NO. 6 RCAF Museum Dunnville

TOUR

Take a Tour of our Museum

As you drive south on Port Maitland Rd. towards the Port Maitland Pier, the former Dunnville Airport will be on your right with a sign welcoming you to the No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum.  As you approach the entrance, look for the white, concrete building to the left of the driveway with the large sign.  If the OPEN sign is lit, come on in. 

If you want to see more detail on the embedded photos, just click on a photo and an enlarged version will open in a new window.

The Memorial Garden

From the Airport entrance, you will see a Harvard aircraft mounted on a pedestal. The plane marks the Memorial Garden with the RCAF flag and those of the five countries who sent men to be trained here.

Turn right into the driveway and follow it to the entry to the Memorial Garden on the right. Take the time to drive in, get out and inspect the monuments.

The number 47 on the side of the Harvard denotes the number of students and instructors who lost their lives during training at the No. 6 SFTS. These men are memorialized with a monument plaque that records their name, rank, and home air force.

Granite monuments also honour those who died during training at the No. 16 SFTS in Hagersville and the No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School in nearby Jarvis.

There are two historical plaques as well as more than 170 granite stones in memory of those who served in WW II as well as Museum members.

Thanks to a $9,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Museum was able to refurbish the Memorial Harvard in time for the 2013 summer season.

The Museum

Return to your car and drive to  Hangar 1, on the left as you drove in. 

The entrance to the Museum is down the side of the hangar to the left by the "Museum Open Today" sign.  

Park in the small parking lot across from the Museum entrance

The Welcome desk and merchandise will be on your right.  

       

Pick up a copy of the Museum brochure and membership application there.

Among the items on the wall in front of you are aerial views of the No. 6 SFTS, and the original drawings used by Timbro Construction to turn farmland into a working training base in only a few months in the summer and fall of 1940.  To your left is a Guest Register.  Please sign it when you visit in person.  

Most of the Museum displays are to your left as you come in, but take your time to look around. There is no defined route through the displays, so take your time to find those items that most capture your interest.


A Museum member will be available to give you a guided tour of the inside displays before going into the hangar through the Uniform Hall to see the vintage aircraft.  In addition to our vintage aircraft, the Museum has a wealth of photographs, pilot log books, personal histories, No. 6 SFTS course records and scrapbooks, training materials, navigation equipment, many model aircraft, and much more.  Original items from the No. 6 SFTS include the last RCAF flag to fly over the base, a Link Trainer believed to have been used here, lockers and a desk from the fire station,  and a pair of chairs from the Guard House.  

New in 2013 is a display of WW I memorablia, and information about the Silver Dart.

 

 

We have an extensive display of uniforms in our Uniform Hall showing the changes over the years.

 

 

 As you proceed through the  Uniform Hall on the way to see the  planes in the hangar, you will see a  Link Trainer that was actually used at the No. 6 SFTS.  The trainer was  brought back to the Museum thanks to donations from Jack Murphy,                                                                                                      Carol Logan, Paul Segui, Ed Franks, Don Oatman, Ernie Amadio, Jim Mattice and James Bird.

The Planes

Our half of Hangar 1 houses a WW II vintage Fleet Finch trainer built in Fort Erie.  Before the Airport was closed to flight operations, we had a Tiger Moth, a Yale, and a Harvard.  Tiger Moths and Fleet Finchs were used extensively at Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS).  Students were required to graduate from an EFTS before coming to a SFTS such as the No. 6 at Dunnville.  Harvards and Yales were the primary aircraft used for training at Dunnville.

3 aircraft 350This photo shows a Yale, Harvard and Fleet Finch parked in front of the hangar after returning from the Tillsonburg Airshow on August 18, 2012.  The Tracker is just visible behind the Yale.

 This is a great shot of the De Havilland 82 Tiger Moth in flight with the Dunnville Airport in the background. This version with a stronger undercarriage and a sliding canopy for protection from the weather was designed for training use in Canada. This particular aircraft was built by De Havilland Canada at Downsview, coming off the line in February 1942 and was #1020 of a production run of some 1,300.


The Fleet Finch 16 B (RCAF Finch MK II), # 4708, is shown here outside of the Hangar. This is a refined version of a 1934 design with structural strengthening suitable for aerobatics.  It was built by the Canadian Fleet Aircraft Ltd. in Fort Erie.  With the RCAF designation C-GQWE this plane served at No. 7 EFTS Windsor and No 13 EFTS St. Eugene Ontario before going to St. Thomas for repair training.  Powered by by a 125 hp Kinner B5 5-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine, it had a maximum speed of 104 mph, a cruising speed of 85 mph and a service ceiling of 10,500 ft.

This plane was extensively renovated by a local flying enthusiast.  It was purchased by Russ Cameron, the owner of the Dunnville Airport, and donated to the Museum.  It flew right up to the closure of the Airport and was then mothballed, ready to fly again if the opportunity presented itself.

Thanks to a generous donation through the Samsung Heavy Industries Group, the Museum acquired Yale X9 as a static display.  It was built in 1940 for the French Armee de l’Air.  After the French surrendered, it was purchased by the British Purchasing Commission for use in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.  Given the RCAF serial number 3416, it entered service on September 17, 1940 and initially served at No. 1 SFTS Camp Borden. 

Suffering some damage at Camp Borden, it was sent to Noorduyn for overhaul and converted to an airborne wireless trainer (WT) at No. 9 Repair Depot in St. Jean, Quebec in mid-1943.  It was officially designated Yale W/T, given the code X9 and served at No. 1 Wireless School in Mount Hope, Ontario.  

At the end of the war it was placed in stored reserve at No. 4 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit (REMU) located at Brantford, Ontario.  On September 26, 1946, it was made available for sale by War Assets and passed through several private owners.  Eventually it was purchased by Tom Dietrich, and was restored to a static display in the mid-1990s and placed on outdoor display at Guelph Airpark.  

Yales, and the slightly more powerful Harvards, were the primary aircraft used to train pilots at the No. 6 SFTS

Thanks again to a generous donation from Samsung and Russ Cameron, as well as the Allan Foundation, Lynda Bain, James & Dorothy Bird, Jamie Logan, Pat Logan, Tim Logan and Joe & Lois Weir we acquired a Cornell that is in beautiful condition.  Early experience indicated that Cornells were not sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of training student pilots.  This plane was in flying condition before being put on static display in the Museum.

We acquired a model of a Mosquito bomber, know to some as a "Wooden Wonder" because of its all wood construction.  The model was built by Bill Rice in memory of John & Laura Rice.

 

The Museum houses two static displays not related to WW II.  

The Grumman S2E Tracker is a favorite with young visitors because they can climb inside and sit in the cockpit. Trackers operated from the HMCS Bonaventure and various shore bases for anti-submarine duty.  It was donated to the Museum by Daniel Ricker.

After the Bonaventure was decommissioned in 1970, shore-based patrols continued until 1981.  The few remaining Trackers served until 1990 doing fisheries protection and maritime patrol duties. A few were converted to water tankers to fight wild fires.


The other static display is a 7/8 scale replica of a Nieuport 17 donated by Jock Williams.  It was #3 of a Chandler Arizona-based team that did flypasts for military funerals and other patriotic events.  When that team broke up in the fall of 2006, two of the Nieuports were bought by Jock Williams and brought to Dunnville.  Both were in flying condition until the landing gear on this one failed and the plane ended up on its nose.  Fortunately, the pilot was not hurt.  Jock Williams donated the plane to the Museum as a static display.  Museum volunteers repaired the damage plane so it could be safely displayed. Visitors are amazed by the small, cramped cockpit.   (The other Nieuport was sold to a buyer in Australia.  Museum volunteers assisted in disassembling the plane for shipment.)  

Hangar Art

HARVARD MARK IV:

ONE OF THE TRAINING PLANES USED FROM 1940 TO 1945

                  Painted in 2009 by: Derek Burrage, Cam Grey, Stan Swayze & Ross Watterworth.

 

NO.6 AIRFIELD:

FLYING ABOVE THE NO.6 DUNNVILLE MUSEUM IS THE BI-PLANE "TIGER MOTH".

  Painted by Derek Burrage 2012

 

RCAF FLAG: 1944 RCAF STANDARD FLAG  FLYING AT THE AIRPORT.

  Painted by Derek Burrage 2012

 

        Our Meeting Room

If you leave the hangar by way of our meeting room, this is what you will see.  

Our Library is on the right in this photo.  

Not shown in this photograph is our modern flight simulator that allows you to "fly" a wide range of single and multi-engine aricraft, including all of those flown during WW II.  Each of the BCATP bases has been recreated, so you can take off and land at each base.

Another relic of the No. 6 SFTS is the "Butts Building" behind Hangar 5.

 Backed up by a earthen berm  and concrete wall.  This was a place where trainees could practice firing both side arms and aircraft armament.  The building is not in good repair and is  not available for visitors.


Other WW II Aircraft Heritage Sites


Canada is home to several other WW II aircraft historic sites, including:

  • A wealth of personal stories of graduates of the No. 6 SFTS can be found at http://www.rcafdunnville.blogspot.ca/
  • The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association collection at the Tillsonburg Airport includes six Harvard aircraft, a Tiger Moth, and a Yale in flying condition.
  • The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association based out of the old No. 7 EFTS hangar in Windsor.  They are restoring Lancaster FM212, building a DH Mosquito and fly two Chip,umks, a Stearman abd a Harvard (RCAF s/n 20382).
  • The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Mount Hope, ON has 25 aircraft in flying condition. The most famous is one of only two surviving Lancasters in the world that are still airworthy.  If you like Air Shows, check out the 45 minute video featuring the Lancaster, the last flying Mosquito, two Spitfires and two Hurricanes flying in formation www.youtube.com/embed/ceuU1UQuwVU?feature=player_detailpage
  • The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the BCATP.  The Museum serves as a unique memorial to those airmen who trained and served, and especially those who died, while serving their country in the air war of 1939-1945.
  • The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works & Flying Museum is a “hobby out of control” overseen by partners Tom Dietrich and Bob Revell. For the past thirty-five years, The Tiger Boys have tracked down the remains of rare old airplanes in barns, fields, forests, and from the bottom of northern lakes, then rebuilt these wrecks to better-than-new condition.
  • A dedicated group of volunteers is developing flight simultation software that will allow visitors to "fly" training aircraft from all of the BCATP bases in Canada.  Check out what they have accomplished at http://www.flightontario.com/BCATP/bcatp-schools.htm

Museum will open for Summer hours on May 20

Our Saturday, Sunday and Holiday hours are shown on the Contact Us Web page. We are also open Tuesday mornings all year long from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. You can arrange a tour by sending an email through the Contact Us page or by calling 905-701-7223.

Copies of recent Museum Newsletters now available on the Web site.

Any one interested in newsletters since February 2015 can access those through the News page. 

Records of No. 6 SFTS Trainees

The Museum records of pilot trainees has been converted to searchable digital files to facilitate the search for student names in response to requests from family members. We also have the details of the 47 men who died while training at the No. 6 SFTS, as well as a book detailing every member of the RCAF who died during WW II.  Send requests using the email form on the Contact Us page.

Fatalities at No. 6 SFTS

Details of the 47 fatalities while the base was in operation as a training facility are available by clicking on this link.  


Links to other WW II Aircraft heritage sites are provided at the end of the Tour page.