The History and the Aircraft of the Air
Forces of Canada
- from 1914 to today.
World War 2 Onward - Part 1.
By the end of June 1946 all Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons overseas had been disbanded or returned to Canada. A few units were kept to resume aerial photography and survey, air transport and mercy flights.
There was an expansion in Regular Force strength in 1948 to 13,832. New aircraft, the North Star and the RCAF's first jet fighter, the Vampire were introduced to service.
In August, 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed by a group of nations concerned with the threat of communism expanding into Western Europe. As a founding member Canada agreed to provide, along with other military units, an Air Force contribution which would be tasked with the role of air defence.
Expansion of the Armed Forces received further stimulus when the Communists attacked South Korea in June of 1950. Number 426 Transport Squadron began flying an airlift to Japan in July of 1950. Twenty RCAF fighter pilots saw action in Korea flying the F86 Sabre while attached to units of the United States Air Force. These Canadians destroyed nine enemy aircraft, claimed two probable and eight damaged. The hostiles were all MIG 15s. One pilot, S/L Andy MacKenzie when forced down in December of 1952 was taken prisoner and held for two years by the North Koreans.
With NATO, training of aircrew in Canada again reached importance. Training
bases were reopened with participants from Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece,
Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
1 Air Division was formed, with the headquarters to be based in Metz, France. The considerable engineering and industrial capacity of Canada was pressed into action to provide the aircraft needed for the mission. With a sense of urgency the RCAF started to train the aircrew and technical personnel.
In November 1951, 410 was named as the first squadron of the Air Division. It was transported on the RCN aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent to North Luffenham in England, where it would be joined in 1952 by 439 and 441 Sqns.
By September 1953 the Air Division had four Interceptor Day Fighter Wings in Europe, No.1 Wing at Marville, France, the new home to 410, 439, and 441 Fighter Squadrons; No. 2 Wing at Grostenquin, France, consisting of 416, 421, and 430 Sqns; No. 3 Wing at Zweibrucken, Germany, with 413, 427 and 434 Sqns; and, No. 4 Wing at Baden- Soellingen, Germany with 414, 422 and 444 Squadrons.
In 1956 the decision was made to provide an all-weather and
night fighter capability for the Air Division, and by July 1957 four Sabre
squadrons: 410, 413, 414 and 416 had been deactivated and replaced by CF 100
squadrons. That same year North American Air Defence Command was formed in
conjunction with the United States. Air Defence Command of the RCAF was
one of its components.
With an authorized strength of 300 first rate fighters, plus spare aircraft as replacements when needed, the RCAF 1 Air Division was a force that any opposition would treat with great respect. During the life of the Air Division, the threat was great, and the so called Cold War was always in danger of turning hot. Training was very realistic and demanding. One hundred and seven Royal Canadian Air Force Sabre pilots gave their lives guarding the freedoms and ideals for which Canada stands. A monument dedicated in their honour is one of the many which stand in the Air Park of the RCAF Memorial Museum.
Chipmunk Arrow Mustang Canso Mitchell
Sikorski S 51 Lancaster Comet Bell 47D North Star
Bristol Freighter C5 F86 Sabre Boxcar Harvard
For more history and photos, please follow the link to Part 2: