Canadian Warplanes 3: North American Harvard and Canadian Car & Foundry Harvard

North American Harvard

(DND Photo via Chris Charland)

Canadian Car & Foundry Harvard Mk. 4s from No. 1 Flying Instructor School based at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario.

The North American Harvard was heavily used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force during the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) in the Second World War and subsequently for NATO pilot training in the post-war era.  Approximately 11,000 Canadians and 8,000 Allied airmen received pilot training on Harvards in Canada during the Second World War.  The aircraft could also be modified as an armament trainer capable of carrying either machine guns, rockets or practice bombs.

North American NA-49 Harvard Mk. I (1), (Serial No. 3560 (ex 7020, ex N7020), NA-61 Harvard Mk. I (33), (1321, 1322, j1323, 1324, 1325, 1326, 1327, 1328, 1329, 1330, 1331, 1332, 1333, 1334, 1335, 1336, 1337, 1338, 1339, 1340, 1341, 1342, 1343, 1345, 1346, 1347, 1348, 1349, 1350, A83, A100, A102), NA-66 Harvard Mk. II (508), (Serial Nos. 2501, 2502, 2503, 2504, 2505, 2506, 2507, 2508, 2509, 2510, 2511, 2512, 2513, 2514, 2515, 2516, 2517, 2518, 2519, 2520, 2531, 2532, 2533, 2547, 2548, 2550-2721, 2723-3013), NA-75 Harvard Mk. II (100), (Serial Nos. 3134-3233), NA-76 Harvard Mk. II (259), (Serial Nos. AJ538-AJ597, AJ643-AJ662, AJ683-AJ702, AJ723- AJ737, AJ753- AJ767, AJ788-802, AJ823- AJ836, AJ847- AJ854, AJ893-AJ910, AJ912-AJ984, AJ986), NA-81 Harvard Mk. II (126), (Serial Nos. 3014-3033, 3761-3841, BW184-BW207, A429), AT-6A Harvard Mk. IIB (210), (Serial Nos. 3034-3133, 3234-3343), AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB (649), (Serial Nos. 20200-20209 (ex USAF), FE268-FE353, FE383-FE412, FE433-FE467, FE498-FE527, FE553-FE592, FE618-FE662, FE688-FE695, FE721-FE765, FE790-FE877, FE902-FE951, FE976-FE999, FH100-FH106, FH117-FH166, FS661-FS681, FS857-FS878, FS957-FS978, FT265-FT301), Canadian Car & Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (270), (Serial Nos. 20210-20479), AT-6D Texan (100), (Serial Nos. 41-34177, 41-34244, 41-34304, 41-34335, 41-34488, 41-34491, 41-34546, 41-34548, 41-34549, 42-44432, 42-44454, 42-44469, 42-44571, 42-44613, 42-44644, 42-44732, 42-84324, 42-84331, 42-84388, 42-84481, 42-84488, 42-84650, 42-84660, 42-84680, 42-84757, 42-84832, 42-84838, 42-84841, 42-84844, 42-84847, 42-84933, 42-84962, 42-84965, 42-84971, 42-85041, 42-85043, 42-85052, 42-85056, 42-85060, 42-85071, 42-85165, 42-85174, 42-85256, 42-85357, 42-85359, 42-85360, 42-85404, 42-85465, 42-85477, 42-85550, 42-85585, 42-85599, 42-85691, 42-85739, 42-85740, 42-85741, 42-85800, 42-85802, 42-85804, 42-85813, 42-85823, 42-85913, 42-85923, 42-85938, 42-86027, 42-86053, 42-86161, 42-86211, 42-86328, 42-86374, 42-86465, 42-86544, 42-86545, 44-80858, 44-80866, 44-80932, 44-80949, 44-81042, 44-81071, 44-81078, 44-81152, 44-81197, 44-81201, 44-81433, 44-81440, 44-81464, 44-81470, 44-81482, 44-81488, 44-81493, 44-81494, 44-81506, 44-81514, 44-81525, 44-81528, 44-81566, 44-81569, 44-81577, 44-81601, 44-81634), for a total of 2,256 Harvard aircraft.

At the end of the Second World War, although the RCAF retained the Harvard as a trainer, a large number of them were sold off to civilian operators. The RCAF soon regretted this, for by 1949 the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full swing and the RCAF urgently needed trainers again. 100 T-6J Texans were leased temporarily from the USAF and a further 270 Harvards, the Mk. IV version, were ordered from Canadian Car & Foundry, Thunder Bay. (CASPIR)

RCAF On Strength (2196), RCAF 400 Squadron (1), Canadian Aircraft Losses (374), RCN On Strength (3). Detailed records of all known RCAF and Canadian casualties in the RAF during the Second World War may be viewed online in the Canadian Aircraft Serials Personnel Information Resource (CASPIR). The  CASPIR website is researched, coded, maintained entirely by Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM) volunteers with only one staff assisting periodically. This work has taken several years, and is unlikely to be finished as continuing research leads to “new finds” and rediscovered Canadian aviation heritage and history.  The CWHM volunteer team looks forward to continuing to update and correct the record as additional information and photos are received. Check here.

(RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2660).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5722207)

Every detail of the advanced training of Royal Canadian Air Force pilots is studied closely by Great Britain's Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Winston Churchill, shown here alongside a Harvard as he visits No. 2 Service Flying Training School, Uplands, near Ottawa. He is with Major the Honourable C.G. Power, M.C., (left) Canada's Minister of National Defence for Air, and Wing Commander W.R. MacBrien (right) Commanding Officer of the Station, 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3520705)

North American Harvard Mk. I, RCAF Serial No. 1331).

The North American Harvard appeared in 1937, in response to a US Air Corps proposal for an advanced trainer. The first of 50 Harvard Mk. Is ordered by the Canadian Government were delivered to RCAF Sea Island, BC in July 1939. By early 1940, the Mk. II was being assembled in California with an all metal fuselage replacing the original tube and fabric structure. 1200 Mk. IIs were supplied from US sources, until Canadian built Harvards started being produced in 1941.

In August 1938, Noorduyn Aviation of Montreal far-sightedly signed an agreement with North American, to build the Harvard under licence. When the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) came into being in December 1939, Noorduyn received its first orders and went on to produce nearly 2800 Harvard Mk. IIBs for the RCAF and the RAF, between 1940 and 1945. In Canada, Harvard Mk. IIBs were used as advanced trainers with the BCATP at fifteen Service Flying Training Schools across the nation. They helped pilots make to the transition from low powered primary trainers, like Fleet Finch or the de Havilland Tiger Moth, to high performance front line fighters such as the Spitfire. A total of 20,110 Harvards were built between 1938 and 1954, 3,370 of them in Canada. Countless numbers of privately owned Harvards are still flying today.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Harvard Mk. IV was built by Canadian Car & Foundry, Thunder Bay, Ontario in late 1951. The aircraft saw service at four RCAF flying schools across the nation until it was sold to a civilian owner in 1965. It was the third aircraft to join the Museum after Dennis Bradley, Alan Ness and John Weir donated it in 1973. (Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583648)

North American Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1323), RCAF Central Flying School based at RCAF Station Trenton. This aircraft was lost on 12 September 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205786)

North American Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1335), ex-61-1517, at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, Feb 1940.  1335 was taken on strength on 2 Sep 1939, operating out of Camp Borden and Trenton. It was transferred to Aylmer, Ontario, as an instructional airframe in Oct 1942, and scrapped in 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584074)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 3205), 18 July 1947.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582092)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCAF Serial No. 2964), forced landing, c1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582879)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCAF Serial No. 2964), forced landing, c1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3662025)

RCAF instructor and student pilot with Harvard MK. IIs on the flight-line, July 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3652269)

Just hanging out...Students of No. 41 Service Flying Training School, RCAF, Weyburn, Saskatchewan, equipped with both the Harvard and Avro Anson, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224100)

No. 402 Squadron, RCAF, Harvard flypast, 7 July 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224101)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2992), over RCAF Station Regina, Saskatchewan, 14 Jul 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4324942)

RCAF student pilot taking his place in the cockpit of a North American Harvard Mk. I, 1940.  Photo likely taken at RCAF Station Borden or Trenton, Ontario.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650977)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 3819), 20, No. 41 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), Weyburn, Saskatchewan, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650994)

North American Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FE287), 30, and (Serial No. FE279), 83, No. 41 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), Weyburn, Saskatchewan, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327571)

Pilots A.F. Coggan and J.F. Lawless climb into the cockpit of a North American Harvard Mk. II, at No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 4 Oct 1940.  The camouflage paint scheme on these particular Harvards is the same scheme applied to Mk/ I Harvards supplied to the RAF for use in the UK where camouflage was a necessity.  The scheme was also worn by UK-based Fairey Battles and other aircraft. There weren't many Harvard Mk. IIs that  came to Canada in this scheme (direct from the makers). Perhaps revised instructions hadn't reached North American yet.  (Bob Perry)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327577)

Pilots H.W. Fitch and T.S. Sheppard climb into the cockpit of a North American Harvard Mk. II at No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 4 Oct 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327574)

Pilots T.S. Shaples, K. MacBain, R.S. McCloskey and D.F. MacDonald watch the sky while standing in front of a North American Harvard Mk. II at No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 4 Oct 1940.

(DND Archives Photo, PL-270)

North American Harvard Mk. I.

(RCAF Photo via Chris Charland)

North American Harvard Mk. II (Serial No. 2694), coded 24, from No. 2 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Station Uplands (Ottawa), Ontario.  On 27 Apr 1941, LAC F. H. Sproule ground looped it while landing at Uplands.  The airframe sustained Cat C2 damage but was subsequently repaired.  The aircraft was later transferred to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Station Camp Borden, Ontario.

(RCAF Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, with Santa Claus, and Westland Lysander,   This Harvard brought Santa to No. 1 Coastal Artillery Co-operation (CAC) Flight, Saint John, New Brunswick, Dec 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582927)

North American Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF, in hangar, 30 Mar 1943.

(Library andArchives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583401)

North American AT-6A Harvard Mk. IIB (Serial No. 3101),mounted on wheeled dollies, 8 August 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582274)

North American Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3250), 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583245)

North American Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF, in hangar, T and D buildings, 1 May 1944.

(RCAF Photo)

North American NA-61 Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1339) and (Serial No. 1348).

 (RCAF Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

North American NA-75 Harvard Mk. II being pushed into place in the snow.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199026)

North American Harvard Mk. I being refuelled, Feb 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650991)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FH126), Jan 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404303)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. -210), SS Shulemson, No. 14 Service Flying Training School, winter 1942.

(DND Photo via Chris Charland)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2679).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650995)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2956), 57, in flight, No. 41 SFTS, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3574054)

North American NA-61 Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1321), on skis, 24 Sep 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581737)

North American NA-61 Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1321), on skis, 26 Feb 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581874)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2702), RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, 12 Sep 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581811)

Wireless equipment on an RCAF North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, 30 July 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390852)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2702), Rockcliffe, Ontario, 12 Sep 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3208105)

North American AT-16 Harvard .303-inch machine-gun installation, RCAF, 10 Aug 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650982)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FE346), No. 41 SFTS, 1944.

(RCAF Photo via James Craik)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3337) coded AW-B, No. 420 Squadron (London).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650984)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FE346), No. 41 SFTS, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582331)

North American Harvard cockpit, camera gun and bomb switch, 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650973)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FE3279), No. 41 SFTS, 1944.  

(Bruce Adams family Photo)

North American AT-6A Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3083), 2, flown by F/Sgt Adams, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582859)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II, RCAF (Serial No. 2996), BF, wing down, 14 Feb 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582916)

North American NA-81 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3247), 29 Jan 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582879)

North American NA-81 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3248), V-24, damage, July 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583056)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. FS965) collision with an RCAF radio control truck, 15 Oct 1943.  This Harvard Mk. IIB was from the Test and Development Flight at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario. The accident occurred at 11:25 hours on the 15th, and was the result of a blind spot.  The driver, Corporal A. R. Coulter was slightly injured.  The two in the Harvard were fine but the aircraft received Cat C3 damage.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583054)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB. RCAF (Serial No. FS965) collision with an RCAF radio control truck, 16 Oct 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327281, and PL-1191)

North American NA-61 Harvard Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 1344), FO W.V. Mudray and Sgt R. Hammill, 23 Aug 1940.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4327744)

North American NA-61 Harvard Mk. I, RCAF FO J. Woolfenden and FO I.M.S. Brown prior to take-off, Camp, Borden, Ontario, 31 Jul 1940.


(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203262)

North American AT-6A Harvard Mk. IIB, RCAF (Serial No. 3034), on skis, 21 Feb 1941.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3585167)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20200), 11 June 1955.

(DND Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20479). This was the very last Harvard Mk 4 built by CC&F for the RCAF. A further 285 were built after her for the USAF, mostly to give to friendly European air forces under MDAP. Following RCAF service, she was later modified with a Wright R-1820 engine and clipped wings. It is still in the US as NX1467. (Shane Clayton)

(DND Archives Photo)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20450).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3585015)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4, 20271, RU271, 30 Aug 1954.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3585014)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4, (Serial No. 20271), coded RU271.

(RCAF Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

CCF Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20414), Central Flying School at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario. The CFS relocated to RCAF Station Saskatoon on 1 July, 1959.

(James Craik Photo)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. IV (Serial No. 20301), No. 402 Squadron, Winnipeg.

(RCAF Photo)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20303).

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20304), being restored to airworthy status.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584252)

Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk. 4, armed with rockets.

(Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)

North American AT-16 Harvard Mk. IIB, (Serial No. FE918), preserved in the Shearwater Aviation Museum, Nova Scotia.  

(DND Photo via James Craik)

North American Harvard Mk. II, RCN (Serial No. 2777), coded NAVY-930.

(No. 438 Squadron Archives Photo, via Francois Dutil)

North American NA-66 Harvard Mk. II (Serial No. 2760), coded BQ-A, returning from rocket range practice, 1948.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390853)

Canadian Car & Foundry Harvard Mk. 4 (Serial No. 20272), coded RU, 30 Aug 1954.

(DND Photo via Chris Charland)

North American Harvard Mk. IV, with a day-glow orange stripe above and below the exhaust, on display at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto. Ontario, ca 1955.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584876)

North American Harvard Mk. IV, being worked on by Fitters wearing respirators, 8 Dec 1953.

If you found this valuable, consider supporting the author.
Other articles in category

Aviation