A History of the Air Services in Canada

written by Don Nicks
as a series of articles for North Bay and Moose Jaw base newspapers in the late 1990s.

Canada has had a proud aviation history. From those austere beginnings on 23 February 1909 on Bras-d'Or Lake with J.A.D. McCurdy piloting Alexander Graham Bell's Silver Dart through to the present-day, Canada has rightfully been proud of her aviation history. But, what of her military aviation history? This article will present a brief overall history of Canada's Air Force.

Canada's military interest in aviation was very slow in starting. The first demonstration put on for the Department of the Militia and Defence (now the Department of National Defence) was at Camp Petawawa in August 1909, when J.A.D. McCurdy demonstrated the Silver Dart and the Baddeck No. 1 (another aircraft from A.G. Bell). However, after wrecking one aircraft and crashing the other during the demonstration, the Department of the Militia and Defence did not show any interest in this new "fad". Over the intervening years, several attempts were made to interest the Canadian government in aviation. But every time an attempt was made, they were frustrated on the grounds of "no funds available."
Canadian Aviation Corps 
On 16 September 1914 (while the original Canadian Expeditionary Force was forming up in Valcartier), Col Sam Hughes, Minister for the Militia and Defence, authorized the creation of the Canadian Aviation Corps (CAC). This corps was to consist of one mechanic and two officers. E.L. Janney of Galt, Ontario, was appointed as the "Provisional Commander of the CAC" with the rank of Captain. The expenditure of an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars for the purchase of a suitable airplane was approved. The aircraft selected was a float-equipped Burgess-Dunne bi-plane from the Burgess Aviation Company of Massachusetts. Capt Janney flew the aircraft back to Canada. Upon his arrival in Sorel, Quebec, Canada Customs arrested Capt Janney and the aircraft was impounded. After Canada Customs received notification from the Department of the Militia and Defence, Capt Janney and the aircraft were released. As it turned out, this was to be the only flight of Canada's first military aircraft.

While Capt Janney was accepting Canada's first military aircraft, the other two members of the CAC were recruited: Lieutenant W.F.N. Sharpe of Prescott, Ontario, and Staff Sergeant H.A. Farr of West Vancouver, British Columbia. Immediately after Capt Janney and the Burgess-Dunne were released from Customs, the aircraft was crated for shipping, and the CAC sailed on the S.S. Athena with the First Canadian Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

After landing at Plymouth, England, the aircraft was off-loaded and shipped to Salisbury Plain were it was considered unsuitable for military service. It was placed in storage, where it eventually rotted and was written off. Capt Janney, now without an aircraft, resigned his commission and returned to Canada. Lt Sharpe continued in England with the Royal Flying Corps. He was killed while on a solo flight in a Maurice Farman bi-plane on 4 February 1915.

This ended the first attempt at a national air force.
Royal Canadian Flying Corps
During 1916, there was a renewed interest in aviation within the Department of the Militia and Defence. The War Council and the Canadian Headquarters overseas thought that Canada should have their own air services supporting the war effort. Much effort was placed on realizing this dream; however, Ottawa would not support this concept and the second attempt to create a national air force died.

Because Canada did not have a national air service during World War One, many Canadians served with distinction in the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Naval Air Service and later the Royal Air Force. Some of the more famous Canadians were Raymond Collishaw, William "Billy" Bishop, "Wop" May, Roy Brown, William Barker and Alan McLeod to name a few. The exploits of some of these aviators are covered in another article. This early link with British military aviation is where a great many of our customs, traditions and dress codes originated.
Royal Flying Corps in Canada
The British War Office and the British Admiralty viewed Canada only as a potential source of recruits for their respective air services. Initially recruits had to have a valid pilot's license before the RFC or the RNAS would consider recruiting them. This placed a strain on the small civilian training services available in Canada at that time. These civilian schools were inadequate to handle the increased demand for pilot training. At a cost of $400 for 500 minutes, these intrepid aviators paid for their own training at this time. As the demand for trained aviators increased, the RFC found that there were insufficient training facilities in Britain and they turned to Canada for assistance.

In 1917, the RFC decided to establish a training organization in Canada. The original plan called for four training stations with one or more aerodromes at each station and up to five training squadrons per station. After consultation with Canada, the revised plan called for three stations: RFC Station Camp Borden, RFC Station Desoronto and RFC Station North Toronto. RFC Station Camp Borden was the main training site and was accepted on 2 May 1917. In no time, they had all five squadrons and a school for aerial gunnery operating at full capacity. RFC Station Deseronto consisted of aerodromes at Mohawk and Rathburn, and it was operating with five training squadrons by the end of May 1917. RFC Station North Toronto consisted of aerodromes at Long Beach, Leaside and Armour Heights, and by the end of June 1917, there were three training squadrons operating.

With America's entry into the war in April 1917, a reciprocal agreement was established between the RFC and the U.S. Army's Signal Corps. This agreement brought Americans to Canada for training, and it allowed the RFC to train in a snow free environment. Fort Worth Texas was selected as the training centre, and the school of aerial gunnery and the wings from Camp Borden and Deseronto ceased training in Canada in November 1917 and moved to the Fort Worth area. RFC Station North Toronto remained open in Canada to test the feasibility of training personnel in a Canadian winter. This test was so successful that the training for the winter of 1918-19 was to be in Canada. Meanwhile, the other RFC training units proceeded on their 1600-mile rail-trip to Texas. The winter of 1917-18 was spent in Texas.

In April 1918, the RFC, now the Royal Air Force (by Royal decree 1 April 1918), returned to Canada and re-established their stations. In addition, it was decided to establish several advanced flying training units in Canada. By the time the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, the RAF establishment in Canada had a total strength 11,928 all ranks. It was staffed by 993 officers and 6,158 other ranks and had 4,333 cadet pilots and 444 other officers under training. In its twenty and one-half months in Canada, the RFC/RAF training establishment had recruited 16,663 personnel and had graduated 3,135 pilots, of whom 2,539 went overseas and 356 remained in Canada as instructors, and 137 observers, of whom 85 were sent overseas. At the time of the armistice, it had an additional 240 pilots and 52 observers that were ready for overseas service. Additionally, there were 130 fatal crashes involving RFC/RAF aircraft in Canada during this same period.
Canadians in service with the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Naval Air Service
Because Canada did not have a national air service during World War 1, many Canadians served with the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and eventually, the Royal Air Force. Canadians served on all the fronts of the war, from the Home Front (England) to the Western Front (France and Belgium) down to Italy and the Dardanielles, over the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, and over Egypt and Palestine. Canadians served with pride and distinction (3 Victoria Crosses were won by Canadian airmen), and by the wars end it has been estimated that over 23,000 Canadians served within the air services of the United Kingdom, of whom 1,563 made the ultimate sacrifice.

At first, the RFC and the RNAS recruited only trained personnel, mainly pilots. This severely taxed on the training services in Canada. At this time candidates had to pay for their own training (about $400 for 500 minutes of flying) and one prominent Canadian's training school was running at full capacity: J.A.D. McCurdy had a flying school at Toronto Island. However, as the war progressed, the RFC decided to provide pilot training for suitable candidates.

The first Canadians to graduate from McCurdy's flying school were Homer Smith and Arthur Ince. Later Arthur Ince shot down a German seaplane (14 December 1915) off the coast of Belgium; this was the first Canadian kill in World War 1. Another Canadian who paid for his own training was John Bernard "Don" Brophy, of Ottawa. Don joined the RFC after graduating from the school at Toronto Island and departed for England on 8 December 1915. At the time Don reached the front, the life expectancy for a pilot was three weeks, but Don lasted an incredible five months. During this time, he suffered with most of the problems of the day: engine, airframe and propeller failures were common. In addition, during this time, air fighting was in its infancy: rifles and pistols were being carried in cockpits and bombs were strapped to the side of the aircraft. However, after surviving duty at the front and while serving on the Home Front, Don died on Christmas Eve 1916 when the airframe of his BE12 failed and he spiraled into the ground.

Life in the RFC/RNAS was not "a bed of roses" for the glamorous flyboys as depicted in the movie "The Dawn Patrol"; there were many hardships. A typical air station on the Western Front consisted of an open field (airstrip), canvas hangars, officers' mess (normally the only solid construction around) and living quarters (generally under canvas). More often than not, there would be another squadron using the same open field, but established on the opposite side of the grass runway. Flying continued throughout the extreme summer heat with its dust and sweat and in winter during the rains (creating quagmires and muddy lakes) and the cold of November to February. Dysentery, fever, nerves and stomach problems were all common place in the air services, and life expectancy for a new pilot in 1918 had decreased to a few days.

The missions varied with the aircraft. Originally, the airplane was seen as an observation platform for artillery spotting. Then aviators started arming themselves and shooting at each other, with the occasional success. This brought technology into the forefront, as methods were devised to mount machine guns on aircraft. Some of the early methods were an over wing mount to avoid the propeller, mounting the engine on the rear (pusher type) so a machine gun could be fired out the front of the aircraft, armour plating the back side of the propeller so that bullets fired by the pilot would not damage the propeller (this, however, meant that one in every five rounds fired bounced off the propeller), and finally, after the design was found on a German aircraft, an interrupter gear mechanism (the machine gun ceased firing anytime the propeller swung through the firing arc). In addition, the pilots were also dropping things from aircraft, such as flechettes (large steel darts that could penetrate a steel helmet), progressing to grenades and finally to bombs.

Canadians were involved in all the various aspects of the flying war. Of the twenty-seven allied pilots who had thirty or more combat victories, ten were Canadians, including the top ace (Maj Bishop with 72 victories) and the third top ace (Maj Collishaw with 60 victories). In addition, as previously mentioned, three Canadian airmen won the Commonwealth's highest award for valour, "the Victoria Cross": Maj Bishop, Maj Barker and Lt McLeod.

William Avery "Billy" Bishop was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, 8 February 1894. At the termination of a very unsuccessful academic career, Bishop joined the Mississauga Horse and at the outbreak of the war was a cavalry Lieutenant. Shortly after his arrival in England, Bishop saw his first airplane and at that point he decided that the only way to fight a war is, "up there above the clouds and in the summer sunshine". Bishop originally trained as an observer and flew for four months at the front before an injury placed him in the hospital. Upon his release, he discovered he could now apply for pilot training. After completing the course in only fifteen hours, Bishop was posted to a Home Defence unit. Bishop was finally posted to the Western Front in March 1917; reporting to No 60 Squadron RFC. It only took him eight days to score his first victory. Bishop quickly established a reputation as a loner and a crack shot, and his score of combat victories grew very rapidly. On 2 June 1917 Bishop took off before dawn on a mission he and Albert Ball had discussed; the idea was to attack the enemy before he was prepared for the attack. On that day, Bishop single-handedly attacked a German aerodrome and shot down three enemy aircraft for which he won the Victoria Cross. Late in 1917 he departed England for Canada for a well-earned rest. Upon his return in early 1918, Bishop was promoted to Major and posted to command No 85 Squadron, and in his final two weeks in combat he shot down an incredible twenty-five enemy aircraft, twelve coming in the last three days. After this feat, Bishop was posted to a staff job as he was now considered a valuable war symbol. His secondment to the RAF was terminated and he was attached to the Canadian Headquarters Overseas as a temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. While in this staff job he pursued the creation of the Canadian Air Force.

Although he did not win a Victoria Cross, Raymond Collishaw was another prominent Canadian, finishing the war as third overall allied ace. Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, on 22 November 1893. He joined the RNAS in 1914. His first mission over the front was flown in September 1916 with No 3 Wing RNAS. On 1 February 1917 he was transferred to No 3 (Naval) Squadron. In April he was promoted to Flight-Commander and posted to No 10 (Naval) Squadron. With him he took four other Canadians, Ellis Reid of Toronto, J.E. Sharman of Winnipeg, J.E. Nash of Hamilton and M. Alexander of Montreal. With these people Collishaw formed the "Black Flight" (each flight was assigned its own colour and Black was the colour for his flight), one of the most successful flying units on the Western Front. Finally, by January 1918, Collishaw had again been promoted and placed in command of No 3 (Naval) Squadron. Naval squadron commanders were not expected to fly, but Collishaw disregarded this rule as much as he could. On 1 April 1918, Collishaw officially transferred to the RAF and was placed in command of 203 Squadron. In his final four months in combat he scored an additional twenty victories. On 1 October 1918 Raymond Collishaw was withdrawn from the front, promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and posted to aid the formation of the CAF. Raymond Collishaw retired from the RAF as an Air Vice Marshal in 1943.

William George Barker was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, in November 1894. He initially joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles and fought in the Second Battle of Ypres. When "Willy" first transferred to the RFC he went as a mechanic, but flew several missions as a machine gunner. In April 1916 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant observer and in late 1916 he returned to England for pilot training. Upon his graduation in January 1917, he was posted back to the Western Front. After flying a tour on RE8s, he returned to England in early September to instruct student pilots. The restless Barker, applied for a transfer to a scout squadron and in late September he was posted to No 28 Squadron. In October the squadron proceeded to Belgium, but by late October it was moved to northern Italy to bolster the sagging Italian Front. This front provided a different opportunity for the pilots, as the Austrians had very few aircraft and, therefore, the mission was primarily ground support. In September Barker was recalled to England to command the school of air fighting at Hounslow. On 27 October, while returning to Hounslow from his attachment to No 201 Squadron, Maj Barker attacked a Rumpler CVII reconnaissance aircraft and shot it down. While following it down, he was attacked by a Fokker DR I. In the ensuing diving fight Barker shot down the DR I, but received a bullet to the thigh. Upon his recovery from this engagement, Maj Barker flew into a German Jagdgeschwader (squadron). During the spiraling melee Maj Barker shot down another three German aircraft, but he also received two more injures (another in the thigh and one in the right elbow). While the Germans withdrew, Maj Barker crash-landed close to the front lines and members of the Highland Light Infantry were able to extract him from the wreckage. Maj Barker won the Victoria Cross for this action.

Second Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod of Stonewall, Manitoba, was the third Canadian airman to receive the Victoria Cross. His action was not against the enemy, but for saving the life of his observer. While on a photo-reconnaissance mission, McLeod's aircraft was attacked by eight enemy tri-planes. After a fierce fight, a bullet eventually penetrated the fuel tank and set the aircraft on fire. McLeod continued to fly his aircraft while his gunner/observer, Lt A.W. Hammond, warded off further attack. The fire became so intense that even with sideslipping McLeod had to climb out of the cockpit. From here he continued to fly the aircraft toward a safe arrival with the ground. He was finally able to crash-land the aircraft in no-man's land where, though he was wounded five times and his observer six times, he was able to extract his observer from the wreckage. During this fight, the observer was able to shoot down three of the enemy aircraft. For this action Lt A.A. McLeod was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Original Canadian Air Force 1918-1920
As early as 1915, the British Army Council suggested that forces of the Dominions should raise their own air units. Even though the overseas headquarters and the War Council had made an attempt in 1916 to create the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, it was not until the spring of 1918 that any action was officially taken by Canada.

In a memorandum dated 30 April 1918, the Canadian High Commissioner in London suggested that the government consider forming a Canadian Air Force (CAF) in England. His proposal was based on the fact that so many Canadians were already serving in the Royal Air Force, and they had expressed a desire to serve in Canadian Squadrons. In considering the proposal, the Canadian government made a study in July and discovered that some 13,000 Canadians were serving in the RAF, of whom 850 were on secondment from the Overseas Military Forces of Canada. This study finally brought the Canadian Privy Council around to discussing the possibility of forming Canadian squadrons within the RAF, with the eventual aim being the formation of the Canadian Air Force.

The original proposal was to form a Canadian Wing of up to eight squadrons to serve with the Canadian Corps in France and Belgium. The cost of equipping and maintaining this formation would be borne by the Canadian government. To raise these squadrons, it was proposed that a survey be conducted of current RAF squadrons to determine which squadrons were at 60 to 80 percent Canadian aircrew. From these squadrons eight would be selected for Canadian service. Unfortunately, the RAF and the British Air Ministry felt that this would unnecessarily disrupt the fighting ability of these units and the entire field force. In addition, it was pointed out that these units might have a large percentage of Canadian aircrew, but there were very few Canadian ground crew. Thus it was decided to train the required ground crew first before any Canadian squadrons could be formed.

On 5 August 1918 the Air Ministry authorized the formation of two Canadian squadrons, one a fighter squadron and the other a bomber squadron. On 22 August 1918 a CAF detachment was formed at the school of Technical Training at Halton, England, to train the required ground crew for these two Canadian squadrons. On 19 September 1918 the Canadian Privy Council approved the formation of the CAF in England, comprised of two squadrons and a CAF Directorate of Air Services. This directorate was a branch of the General Staff of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and Lieutenant-Colonel William Avery Bishop became the first commander of the CAF in England.

On 20 November 1918, nine days after the signing of the armistice, No. 1 Squadron (fighter) was formed at Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England; it was followed on 25 November 1918 by No. 2 (day bombing) Squadron also at Upper Heyford. To administer these two squadrons, No. 1 Wing CAF was formed on 25 March 1919. However No. 1 Wing did not assume their duties until 1 April after the two squadrons had moved south to Shoreham-by-Sea.

The Canadian government decided not to retain a permanent peace-time air force and orders were sent to cease flying and to package up all aircraft and equipment for shipment to Canada. No 1 Squadron was disbanded on 28 January 1920 and No 2 Squadron and the Wing disbanded on 5 February 1920. The directorate of Air Services was finally disbanded on 5 August 1920. Thus ended Canada's second attempt at creating a national air force.
Royal Canadian Naval Air Service
Because of the importance of Halifax to the war effort and the threat posed by German submarines, the British Admiralty suggested the establishment of two air stations on the east coast; one at the Eastern Passage (Dartmouth) and one at Sydney, both in Nova Scotia. However, the Admiralty expressed regret that they could not provide any assistance in this endeavor and suggested that Canada create her own air service. Initially the Americans rendered assistance by providing two flying boats to patrol the area around Halifax and the Bedford Basin. On 5 September 1918 the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service was approved by the Canadian government. Personnel were to be trained on lighter-than-air airships (dirigibles) and heavier-than-air airships (aircraft). By the signing of the armistice, the RCNAS had 81 cadets of whom 60 were under going training in the United States, with 13 in the United Kingdom and eight in Canada awaiting training. Additionally, six coxswains had enlisted for airship duties and were serving in the United Kingdom.

On 5 December 1918 the RCNAS was disbanded and all the cadets and coxswains were demobilized.
Canadian Air Force 1920-23
18 February 1920 saw the second Canadian Air Force authorized by the Privy Council. This home-based CAF was formed as a part of the Air Board (this Air Board consisted of three branches: Civil Aviation Branch, Civil Operations Branch and the Canadian Air Force), and was authorized to appoint six officers and men with temporary rank. This new CAF was a non-permanent organization to provide biennial 28-day refresher training to former officers and airmen of the wartime Royal Air Force. On 31 August 1920 a CAF association was established, with branches in all provinces to maintain a roster and select personnel for training. The programme started at Camp Borden, using the installations erected by the RAF in Canada for their wartime training. The aircraft and other equipment that had been donated by the British and Americans was used for training. By the end of 1922, when refresher training was suspended, 550 officers and 1,271 airmen had completed the course.

While the CAF was a non-permanent force, it did not embody any units and its primary mission was to provide service training. Many of its members were seconded to the Air Board for its Civil Operations Branch. One Air Board operation that deserves mention was the trans-Canada flight of 1920. The Civil Operations Branch of the Air Board flew relays of their branch personnel as well as CAF aircraft and crews from Halifax to Vancouver in ten days; total flying time was only 49 hours and seven minutes. The Air Board took an early interest in Northern Canada and during the summer of 1922 sent Squadron Leader R.A. Logan, CAF, on a flying expedition of the Canadian Arctic with the Department of the Interior. By 1922 it was apparent that a non-permanent establishment was not what was required in a country the size of Canada and a reorganization of the Air Board was undertaken. The final step to this reorganization was the combining of the Civil Operations Branch and the Canadian Air Force to create a new air force.
The Royal Canadian Air Force
The reorganization of the Canadian Air Board and the Canadian Air Force was completed on 1 April 1924, and the "Royal" prefix was granted by the Crown and added to the CAF. Thus, Canada's fifth attempt at creating an air force finally met with success. The Royal Canadian Air Force was originally made up of three branches: a Permanent Active Air Force, a Non-permanent Active Air Force and a Reserve Air Force. The original establishment for the RCAF was set at 62 officers and 262 airmen. This early RCAF was unique amongst world air forces as the majority of its work was non-military in nature. It performed the duties that today are often performed by civil agencies: photo-survey, casualty evacuation, air mail delivery, fisheries and border patrol, utility transport for government officials, etc. The RCAF assumed control of the original six stations of the Civil Operations Branch of the Air Board at Camp Borden, Winnipeg, Vancouver, High River (Alta), Ottawa and Dartmouth, and the headquarters was established in Ottawa. By 1927 there was strong opposition to the military performing these civil operations. Therefore, the Directorate of Civil Government Air Operations was created to administer and control all air operations carried out by state aircraft, except for exclusively military operations. DCGAO was supposed to be a civilian organization, but in reality it was commanded, administered and staffed by RCAF personnel who were seconded to or attached to this new directorate. By 1927-28 the RCAF had been reduced to two air stations (Camp Borden and Vancouver) and a headquarters, the other stations being transferred to DCGAO. As money was scarce and DCGAO had assumed most of the flying operations in Canada, this RCAF organization was essentially a paper force. The RCAF was essentially training personnel for DCGAO.

In 1932, after seeing gradual growth, the RCAF was slashed by one-fifth, releasing 78 officers and 100 airmen because of the world wide depression at the time. This left the total strength at 103 officers and 591 airmen. For three years the RCAF was barely able to survive, but in 1935 the situation began to gradually improve. This time period also heralded a major change to the concept of operations. For years the RCAF had been engrossed in civil aviation; now it was about to become a military air force.

On 1 November 1936 the Department of Transport was created, and this relieved the burden of civil aviation from the RCAF. The RCAF returned to many of the air stations that had been civil in nature for so many years and formed military type squadrons (bomber, fighter and torpedo). In addition, RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, was constructed at this time. As the RCAF saw real expansion, it was realized that the infrastructure to control this vast organization was stretched to its limit and it was time to decentralize. Four new regional commands were set up to report to RCAF HQ in Ottawa. These new commands were:
Eastern Air Command in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with operational command of all units in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick (Newfoundland was still a British colony at the time)
Central Air Command in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with operational command of all units in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and northern Ontario
Western Air Command in Vancouver, British Columbia, with operational command of units in British Columbia, and Alberta, and
Air Training Command in Toronto, Ontario, with control of all basic aircrew and groundcrew training and responsibility for Camp Borden and Trenton

RCAF HQ in Ottawa exercised command over all units in Ontario (except the north west) and Quebec. With the growing concern over a conflict in Europe, funding now became available for expansion and as a result of its reorganization, the RCAF was fairly well prepared for the coming war. As of 19 December 1938, the RCAF no longer reported to the army Chief of the General Staff. They now had their own chief, the Chief of the Air Staff, who reported directly to the Minister of National Defence.

Although the Non-permanent Active Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force) was authorized in 1924, it was not until 1932 that it became a reality. Three squadrons were formed that year: No. 10 Sqn Toronto, No. 11 Sqn Vancouver and No. 12 Sqn Winnipeg. In 1934 two more squadrons were formed: Nos. 15 and 18 Sqns Montreal. In 1935 two more squadrons were formed: No. 19 Sqn Hamilton and No. 20 Sqn Regina. On 15 November 1937 to facilitate expansion in the Permanent Force, the Non-permanent Force squadrons were all re-numbered to the 100 block of designators, i.e. No. 10 Sqn became No. 110 Sqn. In 1938 the last three Non-permanent Force squadrons were formed: No. 114 Sqn London, No. 116 Sqn Halifax and No. 117 Sqn St John, N.B. In September 1939, when the RCAF mobilized, the Non-permanent Force represented about one-third of the total air force strength.

The Second World War
From the modest force at the out break of World War Two, the RCAF grew to be the fourth largest air force in the world. On the eve of the outbreak of World War Two, the RCAF had twenty squadrons on strength (eight Permanent Force and twelve Non-permanent Force) with authority to form three more Permanent Force squadrons. These squadrons had a total of 270 aircraft of twenty different types; of these only 124 could be termed operational service types and then only twenty-nine could be deemed first-line equipment (nineteen Hurricanes and ten Battle Bombers).

From this start the RCAF expanded into three major elements: the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the Home War Establishment, and the Overseas War Establishment with elements in Western Europe, Mediterranean and the Far East.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP)
On 10 October 1939 it was announced that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom had agreed in principle to a combined and co-coordinated training plan based in Canada, similar to the World War One plan. Aircrew training would be conducted far from the battle zone. On 17 December 1939 the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement was signed; Canada would be turned into a giant training mill.

Under the BCATP agreement the RCAF would administer 40,000 trained personnel and instruct (and provide groundcrew for) 20,000 aircrew annually in 74 training schools. At the time the RCAF had only 4,061 officers and airmen (including the Non-permanent Force) and had only trained 45 pilots in 1939. The BCATP was to become a major undertaking as the first schools were to be open by 29 April 1940, a mere four months away.

To meet the demand, the RCAF called upon the seventeen civilian flying schools in Canada to provide the elementary flying training for the plan and a group of commercial and bush pilots were assembled to train observers. The Department of Transport assumed the responsibility for selecting suitable sites and for contracts for the construction of these stations. The first schools were opened as planned on 29 April 1940 and training began. By the end of September 1941, seven months ahead of schedule, all but three schools were opened. The first students from the plan were not expected to graduate until early 1941, but because accelerated training was possible in Canada, on 27 October 1941 the first 39 graduate pilots passed out of Camp Borden, followed by the first observers from Trenton and the first air gunners from Jarvis.

The plan was expanded in June 1942 to include 67 training schools (including 21 double schools, stations that had two schools) and ten specialist schools. The RCAF was still responsible for the administration of an additional 27 RAF schools in Canada. By the close of 1943, the BCATP had reached its peak with four training commands, operating 97 schools and 184 ancillary units on 231 sites. It was now graduating an average of 3,000 students a month.

The programme was so successful that on 16 February 1944 the signatories agreed to begin a gradual reduction in the plan. Because of a backlog of trained aircrew the RCAF in June 1944 ceased recruiting aircrew and by October the closure of schools was stepped up. As an example of the excessive number of aircrews, during 1944 and 1945, it was common practice for aircrew to receive an Army commando course prior to proceeding overseas and as a result of a shortage of flight engineers, a second pilot (pilots were in short supply as late as 1943) with flight engineers training was supplied. On 31 March 1945 the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan came to an end having produced 49,707 pilots, 29,963 various navigators, 15,673 air bombers, 18,696 wireless operator/air gunners, 15,700 air gunners and 1913 flight engineers. The grand total trained aircrew from the BCATP was 131,552. The BCATP was credited for being a major contributing factor to winning air superiority in Europe.
Home War Establishment
When the war began in 1939, the RCAF had two operational commands (Eastern and Western Command) and seven understrength squadrons equipped with a variety of obsolete aircraft. Because of the importance placed on the sea link between Canada and the United Kingdom, Eastern Air Command was given top priority for re-equipping and up-grading. When Japan entered the war in December 1941, the priority was reversed and the Western Air Command became top priority.

Because of the nature of Canadian geography, poor communications, lack of infrastructure and the isolation of many RCAF stations, command and control became very difficult. This necessitated the requirement for the creation of a smaller sub-headquarters. These became groups; odd numbered groups were designated for Eastern Air Command and even numbered groups were designated for Western Air Command.

In November 1943, the Home War Establishment reached its peak with 37 operational squadrons: 19 in Eastern Air Command and 18 in Western Air Command. Eastern Air Command's primary concern was the eastern sea approaches and the U-boat threat. As the war effort would depend largely on the ability of the allies to ship the required supplies from North America to the U.K. or to other theatres, the North Atlantic was an essential roadway/seaway to victory. Eastern Air Command based their planning on this premise and accordingly equipped the bomber-reconnaissance squadrons with Hudson, Bolingbrooke and Catalina aircraft and later with Liberators. During the early stages of the Battle of the Atlantic, Eastern Air Command had to be satisfied with patrols and escort out to several hundred miles over the Atlantic; it was not until 1944 when they were able to fly patrols and escort convoys across the Atlantic. Their primary targets were the German U-boats that were attacking allied shipping; some were actually venturing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to sink vessels. The most critical period was from early 1942 to mid-1943 when submarine activity reached its peak. Although aircraft from Eastern Air Command had only six confirmed U-boat kills, this cannot be the sole measure of the contribution of the command. Because of the patrols flown, the U-boats were always on their guard. Therefore, many opportunities were lost that otherwise would have been taken and many more allied ships would have gone down; this in itself might have jeopardized the war effort and delayed victory.

In contrast, the Western Air Command generally was a quieter area. The first eighteen months of the war were spent flying patrols and identifying boats. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, things changed rapidly. Because of the seriousness of the situation and the lack of reinforcements in Alaska, Canada agreed to assist in the defence of Alaska. In May 1942, two squadrons were sent to Prince Rupert to defend this important seaport. In June 1942 a second formation was sent to Anchorage Alaska to assist in the defence of Alaska. After the Japanese forces landed on Kiska Island in the Aleutian chain, this formation started flying offensive operations against the Japanese. On one of these missions S/L K.A. Boomer became the only member of a home unit to score a confirmed victory against an enemy aircraft. With the total withdrawal of the Japanese forces in the summer of 1943, the Canadian squadrons moved back south to British Columbia.
RCAF Overseas
When the war began, the Royal Canadian Air Force was represented in England by a small liaison staff in London and various personnel attending training courses. As early as 1939, senior RCAF officers were pressing for the formation of overseas units, and in November the Chief of the Air Staff wrote a memorandum to the Minister of National Defence stating it was essential that the RCAF take more affirmative action in the war effort in addition to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. His proposal was to establish an overseas command to operate under RAF headquarters; the command would operate two major air groups in England, a bomber group, and a fighter group, each containing three wings of two squadrons.

This proposal, when presented to the British Air Ministry, was received with mixed emotion. The bomber group was well received, but because of the organizational make-up of the U.K. (it was divided into RAF Fighter Command defence sectors with an associated air group assigned), the fighter group was not supported. However, Canadian fighter squadrons were welcome to come over and become an integral part of the RAF fighter team. Under an amendment to the BCATP agreement signed on 17 December 1939 and a supplemental agreement (7 January 1940), it was agreed that the RCAF would form 25 overseas squadrons in the U.K.

The first RCAF squadrons overseas were Nos. 1, 110 and 112 Squadrons. Of these, No 1 was a fighter squadron and Nos. 110 and 112 were army co-operation. The two army co-operation squadrons were to support the 1st Canadian Division in France, but by the time they arrived in England the Canadian Army had returned to England after a failed excursion to France to support the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), then evacuating from Dunkirk.

Because of the large number of Dominion squadrons that were expected to form-up in the U.K., there was a great potential for mass confusion; imagine having command of five squadrons, all numbered No 1, RAF, RCAF, RAAF (Australia), SAAF (South Africa) and RNZAF (New Zealand). To alleviate this confusion, the British Air Ministry assigned blocks of squadron numbers to the Dominions: 400-445 to Canada, 450-467 to Australia and 485-490 to New Zealand. The original three RCAF squadrons were then renumbered: No. 1 became No. 401 Sqn, No. 110 Sqn became No. 400 Sqn and No. 112 Sqn became No. 402 Sqn. Eventually, the RCAF had 44 of the "400 block" squadrons, along with three Army Observation Post squadrons (Nos. 664,665 and 666 Sqns) and one Home Defence Establishment squadron (No. 162 Sqn on detachment from Eastern Air Command), for a total of 48 squadrons serving overseas. These squadrons served on all fronts and in all theatres, and consisted of 15 bomber squadrons, 11 day fighter squadrons, three fighter bomber squadrons, three fighter reconnaissance squadrons, three night fighter squadrons, one intruder squadron, six coastal patrol squadrons, three transport squadrons and three army co-operation (AOP) squadrons.

When the first RCAF squadrons arrived overseas, it was a bleak period on the continent. The Battle of France was just about over and the Battle of Britain was about to begin. No. 1 (401) Sqn RCAF was equipped with Hurricanes, its pilots commenced an intensive training period and by August 1940 were participating in the Battle of Britain. In addition, because of the number of Canadians serving with or seconded to the RAF, the RAF converted one of their squadrons to a Canadian unit: No. 242 (Canadian) Sqn, commanded by S/L J.E. Johnson, RAF. These two squadrons gave a good account of themselves during the battle; No. 242 Sqn scored 68 1/2 confirmed victories and No. 401 Sqn scored 28 1/2 confirmed victories. However, our participation in fighter operations did not terminate at the end of the Battle of Britain; they continued throughout the war. The RCAF formed night fighter (Nos. 406, 409 and 410) squadrons and an intruder (No. 418) squadron. These squadrons were operational in the summer of 1941 and were patrolling/prowling the night skies with great effect; night fighters patrolled the skies around the U.K. using ground controllers and airborne radar to intercept incoming bombers, while intruders prowled around German airfields at night waiting for returning German bombers or night fighters. After the allied invasion in June 1944, these night squadrons continued their nocturnal work on the continent; and when the German "Buzz Bombs" started arriving in England (unwelcome that they were), two of the night fighter squadrons turned their efforts against this new threat. By war's end, No. 409 Sqn was credited with 10 V-1 "Buzz-Bombs" and No. 418 Sqn had 77 kills over the English Channel credited to them and another five over England.

Prior to the war, the doctrine of the RAF did not include the concept of close support to land operations, but was strictly strategic in orientation (the RAF would bomb the bridges and factories while the army took care of the front line). After the lessons learned from the German war machine in their Battle of France, this doctrine was re-thought and army co-operation squadrons were formed. Initially these squadrons were equipped for light liaison duties (artillery spotting similar to WW1 and light transport). With the experience of the German Stuka still fresh in their memories, these squadrons were soon taking up a more active role in army co-operation; photo-reconnaissance, sweep "rhubarbs", escort and close air support were now missions for army co-operation squadrons. When the RCAF started participating in this new form of warfare, the units were posted to Army Co-operation Command. After 6 June 1944, Army Co-operation Command was disbanded and the Second Tactical Air Force was landed on the continent. Canada and RCAF Headquarters Overseas had envisioned providing all of the required air support for the First Canadian Army on the continent, but this undertaking would have totally drained the RCAF's resources overseas, and with their commitments to Coastal Command and Bomber Command to think about, a compromise was reached. The RCAF would provide units for the Second Tactical Air Force in the hopes they eventually would form an all Canadian (Composite) Group. This did not materialize, but the Canadian squadrons in 2 TAF were assigned to No. 83 (Composite) Group and this group was assigned to the First Canadian Army.

As previously stated, Canada had volunteered to form bomber squadrons in the U.K. to be a part of Bomber Command. These squadrons were originally paid (Canadian rates of pay) and equipped by the British Air Ministry. The first Canadian bomber squadrons were formed in late 1941 and were a part of No. 4 Group RAF in Yorkshire. By late 1942, with five bomber squadrons operational and six more on the way, plans went ahead to create No. 6 (RCAF) Group. On 1 January 1943 No. 6 Group assumed operational command of the RCAF bomber squadrons overseas. This group eventually operated 14 squadrons on eight different stations. On 1 April 1943, the Canadian government assumed the responsibility for pay and equipment for her overseas bomber force. Throughout the entire bombing offensive, the bomber organization was highly centralized and controlled by Bomber Command Headquarters. At the time, the groups were responsible for ensuring the crews were briefed according to Bomber Command's instructions (routes to and from the targets, altitudes, numbers of aircraft and bomb load), while the stations provided the domestic support and the squadrons provided administration and aircraft maintenance only. However, this changed in March 1943, when Bomber command reorganized into the Bomber Operational Base System; this system brought several small bases under one station commander and it centralized the administration and maintenance on this new large station. This reorganization reduced squadrons to the aircrew and basic servicing capabilities only (gas, oil, starts and parks). From the start, the Canadians in Bomber Command and later in No. 6 (RCAF) Group suffered under the operational work load placed upon them from Bomber Command and the lack of operational experience within their ranks; many losses were heartfelt during this time and moral suffered. However, as experience grew and equipment improved, the losses dropped and there was a corresponding increase in morale. By war's end No. 6 (RCAF) Group had a most enviable record of successes.

As previously stated, the RCAF Overseas contributed many units and personnel directly to the war effort in Europe. These were not the only contributions made by Canada or Canadians overseas. In addition to the combat squadrons supplied to the various RAF Commands, the RCAF also established transport squadrons outside Canada. In the late summer of 1944, No. 437 Squadron was established as a part of Transport Command and almost immediately participated in the airborne assault on Arnheim with their Dakota aircraft. They provided glider-tow and airborne re-supply services for the airborne landings at Arnheim. After this operation they continued to provide transport services to the armies on the continent: bringing supplies in and casualties out. The RCAF also provided two other transport squadrons (Nos. 435 and 436) in the South East Asian Theatre of operations. These squadrons were formed in India and provided vital services to the British 14th Army in India and Burma. After the cessation of hostilities, the three transport squadrons were consolidated in England and flew supplies, mail and personnel to the Canadian occupation forces in Germany.

While the Home Defence Establishment was providing coastal patrols on the Canadian side of the Atlantic, there were Canadian squadrons flying the same missions from the United Kingdom. Eventually this establishment (Canada's contribution to Coastal Command's effort) would reach six squadrons with another on detachment from the Home War Establishment for a total seven. Their mission was protecting the vital North Atlantic sealanes by patrolling for U-boats and surface raiders. In addition, Canada also supplied one coastal patrol squadron for the South East Asian theatre. Shortly after their arrival in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), a member of No. 413 Sqn (S/L L.J. Birchall) discovered the Japanese invasion fleet which was headed for Ceylon. Because of this warning, the island's defences were alerted and the fleet was driven off, thus starting the great Japanese reversal in the Pacific.

Although the RCAF contributed 48 overseas squadrons to the war effort, the actual contribution by Canada was far greater. Of the RCAF personnel who served overseas, only about 40 percent actually served on Canadian squadrons, the remaining 60 percent served in RAF units. In addition to this, many Canadians joined the RAF before the RCAF was recruiting people (George Beurling originally joined the RAF before he transferred to the RCAF). During the defence of Malta, it was estimated that one in every four pilots who flew a mission was a Canadian. The RCAF officially has only two Victoria Cross winners (P/O A.C. Mynarski and F/L D.E. Hornell) and four George Cross winners, but there were a total of four Victoria Crosses (S/L I.W. Bazalgette, RAF, and Lt(N) R.H. Gray, RCNVR) and five George Crosses were won by Canadian airmen. The actions of these gentlemen will be described later.

For a country the size of Canada with a population of only 16 million, it was quite an impressive contribution: 249,662 personnel served with the RCAF during the war, of whom a total of 93,844 served overseas. 17,100 people lost their lives of which 14,544 occurred overseas.
Canada's Air Victoria Crosses of World War Two
Flight Lieutenant David Ernest Hornell was born in Mimico (Toronto), Ontario. He enlisted in the RCAF in the fall of 1939 and flew Canso flying boats in the coastal patrol mission. On 24 June 1944, he and his crew sighted a fully surfaced U-boat traveling at high speed. F/L Hornell immediately turned to the attack. But the aircraft had been spotted by the U-boat crew and a fierce battle ensued. The U-boat fired its anti-aircraft gun and the Canso responded with its machine guns; both the U-boat and the aircraft were hit. Despite the damage to the aircraft F/L Hornell pressed home the attack, receiving more damage from the U-boat's fire, but the attack run was successful and the U-boat was seen to rise out of the water and sink. The damage to the Canso was such that the starboard engine was on fire (the burning engine eventually fell off) and a crash landing was deemed necessary. With a super human effort F/L Hornell was able to ditch the aircraft in a heavy sea. With the aircraft on fire and in danger of an imminent explosion, only one serviceable dinghy was available to the crew. This one dinghy was incapable of holding the entire crew, so they took turns in the cold north Atlantic. Throughout the night this went on; the nightmare continued when the dinghy capsized in the middle of the night. By morning two of the crew had succumbed to exposure and the rest were completely exhausted when rescue appeared on the horizon. The aircraft dropped a lifeboat, but unfortunately it landed 500 yards down wind. F/L Hornell, despite his exhaustion, had to be physically restrained to prevent him from swimming for the lifeboat. Eventually, after twenty-one hours in the North Atlantic F/L Hornell and his crew were rescued, but blinded and completely exhausted F/L Hornell died shortly after rescue. During the entire ordeal F/L Hornell displayed valour and devotion of the highest order in terms of his skill in the attack, his disregard for his own personal safety and his indomitable leadership qualities.
Squadron Leader Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, Royal Air Force, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was working in England when the war broke out. He initially received a commission in the artillery before he transferred to the Royal Air Force for pilot training. On 4 August 1944, S/L Bazalgette was acting as the "master-bomber" of a pathfinder squadron detailed to mark an important target at Trossy St. Maximim for a large bomber force. In a Lancaster on his attack run S/L Bazalgette came under intense anti-aircraft fire. This fire put out both starboard engines and started numerous fires. Knowing that the deputy "master-bomber" had already been shot down, his attack had to be effective. Despite the appalling conditions of his aircraft, S/L Bazalgette pressed on gallantly to the target, bombing and marking it successfully. When the bombs were released, the aircraft dived uncontrollably. Through superior airmanship, S/L Bazalgette recovered the aircraft allowing most of the crew to parachute to safety. Knowing that there were still injured crew onboard, S/L Bazalgette attempted the near impossible task of landing a badly crippled aircraft. Unfortunately the aircraft exploded after landing and he and the two remaining crew died. His courage and devotion were beyond praise.
Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and joined the RCAF in November of 1941. Upon completion of his training as an air gunner, he joined a bomber squadron in December 1942. On 12 June 1944, P/O Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster that was detailed to bomb a target at Cambrai, France. The aircraft was attacked from below by a German night fighter. As an immediate result of the attack, both port engines failed, fire broke out on the port wing and in the aft section between the mid-upper turret and the tail gunner. The crew were ordered to abandon the aircraft. P/O Mynarski left his mid-upper turret and proceeded to the escape hatch when he saw that the rear gunner was still in his turret and was having problems trying to leave it. Disregarding his own personal safety, P/O Mynarski proceeded to the rear to assist his tail gunner. While proceeding through the flames his parachute and clothing caught on fire. Despite his attempts to free the tail gunner, it was to no avail and P/O Mynarski had to abandon his attempts. Reluctantly, P/O Mynarski left the tail gunner and proceeded back through the flames to the escape hatch where, as a last gesture, he saluted the tail gunner before he jumping from the aircraft. His descent was watched by some French farmers as his parachute and clothing were still on fire. He was eventually found by the French, but he was so severely burned that he died shortly after. Miraculously, the tail gunner escaped from the aircraft after it crashed and reported the events surrounding P/O Mynarski's death. For this conspicuous act of unselfish heroism and for valour of the highest order P/O Mynarski was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lieutenant Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray, Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve, was born in Trail, British Columbia. He joined the RCNVR Fleet Air Arm in 1940. On 9 August 1945 Lt(N) Gray flew off the carrier "Formidable" to lead an attack on Japanese shipping in Onagawa Wan (Bay) on the island of Honshu, mainland Japan. At Onagawa Bay his flight found a number of Japanese ships and dived to the attack. Furious fire was encountered from the army batteries on the ground and from the warships in the bay. Lt(N) Gray selected for his target an enemy destroyer and pressed home the attack oblivious to the concentrated fire. His aircraft was hit several times and eventually caught fire, but he still pressed the attack. When he was within 50 feet of his target he released his bombs and scored at least one hit. His target sank almost immediately. Unfortunately, Lt(N) Gray was unable to recover his aircraft and he crashed into Onagawa Bay, giving his life after a fearless bombing run.

The RCAF's George Cross winners were:

LAC K.M. Gravell, a wireless operator/ air gunner: On 10 November 1941 LAC Gravell died while trying to rescue his pilot after the Tiger Moth they were flying in crashed and burned.
Air Commodore A.D. Ross: On the night of 27/28 June 1944, while the Commander of 62 Operational RCAF Base, he rescued the pilot from a crashed 425 Sqn Halifax. The aircraft exploded on his return to rescue the tail gunner and Ross was injured. He subsequently lost his left hand.
LAC K.G. Spooner, a navigator student: On 14 May 1943 took control of an Anson aircraft after the pilot was incapacitated. This action allowed the other crewmembers to bail out. Unfortunately, LAC Spooner lost control of the aircraft and died in the crash.
F/O R.B. Gray, navigator. On the night of 26/27 August 1944 the Wellington aircraft that F/O Gray was navigator in was shot down by a U-boat. F/O Gray aided the other three survivors, but died in the water.
AC1 E.R.C. Frost, was serving with the RAF at the time of award. In addition, the original award he received was the medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Bravery and under the original warrant for the George Cross, his medal was eligible for conversion to the George Cross. His citation read:

“AC1 E.R.C. Frost displayed great courage in effecting the rescue of an unconscious pilot from a burning aircraft which resulted from a collision in which two Blenheim were involved while taking off. Not knowing that the pilot was the sole occupant, AC1 Frost entered the rear cockpit to rescue the wireless operator. Satisfying himself that no one was there he climbed out and ran to the front. There, working with another person, they extricated the pilot from the burning aircraft. Unfortunately the pilot died later.”

"Tiger Force" Pacific
From the earliest days of World War Two, the primary goals were victory in Europe, phase one, and defeat of Japan, phase two. By late 1944 an Allied victory in Europe was assured and planning for phase two was implemented.

On 20 October 1944 a very large bomber force was proposed. This force was code named "Tiger Force". It was to consist of three bomber groups: one RAF, one RCAF and one a composite of RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and SAAF squadrons. Each group would consist of 22 bomber, fighter and transport squadrons. The Canadian group was to be based upon 6 Group. Later the bomber strength of these groups was reduced from twelve squadrons to ten and finally to eight.

On 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered, the plans for the creation of "Tiger Force" were stepped up. The RCAF squadrons selected for the "Tiger Force" were converted to the Canadian built Lancaster X which the crews ferried back to Canada. The training stations were RCAF Station Debert, N.S., RCAF Station Greenwood, N.S., RCAF Station Dartmouth, N.S., and RCAF Station Yarmouth, N.S. However, before these squadrons could commence training, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima (6 August 1945) and Nagasaki (9 August 1945) and Japan surrendered (14 August 1945). The RCAF "Tiger Force" was ordered to cease flying on 6 September 1945 and was then disbanded.
WW2 Commonwealth Awards to Members of the RCAF
The RCAF earned a great deal of respect from the allies during WW II. This is displayed in the number of Commonwealth awards to members of the RCAF:

Victoria Cross (VC) 2

George Cross (GC) 4

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 73

Bar to the DSO 6

Military Cross (MC) 5

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) 4,017

Bar to the DFC 218

Air Force Cross (AFC) 427

Bar to the AFC 1

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) 1

Distinguished Gallantry Medal (Flying) 12

George Medal (GM) 20

Military Medal (MM) 1

Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) 515

Air Force Medal 42
Post-War Era
At the cessation of hostilities the RCAF had 164,846 all ranks (the peak was in 1944 with 215,200) serving; this was to be reduced to an authorized strength of 16,000 all ranks. This demobilization was to take place over a two year period. On 6 February 1946 the Cabinet approved a Peacetime RCAF of four components: a Regular Force, an Auxiliary, a Reserve and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets (the RCAC was established during the war to provide basic military training to Canadian youth, so that training cost could be reduced when they joined the regular force). On 30 September 1947, when this organization came into affect, the RCAF was stood down from "Active Service".

The post-war Regular Force RCAF was not all that different from the pre-war RCAF. Eight squadrons were authorized, but only five stood-up. These were to form the professional nucleus of the air force. Their primary tasks were again: aerial photography, air transport and communications (utility). A new task that the RCAF assumed was search and rescue. In addition, Air Force Headquarters decided that the squadrons that did stand-up would be from the "400 Overseas" block of squadrons.

By 1947 the post-war world was not the utopia that everybody had hoped for. The relationship between the democratic dominated western nations and the communist eastern bloc were cooling very rapidly. So, after the post-war rush to demobilize, there came a new resurgence of the RCAF. The Department of National Defence (DND) announced in mid-January 1947 that the services would be built up. In late September 1948, the first post-war pilot course commenced (the first course since 1944).

From a post-war low of 11,569 officers and airmen in December 1947, the RCAF commenced a steady growth until January 1955 when a ceiling of 51,000 officers and airmen was authorized (this was a first as the RCAF was now larger than the army's 47,000). The post-war RCAF peaked in the mid-50s with 29 regular force squadrons and twelve auxiliary squadrons. This continued until 1962 when the CF-100 squadrons were withdrawn without replacement.

The post-war infrastructure changed dramatically. Initially Canada was divided into two geographic commands: Central Air Command, located in Trenton, with No. 10 Group in Halifax and North Western Air Command, located in Edmonton, with No. 11 Group in Winnipeg and No. 12 Group in Vancouver. At this time while the regular force was trying to settle into their post-war organization, the auxiliary air force (now primary reserves) was being re-established. In April 1946 the auxiliary air force was authorized an establishment of 4500 officers and airmen and 15 squadrons. The auxiliary air force's role was air defence; this role they kept until 1958.

With the expansion of the RCAF came a corresponding increase in the infrastructure. Beginning in 1948, the RCAF began to structure their commands along operational commands vice regional commands, No. 9 Transport Group became Air Transport Command and No.1 Air Defence Group was formed. In 1949 Maintenance Command became Air Material Command and Central Command became Training Command. Additionally in 1949, Nos. 10 and 11 Groups became Maritime and Tactical Group respectively. In the early 50s, with world tension increasing, expansion continued, No.1 Air Division in Europe, No. 5 Air Division (formerly No. 12 Group) and No. 14 (Training) Group were formed, while other groups were elevated to command status: Air Defence Command, Maritime Air Command and Tactical Air Command.
Air Transport Command
Since the earliest days of aviation in Canada, air transport has played an important role. The Canadian Air Force and then the RCAF have always been involved in this aspect of opening up Canada's vast interior.

During World War Two, air transport played a vital role in the support of the allied efforts in Europe. Large quantities of supplies were flown over to the United Kingdom. In addition to freight, the ferrying of aircraft to Europe came under the umbrella of Air Transport and a western terminus for the ferry service was constructed at Goose Bay.

In the immediate post-war years air transport, including aerial photography of the north, was a major role that the RCAF was tasked with. No. 9 (Transport) Group was formed to meet all of the transport requirements of the RCAF. As the RCAF expanded in the late 40s, so did No. 9 (Transport) Group until 1 April 1948 when Air Transport Command was established headquartered in Rockcliffe. The headquarters moved to Lachine, Quebec, in August 1951 and later to Trenton, Ontario, in September 1959. This command continued through unification until 2 September 1975, when Air Command was formed and Air Transport Command became Air Transport Group.

Throughout its long service Air Transport Command/Group has provided Canada with her primary Search and Rescue and with her strategic airlift capabilities. Some of the major operations that Air Transport Command has participated in have been Korea, support to No. 1 Air Division in Europe, UN operations (including Suez crisis 1956, Gaza 1956-67, Belgian Congo 1960, New Guinea and Yemen 1962, Cyprus and India-Pakistan 1964, Kashmir 1971, Egypt 1974, Golan Heights 1973 , Persian Gulf 1991, etc), Mercy operations (1960 earthquakes in Morocco and Chile, 1961 forest fires in Brazil, 1970 earthquake in Peru, 1973 drought in sub-Sahara Africa, 1979 uprising in Iran and Vietnamese boat-people, etc) and northern resupply. Air Transport Group continued to live up to their motto of "Versatile and Ready".
Air Defence Command
The original post-war concept called for air defence to be the responsibility of the auxiliary squadrons. These squadrons, augmented by auxiliary mobile radar squadrons, were equipped with Vampire jet interceptors or Mustang fighters and later with Sabre Mk 5s; no regular force units were involved in air defence. However, with the deteriorating international situation of the late 40s, Canada decided to equip regular force squadrons for air defence. In December 1948, No. 1 Air Defence Group was created in Ottawa, Ontario. In November of 1949 the headquarters moved to St Hubert, Quebec. The Group became Air Defence Command in June 1951 and was integrated into North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) in September 1957. The Command finally moved to North Bay, Ontario, in August 1966. In September 1975 Air Defence Group was formed as an operational group of Air Command and in 1984 Fighter Group was created and assumed the responsibility for all fighter operations within the Canadian Forces.

By 1955 Air Defence Command had reached its peak strength with nine Regular Force squadrons (flying CF-100s) and ten Auxiliary squadrons (flying Vampires and Mustangs). During this period, as radar warning lines were being erected across Canada, Canadian and American officials considered how best to optimize their defences. The concept of an international radar system gradually evolved into a single command structure and the North American Air Defence (NORAD) agreement was the final development. Canada had three radar warning lines, the Distant Early Warning (DEW) in the North West Territories, and the CADIN/ PINETREE and the Mid-Canada lines stretching across Canada at different latitudes. Under the NORAD agreement, there would be an American as the Commander in Chief with a Canadian as his deputy, and the backup NORAD command centre would be in Canada.

As equipment capabilities increased the requirement for numbers decreased, the nine CF-100 squadrons were replaced by five CF-101 squadrons (later three squadrons) and the combat control system was modernized with the Semi-Automatic Ground Environmental (SAGE) system, thus eliminating many of the manual control centres. During this time period, the auxiliary lost their air defence role and were re-equipped for light transport and liaison duties. Their mobile radars were disbanded. This trend has continued into the 1980's and 1990's with the Regional Operational Control Centre (ROCC) replacing SAGE, the North Warning System (NWS) replacing the DEW line, and the coastal radars replacing the remaining CADIN/PINETREE and Mid-Canada radars.

Fighter Group then became responsible for all fighter operations in the Canadian Forces and was prepared to deploy a wing of CF-18s to any region in the world. They continued to live up to the motto of Air Defence Group "Detegere et Destruere" (To Detect and To Destroy) with their own motto "Proponere et Posse" (Purpose and Power). In 1997, with the further re-organization of the Air Force, 1 Canadian Air Division assumed responsibility both for all fighter forces and for the Canadian NORAD Region air defence operations.
Maritime Air Command
The original RCAF plans did not include a plan for the defence of Canada's coasts; this was to be left to the Royal Canadian Navy. Therefore, only a small headquarters was set up in Halifax in April 1947 (No. 10 Group, Central Air Command). However, as the Soviet submarine fleet increased, the threat to the northern sealanes increased proportionately and the RCAF was required to augment the RCN. This increase in responsibility led to the formation of Maritime Group in April 1949 and finally Maritime Air Command in January 1951. Maritime Air Command was absorbed into the Canadian Forces Maritime Command in January 1966 and then was separated again as Maritime Air Group when Air Command was formed in September 1975.

On 1 April 1952 Maritime Group became an integral part of newly formed Allied Command Atlantic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In July 1952 its area of operations was increased to include the Pacific Coast. Over the years MG/MAC/MAG have patrolled both coasts and provided yeoman service with the detection of submarines to the RCN/Maritime Command and Allied Commanders in the Atlantic and the Pacific. Their motto was fittingly "Over the Seas".
No. 1 Air Division Europe
With the increasing tension between the east and the west in Europe after the Second World War, the European communities of the west started discussing a plan for a united defence. From these discussions came the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. No. 1 Air Division was formed as Canada's air contribution to NATO. It was to consist of four wings of day fighters. These wings were to be located on the continent and because of the damage to the established airfields, new airfields were to be constructed. Canada would deploy two wings to France (Marville and Grostenquin) and two wings to Germany (Zweibrucken and Furstenfeldbruck). Because these airfields would not be ready immediately, the first wing would initially go to England (North Luffenham) and the headquarters for No. 1 Air Division would be located in Metz, France. The RCAF's original concept for overseas service were tours of one year unaccompanied for married personnel and two years for single personnel. This changed by late 1953, when it was realized that many families were going to Europe with their spouses.

The first two squadrons of No. 1 Wing crossed the Atlantic onboard the HMCS Magnificent (an RCN aircraft carrier) in November 1951. Upon their arrival in England they deployed to RAF North Luffenham, were they stayed until Marville was ready for occupation in March 1955. The third squadron of No. 1 Wing flew across the Atlantic in operation Leapfrog I, flying to Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and to England. As the remaining wings were formed in Canada, their new homes on the continent were being completed.

Leapfrog II in October 1952, saw all three squadrons of No. 2 Wing fly across the Atlantic to arrive at their new home at Grostenquin, France. Considered ready for occupation by the French, it was far from being ready by Canadian standards and life on the continent by these intrepid aviators was far from easy. Leapfrog III (April 1952) saw the three squadrons of No. 3 Wing fly across the Atlantic to their new home at Zweibrucken, Germany. In early 1952 it was realized that when No. 4 Wing was ready in Canada to fly across, their new home in Furstenfeldbruck would not be complete. The French Air Force offered Canada one of her deployment bases in Germany and alternate plans were devised. Therefore, in September 1952 (Leapfrog IV), No. 4 Wing arrived at their new base at Baden-Soellingen, Germany.

By 1955 NATO realized that there was a shortage of all weather interceptor capability and Canada responded by volunteering four CF-100 squadrons for service to NATO. Between October 1956 and August 1957, one Sabre squadron per wing was stood-down and replaced by a CF-100 squadron from Canada. In the fall of 1959, the Canadian government announced that starting in the fall of 1962 the Sabre squadrons of the Air Division would be re-equipped with CF-104 Starfighters and the CF-100 squadrons would be disbanded.

This new equipment brought a new role to the Air Division. Instead of the Day/All Weather interceptor role, the Canadian Squadrons would now be involved with nuclear strike and reconnaissance. However, during 1964 the cold winds of change were blowing and the French government announced that all nuclear weapons located on French soil would fall under French control. Therefore, in late 1964 after being recently re-equipped with the CF-104, No. 2 Wing sent their two squadrons to the two wings in Germany and closed their doors at Grostenquin. The other wing in France (No. 1 Wing Marville) converted to strictly reconnaissance, and the communications flight (103 KU) for the Air Divisions moved to Marville from Grostenquin. In March 1966, the French government announced the withdrawal of their military forces from NATO and the NATO forces stationed in France must leave (or fall under French command). New quarters were found for No. 1 Wing and 1 Air Division HQ at Base Arienne 139 Lahr, West Germany. The move of the operational equipment was accomplished by March 1967. Because the French were loath to move out of Lahr, the dependants and schools were moved later.

As an austerity measure, in 1968 No. 3 Wing Zweibrucken was closed and its two squadrons were moved to Nos. 1 and 4 Wing. 1969 brought the announcement that the amalgamation of the Canadian Forces in Europe to one command and two bases, and that the Canadian army in northern Germany (Zoest area) would be moving south to Nos. 1 and 4 Wings. This meant that No. 1 Wing Lahr would close its doors and the air force in Europe would be reduced in strength (from 6 to 3 squadrons) and concentrated at Baden-Soellingen; the new name would be 1 Canadian Air Group (CAG). The Group remained until 1988 when Canada increased her commitment to NATO (3 squadrons in theatre and two squadrons in Canada) and No. 1 Canadian Air Division stood-up again. However, shortly after this, relations with the east started to warm and Canada made another announcement; Canada would withdraw her forces stationed in Europe and close the doors on her two bases by 1994. The Air Division, reduced to three squadrons then to two and finally one, ceased flying operations 1 January 1993. This ended a major era of Canada's Air Force. "Ad Custodiendam Europam" (For the Defence of Europe).
Training Command
Training Command was formed at Trenton in October 1949; it controlled No. 14 (Training) Group in Winnipeg. In September 1958 Training Command moved to Winnipeg and absorbed No. 14 (Training) Group.

Training Command was responsible for the training of all personnel in the RCAF. In addition, under a mutual aid programme, they assumed the responsibility for training aircrew for Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Later, this arrangement included Turkey, Greece and West Germany. Between May 1951 and July 1957, the RCAF trained 4600 pilots and navigators for our NATO allies. This arrangement was extended for another three years for Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, and in 1958, Canada was contracted by West Germany to train an additional 360 aircrew. Some of the RCAF Stations used during this period were: Penhold, Alta; Claresholm, Alta; MacDonald, Man; Gimli, Man; Portage la Prairie, Man; Moose Jaw, Sask; Winnipeg, Man; Trenton, Ont and Centralia, Ont.

Training Command survived unification in 1968 and was responsible for all individual training, including flying and trades training. In 1975, when Air Command formed in Winnipeg, Training Command was reduced in size (became Training Systems) and moved back to Trenton, Ont. Their motto was "Exercendum Usque ad Optimum" (One must train up to the highest standard).
The RCAF in Korea
Because the RCAF was rebuilding her fighter forces at the time of the Korean conflict (four wings of three squadrons each for NATO), it did not contribute any fighter squadrons. However, the RCAF did make significant contributions to the war effort.

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, Canada committed her primary transport squadron (No. 426 Sqn) to United Nations service. In July 1950 the RCAF ordered No. 426 Sqn stationed at RCAF Station Lachine (Dorval) up to war time strength (12 North Star aircraft) and in late July its personnel were detached to McChord AFB Washington. From 25 July 1950 until 9 June 1954, No. 426 (T) Sqn provided outstanding service to the UN in Korea, completing 599 missions for a total of over 34,000 flying hours. This was a feat, which amazed the U.S. Military Air Transport Service, "how so few could do so much with so little".

Although Canada did not send any fighter squadrons to Korea, she did send pilots there on "exchange" with the United States Air Force. A total of 22 pilots served on Sabre squadrons and one RCN pilot served with a U.S. Navy Panther Fighter Squadron in Korea. These pilots accounted for a total of 9 Mig-15s confirmed, 2 probables and 10 damaged. RCAF pilots were awarded seven U.S. Distinguished Flying Crosses, one Commonwealth Distinguished Flying Cross, four U.S. Air Medals and flew a total of 1,036 sorties in Korea. Of these pilots, only one was shot down and became a POW (S/L "Andy" MacKenzie was accidentally shot down by a USAF pilot). In addition, because the US could not produce the numbers of Sabres needed to sustain the war effort, Canada supplied the USAF with 60 F-86 Sabre Mk 2s (USAF F-86E-6).
Air Display Teams
Lieutenant Colonel William Barker, one of Canada's much decorated air aces of the First World War, founded his own flying team of four captured German "war trophy" Fokker D VII scout planes. Based at Leaside, Lt Col Barker's team put on the first public exhibition of formation flying in Canada. A premier attraction at the 1919 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), this demonstration team was the forerunner of all Canadian military aerobatic teams to follow.

The first official air display team formed by the RCAF was the "Siskins" in 1934 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of aviation in Canada. This team flew three Siskin fighter aircraft in close formation at many festivals and events throughout the summer season of 1934. The RCAF would not see another air demonstration team until after World War Two.

The first post-war jet demonstration team was formed at St Hubert in 1949. This team, known as "The Blue Devils", was formed from members of No. 410 "Cougar" Squadron. They flew air demonstrations throughout the 1949 season. In the early 1950s a Centralia based team of Harvards, "The Easy Aces", flew close formation and aerobatic demonstrations in south-western Ontario.

In 1954, the Air Division decided to support an air demonstration team. The concept was each wing would provide a team on a rotational basis. The first wing selected was No. 3 Wing Zweibrucken and the team was the "Fireballs". In their distinctly painted bright red Sabres, these boys dazzled crowds across Europe. The following year, 1955, No. 2 Wing was selected to provide a team. The Air Division team was now called "The Sky Lancers". Approximately 20 shows were flown during the 1955 season. In 1956 No. 4 Wing provided the members of "The Sky Lancers". Unfortunately on 2 March 1956, while practicing their routine over the Rhine valley, "The Sky Lancers" crashed near the Vosges Mountains south west of Strasbourg killing four of the five team members. This accident put an end to RCAF aerobatic teams for several years.

1959 was the "Golden Anniversary" of aviation in Canada and the 35th anniversary of the RCAF. This event was not to go unannounced by the RCAF. A team was formed and they were to fly gold-painted Sabres with a large red and white hawk painted on each side. These were the "Golden Hawks". After a two-month work up at RCAF Station Chatham, N.B., they flew 69 shows across Canada. Although the "Golden Hawks" were formed for only one year, they were so popular that they continued for another year. 1960 saw the first performances of the Canadian team in the United States. The team continued their sterling performances until 1963 when they were transferred from Chatham to Trenton and then, after a total of 317 displays, on 7 February 1964 the "Golden Hawks" were disbanded. The reason given was to save $750,000 a year in operating costs.

Between 1962 and 1964 an RCAF Station Moose Jaw based team called "The Goldilocks" was formed and flew air demonstrations across Canada. They were formed as a parody of "The Golden Hawks" and flew Harvards in some of the craziest formations every seen by the public. The team disbanded when the Tutors replaced the Harvards.

To celebrate Canada's Centennial year, another single year-only team was formed and they were a part a large aerial demonstration. The formation team was called the "Golden Centennaires" and were formed at Portage la Prairie, Man. The plan was to perform 100 demonstrations across the country during the centennial year. Their final demonstration was on 18 November 1967 at Nellis AFB for the "Thunderbirds" reunion. The other members of the centennial demonstration were a solo CF-104, a solo CF-101 and two restored AVRO 504s.

A solo demonstration that flew the Canadian airshow circuit for many years was the bright red T-33 of "The Red Knight". Between 1958 and 1969 the "Red Knight" performed solo jet demonstrations across North America. The last years of the "Red Knight" were spent in a Tutor. The "Red Knight" was officially phased out in 1970 after the fatal crash of the last "Red Knight".

The "Snowbirds" Canada's longest running air demonstration team started in early 1970, when the base commander at CFB Moose Jaw noted that the Ex-Centennaire Tutors were painted all white. This new team was composed of pilot instructors from 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School who practiced after hours and on weekends and their demonstration was close formation only. Officially they were the 2 CFFTS demonstration team; it was not until 1971 that the name "Snowbirds" was used (the name was suggested by a seventh grade student in Saskatchewan). In 1974 they officially became the Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Team and in April 1978 they received squadron status, becoming 431 Air Demonstration Squadron. The "Snowbirds" have continued through to the present day as Canada's Air Ambassador to the world.

Many squadrons throughout the years have provided unofficial air demonstrations teams. Some of the teams have had some interesting names: The Bald Eagles (CF-100s), The Bobcats (CF-101s), The Warlocks (CF-101s), Roy and the Boys (CF-101s), The Vikings (Tutors), Musket-Gold (Musketeers), The Dragonflies (Kiowas), The Hummingbirds (Kiowas), The Deadeye Zips (CF-104s), The Alberta Arrows (CF-104s) and many more.
It was argued in 1964 that the command, logistics, administration and training functions of the three services of Canada could be streamlined and unified. In April 1964 the government introduced bill C-90 "Integration of the Headquarters Staff" into the house. On 1 August this bill created a single commander of the armed services of Canada, the "Chief of the Defence Staff"; all element commanders reported to him instead of directly to the Minister of National Defence. This brought the functional command of the entire armed forces under one headquarters: Canadian Forces Headquarters (CFHQ). The Canadian Armed Forces were now broken down into six functional commands:
Mobile Command - was formed to maintain a combat ready land and air force capable of rapid deployment.
Maritime Command - embodied all sea and air maritime forces on the Atlantic and Pacific.
Air Transport Command - would provide strategic airlift capability.
Air Defence Command - would contribute squadrons for the defence of North America.
Training Command - was responsible for all individual training. 
Material Command - was to provide the necessary supply and maintenance support to the other functional commands.

Additionally, there were two other elements: Communications Systems (in 1970 elevated to command status), and Canadian Forces Europe which was an independent organization reporting directly to CFHQ.

On 6 November 1966, bill C-243 "The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act" was introduced to the house. This bill would amend the National Defence Act to reflect the unification process. Under the previous National Defence Act, Canada supported three separate forces (the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force); under the amendment there would be only one force. The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act came into effect 1 February 1968. Unification brought many external and internal changes. The most visible change was the move to all green uniforms by most personnel and the standardization of ranks with the air element adopting army style nomenclature for ranks. The post-unification period, however, also brought continuous changes in structure and evolution/devolution of responsibilities.

Some of the significant changes over the following years included:

Material Command became Associate Deputy Minister (Material) ADM(Mat)
Air Command was formed in September 1975. This change brought Air Transport and Air Defence Commands (both had became groups), Tactical Air Group and Maritime Air Group under overall command of Air Command.
The formation of Air Command also brought changes to Training Command with a name change to Training Systems and an associated move to Trenton.
1988 saw the re-introduction of distinctive environmental uniforms (DEU) and the Air Force returned to light blue uniforms.
In 1994 Canadian Forces Europe closed its doors marking in part the end of the Cold War era.
Re-Formation of Wings
The basic organizational structures and nomenclature of Canada's military aviation were first established in WWI. With the formation No. 1 Canadian Wing RAF in 1918, the wing became standard in air operations, along with commands, groups, squadrons and flights. In using this structure, Canada followed the well-established Royal Air Force model.

Many RCAF wings were formed during WWII including famous ones such as No. 127 (Fighter Wing where Wing Commander Johnny Johnson was the first Commanding Officer. A Spitfire wing, No 127 comprised Nos. 403, 416 and 421 Squadrons. No. 143 Wing, another famous wartime formation, consisted of Nos. 438, 439 and 440 Squadrons flying Typhoon aircraft.

After the war, new wings were established, many in response to the NATO build-up in Europe. There were four RCAF NATO wings, Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, in England, France and Germany flying Sabres, Canucks and Starfighters. Wings were also established in Canada such No. 14, an air reserve wing in Toronto overseeing Nos. 400 and 411 Squadrons.

When the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force integrated in February 1968, the RCAF structure, including wings, disappeared. The Canadian Armed Forces adopted a new organization structured on the Base concept. Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 Air Reserve Wings were re-established in the 1970s and No. 3 (Fighter) Wing, Lahr, and No. 4 (Fighter) Wing, Baden were also re-established in the late 1980s to meet NATO air force command and control requirements.

Finally, beginning in 1993 the Air Force re-established the wing structure and nomenclature across the entire organization. Each of the existing bases then received a numerical designation ranging from 1 to 22 (i.e. 19 Wing Comox) in some cases based on the previous historical affiliations of the base.
Re-Formation of 1 Canadian Air Division and Chief of Air Staff
The latest change in structure for the Air Force was brought about in 1997. Previous studies had established the need to eliminate at least one layer of headquarters in the overall establishment, which had gradually shrunken with periodic budget cutbacks and personnel reductions. The Air Force decided to eliminate the existing Air Command Headquarters in Winnipeg along with each of the Group Headquarters. In the their place, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) amalgamates the strategic level functions of each of the five previous HQs. 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD) in Winnipeg amalgamates the operational level functions of AIRCOM, 10 TAG, MAG, ATG and FG. In addition, 1 CAD assumed the responsibilities for Canadian NORAD Region (CANR) Headquarter functions and is officially known as 1 CAD/CANRHQ. The nomenclature for both CAS and 1 CAD re-introduces historical terminology in that both these entities previously existed in the RCAF/CF.
Persian Gulf
On 2 August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. This act of aggression precipitated the Persian Gulf war. The world in unison chastised this act of violence and a coalition of forces was formed to liberate Kuwait. Diplomacy failed and the United Nations Security Council issued an ultimatum to Sadam Hussein: leave Kuwait by 15 January or suffer the consequences. Shortly after mid-night, 17 January 1991, the coalition forces opened their strategic bombing campaign. This campaign lasted until the cease fire on 28 February 1991. The ground assault started on 24 February 1991 after the most successful air assault in history. This ground assault swept through the Iraqi defensive lines and turned the battle into a rout.

Canada joined the coalition in condemning Iraq and committed her forces. Initially Canada's contribution was two helicopter destroyers (DDH) and a supply ship (AOR) to assist in the blockade in the Persian Gulf (Operation Friction); included in this task group were the ships compliment of Sea King helicopters. These aircraft flew many missions to investigate unknown sea traffic. To protect her men-of-war, Canada committed a squadron of 18 CF-18s (Operation Scimitar). After a long recce of the in-theatre airfields, Doha in Qatar was selected as the deployment base. The deployment to Doha started on 4 October 1990 from the available forces in Canadian Forces Europe, and the first operational missions were flown on 9 October 1990. The commitment later increased to 24 and then 28 CF-18s. The original task for Canadian Air Task Group Middle East's (CATGME) was Combat Air Patrol (CAP) for the fleet in the Persian Gulf; this changed later to a coalition CAP of the Persian Gulf. This task continued until 24 January 1991 when sweep and escort missions were authorized and flown by the Canadian Forces, and then finally on 24 February 1991 air-to-ground missions were authorized and flown.

Included in our air commitment to the coalition was an air-to-air tanker. This arrived in-theatre on 8 January 1991 and joined the other tanker resources of the coalition. Their first mission was flown on 9 January 1991 and continued until the cease fire.

In January 1991 it was decided to bring all of the Canadian Forces units deployed to the Persian Gulf under one Canadian Commander. The headquarters were set up in Bahrain and they were provided with a light transport/utility Challenger. Operational command of all Canadian resources was assigned to the Canadian commander, while operational control was delegated to the coalition.

After the cease-fire, Canada quickly repatriated her forces back to their original bases and the deployment bases in Bahrain and Doha were closed out in March 1991.
To the Present
In the face of ever decreasing budgets and resources, the Canadian Air Force has remained extremely busy ever since the Gulf War, with operational deployments of every kind around the globe: Airlift missions into the former Yugoslavia, into African, into Russia and many other parts of the world have been a frequent occurrence in support of both operational deployments and humanitarian assistance. CF-18s have been deployed operationally to NATO bases in support of missions in Bosnia and the former areas of Yugoslavia. Tactical aviation missions have been flown in Haiti in support of the UN. CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft deployed to Italy in support of the UN maritime embargo on the former Yugoslavia. Within Canada, Air Force missions in support of relief for various disasters such as the Manitoba and Saguenay region floods and the Quebec/Ontario ice storms have also added to the operational tempo. Even Air Force personnel, particularly from the support echelon, have themselves been increasingly committed to CF operational deployments around the world. In all cases, the finest traditions of the Air Force have been and continue to be upheld.

Prior to unification each of the Air Force sister services had separate and distinct aviation branches. In the context of Canadian Military Aviation, it is useful to understand their heritage as well.
Aviation in the Royal Canadian Navy
Canadians have been involved with naval aviation since World War One; however, the RCN did not officially form an aviation division until after World War Two.

During World War One the Royal Navy viewed Canada strictly as a potential source of recruits and the Royal Naval Air Service did the same. The RNAS' top scoring ace came from Canada, Raymond Collishaw from North Vancouver. However, with the formation of the Royal Air Force, the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps were amalgamated into one service. Naval aviation remained very low-key until World War Two when it earned its spurs.

Although Canada did not have a naval aviation division during World War Two, the RCN did man two RN escort carriers, HMS Nabob (commissioned September 1943) and Puncher (commissioned February 1944). HMS Nabob was torpedoed in August 1944 and although she made Scapa Flow was paid off while HMS Puncher served through to VE Day. With her wartime experience available, the RCN decided to start a naval aviation division immediately after World War Two. Initially two fleet carriers were considered by the RCN and after accepting the use of HMS/HMCS Warrior it was decided, because of cost, that the RCN would operate only one carrier. HMS Warrior was returned to the RN (Canadian service from January 1945 - February 1947), HMCS Bonaventure (ex-HMS Powerful) was purchased and while "Bonny" was being finished to Canadian specifications HMS/HMCS Magnificent was borrowed by the RCN (from April 1948 - April 1957) for carrier operations.

The first flying unit of the RCN was Fleet Requirements Unit (FRU) 743, a fleet refresher unit tasked with refresher training for some of the wartime aviators who were returning to the RCN or recruited from the ranks of demobilized RCAF pilots. The primary role of the aviation division of the RCN was anti-submarine warfare. The first operational units formed were 803 and 825 Squadron (the "800 block" of squadron numbers was assigned to the RN and all 8XX Squadrons in RCN service were from this block) flying Sea Furies and ASW Fireflies respectively. These squadrons served on board HMCS Warrior and HMCS Magnificent. 825 Sqn formed in England and was transferred to the RCN for service aboard HMCS Warrior. 825 Sqn's home base in Canada was Royal Canadian Naval Air Station Dartmouth (later HMCS Shearwater).

In 1951 as their primary ASW platform, the RCN selected an updated version of the USN Avenger aircraft and the Sea Fury continued as the fighter. These aircraft served with 880 Sqn (RCN) and 870 Sqn (RCN) on board HMCS Magnificent (825 and 803 Sqns reverted to the RN). In 1952 the RCN adopted the USN designators for her squadrons, so "V" was heavier than air and "S" was anti-submarine and "F" was fighter. In 1955 the RCN expanded their aviation division and created VS 881 as their Airborne Early Warning unit, VF 871 (another fighter squadron) and HS 50 the RCN's first helicopter squadron (in 1974 HS 50 was split and HS 423 and 443 were created). As the follow-on ASW aircraft the RCN selected a Canadian-built version of the Grumman S-2F Tracker; VS 880 and VS 881 were equipped with this aircraft type. The arrival of these aircraft coincided with the acceptance of HMCS Bonaventure (commissioned January 1957). The "Bonny" had been modified from her original plans and included many new innovations, steam catapults, angled deck and mirror landing system to name a few. These advances meant higher performance aircraft could be carried as part of the ships compliment. To replace the Sea Furies from "Maggie" day's ex-USN Banshee aircraft were selected; VF 870 and VF 871 Sqns were equipped with this aircraft type.

However, by the early 1960s budgets were becoming tighter and it was decided that the RCN would be strictly an ASW force; therefore, the two fighter squadrons were reduced to nil strength and the Banshee was mothballed. As another austerity measure the two ASW squadrons were amalgamated into VS 880 Sqn. In 1970, after a major refit, it was decided that HMCS Bonaventure would be paid off. This was not the end of naval aviation in Canada, because in the early 60s Canada had been working on a helicopter destroyer (DDH), a destroyer capable of landing, securing and supporting helicopter operations. These were to be the future of naval aviation in Canada. From the mid-60s through to the present naval aviation has been primarily helicopter ASW.

On 1 February 1968 the naval aviation division was absorbed into Maritime Air Group, a part of Maritime Command, and in September 1975 MAG became a part of Air Command.
Army Aviation
Aviation in the Canadian Army was not formed until the early 1950s. They relied upon the Tactical Air Group of the RCAF for their support. However, in the mid-1950s it was decided to equip a number of aviation troops to provide artillery spotting and advanced armour reconnaissance with Hiller helicopters and L-19 Bird Dog aircraft. Later, in the early 1960s, heavy helicopter transport was added to the task list with the introduction of the Voyageur helicopter. These functions continued after unification and did not change until the early 70s when the Hiller and L-19 were replaced by Huey and Kiowa helicopters. New tactical aviation units were formed and they stood-up as air squadrons using the "400 block" of squadrons instead of being an aviation troop within a regiment. Additionally, airborne assaults became a reality with these new aircraft. With integration these tactical aviation squadrons were absorbed into Air Command.
Air Force Uniforms
Where did the uniform patterns and the traditional air force rank come from? Where did the colour come from? Why do we wear the various rank badges? These are all questions I hope to answer in this article.

Originally, when air services were created by their respective elements, they adopted rank that was similar to that already worn by that service. However, with the creation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, there was an amalgamation of the two current flying services, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Initially the RAF adopted the army type rank labels, but this changed shortly after World War One to a system that was more emblematic of the job performed by the person in rank. The chart below shows a comparison of the three rank structures:
Royal Naval Air Service Army Royal (Canadian) Air Force
Flying Officer Second Lieutenant Pilot Officer (P/O)
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Flying Officer (F/O)
Flight Lieutenant/Flight Commander Captain Flight Lieutenant (F/L)
Squadron Commander Major Squadron Leader (S/L)
Wing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wing Commander (W/C)
Wing Captain Colonel Group Captain (G/C)
  Brigadier Air Commodore (A/C)
  Major-General Air-Vice-Marshal (A/V/M)
  Lieutenant-General Air-Marshal (A/M)
  General Air-Chief-Marshal (A/C/M)
  Field Marshal Marshal-of-the-R(C)AF
As you can see the air force rank described the squadron level position. This worked until World War Two, when the squadron size increased (especially on bomber squadrons) to the point were a Squadron Leader (Major) could no longer exercise control over an entire squadron. Most bomber squadron commanders during World War Two were Wing Commanders, while fighter squadron commanders remained Squadron Leaders. During the immediate post-war years, this continued to be the pattern followed by higher headquarters; Wing Commanders for large squadrons, i.e. transport and maritime patrol, and Squadron Leaders for smaller squadrons, i.e. fighter squadrons and radar squadrons. With the integration of the Canadian Military in 1968, the rank structure also had to be integrated. One proposal was to field an entirely new system where a Captain would become an O-3 and a Major would be an O-4. However, this did not bode well with the different elements and a compromise was reached; the officer rank structure from the U.S. Army was finally adopted.

The Non-Commissioned-Officers of the military also saw change. After years of the Corporal rank being the first hard earned rank of a supervisor, this was changed in 1964 to a rank of trade qualification. Later the rank of master corporal was introduced, when it was realized that a junior supervisor was still required. The old and new NCO rank structure is listed below:
Royal Canadian Air Force Canadian Forces
Aircraftsman 2nd Class (AC2) Private (Pvt)
Aircraftsman 1st Class (AC1) Private
Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Private
Corporal (Cpl) Corporal (Cpl)
Nil Master Corporal (M/Cpl)
Sergeant (Sgt) Sergeant (Sgt)
Flight Sergeant (F/Sgt) Warrant Officer (WO)
Warrant Officer 2nd Class (WO2) Master Warrant Officer (MWO)
Warrant Officer 1st Class (WO1) Chief Warrant Officer (CWO)
Uniforms have always been subject to the fashion of the time (flared or tapered pants, pleated or plain front); the current uniform pattern dates back to the late 19th century when the British decided that the dress of the Victorian era (scarlet tunics and fine gold embroidery) was unsuitable for field use. The field dress adopted was a five button (the fifth button closed the neck), front closure jacket with pockets on the skirts and on the chest, in a khaki (light brown) colour. This pattern was also very popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts in England during the late Victorian era. With the exception of a slight deviation during World War Two and post-war period when a short waist coat became popular (battle dress), it has changed little over the intervening century. The top button fell out of popular use in the 1930's, and the actual cut of the pattern and material have changed from the original, but the general pattern has remained. At integration the pattern adopted was based on the airman's jacket and this has followed into today's distinctive environmental uniform (DEU).

Shirts are another part of the uniform that have been subject to current fashion statements. When the field service jacket was first worn, it was buttoned right up to the neck, so the shirt was primarily worn as an undergarment to protect the skin from the jacket material (sometimes wool serge) and the jacket from sweat. However, as collars became more popular in everyday fashion, so to they became popular in the military. These original collars were actually buttoned onto the shirt collar and a tie was then tied under the collar; shirt cuffs too were buttoned onto the shirt sleeve (WW2 issue in the RCAF was one shirt and four sets of collars and cuffs). Additionally, in the Commonwealth the use of hangers to store shirts led to the custom of ironing shirts flat except the sleeves, which were creased. In addition, because cuffs at one time were a separate item of clothing buttoned onto the sleeves, they are pressed flat. The European tradition has been to fold and store shirts in drawers. This led to the shirts being pressed along the folds, i.e., vertical creases in the front and rear like today's French and U.S. Army shirt.

The wedge cap is another item of our uniform that has been the subject of discussion for years. It was originally designed by the army in the late 19th century for wear with the field service uniform. It was called "a cap field service" until the mid 60's when the RCAF changed it to the "Wedge Cap". It was designed to be worn with a slight tilt to the right side (one inch above the right ear) and centred forward and aft on the head (the front was one inch above the eye brow). It was also designed with pull down ear flaps and neck protection in mind; the current issue wedge caps have these sewn up and are now purely decorative. The cap field service lost a lot of its popularity with the army when they started to wear the peaked cap (service/forage cap) during the early part of the 20th century. During World War One, when most army units were wearing peaked caps, the Royal Flying Corps adopted the field service cap. It has been an air force symbol since that time.

Where did the particular shade of Air Force blue originate? Officially it was called Azure Blue, but to others it has a different name. When the Royal Air Force was first formed on 1 April 1918, a major world conflict was reaching its zenith. There was not much time for all the finer points of creating a new element force and many things had to scrounged: uniform patterns were taken from the army, rank patterns were from the RNAS, officers' ranks were more from the RNAS than the army, and many of the traditions were from the navy (RNAS Sqns became the 200 block of Sqns, i.e.. 1 Sqn RNAS became 201 Sqn RAF). But the uniforms colour had to be something distinctive and a blue/grey was looked at as the ideal colour. As stated, there was a war ongoing and where was this amount of material to be had for a new force? Fortunately for the RAF, Burbury's of London had a large stock of a beautiful blue/grey on hand, ready for immediate sale. This material was ordered by Imperial Russia for a cavalry unit, but before delivery could be completed, the October 1917 revolution had overthrown the Czarist regime and the new government did not have a requirement for this material. So the RAF got a good deal on some quality material and they helped Burbury's out of a predicament and the colour code was changed to azure blue.
The Mess Dinner
Traditionally the mess dinner was the time after working hours when the mess sat down for dinner with their commanding officer. It must be remembered that not long ago most members of a mess were single and one needed the CO's permission to marry. Additionally, all the members of the mess lived in the mess and it was the custom of the day for gentlemen to dress for dinner. Therefore, the mess dinner was a result of the rules of gentlemanly conduct and the fact that every officer lived in the mess. Generally speaking, every night was a mess dinner.

Today's mess dinners have taken on a different air. They are normally held for a traditional reason: Air Force birthday/anniversary or a retirement. The pomp and ceremony are shrouded in mystery. Why do we associate ourselves with Scotland? Why do we wear the mess kit? Why is there a head table? And why do we have so many courses?

Our association to Scottish heraldry stems from World War Two, when Group Captain Fullerton, Commanding Officer RCAF Station Summerside, decided to form a pipe band on his station. This decision was made during a mess dinner to celebrate "Robbie Burns" day; a traditional highland celebration on 25 January when haggis is served. Now, in the highland tradition, we have a piper who pipes a 15 minute warning during cocktails, another warning comes at five minutes before dinner and then, when it is time for dinner, the piper approaches the CO and the Guest of Honour and pipes them into dinner. The piper next appears to pipe in the port for the loyal toast. At the termination of dinner the CO thanks the piper in traditional highland manner; they share a quaich (a two handled friendship cup) of Scotch with a highland toast - Piper says "Slàinte" (Slawn-cha) "Good Health" and the CO says "Slàinte mhath" (Slawn-cha Vah) "Good Health to You".

The loyal toast is another area where there are traditional differences among the services. At an Air Force dinner the port is piped in by a piper and once all the servers are in position the piper stops playing. At an Air Force dinner the port bottle never touches the table, symbolizing the flying aspect of the air force. Other elements have their own tradition for passing the port: the navy port bottle does not leave the table and the artillery have small gun carriages for their port. However, the actual toast is the same throughout the forces; it is a toast to "the Queen of Canada"/"la Reine du Canada".

The loyal toast indicates the close of the formal portion of the diner and this is when a guest speaker will make his presentation. It also signifies that smoking may now commence and mess games may be played. However, it is common courtesy to allow the guest to speak without interruption.

Traditionally, members of the mess attend the dinner until the guest of honour departs. If for some important reason you must depart early, you should seek out the guest of honour and bid him farewell (it should be remembered that this guest is attending your mess).

The origins of the mess kits are another item, which is surrounded in mystery. One must remember that the traditional costume for a gentleman's evening was "Black Tie". This tradition precipitated the military adopting a formal mess uniform. The mess kits pattern comes from the time that mess dress was first adopted by the Air Force in the late 1920s. During this time the short coat (with tails) and coveralls (trousers) were immensely popular with the general population and the military was fashion conscious; therefore, this pattern was accepted and is still in use today. Fashions have changed and so has the mess dress. Starched shirt fronts and vests lost their popularity in the 50s and the Air Force dropped them from their mess dress; additionally, wing collars lost their popularity after World War Two and in the late 50s the Air Force ceased wearing them. When unification came in 1968 a new tri-service mess dress was adopted by the Canadian Forces. This mess dress followed the traditional pattern but with some fashionable changes; the collar was changed from a peaked type (not fashionable in 1968) to a shawl collar (fashionable in 1968) and the colour was changed to a tri-service midnight blue. While the other two elements have changed their mess dress back to more traditional lines for their elements, Air Command has decided to retain the tri-service mess kit for the sake of personal economy!

Head tables are another area of interest. Why do we have one and why is it where it is? Again one must return to the days when military units were full of single people and the mess was their home. The dinner was the social time of the day and the CO normally wanted to see all of his officers. This was accomplished by arranging the seating in a manner that permitted the CO to view all attendees. A head table was established with the CO seated in the middle with the tables extending out like arms from the head table. This layout permitted the CO to see everybody. This accomplished two things, the CO could take attendance and he could monitor the social behaviour of his personnel.

Finally the number of courses has always intrigued people. Again we must return to the era of the social gentleman when each portion of the meal was treated separately. European eating establishments and fine restaurants in North America continue with this mode of preparing and serving a meal.
The RCAF March Past
All airmen in the Canadian Forces acknowledge a single tune known as "RCAF March Past" during parades and mess dinners. "This musical score, known in Britain as "The Royal Air Force March Past", was written originally by Sir Walford Davies shortly after the formation of the RAF in 1918, and later was re-arranged and altered by Sir George Dyson. It was in 1943, when the RCAF was so heavily engaged in the air war over Britain and Germany that permission was granted for the RCAF to use the march and today, "RCAF March Past" continues to be the quick march of the air operations branch and air command." Less well known are the words composed for the tune which are as follows: 
Through adversities we'll conquer
Blaze into the stars.
A trail of glory
will live on land sea
'till victory is won.

Men in blue the skies are winging
in each heart one thought is ringing.
Fight for the right!
God is our might!
We shall be free.
Saluting on the Flight Line
Traditionally in the Air Force there is no saluting in the work place; the flight line is the place of work for aviators. The only personnel who are saluted on the flight line are senior officers. This is similar to the army in the field, where officers are not saluted in the field for fear that snipers might see them.
RCAF Tartan
One of the most popular tartans in Canada is the RCAF Tartan. But where did it come from and why is it named the RCAF Tartan?

Credit for this effort should go to Group Captain E.G. Fullerton, Commanding Officer of No. 9 Service Flying Training School, RCAF Station Summerside, Prince Edward Island. G/C Fullerton was from a strong Scottish heritage, from the clans of Nova Scotia, and he was able to arrange for the loan of several sets of bag pipes for his station band. Because he wanted to kit-out his band in full Scottish regalia, he searched for a tartan appropriate for an air force pipe band. The closest tartan he could find was an Anderson tartan, but he thought it lacked something. So he decided to design his own tartan, modifying the original Anderson tartan with the colours he thought were appropriate for the air force: light blue, dark blue and maroon. Using red and blue pencils, he designed the prototype and had a sample swatch made for submission to Air Force Headquarters. With only a few minor changes, this sample was submitted for approval to Scotland. The tartan, officially known as the Royal Canadian Air Force tartan, was officially registered on 15 August 1942 by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland in his court archives.

This tartan continues to be the tartan of the Canadian air force. It was officially adopted by Canadian Forces Air Command and continues to be worn by Air Command pipe bands.
As can be seen, Canada has had a long and rich history with her military air services. From those austere beginnings of flight on Bras-d'Or Lake in 1909 to Canada's contribution to the current activities of the Air Force, our personnel have created a proud tradition of excellence, valour and professionalism.

Throughout the history of the Air Force has been both turbulent and always a constant struggle but Canada's Air Force is here to stay. The mottos of both the RCAF and the current Air Force have therefore always been highly appropriate: Per Ardua Ad Astra (Through Adversity to the Stars) / Sic Itur Ad Astra (Such is the Pathway to the Stars).
High Flight
Oh! I've slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

John Gillispie Magee *

* Pilot Officer John Gillispie Magee Jr., an American citizen, was born of missionary parents in Shangai, China and educated in Britain's famed Rugby School. He came to the United States in 1939, and, at age 18 years, won a scholarship to Yale. But he felt that he must aid the cause of freedom and instead enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in September, 1940. He served overseas with an R.C.A.F. (Spitfire) Squadron until his death on active service on 11 December 1941. His sonnet, composed in September 1941, resulted from the freedom of soaring at 30,000 feet. It was scribbled on the back of a letter to his mother in Washington. It subsequently became famous both in R.C.A.F and worldwide.

Air Force Glossary
Like any organisation, the Air Force culture generates it's own vocabulary, slang and acronyms for popular use. By no means all encompassing, the following list or "glossary" provides some historical perspectives:

a senior officer, normally of the general rank

a naval term for a member of the aviation community.

American gloves

altitude of an aircraft in thousands of feet (angels 30 = 30 thousand feet)

to bore a hole in the ground with an aircraft while still at the controls

B-25 kit
an aviator's arctic survival kit, from the days of flying B-25s in the RCAF.

a term to describe an enemy aircraft

an air force hangar

Blue Bark
compassionate leave travel

Brain f*rt
a term used to describe a student's actions which are wrong for the situation but the staff member knows the student would normally react correctly (It was only a brain f*rt.)

a term used to indicate that an aircrafts' fuel is at the minimum to return to the preplanned airfield

a term to describe an unknown aircraft.

a term of endearment for the old flying helmet, because it was painted white

an aviation fuel truck

an affectionate term for paperwork emerging from a headquarters

an old term for toilet paper


a term for student pilot attending 2 CFFTS

a naval term for anybody connected with aviation. Tradition states that crabfat was used as a preservative on the canvas of early aircraft.

Dodo bird
ex-flight sergeants of the RCAF. The Dodo bird is an extinct bird, as is the flight sergeant.

poor flying weather, from Centralia, Ontario, when poor weather meant an early trip to the Dufferin Hotel.

the traditional name for an air force non-commissioned member

all aviation trades other than rigger and fitter

Falcon Codes
a numerical code used to indicate ones displeasure or to pass a rude comment over the radio or messages

Fighter COPs
the old term for an airweapons controller, from the old trade name Fighter Control and Operator

File 13
the round green filing cabinet located on the floor (garbage can)

a term of great endearment for a member of the navy.

the old trade name for an aeroengine technician. Dates back to the beginning of flight when he was expected to fit all those pieces into the engine area.

Flight line
the part of the airfield where the aircraft are parked during active flying operations

FLight Information Publications, the road maps for using the skies

a medal

Gong show
a medals parade

a term of great endearment for a member of the army. An acronym standing for Government Reject Unfit for Normal Training.

the large barn-like structure where aircraft are parked for maintenance or over-night

Hanger queen
an aircraft that spends more time in maintenance than it does flying

one's home aerodrome

an aviator's term for aviation fuel

a routine mission

Mk 13 wrench
a tool used to eliminate an oil or hydraulic spot from an aircraft (a rag)

an aircraft tractor used on airfields

The old man
the base commander

Paul Bunyan
a large cargo storage container used by Air Transport Group.

a term of endearment for a member of the air force, commonly used by pongoes. Also it is a term for a person's home airfield ("say pigeons" - "your pigeons are 2700 at 35 miles")

the Atlantic Ocean

a term of great endearment for a member of the Army. Story goes that pong is an Australian term for a badsmell and, therefore, wherever the army goes the pong goes.

Poopy suit
a cold water immersion suit worn by aircrew

an aircraft accident

to have ejected from an aircraft

a term used for a radio, from receiver and transmitter.

the old trade name for an airframe technician. Dates back to the times of canvas and wooden airplanes where the technician actually rigged the aircraft for flight

a USAF term of endearment for a member of their naval service. Comes from the duty of chippers and scrapers (removing rust from a ship).

Sacred cow
the Boeing 707 from the fact that it was painted white and it was always given priority at military airfields.

a term of endearment for an Airborne Interceptor Navigator

a term for the orderly officer

Snow and Ice Committee, the team responsible for setting the priority for snow removal on an airfield. It has other meanings too.

a term for a student pilot

a term for a pilot under training in Moose Jaw, from they are still coneheads squad boss – squadron commander

an easy course or an easy posting

Trash hauler
a transport aircraft aircrewman

White knuckle airlines
service air transport

Zoom bag
an aviators pride and glory, his/her flying suit


Suggested Additional Reading
The following references were used in the compilation of this history package and should be consulted for further reading:

A History of the Air Defence of Canada 1948 –1997, The NBC Group, 71 Film Canada Inc
A History of Canadian Naval Aviation, J.D.F. Keeley and E.C. Russell, 1965 Queen's Printer
A Record of Valour, Charles H. Steward, Toronto 1987
A Thousand Shall Fall, Murray Peden, 1979 Canada's Wings
Aces and Aircraft of World War I, Christopher Campbell, 1981 Blandford Press
AVRO Arrow, The Arrowheads, 1980 The Boston Mills Press
Bomber Pilot, Leonard Cheshire, 1943 Granada Publishing
Canadians at War, Jim Lotz, 1990 Bison Books
Canadian Flying Services - Emblems & Insignia, Bill Hampson, 1986 Sunshine Printing Ltd.
CNN's The War in the Gulf, edited by Dave Deere
Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Armed Forces, E.C. Russell, Deneau and Greenburg Publishers 1980
Enemy Coast Ahead, Guy Gibson, 1946 The Chaucer Press
From White Caps to Contrails, 1981
Full Circle, J.E. Johnson, 1964 Chatto and Windus Ltd
Harvard, Fletcher and MacPhail, 1990 DCF Flying Books
Hero, the Buzz Beurling Story, Brian Nolan, 1981 Lester and Orpen Dennys Ltd
Laughter Silvered Wings, J. Douglas Harvey, 1985 The Canadian Publishers
RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft, S. Kostenuk and J. Griffin, 1977 A.M. Hakkert Ltd.
Silent Witness, Herbert Wood & John Swettenham, 1974 Hakkert
Sixty Years, The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, Larry Milberry, 1984 CANAV Books
Splash One Tiger, Chick Childerhose, 1961 The Canadian Publishers
Terror in the Starboard Seat, Dave McIntosh, 1980 Beaufort Books
The Canadair Sabre, Larry Milberry, 1986 CANAV Books
The CF-100, Larry Milberry, 1981 CANAV Books
The Creation of a National Air Force, W.A.B. Douglas, Vol 1 & 2, 1986 University of Toronto Press
The Few, Kaplan Collier, 1989 Blandford Press
The North Star, Larry Milberry, 1982 CANAV Books
The RCAF Overseas, Vol 1,2,&3, 1949 Oxford University Press
The Tumbling Mirth, J. Douglas Harvey, 1983 The Canadian Publishers
Wild Blue, Chick Childerhose, 1978 Hoot Productions


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