Main Menu

Noordyun Norseman


With the help of bush operators, Noorduyn set about studying the peculiar needs of the people who flew into the mining areas. Noorduyn built the airplane to be con-vertible from wheels to skis and floats without penalties in handling. He designed it with generous fuel capacity for the extended endurance that bush flying demanded. He built in a simple, gravity-fed fuel system, and he developed an arrangement whereby fuel could be injected into the lubricating oil in the crankcase to dilute it. That meant the air-plane would not have to be warmed with stoves in order to be started in the frozen North.

In addition, the pitot-static system could be blown out by a clever pressure system to clear it of moisture that might freeze and render it useless. The passenger/cargo compart-ment was austere but comparatively cavernous for an airplane in its weight class. As a tribute to Noorduyn's design, it can be said that no AD notes have ever been written on the landplane version of the Norseman.

The plane was well-proportioned, especially on floats and with the Wright engine, the cowl of which continued the gentle, slightly swollen curve of the fuselage all the way through to the nose. The more powerful Pratt & Whitney engine imposed upon the nose a squared cowl. On wheels, the Norseman lost the counterpoint that the floats provided to the shape of the fuselage. The bandy legged struts for the mains only looked funny once the floats had been removed and the vertical members for the wheels bolted on; on floats, the two short stubs at the bottom of the fuselage were scarcely noticeable, seeming a part of the fuselage or a fairing around a float strut.
In 1935, Noorduyn Aircraft rolled out the prototype, which was a product of Canada, financed completely by Canadian money. The company had inherited the old Curtiss-Reid Aircraft factory, built in 1929 on Carti-erville Airport, about eight miles northwest of Montreal. The Norseman first flew on 14 November 1935 as the Norseman 1. The Norseman was the only one of his aircraft to be built in quantity.

By the time the Mark III arrived, the Norseman was powered by a 450-hp Pratt & Whitney. It was the first true Canadian bushplane, with a large, eight-seat cabin, and could be equipped with wheels, skies or floats. In 1937 the Norseman IV was flown, now fitted with a 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340. In common with aircraft of the day, the fuselage was built of tube and covered with fabric. At just over 10 feet high it was a big aircraft. The Royal Canadian Air Force ordered thirty Norseman IV for radio and navigational training. The crew sat at desks in the passenger compartment, where seats had once been bolted down in proper rows.

Following the entry of the United States into World War Two, the USAAF trialed a ten-seat Norseman and seven were purchased for further evaluation trials as the YC-64. This was followed by 749 UC-64A utility aircraft delivered between 1942 and 1945.

At the end of hostilities, production continued with the Norseman V. The Mark V and VI carried on where the IV had left off, offering improvements learned by experiences in the war years, plus some new ones of their own. The Mark VI also saw service with the RCAF as a communication and rescue aircraft. Produc-tion finally stopped in 1959 after 928 airplanes had been turned out. The Noorduyn company and Robert Noorduyn himself never built another airplane. The company still existed in 1976 repairing Norsemans for resale. 


The Norseman V 8-seat transport was still used by the RCAF in 1955 on both wheels and floats.



Norseman V

In Quebec particularly, Can-Car closed down and eventually sold most of its facilities, but it was in Quebec also that it showed its interest in continuing in the aviation field. In 1946, it bought the production rights to the Noorduyn Norseman, an aircraft which since its introduction in 1936 had become almost legendary as a bushplane on wheels, floats and skis in the Canadian north. Some 800 Norsemen were built, mostly during the war years, for the RCAF and the USAAF (where they were designated C-64A).

In the years between 1946 and 1953, when CCF held the rights, only 33 aircraft were constructed. Although it was still suitable for the utility transport role for which it had been designed, sales were limited immediately after the war by the general availability of surplus Norseman VIs or C-64As and later, into the 1950s, by competition from the new generation of bushplanes such as the DHC Beaver.

All Norseman aircraft can be fitted with inter-changeable wheel, ski of float landing gear.

The construction of the Norseman was conventional. Sitka spruce was routed to make the spar, which mated with ribs of the same wood, Walnut was used for certain packing pieces in the wings, and more spruce appeared in the aft fuselage stringers. Chrome-moly tubing made up the fuselage cage, which was covered by aluminium in the front portion and in the belly as far back as the rear of the cabin; the rest was fabric and aluminium dope. Noorduyn took pains to maintain a clearance between the fabric and the structure in order to minimize the opportunities for corrosion. It also made for easier inspection and maintenance. The rear of the fu-selage was proudly advertised as “snow-tight." Flaps and ailerons were interconnected to provide 15 degrees of aileron droop with the flaps at 40 degrees, while retaining the full angle of movement of the ailerons. The aileron hinges and cable pulleys used sealed ball bearings, and despite the aileron's weight (fabric-covered surfaces could be heavy if there were enough steel inside them), it doesn't take any great effort to move the wheel from lock to lock laterally.

Vee struts ran from a point at about two-thirds span to the short stubs that also sup-ported the main gear. On the ground, the weight of the wing and the upward force of the gear on those stubs tended to cancel each other; in the air, the reverse was the case, as the gear acted against the lift force imposed by the Vee strut. The arrangement made the most of the available structure and was particularly important in view of the plane's convertibility to floats.

Inside, the cabin measured 15 feet long, including the cockpit, which made it large for a single. The plywood floor was solid. There was a section in the doorframe that could be removed for a 46-inch-wide opening for extra-wide cargo. The space between the outer skin and the inner panelling of the cabin was filled with an insulating material to retain as much of the warmth from the cabin heater as possible.

Standard fuel capacity was 125 USG, but an auxiliary fuselage tank was available to boost that to 178.5 USG. With the less powerful Wright R-975-E3 engine, which produced only 450 hp at takeoff and 420 hp at maximum cruise, that much fuel could keep a Norseman going for 7.6 hours and cover 1,060 miles. With all that fuel, the airplane was capable of hauling 1,420 pounds. 148 knots was the absolute quickest the 550-hp landplane version could muster. Noorduyn advertised its cruise speeds at two thirds of rated power, and the company claimed 130 knots with the Wasp-powered version at 31 USG/hr; the less powerful but more economical Wright pulled 121 knots on a little over 23 USG/hr. Noorduyn guaranteed his speeds within three percent and his climb and ceiling figures within five percent, so chances are the advertised performance figures were fairly reasonable.

Climb and altitude performance were good. and Noorduyn made a special effort to draw attention to the airplane's merits as a high-altitude camera plane. At a reduced gross weight of 5,200 pounds and with a controllable-pitch prop and a mixture meter telling you the exhaust gas temperature, it could be coaxed up to 25,000 feet.

The unusual landing gear was built under license at the factory, and the reason for its odd appearance was strictly functional. Loosening and removing two bolts on each side caused the wheels simply to drop off the fuselage, stubs to allow either skis or floats to slip into place. Noorduyn was particularly proud of the easy convertibility of his air-plane. "With reference to the feature of convertibility from wheels to skis and floats, it should be emphasized that the Norseman is not a landplane equipped with floats as an afterthought, but that the seaplane and ski requirements were studied as part of the original design. On floats, the balance and the relative angles are so perfect that the takeoff is made easily with full load, without touching the controls and with a strong sense of reserve power."

Cleveland Aerol gear legs on the Norseman had a nine-inch shock-absorber stroke, and the brakes were all-hydraulic. Noorduyn even went to the trouble of designing his own tailwheel unit around a principle his catalogue described as "oil-damped spring action." The skis were built by the Elliott Brothers Company, and the floats were Edo Ys, each with more than 6.000 pounds of flotation, so that the plane could stay up even with the equivalent of one float gone.

When the conversion of the aircraft to military specifications was made, floats took second place to wheels and skis. In terms of performance, the float version and the ski version were quite similar except for useful loads, the skis were lighter. An airspeed penalty of 13 knots could be expected along with a decrease in range, and service ceilings were reduced with wheels off and either skis or floats on.

As happens, the engine option with the greater horsepower did not offer the greatest useful loads. The Wasp-powered Norseman grossed out at 6,450 pounds, but it offered a useful load of 2,775 pounds. The 420-hp Wright version had a gross weight of 6,235 pounds, and yet its useful load was 10 pounds higher.

Norseman 1
Length: 32 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 51 ft 8 in
Wing area: 325 sq.ft

Norseman III
Engine: Pratt & Whitney, 450-hp
Length: 32 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 51 ft 8 in
Wing area: 325 sq.ft

Norseman III
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340, 600-hp
Cruise: 119 mph
Length: 32 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 51 ft 8 in
Wing area: 325 sq.ft

Norseman V
Engine: One Pratt & Whitney R 1340-S3H1 Wasp, 600 hp
Prop: 2-blade
Wing span: 51 ft 8 in (15.75 m)
Length: 31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)
Wing area: 325 sq ft (30.2 sq.m)
Gross weight: 7400 lb (3357 kg)
Empty wt: 4250 lbs
Max. Speed: 155 m.p.h.
Max cruising speed: 148 mph (237 kph) at 5,000 ft (1525m)
Max range: 1,150 miles (1840 km)
Range MAUW: 464 miles at 141 mph
Accommodation: Crew of 1 and up to 9 passengers and 595 lb (270 kg) of baggage and freight.




Copyright © 2021 all-aero. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.