Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Aircraft

The Cessna Crane
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​​The Cessna Crane was a stalwart aircraft of the advanced flying training schools of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. To the United States Army Air Force and Navy, the Crane was known as the Cessna Bobcat. To those pilots who loved this aircraft, it was the ``Bamboo Bomber’’ because of the prominence of wood in its construction. The civilian version of the Crane was known as the Cessna Model T-50.

First built in 1939, 5422 were completed when production wound up in 1944. The T-50 was produced as an economical twin engine with a tubular steel frame and fabric skin which cost much less money to operate than other, bigger aircraft of the time like the Beech 18. The T-50 included retractable landing gear and wing trailing edge flaps which were both powered by the aircraft’s electrical system. The wings had a laminated sruce spar and plywood ribs. Initially it was powered by two Jacobs R-755-9 radial piston engines.

The Crane was adapted for the USAAF in 1940 as the AT-8 Bobcat for use as a multi-engine advanced trainer. Changes were made after 39 were produced and the improved version was dubbed the AT-17.

Eight hundred and eighty two Cessna Cranes were produced for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF received 182 AT 17A Cranes (variant with metal propellers and reduced weight) and 640 designated as Crane 1s (variant with minor equipment changes) under terms of the Allied Lend-Lease Agreement. They were primarily used at Service Flying Training Schools to provide advanced flying techniques to pilot destined for operational service in multi-engine aircraft such as those used for transport duties, coastal patrol and Bomber Command. A number were produced for the Canadian Queen Charlotte Airlines which was taken over by Pacific Western Airlines in 1955.

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 ​Maximum speed for the Cessna Crane is 195 mph with a cruise speed at 175 mph and range of 750 miles. Its ceiling is 22,000 feet.

British Commonwealth Ai r Training Plan Schools using the Cessna Crane

     - No. 3 SFTS, Calgary Alberta (Anson and Crane)
     - No. 4 SFTS, Saskatoon Saskatchewan (Anson and Crane)
     - No. 10 SFTS, Dauphin Manitoba (Harvard, Crane)
     - No. 11 SFTS, Yorkton Saskatchewan (Harvard, Crane and Anson)
     - No. 12 SFTS, Brandon Manitoba (Crane and Anson)