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The aircraft listed here were operated by units of the Canadian military arms, but were not owned by any branch of the Canadian government.  I have not yet attempted to list aircraft operated by Canadians serving with other air arms.  This would be a huge undertaking, and would amount to a record of all British military aircraft since before the First World War, and the aircraft of many NATO countries.

The first aircraft that fit this description were the RAF owned aircraft operated by the Canadian Air Force in the UK, in 1918 to 1920.  This organization has been described in a separate web page.  A handful of RAF aircraft were operated by the Air Board and the RCAF for testing and training before and during World War 2, while remaining property of the RAF.  They appear in the appropriate list below.  The vast majority of the aircraft listed here were operated by the RCAF, outside of Canada, during the Second World War.  A small number of RAF aircraft were loaned to the RCAF after the war, for cold weather testing in Canada, or for training the new fighter squadrons formed for NATO in the early 1950s.  These are also included in the lists below.  The lists currently cover a total of 5,690+ aircraft, but are probably not complete.

The first RCAF squadrons to Europe - 1940

Canada's original plan for its contribution to the war in Europe included an Army Cooperation Wing, of 3 Lysander squadrons,  to accompany the First Canadian Division.  A shortage of Canadian built Lysanders, and of trained crews, meant that the Auxiliary squadrons were only able to muster 2 full squadrons.  The first, No. 110 (AC) Squadron, began arriving in the UK in February 1940.  It was joined by No. 112 (AC) Squadron within a few months, and both units began training with the First Canadian Division for deployment to the continent .  The rapid German successes in the spring and summer of 1940 meant that neither squadron was deployed before the fall of France.

The Army Cooperation squadrons were joined by No. 1 (F) Squadron, and its UK built Hurricanes, in June of 1940.  This unit was declared fully operational in August 1940 at RAF Station Northolt, Middlesex, and was heavily engaged for 8 weeks at the peak of the Battle of Britain.  By the time the unit was rotated out of the front line in October, to a quieter base at Prestwick in Scotland, it had scored 31 confirmed victories, plus 43 probably destroyed or damaged, and had lost three pilots.

As related elsewhere in these pages, all three of these first Canadian units found their RCAF aircraft were not up to the latest RAF modification status, and that their oddball configurations made sharing of spares and maintenance resources difficult.  Within days of their arrival, all three units began to exchange their RCAF aircraft for RAF owned, RAF serialized, aircraft.  These are contained in the lists below, when I can identify them.

The first Article 15 squadrons - 1941 to 1942

The majority of the aircraft listed below were used by the 400 series squadrons of the RCAF, that served around the world within the RAF organization during, and briefly after,  the Second World War.  These squadrons had their beginnings in the original multinational agreement that created the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (the BCATP) in Canada, signed on 17 December 1939.  Article 15 of this document promised that Dominion graduates of the BCATP would

 ".. be identified with their respective Dominions, either by the method of organizing Dominion units and formations or in some other way". 

For this reason, the squadrons in the 400 series are often referred to as "the Article 15 squadrons".  An addendum to this agreement on 7 January 1941 stated that 25 Canadian squadrons would be created in the UK, in addition to the three already serving there.

Early experience with the first three RCAF squadrons that arrived in the UK in mid 1940 showed that there were several problems associated with trying to operate a small number of Canadian squadrons within the command and base structure of the RAF.  These ranged from problems with aircraft modification status, to the need to integrate the squadrons into higher RAF command structures, to  nomenclature and identification.  An extreme example of the later was found at RAF Station Northolt in mid 1940, which was home to No. 1 Squadron, RAF, No. 1 Squadron, RCAF, and No. 1 Squadron of the Polish Air Force, all operating Hurricanes.  Therefore, it was decided that future squadrons from Canada, or any other Commonwealth country, would be completely integrated into the RAF structure, and would have squadrons numbers in the 400 range.  Canada was allocated squadron numbers 400 to 449.

The three existing units in the UK were renumbered on 1 March 1941:
  • No. 1 (F) Squadron became No. 401 (F) Squadron, still operating Hurricanes;
  • No. 110 (AC) Squadron became No. 400 (AC) Squadron, while converting from Lysanders to Tomahawks; and
  • No.  112 (AC) Squadron had been redesignated No. 2 (F) Squadron, RCAF on 9 December 1940, upon conversion to Hurricanes, and then became No. 402 (F) Squadron.

The first of the new squadrons, No. 403 (F) Squadron, was formed at Baginton on 1 March 1941, and began training on Tomahawks.  The last of the initial squadrons, No. 427  (B) Squadron, was formed at Croft, Yorkshire, on Wellingtons, on 7 November 1942.

The shortage of experienced RCAF senior officers, and mismatches between the output of the BCATP and the needs of the RCAF units in the UK meant that, from the beginning, the RCAF units included RAF members in their strength.  In addition, roughly half of the RCAF graduates of the BCATP served initially with RAF units.  As RCAF members gained in experience and moved up in rank, the RCAF in Europe formed wings, took control of entire bases, and eventually formed No. 6 Group within Bomber Command.  These higher formations were always within the RAF command organization.  The mixing of RAF and RCAF staff in all these units continued until the end of the war.

Mid and late war expansion - 1942 to 1945

The steady output of the BCATP allowed additional new squadrons to be formed, starting with No.  428 (B)  Squadron, formed on Wellingtons at Dalton, Yorkshire on 7 November 1942.  The last 400 series squadron formed from scratch in the UK was No. 437 (T) Squadron, which operated Dakotas in support of airborne operations over Europe from September 1944 to June 1946.

As the Japanese threat to North America eased in late 1943, the RCAF was able to release 6 home defense squadrons to the UK for the build up to D-Day that was underway by then.  These units left their RCAF aircraft in Canada, and moved their personnel to the UK as fully integrated, well trained units.  The squadrons, which would all serve with the Second Tactical Air Force until the end of the war in Europe, were:
  • No. 123 (Army Cooperation Training) Squadron of Eastern Air Command, which became No. 439 (FB) Squadron at Wellingore on 31 December 1943, training on Hurricanes before receiving its first Typhoons in January 1944.
  • No. 125 (F) Squadron of Eastern Air Command, which became No. 441 (F) Squadron at Digby on 8 February 1944, operating Spitfires and later Mustangs.
  • No. 127 (F) Squadron of Eastern Air Command, which became No. 443 (F) Squadron at Digby on 8 February 1944, operating Spitfires until March 1946.
  • No. 14 (F) Squadron of Western Air Command, which became No. 442 (F) Squadron at Digby on 8 February 1944, operating Spitfires and later Mustangs.
  • No. 111 (F) Squadron of Western Air Command, which became No. 440 (FB) Squadron at Ayr, Scotland on 8 February 1944, training on Hurricanes before receiving its first Typhoons in March 1944.
  • No. 118 (F) Squadron of Western Air Command, which became No. 438 (FB) Squadron at Digby on 18 November 1943, training on Hurricanes before receiving its first Typhoons in January 1944.

 Late in the war 3 AOP squadrons would be formed on the continent, operating Auster AOP Mk. IV and Mk. V aircraft, with a mix of RCAF and Canadian Army staff.  They were No. 664, 665 and 666 (AOP) Squadrons, formed between December 1944 and March 1945.   This brought the total number of RCAF Article 15 squadrons to 47.  This total does not include No. 162 (BR) Squadron, which was loaned from Eastern Air Command to the RAF Coastal Command from January  to August 1944, for operations from Iceland and Scotland.  This unit used its Canadian built Cansos, with RCAF 4 digit serial numbers, throughout this period.

Winding down the RCAF overseas - 1945 to 1946

When the war in Europe ended, most of the RCAF bomber squadrons of 6 Group had been earmarked for use in the Pacific as part of Tiger Force.  The RCAF would contribute bomber and transport units for this strategic bombing force, while Australia and New Zealand would provide fighter units.  The RCAF squadrons began to fly their Canadian built Mk. X Lancasters back to Canada in June 1945.  It was intended that these would eventually be replaced with Canadian built Lincolns.  These aircraft remained on the RAF books while Tiger Force waited for instructions in Eastern Canada, up to its disbandment on 5 September 1945.  For several months this produced the interesting situation of Canadian built aircraft being operated in Canada, by the RCAF, but not belonging to the Canadian government.  Most were transferred to the RCAF in late 1945 or early 1946, and operated in the RCAF with RAF serial numbers.  A few were scrapped when Tiger Force was disbanded.

A few of the fighter squadrons serving on the continent with the Second Tactical Air Force stayed on in Germany as part of the occupation forces.  The last of these units to disband appear to be No. 411, 412, 416, and 443 Squadrons, who all returned their Mk. XVI Spitfires to their RAF owners on 21 March 1946.

The last of the Article 15 Squadrons were the transport units.  In India, No. 435 and No. 436 (T) Squadrons were the last RCAF units engaged against the enemy, flying their Dakotas on front line and behind the line supply drops until August 1945.  They returned to the UK, where they joined No. 437 Squadron, already flying Dakotas.  Other RCAF transport squadrons at this time included No. 422 and 423 Squadrons, both undergoing conversion from Sunderlands to Liberator transports when the war ended.  Also, No. 426 Squadron had converted from Halifaxes to transport Liberators in May 1945, and was flying regular missions from the UK to Egypt and India when the war ended in August 1945.  It was intended that these units would form a transport wing to support Tiger Force.  The Liberator squadrons were disbanded in late 1945, while the Dakota units continued operating from the UK, supporting the occupation forces in Germany, and flying ex-POWs and casualties back to the UK.  No. 436 and No. 437 Squadron crews flew their Dakotas back to Canada in June 1946, the day after these units formally disbanded.  Most of these aircraft were transferred to the RCAF after arriving in Canada, and operated in the RCAF with RAF serial numbers, and then later with CAF serial numbers, for many years to come.

Other Canadians serving with the RAF

This page should not be assumed to represent the complete Canadian contribution to the air war effort in World War 2.  Large numbers of Canadians served everywhere the RAF and FAA operated, from the first day of the war to the last.  According to Kostenuk and Griffin, in "RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft", on the day the war started there were Canadians serving with at least 35 RAF operational squadrons,  most of them in RAF uniforms.  The number of Canadians serving as flight crew officers in the RAF in September 1939 actually exceeded the total number of all officers then in the RCAF, including the active squadrons, the Auxiliaries, and staff positions. 

Many of these Canadians had joined the RAF years before, and were not always identified as Canadians in the records of the day, or in subsequent histories.  Spencer Dunmore, in his book "Above and Beyond", identifies at least two Canadian casualties on the first day of RAF operations against Germany, 4 September 1939.  Sergeant Albert Prince, of Vancouver, BC, died when his No. 107 Squadron Blenheim was shot down during an attack on the German fleet in Wilhemshaven.  Earl Godfrey, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was the pilot of a No. 223 Squadron Hudson that failed to return from patrol that day.  The Canadian government would not declare war on Germany for another 6 days.  By October 1939, Canadians in the RAF were scoring air to air victories, and from November 1939 Canadian pilots were serving with the Expeditionary Forces on the continent.

When the RCAF reached its peak overseas manpower in 1944, some 65 per cent of these people were serving with RAF units around the globe.  The RAF also peaked in manpower this year, and some sources place the Canadian contribution to their manpower at that time (wearing both RAF and RCAF uniforms) as high as 25 per cent.  One veteran reported the Canadian content of RAF squadrons in Burma late in the war at 75 %.  Canadians were in action right up to the last day of British operations, 9 August 1945.   Several Canadians were amongst the Fleet Air Arm pilots conducting operations over Japan that day, including Robert Gray of Nelson, BC.  He would be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for sinking a Japanese destroyer that day, after his No. 1841 Squadron Corsair was set on fire by gun fire from the ship.  Gray had been nearly shot down back in August 1944, when his Fleet Air Arm Corsair was badly damaged while attacking the German battleship Tripitz, in Norway.

A footnote on the last 400 series squadrons - including No. 450 (HT Hel) Squadron, Canadian Armed Forces

This story may not really fit here, but I couldn't find a better place for it.  As the RCAF wound down after the war, it was decided to commemorate the huge contribution that the 400 series squadrons had made, by renaming Canadian units with the more historic numbers.  At the peak of the Cold War, the RCAF was big enough to require additional squadron numbers.  The 400 series was continued, starting with No. 444 Squadron, formed at the Canadian Joint Air Training Centre in 1947, and reaching No. 448 Squadron in 1967.  Shortly after Integration in February 1968, several Argus training flights would be combined to produce No. 449 Squadron.

As the late cold war shrinkage occurred, there were soon fewer Canadian units than there were historic squadron numbers.  Thus, when the Armed Forces were integrated, ex-RCAF senior commanders saw an opportunity to revive more historic numbers when they gained control of the few Army and Navy flying units.  The ex-Army commanders would tolerate having the AOP flights renumbered to memorialize RCAF units that had fought alongside the Canadian Army in the Second World War, but they balked when it came to the pride of Canadian Army aviation - No. 1 Transport Helicopter Platoon, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.  This unit, they argued, was unique in Canadian military history, and deserved its own number.  Thus, even though several historic 400 series numbers were available,  No. 450 (HT Hel) Squadron came into existence on 29 March 1968, operating Voyageur helicopters at Namao, Alberta and St. Hubert, Quebec.  It would later operate Chinooks and Twin Hueys, before disbanding in 1996  at St. Hubert, as No. 450 (Tac Hel) Squadron.  This squadron number has been brought back to use for the new CH-147F helicopters delivered to Petawawa in 2013 and 2014.

The table below will connect you to two types of listings of these aircraft.  The "Brief lists" present a minimum amount of information about as many aircraft as I can fit on a reasonably sized page.  Use these lists to identify individual aircraft, or to quickly scan a large range of serials.  The "Detailed lists" contain all the information currently in my database, and are broken into many more pages to keep the data manageable. 

The initial information has come from 3 main sources: www.rcaf.com, the book "RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft" by Kostenuk and Griffin, and extensive research of RAF records done by Tony Wilson in Australia (thanks, mate).  Additional data has come from WWII veterans, and their familes, and is greatly appreciated.  I have started to view the war time squadron diaries available from the National Archives, and these contain a lot of information.  However, it is apparent that the authors had other things on their minds than historical accuracy.  There are several apparent typos, of both serial numbers and marks, in these records.  When I can, I'm sorting this out with references to "RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft", and to Bruce Robertson's book of RAF serial numbers.  All these sources have given me much more data on the history and fates of the individual aircraft than is currently shown in the brief lists.  This will eventually find its way into my database, so check back regularly for updates. 

Typical aircraft
RAF serials up to P9999
278 records, updated 6 December 23 July 2015
Pup, D.H.9a, Avro 504K, Dolphin, S.E.5a, Snipe
The CAF in the UK, 1918 to 1920 ,19 records, updated 15 April 2005
Siskin, Lysander, Hurricane, Roc, Hampden, Lerwick, Manchester, Magister, Blenheim, Beaufort, Defiant, Huson, Master, Spitfire
RAF serials R1000 to V9999
146 records, updated 9 May 2015
Wellington, Magister, Beaufighter, Hurricane, Oxford, Spitfire, Typhoon, Lysander, Blenheim, Defiant, Tiger Moth, Hudson, Halifax
246 records, updated 9 May 2015
Halifax, Spitfire, Sunderland, Wellington, Lancaster, Boston, Catalina, Hurricane
RAF serials X1000 to Z9999
258 records, updated 8 October 2015
Wellington, Hampden, Spitfire, Beaufighter, Catalina, Boston, Hurricane, Blenheim
RAF serials AA100 to AF999
259 records, updated 29 October 2007
Defiant, Spitfire, Hampden, Hurricane
RAF serials AG100 to BJ999
321 records, updated 20 January 2008
Hurricane, Mustang, Catalina, Airacobra, Tomahawk, Boston, Hudson, Hampden, Spitfire, Beaufort, Halifax, Albacore, Wellington
RAF serials BK100 to BN999
290 records, updated 18 March 2012
Wellington, Spitfire, Hurricane
RAF serials BP100 to DG999
193 records, updated
18 March 2012
Hurricane, Spitfire, Beaufighter, Liberator, Mosquito, Sunderland, Tiger Moth, Oxford, Wellington, Halifax
RAF serials DK100 to DT999
216 records, updated
18 March 2012
Halifax, Mosquito, Master, Typhoon, Sunderland, Lancaster
RAF serials DV100 to FZ999
250 records, updated 20 May 2012
Wellington, Sunderland, Mosquito, Halifax, Spitfire, Typhoon, Tiger Moth, Liberator, Hudson, Dakota, Lancaster, Catalina
RAF serials HA100 to HJ999
270 records, updated 20 May 2012
Wellington, Mosquito
RAF serials HK100 to HZ999
288 records, updated 2 February 2014
Wellington, Halifax, Mosquito, Hurricane
RAF serials JA100 to JN999
210 records,updated 2 February 2014
Wellington, Lancaster, Halifax, Spitfire, Beaufighter, Sunderland
RAF serials JP100 to KB999
328 records, updated 15 November 2014
Halifax, Typhoon, Catalina, Lancaster
RAF serials KD100 to LK999
359 records, updated 4 December 2015
Dakota, Liberator, Mustang, Beaufighter, Hurricane, Halifax
RAF serials LL100 to LW999
343 records, updated 5 February 2016
Halifax, Lancaster, Wellington
RAF serials LX100 to

309 records, updated 28 October 2005
Beaufighter, Spitfire, Lancaster, Sunderland, Mosquito, Typhoon, Wellington
RAF serials MR100 to NN999
286 records, updated 28 October 2005
Wellington, Auster, Spitfire, Dakota, Halifax, Beaufighter, Lancaster, Sunderland
RAF serials NP100 to RB999
309 records, updated 28 October 2005
Halifax, Mosquito, Beaufighter, Auster, Lancaster, Spitfire, Typhoon
139 records, updated 28 October 2005
Lancaster, Mosquito, Halifax, Spitfire, Auster, Typhoon, Dakota, Vampire, Meteor

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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2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 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 22 April 2005. Updated 5 February 2016.