Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 1: The Biplane Era Fighters, Bombers and Patrol Aircraft

Canadian Military Aircraft of the Biplane Era Fighters, Bombers and Patrol Aircraft

Data Current to 10 July 2019.


This aviation handbook provides a quick general reference to identify and briefly describe military aircraft flown by Canadians during WWI and in the post-war Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Canadian Army during the biplane era. The handbooks in this series include a general description and a photograph from the Canadian Forces Archives of at least one of the key variants or marks of each aircraft that has been in Canadian service or used by Canadian servicemen overseas.Each aircraft is listed alphabetically by manufacturer, number and type. General details describing the aircrafts engines, service ceiling, speed, armament and weapons load are included, along with a brief description of the Canadian squadrons which flew the aircraft.This is the first volume in the series. It describes the fighters, bombers and patrol aircraft flown by Canadian servicemen during the biplane era. A list of museums, private aircraft collections and other locations where a number of the survivors might be found is also included. The handbook is not a definitive list of all Canadian-manufactured or operated aircraft, but should serve as a quick reminder for anyone with an enthusiastic interest in Canadian military aviation.

Order book:

Order book in Canada:

Nook book:

For an update on military aircraft preserved in Canada, see "Canadian Warplanes".

Canadian Air Force cap badge.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643715)

The RCAF traces its history to the Canadian Air Force which was formed in 1920.  The Canadian Air Force was incorporated in 1923 and granted royal sanction in 1924 by King George V.  

Canadian Warplanes of the Biplane Era, Fighters, Bombers and Patrol Aircraft

Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.8.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN 3387943)

While flying an F.K. 8, 2Lt Alan A. McLeod won the Victoria Cross for an action fought by him and his observer, Lt A.W. Hammond, MC, on 27 March 1918.  2Lt Alan A. McLeod VC grew up in Stonewall, Manitoba.  During an air battle at an altitude of 5,000', 2Lt McLeod and his Observer, Lt A.W. Hammond MC, were attacked by eight German Fokker DR.1 Triplane fighters.  2Lt McLeod skilfully manoeuvred to enable his observer to engage and shoot down three of the attackers.  Wounded five times and with his aircraft on fire, 2Lt McLeod climbed out onto the left bottom-plane of his aircraft and proceeded to control his machine from the side of the fuselage.  By steeply side-slipping the aircraft he was able to keep the flames to one side, thus enabling the observer to continue firing until the ground was reached.  The observer had by now been wounded six times when the machine crashed in "no man's land," and 2Lt McLeod, not withstanding his own wounds, dragged him away from the burning wreckage at great personal risk from heavy machine-gun fire from enemy lines.  Wounded again by a bomb while engaged in this rescue, he persevered until he had placed Lt Hammond in comparative safety before falling himself from exhaustion and lack of blood.  He later died of influenza on 6 November 1919.  He was Canada's youngest VC winner, and the youngest winner of a VC for an air action.

Armstrong Whitworth Atlas Mk. I (5), (Serial Nos. 16 (later 401), 17 (later 402), 18, (later 403), 19 (later 404), 111, Mk. I dual (1), (Serial No. 112), (later 405), Mk. I AC (10), (Serial Nos. 406-415), for a total of 16 aircraft.  Armstrong Whitworth Atlas aircraft flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Armstrong Whitworth Siskin Mk. III (2), (Serial Nos. J7758), 10, (later 301), Mk. IIIA (8), (Serial Nos. 20), (later 302), 21 (later 303), 22 (later 304), 23, 59 (later 305), 60 (later 306), 61, 210, (later 309), Mk. IIIDC dual control (2), (Serial Nos. 62), (later 307), and 63 (later 308), for a total of 12 aircraft.  None are preserved in Canada.  Armstrong Whitworth Siskin aircraft flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

(Canadian Forces Photo)

Blackburn Lincock Mk. II.  In 1928 Blackburn designed and built a private venture lightweight biplane fighter powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC engine.  The Blackburn F.2 Lincock was of wooden construction and first appeared in May 1928.  It performed well in demonstrations but failed to gain any orders.  The canadian government showed an interest in the design, and a metal construction variant (the Lincock II) was built.  It was tested in Canada at Camp Borden in 1930 where there was interest in using the Lincock as an advanced trainer, but the type was not ordered.  It was later used to perform public aerobatic displays in 1933 and 1934.  One survives in the Streetlife Museum Hull in the UK.

Boeing Aircraft of Canada (Blackburn) Shark Mk. II (7), (Serial Nos. 501-507); and Shark Mk. III (19), (Serial Nos. 514-526, 545-550), for a total of 26 aircraft.  Sharks flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Bristol F.2B Fighters flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Burgess-Dunne floatplanes flown by Canadians are listed on a separate page on this website.

Canadian Vickers aircraft flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this website.

Canadian Vickers Vanessa (1) Registration G-CYZJ.

Canadian Vickers Varuna Mk. I (1), (Registration G-CYGV), Mk. II (7), (Registration No’s G-CYZP - G-CYZV), for a total of 8 aircraft.

Canadian Vickers Vancouver Mk. I (1), (Registration G-CYXS), Mk. II (5), (Reg. Nos. G-CYVK), (later 902), G-GYVR – G-CYVU (later 903-906), for a total of 6 aircraft.

Canadian Vickers Vedette Mk. I (1), (Reg. No. G-CYFS), Mk. II (18), (Reg. Nos. G-CYGA, GW-GZ, XZ, YA-YF, ZK, (later 11), ZL-ZO, 108), Mk. V (13), (Reg. Nos. G-CYVP, WR, WS, YZ, ZA-ZF, 109, 110, 116), (later 803), Mk. VA (11), (Reg. Nos. G-CYWJ (later 808), WK, WL-WQ (later 809-814), 115, 123, 124), Mk. VI (1), (Reg. No. G-CYWI (later 817), for a total of 44 aircraft.

Canadian Vickers Velos (1), RCAF (Serial No. G-CYZX)

Canadian Vickers Vigil (1), RCAF (Serial No. G-CYZW).

Canadian Vickers Vista (1), RCAF (Serial No. G-CYZZ).

Canadian Vickers Viking Mk. IV (8), RCAF (Serial Nos. G-CYEX, G-CYET, G-CYEU, G-CYEZ, G-CYEV, G-CYEX plus two)

Canadian Car & Foundry G-23 Goblin I (15), (Serial Nos. 334-348).  Canadian Car & Foundry G-23 Goblins flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site. 

Curtiss biplanes flown by the CAF and RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

de Havilland biplanes flown by the Canadian Air Force and the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

  (RCAF Photo)

(RCAF Photo)

(RCAF Photo)

Douglas MO-2BS Seaplane (1), (Reg. No. G-CYZG).

The Douglas O-2 biplane family was one of the longest-lived American designs during the inter-war period.  Entering service with the US military as early as 1924, some later models were still service at the outbreak of the Second World War.  The O-2 design featured conventional construction for the period with a welded steel tube fuselage and wooden wings.  Fuel was carried in extra thick centre section stubs for the lower wings. O-2B models were identical the original O-2A model series except the former feature dual controls.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390223)

Douglas MO-2BS, RCAF G-CYZG during an airmail flight to Saint John, NB from Ottawa,1929.

The RCAF’s single O-2BS was originally purchased directly from Douglas during O-2 production for the US Army.  In fact the aircraft was delivered factory fresh in a US Army colour scheme.  It was acquired by Mr J.D. McKee, a wealthy American aviation-enthusiast, and was first used in a Trans Canada flight from Montréal to Vancouver in September 1928.  The aircraft was flown on this historic trip by Squadron Leader A.E. Godfrey of the RCAF.  After the unfortunate death of Mr McKee in an aviation accident in Québec, the RCAF then acquired the aircraft.  It was subsequently converted to MO-2B standard and was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney 425 hp Wasp A radial engine.  It was converted at the same time to a silver colour scheme and carried the G-CYZG registration.  The aircraft could carry an extra seat in this configuration and the aircraft was then used for photographic survey work for the rest of its career with the RCAF until late 1929.

When James McKee bought the aircraft, it was given the United States civil registration NC236. The aircraft was taken on strength with the Royal Canadian Air Force on the 22nd of August, 1927.  It was struck off strength on 8 January 1931.

  (RCAF Photo)

Fairey IIIC (Mod) Transatlantic Floatplane (1) Registration G-CYCF.  

The Fairey III was a family of British reconnaissance biplanes that enjoyed a very long production and service history in both landplane and seaplane variants.  First flying on 14 September 1917, examples were still in use during Second World War.  The Transatlantic was powered by a Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine.

Fairey IIIC, C/N F.333, G-CYCF was specially modified for a trans-Atlantic flight in 1919.  On 7 Oct 1920, this biplane seaplane came to grief 20 miles north of Saint John, New Brunswick.  It was written off as damaged beyond repair.      

The Mk. IV GP was a two-seat general-purpose biplane or three-seat spotter-reconnaissance biplane powered by a Napier Lion XIA engine.  Two examples exist; one can be seen at the FAA Museum, Yeovilton, UK, and the other at the Naval Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.

 (Author Photo)

 (Author Photo)

Fairey IIID floatplane on display in the Marine Museum, Lisbon, Portugal.

  (USN Photo)

Fairey IIIF, HMS Furious, ca. early 1930s

 (City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM1535-: CVA 99-2155)

Fairey IIIF Mk. IV G.P. floatplane (1), RCAF (Serial No. J9172), Jericho Beach, BC ca 1930.  This is the sole British-built Fairley III F to serve in Canada.  It was used for trials October 1929 to September 1930.

  (RN Photo)

Fairey Albacore flown by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy.  None are preserved in Canada.

Fairey Albacore Mk. I (6), (Serial Nos. N4191, N4315, T9244, T9246, X8947, X8952).

 (RN Photo)

Fairey Seafox flown by RCN and RCNVR pilots in service with the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy.

 (IWM Photo, A 22229)

Fairey Seafox floatplane at the Royal Naval Aircraft Establishment at Maharagama, Ceylon, ca 1944.  Canadians serving in Naval Air Squadrons of the Royal Navy FAA flew the Seafox.  The Seafox was a British two-seat spotter-reconnaissance seaplane designed to be catapulted from the deck of a light cruiser.  The Seafox was powered by one Napier Rapier VI 16-cylinder “H” piston engine.  It reached speeds of 106mph/171 km/h, and had a range of 440 miles/708 km.  In 1939 a Seafox played a part in the attack on the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee by spotting for the naval gunners. This led to the ship’s destruction in the Battle of the River Plate.

Fairey Swordfish Mk. I, Mk. II (99), (Serial Nos. W5856, DK698, DK699, DK752, DK774, HS168, HS171, HS196, HS209, HS220, HS260, HS261, HS263- HS266, HS268, HS275, HS288, HS320, HS322- HS325, HS335- HS337, HS339, HS343, HS381, HS383, HS396-HS405, HS455, HS464- HS471, HS484-HS501, HS503, HS507, HS509- HS515, HS517- HS519, HS533, HS534, HS553- HS555, HS560, HS582, HS663, LS193, LS229, NE926, NE927, NE929, NE937, NE938, NE940, NE952, NE953, NF136, NF161), Mk. III (6), (Serial Nos. NR944, NR948, NR953, NS122, NS129, NS171), for a total of 105 aircraft.  Fairey Swordfish are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Felixstowe F.3 Flying Boats flown by Canadian aircrew are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Felixstowe F.3 (11) Reg. Nos. G-CYBT, DH-DJ, DQ, EN, EO, N4012, 13, N4178, 79.

Fokker D.VII War prizes in RCAF service are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Handley Page 0/100, Handley Page 0/400), and Handley Page V-1500 biplane bombers flown by Canadian aircrew are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Hawker Fury, Hawker Hart, Hawker Audax and Hawker Hind aircraft flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site. 

Henry Farman biplane, ca 1919.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390702)

 (Author Photo)

Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn, CA&SM.  The Shorthorn is a two-seat biplane bomber developed in 1913 by Farman Frères, a French aircraft company founded in 1908 by pioneering aviators Maurice and Henri Farman.  The aircraft is a "pusher" with the engine in the rear of the nacelle.  Designed and first flown in France, the Shorthorn was adopted by the air forces of Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, and Russia.  It was manufactured under licence in Britain and Italy.  During its early war service in reconnaissance and light bombing, the Shorthorn carried no defensive armament.  It was later relegated to training duties.  The Shorthorn retired from RAF service in 1918.

This Shorthorn was acquired by the CA&SM at auction in 1981.  It was built the the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) for the Royal Flying Corps in 1915–1916, and was one of four that were sent to Australia in 1917 for flight training.  It was used for this purpose at Point Cook until 1919, when it was sold as surplus.  It remained in storage throughout the 1930s, but was rescued, restored and made airworthy in the 1950s.  In 1956, American stunt pilot Frank Tallman purchased it and flew it in California.  The aircraft was owned by two aviation museums in later years, before the CA&SM bought it.

The CA&SM's aircraft was called a "Shorthorn" because it lacked the distinctive forward elevator of its predecessor, the Farman S.7 Longhorn.  The pusher configuration, with the pilot well forward of the wings, was ideal for observation and bombing.  The crew had to be careful not to allow loose objects to fly from the cockpit into the propeller.  The Shorthorn configuration could be dangerous in an accident because the engine was liable to hurtle forward and injure the crew.

Martinsyde F.4.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390817)

The Martinsyde F.6 was a two-seat conversion of the F.4 Buzzard single-seat fighter with wing and landing gear modifications.  The F.6 was powered by a single Hispano-Suiza 300 hp engine, which had a top speed of 235 kph/145 mph, faster than any other single-seat aircraft of the period.  The Buzzard was armed with two Vickers machine guns firing through the propeller arc.  The F.6 biplane was transferred to the Canadian Air Force in 1922 for test purposes.  A Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard (similar to the F.6), can be found at the Jyvaskyla Air Base in Finland.

Nieuport Bebe, Nieuport 12 and Nieuport 17 fighters flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, F.E.2b, R.E.8 and S.E.5a fighters flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site.

R-100 Airship visiting, St Hubert, Quebec, Sep 1930.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3349142)

Sopwith fighters flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site.

S.P.A.D. S.VII Scout fighters flown by Canadian pilots are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Supermarine 304 Stranraer (40), (Serial Nos. 907-916, 918-923, 927-938, 947-957).  Vickers Canada Stranraers flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.

Supermarine Walrus Mk. I (2), RAF (Serial Nos. L2330, and W3089), Mk. II (6), (Serial Nos. Z1768, Z1771, Z1775, Z1781, Z1814, and HD909), for a total of 8 aircraft.  Walrus amphibians flown by the RN in Canada are listed on a separate page on this web site.


Vickers Gun Bus flown by Canadians in the RFC during the Great War, ca 1918.  None are preserved in Canada.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3391051)

Vickers Vimy.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3391075)


Vickers Wellesley Mk. Is, flown by RCAF pilots serving in the RAF early in the Second World War.  None are preserved in Canada.  (RAF Photos)

Westland Wapiti Mk. II (1), (Serial No. J9237), Mk. IIA (24), (Serial Nos. 508-513, 527-544), for a total of 25 aircraft.  Westland Wapitis flown by the RCAF are listed on a separate page on this web site.