Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 2: Fleet 50K Freighter

Fleet 50K Freighter

Data current to 25 Feb 2021.

 (Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Photo)

Fleet 50K Freighter, RCAF (Serial No. 800), twin-engine biplane general utility aircraft.  It was underpowered and only five were built.  Design was started in 1936 to create a general purpose twin-engined utility aircraft for the Canadian market.  It was designed as a short take-off freighter with features added to ease cargo handling.  The Freighter was a biplane with the lower wing an inverted gull wing with either a float or wheel landing gear. Two radial piston engines were mounted in nacelles on the upper wing panels.

The fuselage structure was welded steel tubing with duralumin formers, and a semi-monocoque duralumin nose section.  The wings were stressed-skin metal structure on the inboard panels and fabric-covered wood beams and duralumin ribs on the outboard panels.  The fuselage had room for two crew and up to ten passengers. Large doors and a roof-mounted chain hoist were fitted for use in the cargo role.

The prototype designated the 50J first flew on 22 February 1938, powered by two 285 hp (213 kW) Jacobs L-5MB 7-cylinder radial engines.  It was later re-engined with 330 hp Jacobs L-6MB engines and re-designated the 50K. A further four aircraft were built, all with L-6MB engines. 

None of the aircraft was operated for long, as the design was underpowered and could not maintain altitude on only one engine. The last aircraft went out of service in 1946. The remains of one airframe are held by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

(RCAF Photo)

Fleet 50K Freighter, RCAF (Serial No. 799).

Fleet Model 50K Freighter (2), (Serial Nos. 799, 800).

Fleet 50K Freighter ex-RCAF (Serial No. 799), ex-CF-BJU, Reg. No. CF-BXP, is preserved in the CA&SM.  This Freighter, built in 1939, was the third of five produced by Fleet Aircraft Limited in Canada.  Originally registered as CF-BJU, Canadian Airways used this aircraft on trial for a few months in 1939.  In August 1942, it was leased to Quebec Airways.  It was finally sold, in October 1942, to the RCAF, and used for training paratroopers at the Rockcliffe air base.  The aircraft was moved to Trenton, Ontario in 1943, and flown by the RCAF as an air ambulance and floatplane trainer. 

The Labrador Mining and Exploration Company Limited purchased the Freighter on 14 June 1944. Nine days later, a downdraft during take-off forced the aircraft onto a beach, damaging it beyond repair.  The aircraft's remains were salvaged by the Museum in 1964.  The Museum also has components of the fourth 50 Freighter in its collection.  This aircraft was leased by Fleet to a number of operators before being sold to Austin Airways in 1945.  In 1946, it was destroyed by engine fire.  (CA&SM)

 (NiD.29 Photo)

Fleet 50K Freighter ex-RCAF (Serial No. 799), ex-CF-BJU, Reg. No. CF-BXP, wreckage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.