Photostory #495: First of Their Kind: Here Come Canada's Water Bombers
National Film Board of Canada
May 24, 1969
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archive
Canada, with thousands upon thousands of square miles of valuable forestland stretching from coast to coast, has long led the development of aerial forest fire fighting techniques. Now, from the factory of Canadair Limited in Montreal, the first of a stream of specially-designed water-bombers is taking to the air to take part in a global battle to quench the ravage of fire in forest and bushland. The aircraft - the CL 215 - is a sturdy workhorse that can operate from land or water in a variety of capacities. As suited to its primary task as a woodman's axe, this sturdy aeroplane, powered by two 28-cylinder Pratt and Whitney radial engines, can skim over a lake, scoop up 1,200 imperial gallons of water in 12 seconds, then zoom skywards and dump its load on target with extreme manoeuvrability. First production models of the 215 are winging their way to southern France where, operated by the Protection Civile, they will stand guard over the sun-soaked Mediterranean coastal areas and the island of Corsica. Ten of these aircraft have been ordered by the French government, another 20 by the Quebec government to protect that province's valuable timber areas and more are expected to operate in other parts of the world where the annual fire toll in woodlands reaches grave proportions. This craft, with its fine simple lines underlying its workmanlike capabilities, is a versatile machine and in addition to its main purpose is suited to both freight and passenger carrying, and other general duties in out-of-the-way regions and developing areas. Canada's brand new water bomber, the CL 215, is off around the world to fight one of nature's most devastating disasters wherever it occurs with its shocking and unpredictable suddenness. Canada's aerospace industry has added another first to the history of world aviation.