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HISTORIC EUROPE AIRCRAFT
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Popeye the Aviator! By Jamie Chalkley As ever in aviation, it’s always useful to have a ‘Plan B’ up your sleeve! The original plan for this month’s featured aircraft was a rather special Spitfire. Genuinely, a headline aircraft for the Warbird world that you are not going to want to miss. But, for reasons involving various time deadlines and non-compliant weather windows, I’ve had switch things around. Our “to be completed” Spitfire mission will include an aerial task to achieve a very special set of air-to-air photographs for your viewing pleasure, which promise to be nothing short of stunning! However, due to the aforementioned change, I’m instead reaching for the back-up plan for this issue. So, while Plan A’s photo mission remains pending, I take great pleasure in introducing you to none other than global superstar and cultural icon: “Popeye!” Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that?! But in a best-of-both-worlds mix, Popeye is not just an affectionate childhood memory but also one of the nicest examples of a flying Harvard in the world! Confused? read on…
‘A Harvard Education’ The ‘Harvard’ offers an excellent steppingstone from the world of GA aircraft, in particular from lower powered classic aircraft, into the world of high-performance Warbird aircraft. The type was originally of American origin and was designed by ‘North American’ as an advanced fighter trainer
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for military pilots during WWII, to help progress them through combat and advanced pilot training. The British forces placed orders as early as 1938 and were actively training in them before the beginning of WWII. Indeed, could the Harvard be the most widely used type of military trainer of its generation? I counted 62 countries whose military forces used the aircraft as not only an advanced training aircraft but also, in some cases, as a combat aircraft as well (some armed with .303 machine guns, rockets and 20 lb bombs!).
The Story of Popeye After World War II and under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program (MDAP), Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F) in Fort William, Ontario, built the Harvard Mk. IV aircraft. This was similar to the US Air Force T-6G Texan. CC&F built 555 Mk. IVs in total, of which many were supplied to European air forces to train postwar military pilots, while a number of these also went on to serve in post WWII conflicts. Our featured Harvard was built in 1953 by Canadian Car & Foundry. The aircraft served in Germany as ‘AA + 682’ and was used to train German military pilots through to 1955. The aircraft then moved to the Portuguese Air Force. In 1964 it was re-equipped as a ground-attack aircraft and sent to the Portuguese African
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Read GA Buyer Europe Magazine September 2021.