The Tracker was originally designed for the US Navy as an Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft for operation from aircraft carriers. It first flew in December 1952 and production continued until the last aircraft was delivered in 1968. De Havilland Canada built 100's of Trackers under licence in the 1950's for the Royal Canadian Navy. Many ex-military machines were converted to a land-based waterbomber role with the installation of an internal water/chemical retardent tank.
The aircraft was characterized by its twin wing-mounted radial piston engines, long, thin folding wings with slotted slats and fixed slots on the outer wing. It handled well at low speeds but could also cruise at 200 miles per hour.
The Ontario Provincial Air Service converted and operated 7 Trackers during the 1970's in a fire suppression role. These aircraft were later sold to Conair Aviation of Abbotsford, BC which produced the single-seat FireCat waterbomber with a fuselage-mounted 3,296 litre water/retardent tank, larger wheels and updated wiring. The later Turbo FireCat waterbomber sported twin turbo-prop engines, on-board computer delivery control and an increased water/retardent capacity of 3,455 litres.