The De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a rugged, short take-off and landing utility aircraft ideally suited for bush operations from unprepared airfields.
It can be equipped with wheels, skis, floats or amphibious floats to suit a range of operating conditions. Predominantly used for passenger and cargo transportation, it was widely adopted by the US Air Force Auxiliary for search and rescue missions. In a civilian role, it was utilised extensively in agriculture for crop-dusting and aerial crop-dressing over vast areas.
The design was broadly based upon the requirements of the various pilots rather than aerodynamic or financial design data. Almost to a man they all identified that extra power and a good STOL performance (short take-off and landing) were crucial in such a multi-role aircraft. When DH engineers responded that a major drawback would be poor flight performance they were told by the straight-talking Canadians that 'you only need to be faster than a dog-sled to be a winner'. Another important feature identified by potential operators was the need that it should have full-size cargo doors on both sides of the aircraft so that it did not matter which side of the aircraft was tied-up alongside the jetty.
The prototype (CF-FHB-X) was flown for the first time by Russ Brannock on 16th August 1947 at the DH Factory at Downsview, Ontario and some 1,631 were eventually built in Canada, together with a single Beaver 2, powered by a 550hp Leonides 502/4 engine. Initial sales were very slow at around 3 aircraft per month until an order for 970 DHC-2's was placed by the US Army, with whom it operated as the L-20, or U-6A.
The type was widely exported, serving with the British Army Air Corps as the Beaver AL. Mk 1 and with the military services of around 31 other nations in addition to the US, UK and Canada. One of the most famous exploits came in 1958, when a New Zealand Air Force Beaver played a supporting role in Sir Edmund Hilary's famous expedition to the South Pole.
A turbo-prop version, the Turbo Beaver (DHC-2T or DHC-2 Mk III) was also built and this is described separately.
Despite De Havilland production of the Beaver coming to an end in 1967, Viking Air have obtain the type certificate for the aircraft which now permits them to manufacture new Beaver aircraft to join the hundreds that are still in use today. One famous owner of a DHC-2 Beaver is Indiana Jones himself although in reality the aircraft is owned by actor Harrison Ford who proudly proclaims it as his favourite aircraft.
Many continue to be used, particularly in Canada and Alaska, in their original role although a growing number now serve in the leisure industry for pleasure flight and as lifting platforms for skydiving and aerial film activities.
|Powerplant||One 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior|
|Span||48 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||5,100 lb|
|Capacity||Two crew and up to 6 passengers or 2,100 lb freight|
|Maximum Speed||158 mph|
|Cruise Speed||137 mph|
Number built and Survivors
|DHC-2 Mk.1||1631 aircraft with 450 hp P&W Wasp Junior|
|DHC-2 Mk.2||One only with 550 hp Alvis Leonides 502/4 engine|