Fairchild Cornell

 Fairchild PT-26B Cornell

By 1941 the Tiger Moth and Fleet Finch basic trainers were becoming outdated and the RCAF needed a more advanced trainer. The RCAF decided on a development of the Fairchild PT-19 trainer design. The RCAF version featured an enclosed cockpit, an improved heating system and equipment changes along with a Ranger piston engine. This modified version, known as the Fairchild Cornell, was ordered in late 1941 with Fleet Aircraft of Ontario as the builder. The first Cornell, known as the PT-26B, was flown in July 1942.

The Cornell featured a fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage. The remainder of the aircraft used plywood construction, with a plywood-sheathed center section, outer wing panels and tail assembly. The control surfaces were a metal structure covered with fabric. The landing gear was fixed with the large wheel span giving good ground handling.

Production peaked late in 1943 at a rate of 150 aircraft per month. 1,642 Cornells were built by the time production ended in June 1944.

The aircraft was a big improvement over the biplanes it replaced, however it suffered from poor performance at high altitude airports in Alberta. As well, the wooden wing structure suffered from structural problems requiring modification.

Twenty Canadian-built Cornells were operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force in Canada to supplement US-built models.

Technical Details:

Maximum speed: 122 mph (195 km/h)
Cruising speed: 101 mph (162 km/h)
Empty weight: 2022 lb (918 kg)
Maximum weight: 2736 lb (1242 kg)
Span: 37 ft (11.2 m)
Length: 28 ft 8 in (8.4 m)
Height: 7 ft 7 in (2.3 m)
Wing area: 200 sq ft (18.6 sq m)
Service ceiling: 13,200 ft (4,023 m)
(Photo credit: Wikimedia)