Article: Canada Revisited – The Bristol 170 Returns

  • Image of Bristol 170 Freighter in flight

    November, 1956, Aircraft and Airport

    At a time when the term “modernization” is just another way of saying “complication” in the aircraft industry, it is somewhat of a relief to come across a post-war aircraft that is as up-to-date as a morning newspaper and as simple as a stone boat. Such an aircraft is the Bristol Type 170 Freighter, now on its second visit to Canada, this time for winterization trials at the RCAF’s Winter Experimental Establishment in Edmonton. The first visit of the Freighter was in 1946, when it made a demonstration tour of cities in the U.S. and Canada.

    Stops Enroute

    Arrangements for this visit to Canada were made by Stanley Haggett, technical Sales Representative in Canada, for The Bristol Aeroplane Company of England. The aircraft, which is already in Edmonton, after stops at Montreal, Rockcliffe and Rivers, Manitoba, is a Mark 31 military version ferried over by an RCAF crew. It is apparently almost identical to the civil airplane which made the first trip over here, but doubtless it contains many improvements as a result of the operating experience that has been gained on it during the interim period.

    Since the first visit, civil machines of this type have been constantly engaged in the operation of a car ferry service across the Channel between England and France. It has also been used extensively in Australia for flying meat about the country for reasons which the Australians are best aware.

    Farm Machine

    More recently, Bristol has been carrying on experiments with this machine in the applying of aerial top-dressing. So far, these experiments are said to have been remarkably successful. The latest top-dressing version is fitted with three hoppers having a total capacity of six tons of top-dressing. The shutter system, which controls the distribution of the dressing, is of a simple mechanical type, which can be operated by one man. At an assumed density of distribution of the top-dressing of two hundredweight per acre, each Freighter equipped with three, two-ton hoppers could top-dress 60 acres per sortie and could treat 720 acres during six hours of flying.

    There is nothing pretty about the Freighter. From the tip of its bulbous nose, to its square-cut empennage, the 170 is every inch a workhorse. It can be set up to carry passengers, but it is improbable that it will ever be used extensively in this manner, except as a troop carrier. It should make an ideal large bush freighter, such as some of the larger northern operators might find useful. Its undercarriage is fixed and its construction sturdy and simple. Probably many repairs on this aircraft could be made from out-of-stock materials, rather than with factory-made parts. Engine service should not be much of a problem in that Bristol engines are ably represented in Canada by British Seroplane Engines of Vancouver.

    Civil or Military

    The announcement of the visit to Canada did not stipulate at whose instigation the Freighter was brought over. Possibly the armed services are interested in it as a short range transport and troop carrier. In any case, it can be reasonably assumed that no matter whose idea it was to bring the 170 over to this country again, Bristol would be interested in orders of either the civil or the military variety.

    Says Mr. Haggett: “We are completely confident that the aircraft will operate under fierce winter conditions. With the development of mining and oil projects in central and northern Canada, where take-off space is new and limited, the plane will be in its element – it uses only 1,000 yards for take-off, fully loaded.”

    This article originally appeared in the November, 1956 edition of Aircraft and Airport magazine.

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