Robert B.C. Noorduyn worked as a designer at Fokker, Bellanca and Pitcairn-Cierva, before deciding to create his own design in 1934 - the Noorduyn Norseman. Along with colleague, Walter Clayton, Noorduyn created his original company, Noorduyn Aircraft Limited in early 1933 in Montreal.
Noorduyn's idea of a bush plane for the north had these basic criteria: it should be an economical aircraft for Canadian bush operators; it should have a high wing to make loading easy when operated on floats; and it should be better than any bush plane in operation. It was designed from the start to use wheels, skis or floats.
It was structurally similar to the Fokker designs with a welded steel fuselage covered in fabric, and a wooden wing covered in fabric. The landing gear stubs were made to take the three types of landing gear for land, water or snow with ease.
The Norseman was ruggedly built with a large cargo area - 45-gallon fuel drum would fit in the cargo door, an asset especially appreciated in bush flying. There were separate cockpit and fuselage doors allowing the pilot to get in and out rapidly for docking maneuvers when on floats.
The first Norseman flew in November 1935 from the St Lawrence River. The original models were powered by a 420 hp Wright Whirlwind resulting in poor performance for the 6, 000 lb aircraft. Performance was greatly improved when the 550 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp was fitted in 1936 to the Norseman IV.
The RCAF bought the Norseman in 1938 followed by large orders from the US Army Air Force as the C-46A. After World War 2 large numbers of surplus Norseman were available and the last model, the Norseman V could not compete in the civil market.
903 Norsemans were built between November 1935 and 1959. They have been flown in most countries, plus the Arctic and Antarctic continents.
For an interesting story on some of the history of the Museum's Norseman CF-PAA, click here.
Norseman III prototype, northern Saskatchewan, about 1937.