We hope you enjoyed answering the Canadian Aviation Moments in December. We encourage readers to send in their responses to the Canadian Aviation Moments questions at: Your responses will be included in the following month's newsletter. Here are the correct answers:

Question: What RAF bomber was Calgarian Charles Patterson, a WWII pilot, referring to when he observed: “I’d never seen such a dreadful boring-looking thing, nose-down, going at what looked like about fifty mph.”

Thank you Laurie Miller for sending in this response:

I don't have to look that one up! Gotta be the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley. The designer's cranking up the wings' angle of incidence with respect to the fuselage did help with takeoffs and landings, but meant that in level flight the poor thing looked like a basset hound, snuffling slowly along with its nose at a distinctly downward angle, dragging the rest of the machine reluctantly along behind it.

Answer: “That ponderous, graceless, “old flying cow”, the Whitley, had entered service in March 1937. It was slow, cumbersome, heavy and unresponsive on the controls, but it was the first heavy British bomber to have a retractable undercarriage and turreted defensive armament. This “nose down, slab-sided and plank-winged lumbering giant” also had an all-metal stressed skin fuselage, it was immensely strong, and it was stable as a rock. The definitive Mark IV variant, in service from May 1939, was powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines, but it had a humble top speed of only 245 mph at 16,250 feet. It also maintained a disturbing, characteristic 8.5 degree nose-down attitude in level flight, but had a bomb-carrying payload of 3400 pounds. Whitleys were exceptionally unpopular with those who flew in them. Although robust, they were underpowered and drafty in the extreme, and this prompted one Whitley veteran to observe that when one flew through rain this supposedly enclosed aircraft, one got wet.”                         

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – Page 22

Question: When did the Canadian government, prior to World War II, take the situation in Europe seriously in regards to appropriation of funds for defence spending? Of the planned, in 1939, eleven permanent and twelve auxiliary squadrons, how many were planned to reinforce the RAF in need? What were the most cutting edge bombers and fighters the RCAF had in the service inventory at the commencement of WWII hostilities?

Answer: “By 1934, the Canadian government was beginning to see the need for a renewed emphasis on national defence spending in general and on military aviation in particular, although it was not imbued with quite the same sense of urgency as were many Britons. Nonetheless, it took the Munich Crisis of 1938 to really reinforce the lamentable state of the Canadian military. In order to counter the harsh realities of technological obsolescence and diminutive force structure, the January 1939 Parliament approved an unprecedented $60 million appropriation for defence spending, of which $23.5 million would be earmarked for the RCAF. The plan was to build an operational air force of eleven permanent and twelve auxiliary squadrons, although all of them were to be dedicated to home defence, with no provision being made at that time for a Canadian expeditionary force to reinforce the RAF in time of need. Obsolete and underpowered Fairey Battle light bombers and a handful of Hawker Hurricane fighters were the most ”cutting-edge” aircraft in the service inventory at the commencement of hostilities.”

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – David L. Bashow – Pages 19-20

Question: Who devised the name “Snowbirds” for Canada’s formation team? What year did the Snowbirds first appear, and where was their first appearance? How many shows did they do in the first year, and what was the public’s reaction?

Answer: “The new team was named “Snowbirds,” the result of a name-the-team contest held at the base elementary school in June 1971. The winning entry was submitted by Doug Farmer, a Grade 6 student. The team first appeared as the Snowbirds at the Saskatchewan Homecoming Air Show in 1971. This performance was followed by appearances at other major air shows and at military bases across Canada. During their first show season, the team performed twenty-seven times. Public response indicated that re-establishing a Canadian formation team was a popular move.”

Source: Snowbirds –Behind The Scenes With Canada’s Air Demonstration Team – By Mike Sroka – Page 23

The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS.

The Canadian Aviation Moments questions for January are:

Question: What WW II British aircraft was referred to as “The Flying Panhandle”, “The Flying  Tadpole”, or “The Flying Suitcase”?

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – Page 22

Question: What was the paper strength of the RAF Bomber Command on Aug 31, 1939? What was its effective strength 3 days later?                                              

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – Page 21

Question: What airplane represents the first experiment in aviation by the Canadian military?

Source: Canadian Combat and Support Aircraft – Page 261