• Status: On loan to the South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation
  • Airworthiness: Static display
  • Type: Trainer
  • Built: 1940
  • Serial Number: RCAF 3350
  • Construction Number: 64-2206
  • Civil Registration: CF-CWZ
  • Current Markings: RCAF 3350
  • Length: 28 ft 11 in
  • Wingspan: 42 ft
  • Power: 420 hp
  • Engine: 1 x Wright R-975-E3 Whirlwind
  • Maximum Speed: 170 mph
  • Cruising Speed: 135 mph
  • Service Ceiling: 20,000 ft
  • Range: 750 miles

Aircraft Description

The North American Yale is an earlier fixed undercarriage version of the famous Harvard trainer. Ordered by the US Air Corps as its first modern trainer, the BT-9 first flew in April 1936. Later, the French Armed Forces ordered substantial numbers of them, most of which were delivered before France fell to the Germans in June 1940.

About 120 aircraft remained in California awaiting shipment, so North American asked the British Government if they were interested in them. The reply was positive, so designated as the “Yale”, the aircraft were sent to Canada for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. By August 1940, Yales were flying with No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Camp Borden, Ontario and later three other SFTS in Ontario received them. Yales continued to fly in this role until October 1943, when they were withdrawn from pilot training. The RCAF had found that an intermediate trainer was not required.

The Yales then went on to a second career as wireless operator trainers. The aircraft were sent to all four RCAF Wireless schools and in this role, they continued on until the end of the war when they were retired.

Undoubtedly the Yale would have disappeared completely, had it not been for Ernie Simmons. He purchased 39 Yales from the Canadian Government in 1946. These aircraft were stored on his farm at Tillsonburg, Ontario, in the hope that the government might need them again. In 1971, his aircraft collection was auctioned after he died and many Yales then became available for restoration.

The Museum's Yale served at No.1 SFTS Camp Borden, Ontario from 1940 to 1943 and then at RCAF Wireless Schools in Ontario until 1945. It was sold as war surplus to Ernie Simmons and sat derelict until 1970. The aircraft was purchased by William Gregg, who donated it to the Museum. Another 20 years were spent restoring the aircraft to flying condition. It now displays the colours and markings it had at Camp Borden in 1940.

© Canadian Warplane Heritage 2024