U-6A / L-20 Beaver DHC-2
The de Havilland L-20 Beaver entered the Korean War late but proved to be a superb liaison aircraft and also served later in Vietnam. The rugged bush-born Beaver's wide landing gear made it useful in off-field applications. The L-20A utility airplane is an all-metal high wing monoplane powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior engine, driving a Hamilton-Standard constant-speed propeller. The airplane is designed to carry a pilot and five passengers. It utilizes a non-retractable landing gear which may be modified toaccept a twin float installation for operation from water, or a ski installation for operations from snow and ice. The L-20A (Beaver) has been a standard Army utility airplane. The airplane has performed well in the combat environment to include courier service, messenger service, light cargo transport, light supply dropping and bombing, paratroop dropping, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance, photographic missions, radio relay and column control, wire laying, and aerial observation.
In 1962 the L-20 was designated the U-6. The U-6A "Beaver" was manufactured by deHavilland Aircraft of Canada, Ltd. Nearly 1,700 DHC-2 Beavers were built by DeHavilland Canada between 1947 and 1967; of those, about 970 went to the US Army and the US Air Force as U-6As. More than 200 L-20As went into USAF inventory between 1952 and 1960 to be flown in utility transportation and liaison roles. The principal mission of the USAF L-20a was aerial evacuation of litter and ambulatory patients. Other missions included courier service, passenger transport, light cargo hauling, reconnaissance, rescue,and aerial photography. The L-20A saw USAF service in both the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War.
The Beaver was designed as an all-purpose utility capable of being equipped with wheels, skis, standard floats, or amphibious floats. The wings are high-mounted and rectangular with blunt tips. One piston engine is mounted in the nose section. A later development, MK III, has a turboprop engine which changes the configuration of the nose significantly. The fuselage is club-shaped with blunt nose and sharply tapered tail section. The tail flats are high-mounted on body and equally tapered with blunt tips. It was equipped with a belly camera hatch and could be fitted with canoe racks. It has seen wide service around the world for all types of transportation requirements. Among its many uses were forest patrol, waterbombing, parachute drops, aerial photography, aerial fish stocking, transportation and cargo delivery. The aircraft's reliability and stability make it ideal for these types of operation.
One of the most successful bushplanes ever, 1,692 Beaver were built over a 20 year period from 1948 to 1968 and delivered to 62 countries around the world. In 1987 the Beaver was chosen as one of Canada's ten most important engineering achievements of the century.
The name Beaver was consistent with de Havilland's practice of giving their Canadian designs animal names. The first DeHavilland design was the DHC-1 Chipmunk, a capable primary trainer that saw extensive use. The DHC-2 Beaver was developed by DeHavilland Canada after World War II as a rugged bush aircraft. The Beaver led to the much larger DHC-3 Otter and the DHC-4 Caribou, a twin engined, medium lift, cargo aircraft. All of these aircraft have excellent STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) capabilities. The ruggedness appreciated by Canadian and Alaskan bush pilots also attracted military customers to these aircraft. The US Army bought large numbers of the Beaver, Otter and Caribou, and was the largest user of DeHavilland Canada aircraft.
At the US Naval Test Pilot School (TPS), gliders get to altitude with a little help from one of the two TPS U6-A Beavers via a tow line. These aircraft are used to help increase the students' knowledge of the dynamics of flight. The only "lift" the gliders get is from a combination of an initial tow by one of the school's two U-6A Beavers and the pilot's skill.
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