The deHavilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo, first flown on 9 April 1964, is of similar configuration to, but larger than, the C-7 Caribou (it was originally termed the Caribou II). The Buffalo incorporates high-mounted wings, two turboprop engines mounted under the wings’ leading edges, a slab-sided fuselage, an upswept rear section, and T-tail.
Despite being evolved largely in concert with (and to meet the requirements of) the U.S. Army, the DHC-5 failed to secure a production contract from that service because of the transfer of the Army’s large fixed-wing aircraft to the USAF in 1967, the latter being adequately equipped with military transports.
The first four aircraft produced in 1964-65 were delivered to the U.S. Army under the designation YAC-2 (later changed to CV-7A and subsequently C-8A) but, as already stated, no American production order followed. Instead, 15 DHC-5As were delivered to the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968 with the designation CC-115, six of which remain in service today. Brazil was the first overseas military customer in 1969, eventually receiving 18 aircraft designated C-115B. Peru’s air force received 16 DHC-5As. Without the intended American orders, this level of sale was inadequate to support further production, and manufacture of the DHC-5A ended in 1972.
In the mid-1970s, the DHC-5D with General Electric CT64-820-4 engines attracted sufficient interest overseas and in 1974 this version re-entered production. Ten DHC-5Ds were sold to Egypt. The Buffalo is currently operated by the air forces of Brazil, Canada, Cameroon, Congo (Zaire), Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia. Total production of all versions of the DHC-5 reached 123 aircraft, with production ending in December 1986.
Canadian Forces CC-115 Buffalo
The Canadian Forces Buffalo is used primarily for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. It has all-weather capability and is especially suited for flying in the Rocky and Coastal Mountain ranges. The Buffalo’s Short TakeOff and Landing (STOL) capability is ideal for rough landing strips.
All six Canadian Forces Buffalo aircraft are used by the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Comox, British Columbia. The squadron is responsible for an SAR-zone stretching from the B.C./Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 750 miles (1,200km) out into the Pacific Ocean. Although this is by no means the largest SAR region in Canada, it is the busiest. The mild West Coast sees hundreds of people getting lost or in trouble while hiking, mountain climbing, boating and flying.