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Canadair: The First 50 Years
Canadair: Cinquante Ans d'histoire
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Authors
Ron Pickler
Larry Milberry
Pages
392
Year of Publication
1995
ISBN
0-921022-07-7

Canadair: The First 50 Years is a story about people and products. It tells of a company that started as a "bucket shop" producing aircraft designed by other manufacturers and ended as a world leader in the design and manufacture of business jets and regional airliners.

Four main periods are covered: the formative years, U.S. ownership, government ownership, and the Bombardier years.

Canadair: The First 50 Years goes back to the company's roots. In the 1920s its predecessor, Canadian Vickers, built some of Canada's first bush planes. Then comes the Second World War, when Canso patrol planes were built under license. At war's end, a group of entrepreneurs took over the plant just as production dropped to zero. They formed Canadair, which cornerned the market on reconditioned C-47s (DC-3s), while developing the North Star, Canada's first modern airliner.

In 1947 Canadair was purchased by an American firm, the Electric Boat Company. This brought Canadair into the jet age with the mass production of fighters and trainers, and gave Electric Boat the revenue needed to form General Dynamics.

The book tells how unfortunate timing prevented two innovative products, the CL-44 and the CL-84, from possibly thrusting Canadair into the ranks of the major international aircraft manufacturers. It describes, too, how the termination of military programs like the F-104 forced Canadair to diversify into new fields. This led to two successful programs, the CL-215 waterbomber and the CL-89 surveillance drone.

The threat of plant closure during the recession of the early 1970s prompted Ottawa to buy Canadair. So began Canadair's most controversial era, that of the Challenger business jet. From early excitement and optimism, through delays, disappointments, criticism and eventual government bail-out, to worldwide acclaim, the details are all here. The final chapters describe the exciting developments at Canadair since the acquisition by Bombardier and outline its strategy for a bright future.

Besides detailed text and hundreds of photos, Canadair: The First 50 Years includes an appendix with three-views, lists of products, studies, first flights, awards, etc. — more than enough data to satisfy the most demanding aviation "buff".