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Fleet Finch
Fleet Finch II at the Canadian Museum of Flight British Columbia
Role Trainer
Manufacturer Fleet Aircraft
First flight 8 February 1939
Introduction 1939
Retired 1947
Status Retired
Primary users Royal Canadian Air Force
Produced 1939- 1941[1]
Number built 606[1]

Fleet 16B Finch in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Hamilton, Ontario

Fleet 16B Finch at the Canadian Museum of Flight in South Surrey BC, July 1988

The Fleet Finch (Fleet Model 16) is a two-seat, tandem training biplane produced by Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario. There were a number of variants mainly based on engine variations. Over several years beginning in 1939, a total of 447 Finches were built, nearly all (431) of them for use as elementary trainers in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) during the Second World War.

Design and development[]

The Fleet 16B Finch II was a progressive development of the original Consolidated Fleet primary trainer (Fleet 10), manufacture of which commenced in Canada by Fleet Aircraft in 1930. After a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) evaluation in 1938 recommended a number of changes, a total of 431 Finch trainers were built for the RCAF between 1939 and 1941.[1] The aircraft had conventional construction for the period with a welded steel-tube fuselage and composite metal, wood and fabric design features. The RCAF acquired the aircraft type as an elementary trainer. 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.

Operational history[]

The Finch was a mainstay of the RCAF prior to and during the early part of the Second World War, flying at the Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) in parallel with the better known de Havilland Tiger Moth, also produced in Canada. The earlier Fleet Model 7 (Fleet Fawn) was also in use for primary training. During 1940, initial production problems were solved and timely deliveries were made to the RCAF, allowing the first training programs to start up. In the following year, the Portuguese Navy purchased ten Model 16Ds (ordered as 10Bs but changed to the higher powered variant) and later a further five 16Ds were delivered in 1942.[2]

A total of 606 Fleet Finches were produced as Model 16s, the majority for the RCAF. They were used as initial trainers in the BCATP at no fewer than 12 Elementary Flight Training Schools across Canada. Both the Fleet Finch and Tiger Moth were later replaced by the Fairchild PT-26 Cornell. The Finch was progressively phased out of service from October 1944 with the last of the Model 16s struck off strength from the RCAF inventory in 1947.


  • Model 10 improved Fleet 7 with new tail and better cockpit for export.
  • Model 10A powered by 100 hp (75 kW) Kinner
  • Model 10B powered by 125 hp (93 kW) Kinner B5-R, five cylinder radial engine
  • Model 10D powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner R5-2, five cylinder radial engine
  • Model 10E powered by 145 hp (108 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
  • Model 10F powered by 145 hp (108 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
  • Model 10Gpowered by 90 hp (67 kW) Wright-Gypsy or 130 hp (97 kW) Gypsy Major inline engine, built under license in Romania at IAR, SET & ICAR factories, also used in Portugal.
  • Model 10H 150 hp (112 kW) Menasco C-4S Inline
  • Model 16F: One prototype based on the Fleet Model 10; powered by a 175 hp (130 kW) Warner Super Scarab seven cylinder radial engine
  • Model 16R (Finch I): 27 built for RCAF; powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner R5-2, five cylinder radial engine
  • Model 16B (Finch II): 404 built for the RCAF; powered by 130 hp (97 kW) (variously noted as 125 hp (93 kW)) Kinner B5-R, five cylinder radial engine
  • Model 16D : 15 built for the Portuguese Navy; powered by 160 hp (120 kW) Kinner B5-2, five cylinder radial engine


  •  Canada
  •  Portugal
    • Portuguese Navy
  •  Romania
    • Royal Romanian Air Force
  •  Republic of China (Taiwan)
    • Chinese Air Force


Several examples of the Finch exist as airworthy aircraft in North America, flown as private aircraft.

A restored Fleet 16B Finch has flown at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome since at least 1970, with at least three different color schemes in its four decade long flying career in Old Rhinebeck's weekend airshows.[3]

Specifications (Finch II)[]

Data from [2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 21 ft 8 in (6.64 m)
  • Wingspan: 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m)
  • Wing area: 194.4 ft2 (18.05 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,222 lb (509 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,000 lb (908 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Kinner B-5 five-cylinder radial piston engine, 125 hp ( kW)


  • Maximum speed: 104 mph (167 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 85 mph (137 km/h)
  • Range: 300 miles (483 km)
  • Service ceiling: 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
  • Rate of climb: 435 ft/min (2 m/s)

See also[]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Holmes 2005, p 78.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Page and Cumming 1990, p. 72.
  3. "Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's Fleet Finch page." Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Retrieved: 21 December 2012.


  • Holmes, Tony. Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide. London: Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-00-719292-4.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-920002-11-0.
  • Page, Ron D. and William Cumming, . Fleet: The Flying Years. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55046-019-6.

External links[]

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