Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Aircraft: Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster

Data current to 30 Dec 2020.

 (Wilma Bearman Photo via Don Smith)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, CF-BEL, Montreal, Quebec, 1944.

The Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster is an unconventional transport aircraft that was designed by American engineer Vincent Burnelli and built in Canada in 1944 by Canadian Car and Foundry.

The CBY-3 "lifting fuselage" was an evolution of the earlier Burnelli UB-14.  Burnelli worked as a designer at Canadian Car and Foundry (CanCar) in Montreal, and the CBY-3 was intended for bush operations in northern Canada.  The sole prototype was extensively tested but failed to gain a production contract.

Burnelli had a lifelong career devoted to exploiting the advantages of the lifting body airfoil concept that characterized many of his earlier aircraft designs.  His last design, the CBY-3 was manufactured by CanCar in Montreal, but ownership reverted to Burnelli, when the CBY-3 was unable to gain a production contract.  The name of the aircraft, CBY-3, was derived from the name of the three partners involved in its creation: CanCar, Burnelli and Lowell Yerex and "3" from the number of partners involved.  Lowell Yerex was a New Zealander who had formed TACA - Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos (Central American Air Transport) in Honduras in 1931, and joined the project when Burnelli convinced him that the CBY-3 could be used as both a cargo and passenger aircraft.

A follow-up design in 1942 for the CC&F B-1000, a bomber using the same lifting body principles, remained a "paper project".

Originally registered CF-BEL-X while still in the experimental stage, this one-off, twin-boom, aerofoil-section fuselage, high-lift airliner garnered significant interest from the industry.  CF-BEL-X underwent rigorous testing and proving flights designed to show off its potential.  Despite a trouble-free test program and glowing accolades from the press and industry observers, no production orders resulted and the prototype was later sold in the United States, Reg. No. N17N.

Moving to Southampton, New York, Burnelli continued to promote his airfoil-shaped fuselage transport aircraft.  In 1955, he adapted the CBY-3 to carry an expedition of 20 passengers and 41 sled dogs, along with their equipment, to the North Pole, but the enterprise was canceled.

The Loadmaster continued to fly regularly as a commercial airliner both in northern Canada and South America; acquired with design rights by Airlifts Inc. in Miami, Florida, it went to Venezuela, and returned to Burnelli Avionics for refitting with Wright R-2600 engines, and finally ended its flying days at Baltimore's airport in Maryland.  (Townend, David R. Clipped Wings – The History of Aborted Aircraft Projects. Markham, Ontario: AeroFile Publications, 2007)

 (Bill Larkins Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, CF-BEL, Montreal, Quebec, May 1948.

 (SDASM Archives Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, Reg. No. N17N.

 (Poggiosantos Photo)

In 1964, the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster was retired to the New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where it was displayed outside.  As of January 2015, the aircraft had been moved into the museum's restoration hangar and is being worked on by a team of volunteers.

(Quezon95 Photo)

Plan view of the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster.

 (Author Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

 (Author Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

 (Author Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster, New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

 (Jeff Nelson Photo)

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster (Serial No.), built by the Canadian Car and Foundry company in 1944.  Reg. No. N17N.  Currently undergoing restoration.