The Harvard on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum is one of more than 17,000 Harvards built by North American Inc. aircraft factory in Inglewood California. It was built as a Mark II version, allocated Serial No. 2777 and subsequently taken on strength by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 14 January 1941 as a pilot training aircraft. Harvard 2777 served out the remainder of the war at No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dunville ON, a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) station. Following cessation of hostilities in late 1945, 2777 went into storage at Dunville, but was put back in service in August of 1950 when it was assigned to the RCAF’s 9403 Regular Service Unit where it supported 403 (Auxiliary) Squadron at Calgary, Alberta. That same month it was equipped with a gyro gun sight that enabled it to be used as a Mark IIA armament trainer.
Declared surplus to the RCAF’s needs, Harvard 2777 was loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 29 August 1950 and assigned to No. 1 Training Air Group (1 TAG) at HMCS Shearwater Naval Air Station. The RCAF extended the conditions to an indefinite loan to the RCN on 18 December 1953. It was initially assigned to the Navy’s No. 1 Training Air Group and eventually to its successor training squadron, VT 40, when it formed in May of 1954. Harvard 2777 was transferred from Shearwater to VC 924 naval air reserve squadron when it formed in Calgary on 1 June 1954. It remained on charge with the Navy until February 1957 after which it was placed on Inactive Reserve at No. 6 Repair Depot, RCAF Station Trenton Ontario. When the RCAF retired its Mark II/IIA Harvards in 1959, Harvard 2777 was declared surplus to requirements and transferred to Fingal Ontario pending disposal. As part of the Harvard fleet retirement, Harvard 2777 was struck off strength on 11 October 1960 and turned over to Crown Assets Disposal Corporation where it was sold to private interests.
Mr. D. Currie of Toronto subsequently donated Harvard 2777 to the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it was restored by volunteers from the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Naval Air Group. Harvard 2777 was rescued from long term storage in a deteriorated condition and with parts from other Harvards was refurbished as a VC 924 naval air reserve squadron Harvard with “930 – NAVY” markings. (RCN Harvards retained their RCAF serial numbers but were assigned RCN aircraft numbers as well. Aircraft numbers in the 900 series were assigned to RCN air reserve squadrons). Harvard 2777 for many years was a “Gate Guardian” at the entrance to the Shearwater air base. The aircraft again deteriorated out of doors in the corrosive maritime climate and was brought indoors in 1999 and given a new yellow paint job with “930 – NAVY” markings for display inside the Shearwater Aviation Museum where it stands today.
Clue no. 1
No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dunville ON, a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) station.
Clue no. 2
Clue no. 3
Clue no. 4
24 April 1942 at No. 6 SFTS Dunnville, Ontario
taken from Eugene Gagnon’s nephew’s collection