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Forgotten Cub Aircraft – A Brief History (part 2)

Cameron Price, a member of the Ottawa Chapter, presents Part 2 of a brief two-part summary of his continuing research into the relatively little-known story of Cub aircraft production in Hamilton. Cameron made his first trip to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) on May 30 to research the massive photograph collection of the late Jack McNulty of Hamilton, a longtime CAHS member. Cameron's interest in Hamilton-produced Cubs was undoubtedly shared by Jack. He also met recognized historian Terry Judge, CAHS President in 1990-91, at LAC.

To quote Cameron in a post on Forgotten Cub Aircraft Oublie, "I was able to review Jack's notebook master index of all Canadian-registered aircraft sequenced by their CF civilian marking. This enabled me to quickly determine that 43 Cub Aircraft J-3C (35) and L-4B (8) have vintage photographs available. I also discovered one image for CF-BIV (Leslie) taken in Vancouver in November 1956...Overall, a very productive day."

Piper J 3 CF BIV cn C 1127 hamilton 21 1 39 Jack McNulty photo

Piper J-3 CF-BIV cn C-1127, on skis, with the famous Cub logo on the fin, photographed in Hamilton 21-1-39 (Jack McNulty Coll).

On April 25, 1946 an explosion and fire at the fabric and paint factory destroyed three aircraft, including 160C and 161C, according to my analysis. Continued competition with the Hamilton Aero (flying) Club and less than anticipated demand for small civilian aircraft started to take its toll. As well, the City of Hamilton realized that the Cub Aircraft lease commitment was costing the city much more in operating costs. Hamilton wanted to expand its housing community onto the land occupied by the airport and there was no room for needed runway expansions.

To make matters even worse for Cub Aircraft, 1947 saw their first year of a financial deficit. Increased demand for civilian aircraft was not to materialize, forcing Cub Aircraft to broaden its manufacturing capability to include Cub washing machines, venitian blinds and radios for imported British automobiles.

Although Cub Aircraft continued to be manufactured at Hamilton into late 1948, it was decided around November 1946 to start using US Army surplus L-4 fuselages instead of the truss welded fuselages manufactured at the Hamilton factory. Starting with aircraft 233C (and an earlier 207C prototype) the model name was changed to the L-4B Prospector. Without confirmed orders, many completed Cub Aircraft were used in the flying school, such as 215C until sold on May 7,1947. One such aircraft, 234C, was put into storage for almost three years until a buyer was found in September 1949.

Desperate times meant desperate measures to try to save Cub Aircraft. On December 16, 1948, R. L. Gibson signed a contract to acquire the manufacturing rights, tools and parts for Stinson aircraft from Consolidated Vultee Ltd. for an astounding three million dollars. This might have been his last act of defiance? Rumours surfaced and on February 21, 1949, the Cub Aircraft Corporation Ltd. shareholders voted to change the company's name to Transvision-Television (Canada) Ltd. when it merged with General Radionics Ltd. In the same factory where hundreds of Cub Aircraft were expertly assembled and manufactured, the company was now relegated to manufacturing black and white television sets, car radios, small washing machines and venetian blinds.

Glenn R. White, the Piper salesman at Cub Aircraft, took over all aircraft repairs, maintenance and issuance of C. of A. renewal certificates at his Trans Aircraft Company. Due to the sudden and drastic demise of Cub Aircraft, it appears that all of its history and records were expunged. The lack of any preserved documentation helped to inspire me to embark on this project to recognize the accomplishments of the Cub Aircraft Corporation Ltd. Company and its employees. In 1952, the very last Cub Aircraft, C-250, a J-3C-65 was assembled from spare parts at Leavens Bros. in Toronto.

As a denouement to this story, in 1969 a voluminous report was issued by an Ontario Royal Commission into the bankruptcy and collapse of Atlantic Acceptance of Hamilton. Within the report, both ARCAN and Cub Aircraft boards of directors were cited with questionable business practices. In my research, I wonder how much this suspicious activity contributed to the failure of Cub Aircraft Corporation Ltd.
About the Author:
Cameron Price is a retired IT professional who has always had a fascination with aviation since he was a youngster in Hamilton. The lack of any integrated documentation for Cub Aircraft Corporation Ltd has prompted him to embark on a research project and the production an e-book. His primary focus will document all of the post-war manufactured Canadian Cub Aircraft.

Cameron Price

Forgotten Cub Aircraft Oublié

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