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The Taylorcraft as a Bush Plane

The Taylorcraft as a Bush Plane

Using a Taylorcraft as a bush plane can work great because of their STOL characteristics. Like a lot of planes from the immediate post-war era they are small and light. They score poorly on useful load, and won’t find a role as any kind of workhorse (like a Beaver), but they are cheap to fly and can get into some small strips.
Taylorcraft BC-12

When I use the term “Taylorcraft” I’m referring to the BC-12D. Taylorcraft made more than just that model, but that’s the most common model still around. Taylorcrafts (T-crafts/T-crates) were designed by Clarence Taylor, a self-taught aviation English aviation designer/manufacturer who began manufacturing in 1926, and made a real mark with the Taylor Cub in 1931. Taylor got involved with William Piper, and they were in business for a while, but their personalities clashed. Taylor left the company after the Cub was in production, with the aim of building a better version on his own. The original Taylor Cub went on to become the first Piper Cub in the late ’30s.

Taylor, meanwhile, started his company and began producing airplanes. The coming of the Second World War was an opportunity for all aircraft designers/manufacturers. Taylorcraft made light aircraft for the US, Canadian and British militaries. He even had a plant in England making Taylorcrafts and Austers. These aircraft were generally observation planes rather than fighters or bombers. After the war they began making the BC-12D – the logical extension of the wartime birds they had constructed.

The BC-12D is a rag and tube airplane. Taylor’s skill in design resulted in a side by side airplane with remarkably little drag. This resulted in good speeds, good lift, and good fuel economy. They generally have 65 or 85 horsepower engines. My Cessna 150 has 100 horses – imagine how small a 65 horse Continental is! It’s a horizontally opposed 4 cylinder with 171 cubic inch displacement.

They don’t come with electrics. You hand turn the prop and either go NORDO, use handlhelds, or retrofit them. Some, like the one below, have wind powered generators that work off the airspeed. You can’t see it too well in the big picture, but here’s what the round black thing hanging under the fuselage looks like:

taylorcraft BC-12 front end

Taylorcraft bc-12 generator







Taylorcraft BC-12 landing gear
The wings (which were quite well designed and more evidence of Taylor’s skill) have aluminum ribs, but wood spars made of laminated Spruce. If you’re thinking about buying an old T-craft you need to get a good look at the wooden spars – they’re just so old.


With the Continental 85 hp the T-craft burns about 4.2 gallons per hour. It will cruise at 95 mph, and stall at around 35 mph. Gross weight is approximately 1200 lbs. VNE is 140 MPH. The best approach speed is 60 MPH, which isn’t too bad (in my 150 I can approach at 60 mph but usually dial it in at 70 mph). Rate of climb at full power and gross weight is 500 FPM. It will carry 18 gallons, with a 12 gallon fuselage tank and a 6 gallon wing tank. This gives a no reserve range of 4 1/2 hours, or about 425 miles.

As bushplanes the T-craft can be fitted with wheels, floats or skis. The limiting factor, really, is weight. You’ll be able to get into some tight areas, but you’re going to have to travel light, and you aren’t loading a full moose into it – you’ll need a few trips. With the 85 hp motor it performs much better. Useful load seems to be about 600 lbs.

Here is a T-craft on skis.taylorcraft on skis

Here is one on floats (a 1940 model):

taylorcraft on floats

And here is one on tundra tires:

taylorcraft with tundra tires

(Thank you to Ken Stoltsfus, of John2031.com, for some of these great pics!)


My name is Rob Chipman and I’m a realtor and pilot based in Vancouver, BC. I AM NOT A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR AND I AM NOT OFFERING FLIGHT INSTRUCTION! I am sharing my study notes and other things I’ve learned while getting my education as a pilot. You’re welcome to make use of this information, but do not treat it as expert advice.

I really enjoy flying, real estate and the Chilcotin.  My company is Coronet Realty Ltd., located at 3582 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5K 2A7. I have a C-150L that I own with two other pilots, based out of Pitt Meadows. Do not hesitate to contact me by email if I can help you do anything, especially if its likely to be interesting or concerns selling remote property in British Columbia.

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