Fleet 16B Finch Mk II
The Fleet 16B Finch II is a progressive development of the original Consolidated Fleet primary trainer, manufacture of which was commenced in Canada by Fleet Aircraft in 1930. A total of 431 Finch trainers were built for the RCAF between 1939 and 1941. Essentially similar to the Fleet 10, 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 first Finch 16B for the RCAF flew in March 1940, some remaining in service until 1947.
The Finch was a mainstay of the RCAF prior to and during the early part of World War 2, flying at the Elementary Flying Training Schools in parallel with the better-known Tiger Moth. Both types were later replaced by the Fairchld PT-26 Cornell.
The Museum’s Finch was used at No.9 EFTS, St. Catherines, Ontario and No. 11 EFTS, Cap de Madeline, Quebec, where it suffered damage in no less than 4 minor accidents. It joined the RCAF in December 1940 and served until October 1944.
After WW2 this aircraft was operated in Mexico for years, then in New Mexico, USA. It was re-imported into Canada by G. Barry Jackson, who restored it and donated it to the Canadian Museum of Flight in 1979.
The Finch flies regularly at various functions and air shows.
(Photo credit: M. Luedey)