45 - REG


Serial Number






Year of Manufacture





 Crashed and beyond repair 1956







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Otter 45 was delivered to the RCAF on 18th November 1954 with serial 3684. It was retained by No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton as a reserve aircraft, before going back to DHC in January 1956 where modifications were incorporated by the RCAF's 12 Technical Support Unit at Downsview. When these were completed, the Otter was assigned to 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe on 9th April 1956. In September '56 the Otter joined the Goose Bay Station Flight, replacing 3661.

For the next few months, 3684 flew out of Goose Bay until it came to grief on 15th December 1956. The Otter, on skis, was on a Christmas supply run to a number of points along the Labrador coast with parcels and supplies. It touched down on the ice at Postville after which the port ski broke through the ice as the pilot was taxying to the shore. The port wing came to rest on the ice. The load was removed to lessen the danger of further break-through but despite this precaution, the Otter sank into the salt water and had to be abandoned by its crew. It was some days before personnel from Goose Bay arrived to try and retrieve the Otter, by which stage it was thoroughly frozen into the ice, and their salvage efforts came to nothing. The Otter was left there over the Christmas period.

After Christmas, salvage specialists from No.6 Repair Depot at Trenton arrived. They found that the Otter had settled into the ice, so that only the tail section and the upper rear part of the fuselage was showing. Tripods were set up in the front and rear to support the aircraft while the ice was cut away from the wings and engine. Serious trouble developed when the chain hoist was tightened at the front end, resulting in the breaking away of the whole engine assembly. The salvage crew eventually managed to recover the engine from the water, but by that stage the cylinders were badly damaged.

A heavy tripod was erected over the fuselage and ice was again cut away from the wings. The aircraft was then lifted so that the fuselage cleared the ice by six inches. The wings were removed, and the ice which had accumulated in the cabin was removed, to lighten the load. The ice on the roof of the cabin was 18 inches thick by this stage. The fuselage was further raised and the undercarriage removed. A cradle was formed from boom logs and the Otter was towed to the beach. The salvage operation had taken a month, in temperatures of 10 to 30 below zero.

Despite all this effort, it was found that 3684 had been too badly damage to be a repairable proposition. The accessible components were removed and the remainder was destroyed on site as being “valueless for salvage”. The Otter was officially stricken from the inventory on 11th March 1957. In the meantime, Otter 3681 (39) had arrived at Goose Bay on 30th January 1957 as a replacement for the ill-fated 3684.

History courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005)