The Fairchild Super 71 was a parasol-mounted, high-wing monoplane cargo transport aircraft built by Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. (Canada). The Super 71 was an entirely new design in its time that was the first “purpose-built” civilian bush plane for use in remote and northern locales in Canada.
In 1933, Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. undertook a study of new designs based on their Model 71. A decision to mount a parasol wing above the fuselage coupled with a rear cockpit position, clearly distinguished this model from the rest of the Fairchild 71 series, although the company designation maintained the family lineage. The choice of the unusual cockpit was predicated on the need to have a large front cargo compartment as well as considering the load distribution in normal operation. In use, pilots found that forward vision was compromised to such an extent that few operators favoured the installation, and when the RCAF ordered the type, the specifications included a new cockpit position directly behind the engine.
The design featured a first-of-its-kind (for Canada) duralumin monocoque fuselage with a streamlined oval shape. Wind tunnel testing was used to model the fuselage shape, but also influenced the placement of the tailplane which was altered from its original t-tail position to a high-mounted tailplane (intended to keep the tailplane out of the water spray on takeoff).
Unique in Canadian aviation history, the Fairchild Super 71 was the first aircraft with a metal-skinned fuselage to be built in Canada for bush-flying operations. Purchased by Canadian Airways in 1934, it had a huge cargo capacity and was especially suited to fly to distant camps and communities in the north.
Engine choices varied with as many as six different powerplants being offered: the 493 hp Armstrong Siddeley Jagaur, 520 hp Pratt & Whitney T1D1 Wasp, 525 hp Pratt & Whitney S1D1 Wasp, 560 hp Pratt & Whitney SD-1 Hornet, 585 hp Wright SR-1820-F-41 Cyclone, and 610 hp Wright SR-1820-F-42 Cyclone.
Equipped with floats and powered by the 525 hp S1D1 Wasp, the Super 71 prototype, CF-AUJ, flew for the first time on October 31, 1934. After the aircraft completed airworthiness tests, it was loaned to Canadian Airways which conducted operational trials in both Quebec and Ontario before the aircraft was written off after running into a submerged log and sinking off Sioux Lookout, Ontario on October 3, 1940.
This aircraft is a one-of-a-kind example of Canadian design and engineering specifically dedicated to northern flying. It stands as a testament to the courage and spirit of the aviators of an early time in Canadian aviation history.