Canadian Warplanes 4: Stinson Voyager

Stinson 105 Voyager

First developed as the Stinson Model 105 in 1939, the Voyager was a high-wing three-seat braced monoplane powered by either a 75-hp (63.4-Kw) Continental A-75 or an 80-hp (67.7-Kw) Continental A-80-6. This was developed into the Model 10 powered by a Continental A-80 piston engine. The Model 10 introduced a wider cabin as well as an improved standard for the interior and finish. The Model 10 was followed by the Model 10A, powered by a Franklin 4AC-199 engine and the Model 10B with a Lycoming GO-145. Six Model 10As were evaluated by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) as the YO-54. The successful tests led to an order for the slightly larger and heavier O-62, later designated the L-5 Sentinel. A number of Model 105s and Model 10As were impressed into USAAF service as the AT-19 (later L-9). After the Second World War, the type was developed as the Model 108, the prototypes being converted Model 10As. (Wikipedia)

(BCATPM Photo)

Stinson 105 Voyager (Serial No. 3478), British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba.

The Stinson 105 Voyager featured a fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage and high-wing wooden wings which along with a 75-horsepower Continental engine and leading edge slots in the wings gave the Voyager great short field performance for its time. A total of 277 were built in 1939 and 1940. One of 26 Model 105 acquired by the RCAF in 1939, FDLM was flown in the RCAF as (Serial No. 3478).

The 105 Voyager name came about as a marketing scheme in order to boost orders. Sales literature emphasized the comfort, styling, and 105 mph cruise speed while hinting at unlimited freedom and adventure. It had side-by-side seating and a third “jumpseat” in back where a passenger could ride sitting crosswise. In reality three occupants was not very practical unless the rear passenger was a child, but the extra space easily accommodated more baggage than competing 2-place designs. Voyagers were owned by notables such as Howard Hughs, Roscoe Turner, Jimmy Stewart, Wilbur Shaw, and Edgar Bergen.

Between July and September 1940, the RCAF acquired 26 Voyagers for the sum of around $10,000 American dollars each. American neutrality laws at the time prevented U.S. manufactures from selling to countries at war, so the Voyagers were purchased as commercial aircraft, each was assigned a Canadian civilian registration number and flown to Canada. Once on Canadian soil, the aircraft were transferred to the RCAF and assigned a military serial number. In this manner a Voyager aircraft with American registration NC22509 became a Canadian civil aircraft registered as CF-BSL before being taken on strength by the RCAF on 8 August 1940 with serial number 3478. It was assigned to the #3 Training Command in Montreal and flew around Quebec and the Maritimes until April of 1944 when it was transferred into storage awaiting disposal.  After the war it passed through a variety of owners before the Commonwealth Air Training Plan museum acquired it in August, 1984.

Within the RCAF, the Voyagers were used for light-communication duties and wireless training. In the communication role, they were used at various stations to ferry senior officers around for official visits and as the “Station Hack” wherein aircrew in non-flying positions could take it up from time to time to stay proficient. With a service ceiling of just over 4,800 metres and an effective range of about 670 kilometres, they were a cheap, effective training aircraft. However, one of their drawbacks was that they could only carry one instructor and one student at a time. As more and more wireless students made their way through the BCATP, the Voyagers were replaced with larger, more capable aircraft. Still, the Voyagers continued to be used by the RCAF until the end of the war, with the last of them being “struck off strength” in January 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582864)

Stinson 105 Voyager, RCAF (Serial No. 3465), 20 March 1942.

(NACA Photo)

Stinson Reliant, NACA, 1940.