The Husky was unchallenged in its efficient use of cabin space and ease of loading. The unique rear door made loading and unloading large bulky items relatively easy and there are records of the plane flying with the door open to accommodate a load of lumber. With a large load well balanced fore and aft and the floats awash to the rear struts the plane had to be worked up on the step. The port and starboard side doors made for easy loading of small freight or passengers. Equipped with seats and seat slings it could carry a pilot and nine passengers.
The genesis of the Husky was in the decision of the OPAS to replace its fleet of Norseman with 25 new newly designed bushplanes. The Air Service specified that the plane had to use the R 985 engine and have the ability to carry an eighteen foot canoe internally. Fairchild saw this as an opportunity to fill the post war sales gap and to utilize its Canadian engineering and design staff. They adopted the philosophy of a big wing, clean lines and the small engine to provide economical operation. The result was an all aluminum semi-monocque structure with four main T section longerons, an internally folding rear door, two aft freight doors and two pilot doors. The wing was aluminum with a spot welded leading edge and fabric covering between the two spars. The fixed empennage components were all aluminum and all moving components, including the ailerons, were fabric covered. The rudder and elevator was interchangeable. An innovation was the first use in this class of plane of a single slotted flap.
The first flight was at Longeuil, Quebec on June 11, 1946 with certification in September at 6300 lbs. CF-BQC was first and it was joined by EIL, EIM and EIN at Nickel Belt Airways in Sudbury, Ontario. With some modification and strengthening the plane was recertified at 6800 lbs. on floats and later, with optional Mayson & Campbell pneumatic pedestals, at 6500 lbs. on skis. Shortly after the company entered bankruptcy due to a series of events including the loss of a twin engine trainer contract for the RCAF, the news that OPAS had decided on the Beaver and serious financial loses arising out of the company’s pre-fabricated house building venture. The twelve aircraft which had been sold were completed and the tools and residual inventory taken over by Nickel Belt.
In Saskatchewan one Husky with the air ambulance service was JATO equipped. In the 1950s, four aircraft were converted as Super Huskys F-11-2 with a 550 HP Alvis Leonides 503/8 engine and an 11 foot de Haviland three bladed prop. This brought the gross weight to 7920 lbs., the disposable load to 2800 lbs. and increased the cruising speed from 130 to 145 mph.
Pilot Don McIntyre summed up the Husky "It was the best bush plane I ever flew". .
|#1||CF-BQC||Nickel Belt Airways|
|#2||CF-EIL||Nickel Belt Airways, now C-GCYV|
|#3||CF-EIM||Nickel Belt Airways|
|#4||CF-EIN||Nickel Belt Airways|
|#6||CF-EIP||Nickel Belt Airways|
|#7||CF-EIQ||Nickel Belt Airways|