RCAF 100th Part 1 – The First Five Decades

CANADIAR-CE-133-SILVER-STAR-1953-2005

CANADAIR CE-133 SILVER STAR 1953 – 2005

Photographers include: Bob Finch, William Ellison, Ken Middleton, Scott Jankowski, Scott Zeno, Corey Beitler, Don Linn and Ken Kula

The Royal Canadian Air Force celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024. Here is an incomplete history of the first five decades of service through highlights and milestones. Included are most, but not all of the RCAF’s types of aircraft used during these five decades.

 

WING COMMANDER JAMES LINDSAY GORDON DFC – FIRST DIRECTOR OF THE RCAF

On February 15, King George V approved the title of the “Royal Canadian Air Force” (RCAF); it was accepted on March 13, 2024. On April 1, 2024, the newly named military unit stood up as the King’s Regulations and Orders became effective. The April 1st date is important. today, as it marks 100 years of this decree and establishment of the modern RCAF. Prior to this, Canada’s military aviation was part of the U.K.’s Royal Air Force (RAF), integrated within the RAF’s organization. Pilots flew RAF aircraft within RAF Squadrons, from World War I and later until the 1924 date.

 BLACKBURN SHARK 1934 -1944 Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada

Between its inception and World War II, the RCAF performed many duties “at home” in Canada. Forestry patrols, aerial photography and even some “rum runner” interceptions were made. Slowly, the force built up its defensive capabilities in the form of fighters, bombers and patrol aircraft. Pilot training in single and multi-engined aircraft also consumed flying hours too. For the calendar year 1925, slightly over 5,100 hours in various aircraft types were flown. Five years later, the total yearly flying total was up to just below 14,000 hours (over a third of these were forest fire patrol and reporting).

ARMSTRONG WHITWORTH SISKIN – SISKINS TEAM – RCAF Crown Copyright photo.

In 1931, the RCAF’s first flight demonstration team – the Siskins – performed at various air shows and events. The trio of Armstrong Whitworth Siskin fighters began a storied line of RCAF flight demonstration teams over the years following their formation.

DEHAVILLAND-DH-82C-TIGER-MOTH-1938-1948

In 1938, the first of more than 1,500 DH-82C Tiger Moth trainers were received – this year saw some 27,000 flying hours logged, more than half of this total was for flight training.

HAWKER-HURRICANE-1939-1948

HAWKER HURRICANE 1939 – 1948

World War II began for Canadian forces in 1939, when England declared war on Germany. The RCAF had more than 4,000 men in its ranks and some 270 aircraft, although many were non-combatant types or obsolete. The few modern aircraft included Hawker Hurricanes and Airspeed Oxfords.The first iconic North American Harvard trainers were delivered a few months prior to the declaration too.  On December 17, 1939, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was signed by the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

SUPERMARINE-SPITFIRE-MK-IX-1940-1950

SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MK IX 1940 – 1950

RCAF pilots were integrated within RAF Squadrons and were assigned aircraft such as Vickers Wellington and Lockheed Hudson bombers, Canso patrol amphibians and Bristol Beaufighters.  On March 1, 1941, all RCAF Squadrons overseas were renumbered in the 400 series of numbers. This avoided confusion with RAF units. On July 2, 1941 the Canadian Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force was authorized, by the end of the war more than 17,000 women had served.

CURTISS-KITTYHAWKTOMAHAWK-WARHAWK-1941-1946

CURTISS KITTYHAWK,TOMAHAWK, WARHAWK 1941 – 1946

During January, 1942, RCAF Curtiss Tomahawks and Bristol Bolingbrokes were tasked with the defense of Alaska. One aircraft would down a Japanese floatplane in the Aleutians later on.

CCF-CANSO-1941-1962

CCF CANSO 1941 – 1962

By the end of 1943, the RCAF had grown to 78 Squadrons, with 41 of these stationed overseas. Home based units included numerous anti-submarine tasked patrol squadrons, equipped with Consolidated and Vickers-built Catalina/Canso aircraft, Consolidated Liberators and Lockheed Hudsons. They took a tremendous toll of German U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean. The BCATP had 97 active flying schools by this time too.

NORTH-AMERICAN-MITCHELL-1942-1963

NORTH AMERICAN MITCHELL 1942 – 1963

In the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, some 37 RCAF Squadrons were tasked with various missions. In August, two RCAF jet pilots scored their first victories while flying their new Gloster Meteor aircraft. 

AVRO-LANCASTER-X-1944-1965

AVRO LANCASTER X 1944 – 1965

In 1945, as the war against Germany ended, a force of RCAF heavy bombers was planned to fight in the Pacific, but the war against Japan ended before the plan was executed. A rapid, large reduction in forces and aircraft was accomplished.

DHC-CT-120-Chipmunk-1948-1972

DHC CT-120 CHIPMUNK 1948 – 1972

April 1948, the first CT-120 Chipmunks were delivered to the RCAF

CL-13, 23620, 444 Sq

CANADAIR CL-13 SABRE, 23620 1950 – 1977

September 1951, first Canadair Sabre Squadrons with home-produced jets stands up.

AVRO-CANUCK-CF-100-1951-1984

AVRO CANUCK CF-100 1951 – 1984

November 1953 CF-100 fighter sets time record of 4:30 from Vancouver to Ottawa.

November 1956, First CF-100s join NATO in Marville, France

CF-104G, 104784

LOCKHEED CF-104 STARFIGHTER 104784 1962 – 1986

CF-101, 101014,

MCDONNELL CF-101 VOODOO 1963 – 1987

March 1, 1961, the first CF-104 was delivered to the RCAF. Also, the first CF-101s entered service.

CANADAIR-CC-109-COSMOPOLITAN-1960-1994

CANADAIR CC-109 COSMOPOLITAN 1960 – 1994

April 1966, RCAF Command restructuring sees new organizations: Mobile Command, Air Defense Command, Maritime Command, Training Command and Air Transport Command.

DASSAULT-CC-117-1967-1989

DASSAULT CC-117 1967 – 1989

August 1967, the first CC-117 Falcon was delivered.

DHC-CP-121-TRACKER-1957-1990

DHC CP-121 TRACKER 1957 – 1990

SIKORSKY-HO4S-RCN-1955-1970

SIKORSKY HO4S RCN 1955 – 1970

December 1969, last HO4S and CP-121 Trackers departed the soon-to-be-retired HCMS Bonaventure aircraft carrier.

BOEING-CC-137-1970-1997

BOEING CC-137 1970 – 1997

April 1970 saw the first Boeing CC-137 delivered to the RCAF.

AVRO ANSON 652 MK VP 1940 – 1947

BEECH CT-128 EXPEDITOR 1941 – 1972

BEECH CT-134A 1971 – 1992

BEECH MENTOR 1954 – 1956

BELL CH-118 1968 – 1997

BELL CH-135 1971 – 1999

BOEING CH-147C 1974 – 1991

CANADAIR CF-5A, 116740 1968 – 1995

CANADAIR CP-107 ARGUS 1957 – 1988

CANADAIR CT-114 1963 – current

CESSNA CRANE 1941 – 1949

DEHAVILLAND VAMPIRE 1946 – 1958

DEHAVILLAND MOSQUITO 1943 – 1951

 

DHC CC-138 1971 – current

DOUGLAS RCAF_C-47_1943 – 1998

FAIRCHILD 24R-46A ARGUS 1940 – 1945

FAIRCHILD CORNELL 2 1942 – 1948

FAIREY FIREFLY 1946 – 1952

FAIREY SWORDFISH 1943 – 1947

FLEET AIR ARM VOUGHT CORSAIR

FLEET FINCH II 16B 1939 – 1947

FLEET FORT 1941 – 1945

HAWKER SEA FURY 1945 – 1952

LOCKHEED CC-130E 1960 – 2016

NORTH AMERICAN MUSTANG 1947 – 1961

RCN F2H3 MCDONNELL BANSHEE 1955 – 1958

RCN GRUMMAN AVENGER 1950 – 1956

SIKORSKY CH-124 SEA KING 1968 – 2018

STINSON HW-75 1940 – 1946

WESTLAND LYSANDER 1939 – 1946

VERTOL CH-113A LABRADOR 1963 – 2004

 

Other aircraft types not shown include the Boeing BOMARC interceptor, the Fairchild CC-119 Flying Boxcar and the Lockheed CP-122 Neptune

Below: GALLERIES 0F AIRCRAFT – HOVER OVER THUMBNAIL FOR THE TYPE AND/OR CLICK FOR A LARGER PHOTO

BOMBERS/ATTACK

FIGHTERS

HELICOPTERS

TRAINERS

TRANSPORTS

For a very good source of historic information, we recommend: SIXTY YEARS: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924 – 1984 by Editor Larry Milberry, CANAV Books

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