The History and the Aircraft of the Air Forces of Canada - from 1914 to today.
1918 to 1939 - The CAF and the RCAF.
In 1918, the
various British formations amalgamated as the Royal Flying Corps. Almost a third
of the personnel who served therein were Canadian. In the spring of 1918
it was agreed that all-Canadian squadrons be formed. Soon, growing pride and
nationalism aroused by Canadian military accomplishments brought forth a call
for a distinctive Canadian army, navy and air force.
In Canada, a Royal Canadian Naval Air Service was established in the summer of l9l8. It was quickly disbanded at war's end and the Canadian Air Force overseas remained in existence only until February 1920.
A new Canadian Air Force, in Canada, was authorized on the 18th of February 1920 with a provisional establishment of 1,340 officers and 3,905 airmen. Their uniform was navy blue in colour. Rank was indicated with silver stars and crowns and both Air Force and Army designations were used. The cap badge was a maple leaf with the monogram "CAF", flanked by two wings and surrounded by a crown, over the scroll bearing the motto "Sic Itur ad Astra' "Such is the path of the stars".
A small headquarters was set up in Ottawa, and Camp Borden was taken over
to serve as the CAF training -centre. Operations began in October 1920.
On February 15, 1923, King George V approved the designation Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and on April 1, 1924 the RCAF became a permanent component of the Department of National Defence. This date remains the official birthday of the RCAF. The authorized establishment was 68 officers and 307 airmen. The actual strength was 61 officers and 262 airmen. The dark blue uniform gave way to the Royal Air Force pattern. "Sic ltur ad Astra" was replaced by the Royal Air Force motto "Per Ardua ad Astra" (Through adversity to the stars). Several new air stations opened. Trenton replaced Camp Borden as the major air base.
In May 1923, the first course of Provisional Pilot Officers began training at Camp Borden. They were the first aircrew recruits to be trained since November 1918. The RCAF was unique among the air forces of the world during the Twenties and early Thirties in that its main tasks were primarily nonmilitary. The RCAF was tasked with air photography, opening new air routes, patrolling forests and fisheries and experimenting in airmail services. Quite often it flew the sick and injured from remote outposts to medical attention.
In the 1930s the RCAF was almost wiped out by the worldwide depression. In the spring of 1932 its strength was slashed to 103 officers and 591 airmen.
On November 1st 1936, the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence was transferred to the new Department of Transport. The RCAF reorganized into a truly military Air Force while maintaining a limited civilian role of aerial photography.
The Aircraft. Approximately sixty types of aircraft were brought on strength and then retired at various times during this part of the Airforce history. Some even lasted into World War 2.They are shown, in order, in the following pages of thumbnails which will enlarge when clicked upon. To return to the page you are viewing then click on your browser's "Back" button.
Martinsyde F6 Vickers Vanessa Avro 552A Viper Curtiss HS2-L Vickers Velos
DH 4 DH 9A SE 5A Sopwith Camel Fokker Super Universal
© Canada Aviation Museum
Douglas M02B Fairey 111F Vickers Vigil Avro Wright
© Western Canada Aviation
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