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Canadian Military Aircraft
Serial Numbers
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IMPORTANT NOTICE (25 May 2013):  I have moved the web pages to a new server, to permit future expansion and some new features.  You have reached the new home page.  Please update your bookmarks.

My goal for these pages is to identify every serial number ever assigned to a Canadian military aircraft, and to track the history of each aircraft in as much detail as I can.  Since starting these pages I have been lucky enough to receive correspondence from serial number enthusiasts from around the world, and they have become a major source for the data presented here.  I'm always in the process of adding this new information to my database and these web pages.  Check out my change log each time you visit, to see the progress.

The links in the table below will take you to some purely arbitrary headings I have created.  These are intended to make the data more manageable, and don't necessarily reflect any official groupings or divisions of serial numbers.  Each topic main page includes some brief historical notes, to help explain changes in the numbering systems over the years, and to help put the serial numbers in perspective.  Pages that contain links to photographs, or pages that refer to pages with photo links, are marked with

I've recently added a list of aircraft by type, to help you find all the serials of a single type, which may be spread over several of the pages listed below.  I welcome any feedback you may have on this new feature.

the beginnings
updated 11 June 2008

Several early Canadian military organizations operated aircraft, or were planned to. This includes the Canadian Air Corps, the RFC/RAF schools in Canada, the Canadian Air Force in the UK, and the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service (RCNAS).
Aircraft with uniquely Canadian serial numbers or registrations
Air Board
updated 17 December 2006

The Air Board years, 1919 to 1927. In this period, the newly formed Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operated government owned, civil registered aircraft, on a mix of military and civil tasks.  Some Air Board registered aircraft remained in use until the middle 1930s.
RCAF 1 to 999
updated 5 February 2010

In 1928, the RCAF was relieved of  most of its civil tasks, and began marking its aircraft with numerical serial numbers. This group extends from this date to the early part of World War II.
RCAF 4 digit
updated 6 March 2016

Serial numbers reached 1000 in the early days of WW II, when aircraft procurement exploded. 9999 was reached in just another 3 years. Some reserved blocks in this range were not completely allocated until the 1950s and 60s.
RCAF 5 digit
updated 27 March 2016

When 10000 was reached, massive procurement continued in support of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and home defense. The general series was continued after the war's end, and included the NATO period, some RCN aircraft, and the brief lived Canadian Army air arm.
RCAF postwar
updated 12 January 2008

After WW II, some wartime serial numbers were reused for new procurement. I have listed these separately to avoid confusion (especially my own).
Canadian Armed Forces
updated 28 June 2015

After the RCAF was merged into the Canadian Armed Forces in February 1968, the in-service aircraft (ex Air Force, Army, and Navy) carried a mix of their previous serial number styles.  To help sort out this mess, the existing aircraft were given new, "unified" serial numbers over the next few years.  This numbering scheme continues in use today for new procurement.

Note that the Canadian Forces have been allowed to start using the name "RCAF" for some of its air components again.  These are still part of the integrated Canadian Forces, so for these web pages I will continue to use "Canadian Armed Forces" (CAF) or "Canadian Forces" (CF) for current aircraft, and restrict use of "RCAF" to prior to integration in 1968.  I'm not trying to make any sort of a political statement with this, just trying to keep confusion to a minimum.
Instructional Airframes
updated 8 April 2015
Both the RCAF and the Canadian Forces kept seperate registers for aircraft used as training aids at various schools,and with operational units.  Most, but not all, of these Instructional Airframes had a previous Canadian military serial number.  This page identifies the previous identity (when one existed), and provide details on those airframes with no previous Canadian military serial.
Canadian owned or controlled aircraft with other serial numbers or registrations
RNAS, RFC, and RAF serials
updated 9 April 2016

The Air Board, The Canadian Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Air Force all owned and operated aircraft with RFC and RAF serial numbers, from their earliest days up to the end of the Second World War.  Some of these aircraft continued to carry RAF style serial numbers after the war was over, until they were retired or renumbered in the integrated Canadian Armed Forces.

Those aircraft known to have been assigned to the RCNAS in 1918 are also included here.
American serials
updated 3 March 2013

Some American aircraft, received from the USAAF during and shortly after the War, and from the USAF during the Cold War, were operated by the RCAF with their original American serial numbers.  In addition, the Canadian Forces have received at least 2 non-flying USN aircraft, that have kept their US serials.  The US helicopters leased for use in Afghanistan were operated initially with US serials, see the Canadian Armed Forces page for more information.
Civil registrations
updated 16 July 2015

A number of aircraft with Canadian or other civil registrations were owned or leased by the Canadian government, and used by several different military arms, from the 1920s up until today.  This list also includes civil registered aircraft owned by the Department of National Defense and used at civilian flying clubs, and the aircraft of the Air Cadet League glider program.  Note that the civil registered aircraft operated by the Canadian Air Board are listed seperately.
The Royal Canadian Navy, 1945 to 1968
Royal Canadian Navy
updated 5 February 2007

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) used a wide range of serial number types during the years that it operated aircraft.  Starting with British serial numbers, then US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics numbers, they also operated ex RCAF aircraft with their original RCAF serial numbers, and finally marked their own serial numbers.  To add to the confusion, the RCN often marked a three or two digit pennant number on their aircraft, which may or may not have been based on the serial number.  I try to explain this in more detail on this page.

The information on these pages was largely based on the thin published literature available to me up until January 2007.  It is far from complete, and, I now realize, contains several errors.  Fortunately, Patrick Martin has published an extremely detailed and well researched book on the aircraft of the RCN, that covers the topic in far more detail than I ever did.  Rather than repeat Pat's efforts here, I will leave these pages as they are, in order to concentrate on the many other gaps in my web site.  The interested reader should get a copy of Pat's book as soon as possible!
Aircraft owned by others, and operated by Canadian military units
RAF Owned Aircraft
updated 5 February 2016
The RCAF's major operational contribution to the Second World War was to provide personnel to operate RAF owned aircraft, under RAF control, in Europe, North Africa, and the Far East.  This is a partial list of the RAF owned aircraft operated by RCAF squadrons during, and shortly after, the War.  A few RAF owned aircraft operated by the RCAF for test purposes in Canada, and for training in the NATO period, are also listed.
U.S. Owned Aircraft
5 records
updated 29 July 2005
A number of American transport and utility aircraft were loaned to the RCAF and the RCN during the construction of the DEW Line in the 1950s.  Also, small numbers of US military aircraft were loaned to the RCAF for evaluation purposes.  This list is far from complete.
Civil registrations
18 records
updated 12 September 2009

A number of civil registered aircraft were operated by several Canadian military arms, without being owned by, or leased by, the Canadian government.  Most of these were operated for evaluation or training purposes, in anticipation of later purchase of the aircraft.  This list, too, is far from complete.

This data has come from a variety of sources, and may contain all sorts of errors. In the future, I will add a complete list of references. For now, some recent Internet references can be found at the links below.  I would welcome any corrections or additions you may have. Contact me using the link below.

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2004-2016 by R. W. R. Walker      All rights reserved under the copyright laws.
This is an amateur site - please don't rely on any of this data for anything important!
Created 21 April 2004. Updated 9 April 2016