The Yale is a fixed undercarriage, lower powered, lighter weight version of the well known Harvard. Both the Yale and Harvard evolved from the North American Aviation NA-16 which was first flown in 1935. It was designed to fill the middle role in the American’s three tier training program in which pilots advanced through primary, basic, and advanced phases.
Early in 1939, 230 Yales were ordered by the Government of France and assembly began in North American’s California facility. Just over one hundred had been delivered when France fell to the Nazis in 1940. The Luftwaffe made use of these Yales until lack of spare parts forced their grounding. The remainder of the order, with their French stenciling and plates and instruments calibrated in metric measurements, was shipped to Canada whose airforce was moving quickly to build its training program under the BCATP.
Initially the Yales served as advanced trainers in the BCATP’s two phase flying training system. When sufficient numbers of the higher performance Harvard became available the Yales were relegated to the role of wireless operator training. This conversion involved gutting the rear cockpit and fitting it with radio equipment of the type used on operational fighters and bombers. These aircraft could be recognized in flight by their nose high attitude caused by the large, heavy radio sets. This weight also caused the engines to be overworked and often in need of repair or overhaul. In total, 119 Yales served with the RCAF, the last one being retired in 1946.
The Museum’s Yale
The Society’s aircraft (serial #64-2157) carried RCAF number 3404. Taken on strength on September 11, 1940, it was posted to No. 6 Service Flying Training School at Dunnville, Ontario. According to records it suffered a Category “C” accident (minor damage) on October 8, 1943. It was declared surplus on October 1, 1946.
Yale 64-2157 was acquired by the Reynolds Aviation Museum. It remained in their collection until 1993 when it was traded to Jonathon (Jon) Spinks, an avid collector/historian who worked with the Nanton Lancaster Society for several years. Following Jon Spinks untimely death in 1995, the Spinks family donated the aircraft to the Society. It will be restored in memory of Jon.
Several year ago, much progress was made on the Yale restoration including the acquisition of a ‘zero-time’ engine. The rear fuselage was completely re-skinned with new materials and the tubular framework of the forward fuselage completely restored courtesy of Marcus Stephenson of Calgary.
Due to other priorities and lack of space, the Yale is currently in storage.
Engine: Wright R-975; 9 cylinder supercharged radial
Wingspan: 48 feet, 1 inch (14.7m)
Length: 28 feet, 5 inches (14.8 m)
Height: 8 feet, 10 inches (2.7 m)
Weight (empty): 3247 pounds (1473 kg)
Weight (gross): 4375 pounds (1985 kg)
Maximum speed: 170 miles per hour (274 km/h)
Range: 700 miles (1127 km)