The Beaver was the second design from de Havilland Canada, and is well known for its 'bush' flying role. The aircraft was developed with an eye to the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests which was looking to replace its Stinson SR-9s. The aircraft might have looked very different as it was originally planned for the 295hp Gypsy Queen 50, but development delays for that engine resulted in a change to the 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior. First flying on August 16 1947, and beginning deliveries in April 1948, production did not cease until 1967 for a total of 1,657 aircraft (not counting the Mk.3 'Turbo' Beaver.
A number of civilian Beavers have, and continue to be operated in New Zealand. Initially they were attractive to operators as top-dressing aircraft, and many were imported for this purpose. The first was imported by Rural Aviation in 1951 following consultation with DHC over the new role and adaptations made to the aircraft. The aircraft was seen as a suitable replacement for the DH-82a as a topdresser, and a competitor for the newly introduced Fletcher Fu-24 agricultural aircraft (despite the Beaver's smaller 915kg load). However, the availability of DHC-2s was reduced by a huge USAF and US Army order for the miltary L-20/U-6 (eventually 974 aircraft). About 30 aircraft were used for agricultural work (Fieldair had 19 in their fleet). Subsequently they have also been used in freight and passenger roles. A number of aircraft are still in commercial work.
The RNZAF's sole example was purchased in 1956 with privately raised funds, as a support aircraft ('City of Auckland') for the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition. The aircraft operated from the ice in 1957-58 and 1959-60. It service ended after it was written off in an accident on the Beardmore glacier in January 1960. The aircraft had a mixed identity - originally serialled NZ6001, this was changed to NZ6010 in August 1959 when it was realised the original serial had previously been allocated to the RNZAF's sole Gloster Meteor. Today two aircraft (both illustrated below) wear the plumage of this Beaver. The former FieldAir topdresser ZK-CMW is on display in the RNZAF museum representing the Antarctic Beaver, and ZK-CKH is operated by the NZ Warbird Association.
New Zealand's Beaver population has been slowly shrinking. Registrations were cancelled for ZK-CCY in November 1995, CKD in May 1996, BVR and BXN in June 1997, ZK-CMU (illustrated below) in July 1997, and ZK-AZB in 1998, with all these aircraft being exported. From a high of around 30 in the late 1960's, to 17 in 1978, today (July, 1998) there are 5 aircraft on the active register. The aircraft are :
Other remaining New Zealand Beavers include:
Last Update:- 21 November, 1998
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