An Amazing Video of Water Bombers at Work
Canadair CL 415 Water Bomber

Canadair CL 415 Water Bomber

We saw this video on Facebook posted by the Hancock family from Sudbury of water bombers coming down to the Key River to fill up to fight the Parry Sound 33 forest fire which is minutes away from the river. They got a front row seat.

We wanted to find out more about the water bombers in question and found some amazing facts about the water bombers used by the MNR here in Ontario.

In 1944, Carl Crossley, who was stationed in Temagami at the Ontario Provincial Air Service base (OPAS) thought that if planes could drop bombs on cities, as was done during WWII, why couldn’t they be used to drop water on fires? He experimented with a 45 gallon drum strapped onto the open front cockpit his Fairchild KR-34. The following year he put out a small fire in Elk Lake using this method. Unfortunately further testing was abandoned.

The idea of water bombers wasn’t expanded upon until 1957 when another pilot, Tom Cooke, flew out of the OPAS base in Sault Ste. Marie in a DH Otter with an aerial waterbombing pickup and delivery system. By himself, he successfully controlled a mile-wide fire in the Sudbury District.

Today the MNR in Ontario uses the Canadair 415 water bombers, as shown in the video above, and here’s a bit of trivia for you.

  • The Canadair 415 costs about $35 million and can hold a crew of two people and eight passengers unless the water tanks are removed in which case it can hold 30 passengers.
  • Maximum cruise speed is 376 km/h at 5000 ft.
  • If the fire is less than a mile away from the water source, the water bomber can make 30 drops in an hour dispensing 184,100 litres of water in an hour.
  • The Canadair can hold 6160 litres of water so with full fuel and water tanks and people its maximum lift off weight is 20,865 kg.
  • The plane needs 664 m to land on water and 844 m to take off on water.
  • It takes 12 seconds, travelling at 130 km/h, to scoop up full tanks of water.
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