Canadian Cold Warrior

Royal Canadian Air Force Cockshutt 40D Tug

Buy from the home teams,” has long been the a military priority for many countries around the world when procuring equipment. So it was in the early years of the Cold War when the Royal Canadian Air Force procured Canadian-built equipment to support operations in air bases around Canada. When it came to utility tractors, they turned to Cockshutt Farm Equipment of Brantford, Ontario, for some adapted version of the Model 40 tractor.


The year was 1954 and Cockshutt was in the midst of a renaissance of sorts The had introduced a plethora of new, in-house designed and built tractors following World War II. Among them was the Model 40. It had been introduced in 1949 as a six-cylinder 3-4 plow tractor and was the cock-o-the-walk for a few years before the more powerful Model 50 was introduced for 1952. The Model 40 initially mounted only a 230 cubic inch Buda 6B230 gas engine but in 1950, Buda’s 6BD230 diesel was added as an option. The Buda diesels of the period used the Lanova combustion chamber, so were often called Buda-Lanovas.


Delivered in August of 1954, this Cockshutt Model 40 spent nearly 12 years in the service of the Royal Canadian Air Force, apparently all of it at RCAF Chatham. It was built as an industrial and did not have the normal ag tractor features, such as adjustable wheel tracks, three point hitch or hydraulics. It did have a swinging drawbar. Special features included the USA-made Tokheim cab, an electrical system that could be completely shut down and the special “Yellow 5-2” paint. Glen is researching the correct RCAF markings now and isn’t sure if the Cockshutt decals were actually used in service. It’s also possible the tractor had turf style rear tires rather than the cleated ag tires. It was photographed at the 2017 Threshers Reunion in Wauseon, Ohio.

The Model 40 featured a 6-speed mechanical gearbox and could mount a Live PTO, 3-point lift, hydraulic remotes and even a side mounted drum PTO. Most Cockshutts were built as ag tractors, either rowcrop (narrow or adjustable wide front) or standard “wheatland” style but they also offered industrial models and that’s where the Royal Canadian Air Force comes in.

There is no doubt Cockshutt tractor models were procured for RCAF use over the years but we don’t have a complete list of which or when. We have seen Cockshutt Model 30 gas tractors with forklift attachments and Cockshutt 40Ds with a cab. Because many RCAF bases were (and are) well into the frozen north, and fighting the Cold War was a 24/7/365 operation, the addition of a Tokheim cab was deemed an important feature. It’s official yellow color indicates this was a flightline vehicle and the tractor had a few other special options for RCAF use.

Berry discovered the Cockshutt was in service at Chatham from 1954 into

Current owner Glen Berry discovered this unit was operated at RCAF Chatham in New Brunswick, one of the Canadian Maritime provinces. Chatham opened in 1941 and operated as both a primary flight and observer training base and housed a coastal defense bomber/reconnaissance squadron through World War II. It was closed in 1945, but reopened in 1949 as an interceptor base with the de Havilland Vampire and later the CF-13 Canadair Sabre (the Canadian F86 Sabre). Starting in 1974, the military shared the facility with civilian airlines and commercial aircraft and it remained an interceptor base to 1984, when it became a totally civilian airport.


The unheated cab provided all weather protection for the crews and the windows opened for ventilation. Besides the driver there’s room for two slender young men to stand in the cab.



One of the special RCAF features is the knife switch just to the right of the right lower window. When opened, this would completely disable the electrical system of the tractor to avoid sparks and electrical fields that might interfere with sensitive electronics or radios. Like every other military vehicle, the tug has a data plate in the upper left of the cab specific to the service.

With a little digging, Berry discovered the Cockshutt was in service at Chatham from 1954 into 1966 and was used as a general flightline mule. It towed interceptors to and fro, including the aforementioned Vampire, CF-13 Sabre and CF-101 Voodoo. It pulled munitions and cargo wagons and did any other thing needed to help keep the Russian Bear at bay. One reason a diesel tractor had been chosen was for fire safety and low electronic field emissions. These tractors have an electrical cutout that completely disables all the electrical items on the tractor to reduce any effect electrical fields might have on radios. The diesel doesn’t care where the electricals are on or not.

Glen and his brother Craig have just about cornered the market on RCAP Cockshutt tractors. Glen just recently found another Model 40 identical to the one here that was used at the same base. On top of that, Craig and Glen have six of the known 12 Model 30 forklifts built especially for the RCAF in the early 1950s. On top of that Glen is a jet engine collector and had a TF-41 jet engine on it’s special trailer that makes a nice accessory when showing the restored Cockshutt. These tractors turn a lot of heads at tractor shows, to be sure!



The Buda-Lanova 6D-230 was an unassuming 6-cylinder diesel that did the job without a lot of fanfare. It was a wet-sleeve, 7-main bearing engine that could crank out as much as 60 flywheel horsepower at a fairly high 2400 rpm but was limited to just 42.5 hp at 2000 rpm in for continuous use. The Model 40 diesel never had a Nebraska test but the gasser was rated at 45.6 belt hp and 40.1 on the drawbar. On the manifold side of the engine, you can see the glow plug in the intake manifold and also the access plug, into which could be applied external heat via a kerosene or propane torches for super cold-weather starts. By the standards of the day, the Buda engines were considered good cold starters.



This could well be a familiar situation for this tractor. It’s towing a TF-41 Rolls-Royce/Allison turbofan engine. It’s in running condition and because it’s fueled by a JP4, a close cousin of diesel fuel, this writer might not get fired by talking about it here. The TF-41 engine was used originally in the Air Force version of the Vought A7D Corsair jet fighter/bomber, originally designed as a carrier aircraft for the Navy. The AF-spec’ed the more powerful TF-41 Alison engine over a Navy-spec’ed Pratt & Whitney, but eventually the Navy switched over. If you are into jets, you know this aircraft and engine came along after the Cockshutt tractor was out of service and was not used by Canada in any case. The engine is a license-built version of the legendary Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan manufactured by Allison.


Here are two of what might only be two survivors of a very small number of RCAF Model 40 specials. Despite research, neither we nor Glen could discover how many Model 40s like this were built for the RCAF. These are, however, the only know survivors. The red one, which was repainted in the distant past, was found in the same part of Canada as the yellow one and was known to have also served at Chatham. It’s identically equipped and a restoration is planned.


1954 Cockshutt 40D RCAF Utility Tractor

Engine: 6-cylinder diesel, Buda 6BD230

Displacement: 230 ci

Bore & Stroke: 3.43 x 4.14 in.

Flywheel Power: 60 hp @ 2400 rpm

Rated Torque: 166 lbs-ft @ 1450 rpm

Compression Ratio: 15:1

Transmission: 6-speed

Weight: 6,480 lbs.

Fuel Capacity: 21 gal.

Tires:   Front: 6.00-16
Rear: 12-38

Rated Drawbar Pull (RCAF): 4,000 lbs.