1940 Fleet Model 16B “Finch”

Fleet 16B Finch Mk.VI - C-FFUI

The Fleet Finch was essentially a further development of the company's Fawn design. The RCAF had evaluated the Fleet 10D which was a development of it's Fleet Model 7 aircraft. The RCAF then requested further modifications to the design of the aircraft to make it fully aerobatic along with other equipment changes. This revised design was then designated as the Model 16 or “Finch” in RCAF service.

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. In service, a sliding cockpit enclosure was developed and this became a standard feature on all RCAF aircraft. The Fleet Finch, like its predecessor the Fleet Fawn, was a rugged and successful elementary trainer that served the RCAF very well. The last aircraft were struck off strength in 1947.

The Tiger Boys Finch was built in 1940 and served as a primary trainer at Elementary Flying Schools in Windsor Mills and Cap De Madelaine, Quebec throughout the war (Our Fleet can be seen flying out of Windsor Mills in the 1940's film, Knights Of The Air.)

After the end of hostilities, the Finch had over 25 owners before ending up as a derelict in Mexico! The Tiger Boys purchased the wreck and brought it home to Canada where the airframe underwent a complete overhaul.

When the airplane finally flew in the late 90's, it was the Finch’s first flight in more than 40 years!

This rare airplane is painted in the original yellow and black colours of all trainers in the Elementary Flying Training Plan.


Manufacturer:Fleet Aircraft Ltd., Fort Erie, Ontario
Designation:Fleet II
Squadron Mkgs:4738 (No.22 EFTS)
Serial Number:399
First Flew:May 1, 1928
Type:Primary Trainer
Length:21'8"6.6 M
Height:7'9"2.4 M
Wingspan:28'8.5 M
Wingarea:194 Sq Ft18 Sq M
Empty Weight: 1,222 Lbs509 Kg
Gross Weight: 2,000 Lbs908 Kg
Powerplant:Kinner B5-R
Range:300 Miles483 Km
Stall Speed:55 Mph88 Km/H45 Kt
Cruise Speed:85 Mph137 Km/H76 Kt
Max Speed:104 Mph 167 Km/H92 Kt
Climb:435 Ft/min132 M/min
Ceiling:10,500 Ft3,200 M

The Fleet Finch was developed from the Fleet Model 10D on the request of the RCAF for the armed forces. The difference between the Finch I and II was the different size of Kinner radial engine: 160 h.p. and the II - 125 h.p. The first Model 16 flew on February 8, 1939 and 437 were produced, the majority (430) for the RCAF. They were used as an 'ab initio' trainer in the BCATP at fourteen Elementary Flying Schools throughout Canada. The Finch remained in use until the summer of 1942 when it was replaced by the Fairchild Cornell. The last of the Model 16s remained on RCAF inventory until 1947. However, by 1944 most had been disposed of.

This Finch was built in 1940 and taken on strength by the RCAF as Serial No. 4738. It saw service with 22 E.F.T.S. in 1943. After its service career ended in 1944, the aircraft was restored in 1962 and again in 1970. It has been used in many films and TV roles and has received a number of awards at various fly-ins.

Fleet trainers were made in Canada from 1930 to 1941 in models 2, 7, 10, and 16 for the RCAF and civil operators, and were exported to nine countries. The models differed in their engines and in the minor changes made to the undercarriage and control surfaces. The model 16 was designed especially for primary pilot training in the RCAF. From 1943 on, the Finch was gradually replaced by the Fairchild Cornell. After the war, many were sold as war surplus for civilian use and a few are still flying in the 1990s.

Fleet 16B Finch - CF-GER - From Above
The Fleet 16B Finch (s.n 399) - CF-GER - From Above

The Finch served in 12 elementary flying training schools in Canada. Like the Tiger Moth, the Finch was equipped for Canadian winter operations with a sliding canopy over the two cockpits.

Fleet 16B Finch Mk.VI - CF-GER


"The Finch is an odd looking fellow. Like the Tiger Moth, it has a very narrow gear and is difficult to land. It is very susceptible to ground loops and requires a very light touch to land properly. It is more typical of a WWI fighter that a WWII trainer, being more maneuverable that a Moth. A nostalgic aircraft to fly, the Kinner even sounds like an older fighter."

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