/s)

See also edit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

References edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c Holmes 2005, p 78.
  2. ^ a b Page and Cumming 1990, p. 72.
  3. ^ Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's Fleet Finch page Archived 2014-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome,, Retrieved: 21 December 2012.
  4. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Retrieved: 22 September 2016
  5. ^ Tiger Boys:CF-GER Archived 25 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 22 September 2016
  6. ^ Canadian Museum of Flight:Fleet 16B Finch Mk II, Retrieved 22 September 2016
  7. ^ "ZK-AGC / Fleet 16B Finch".
  8. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Retrieved: 22 September 2016
  9. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Retrieved: 22 September 2016.
  10. ^ RCAF No. 6 Dunnville Museum: C-GQWE, Retrieved 22 September 2016
  11. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Retrieved: 22 September 2016
  12. ^ Canadian Aviation and Space Museum:Fleet 16B Finch Mk II, Retrieved 27 September 2016

Bibliography edit

  • Holmes, Tony. Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide. London: Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-00-719292-4.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-920002-11-0.
  • Page, Ron D. and William Cumming, . Fleet: The Flying Years. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55046-019-6.

External links edit