RCAF Squadron badges and codes, 1924-1945

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) existed from 1924 to 1968, later designated Canadian Forces Air Command under the Canadian Forces, and then renamed to its original historic name of Royal Canadian Air Force in 2011. These are the squadrons that have served with Canada's air force since 1924.

RCAF Squadron Codes

Home defence was overseen by two commands of the Home War Establishment: Western Air Command and Eastern Air Command. Located on the west and east coasts of Canada, these commands grew to37 squadrons, and were responsible for protecting Canada's coasts from enemy attack and for protecting allied shipping. Threats included German U-boats along the east coast and in Atlantic shipping lanes and the potential of attack by Japanese forces. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, more squadrons were deployed to the west. Canadian units were sent to Alaska to assist the Americans in Alaska's defence during the Aleutian Islands Campaign.

Domestic RCAF squadron codes,1939–45

No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron.

No. 2 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, coded KO.

No. 3 (Bomber/Reconnaissance OTU) Squadron, coded OP.

No. 4 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded FY, 1939-42, coded BO, 1942-45.

No. 5 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded QN, 1939-41, coded DE, 1942-45.

No. 6 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded XE.

No. 7 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, coded FG.

No. 8 (Bomber) Squadron, coded YO.

No. 9 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded KA, 1939-41, coded HJ, 1942-45.

No. 10 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded PB, 1939-41, coded JK, 1942-45.

No. 11 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded OY, 1939-41, coded KL, 1942-45.

No. 12 (Communications) Squadron, coded QE.

No. 13 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded MK, 1939-41, coded AP, 1942-45.

No. 14 (Fighter Photographic) Squadron, coded AQ.

No. 18 (Bomber) Squadron (Auxiliary).

No. 21 (Bomber) Squadron.

No. 110 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded PB, 1939-41, coded JK, 1942-45.

No. 111 (Fighter) Squadron, coded TM, 1939-41, coded LZ, 1942-45.

No. 112 (Communications) Squadron, coded QE.

No. 113 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded MK, 1939-41, coded AP, 1942-45.

No. 114 (Fighter Photographic) Squadron, coded AQ.

No. 115 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded BK, 1939, coded UV, 1942-45.

No. 116 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron.

No. 117 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded EX, 1939041, coded PQ, 1942-45.

No. 118 (Fighter) Squadron, coded RE, 1939-41, coded VW, 1942-45.

No. 119 (Bomber) Squadron, coded DM, 1939-41, coded GR, 1942-45.

No. 120 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded MX, 1939-41, coded RS, 1942-45.

No. 121 (Fighter) Squadron, 1937, No. 121 (Composite) Squadron,  1942-45.

No. 122 (Composite) Squadron.

No. 123 (Fighter) Squadron, coded VD.

No. 124 (Ferry) Squadron.

No. 125 (Fighter) Squadron, coded BA.

No. 126 (Fighter) Squadron, coded BV.

No. 127 (Fighter) Squadron, coded TF.

No. 128 (Fighter) Squadron, coded RA.

No. 129 (Fighter) Squadron, coded HA.

No. 130 (Fighter) Squadron, coded AE.

No. 131 Squadron.

No. 132 (Fighter) Squadron, coded ZR.

No. 133 (Fighter) Squadron, coded FN.

No. 134 Squadron.

No. 135 (Fighter) Squadron, coded XP.

No. 145 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, coded EA.

No. 147 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron, coded SZ.

No. 149 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron, ZM.

No. 160 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron.

No. 161 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron.

No. 162 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron.

No. 163 (Fighter) Squadron.

No. 164 (Transport) Squadron.

No. 165 (Transport) Squadron.

No. 166 (Communication) Squadron.

No. 167 (Communication) Squadron.

No. 168 (Heavy Transport) Squadron.

No. 170 (Ferry) Squadron.

Canadians with the RAF

No. 242 (Canadian) Squadron RAF.

No. 125 (Newfoundland) Squadron RAF.

Overseas operations

RCAF Overseas HQ badge

Under the oversight of RCAF Overseas, forty-eight RCAF squadrons were involved in overseas operational duties in Britain, northwest Europe, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. These squadrons participated in most roles, including fighter, night fighter, fighter intruder, reconnaissance, anti-shipping, anti-submarine, strategic bombing, transport, and fighter-bomber. RCAF squadrons often included non-RCAF personnel, and RCAF personnel were also members of Royal Air Force(RAF) squadrons.  High-scoring Canadian fighter pilots include George Beurling, Don Laubman, James (Stocky) Edwards and Robert Fumerton. The RCAF began participating in operations by RAF Bomber Command in 1941, but its squadrons were initially attached to RAF groups.

The RCAF played key roles in the Battle of Britain, antisubmarine warfare during the Battle of the Atlantic, the bombing campaigns against German industries(notably with No. 6 Group, RAF Bomber Command), and close support of Allied forces during the Battle of Normandy and subsequent land campaigns in northwest Europe. RCAF squadrons and personnel were also involved with operations in Egypt, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Ceylon, India, and Burma.

Of the operations of the RCAF, the one resulting in the most casualties was the strategic bombing offensive against Germany. By October 1942, the RCAF had five bomber squadrons serving with Bomber Command. No. 425 Squadron was made up of French-Canadians, through English was the language of command for all squadrons.  In January 1943, 11 bomber squadrons were formed by transferring all of the Canadians serving in the RAF to RCAF, which become No. 6 Group of Bomber Command under Air Vice-Marshal G.E. Brookes.  The air crews serving in 6Group were based in the Vale of York, requiring longer flights to Germany.[37]The Vale of York was also a region inclined to be foggy and icy in the winter, making take-off and landings dangerous.  Furthermore, 6 Group continued to fly obsolete Wellington and Halifax bombers and only received their first Lancaster bombers in August 1943.

No. 6 Group lost 100 bombers in air raids over Germany, suffering a 7% loss ratio.[37] Morale suffered because of the heavy losses, with many bombers became unserviceable, failed to take off or returned early. On the night of 20January 1944, 6 Group was ordered to bomb Berlin. Of the 147 bombers ordered to bomb Berlin, 3 could not take off, 17 turned back over the North Sea, and 9 were shot down.  The next night, when 125 bombers were ordered to strike Berlin, 11 failed to take off, 12 turned back and 24 were shot down over Germany. The losses together with the morale problems were felt to be almost a crisis, which led to a new commander for No. 6 Group being appointed.

On 29 February 1944, Air Vice-Marshal C.M "Black Mike" McEwen took command of No. 6 Group and brought about improved navigational training and better training for the ground crews. In March 1944, the bombing offensive against Germany was stopped and Bomber Command began bombing targets in France as a prelude to Operation Overlord. As France was closer to Britain than Germany, this required shorter flights and imposed less of a burden on the bomber crews.

Only in October 1944 did the strategical bombing offensive resume and 6 Group went back to bombing German cities. By the end of 1944, 6 Group was suffering the lowest losses of any of the Bomber Command groups and the highest accuracy in bombing targets. Altogether, 9,980 Canadians were killed in bombing raids against German cities between 1940 and 1945, making the strategical bombing offensive one of the most costly operations for Canada in the Second World War. Desmond Morton. A Military History of Canada, (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999).

Overseas RCAF squadron codes 1940–1945 (400-series)

Squadron Number, Squadron Code, Notes

No. 400 (Reconnaissance) Squadron, coded SP.

No. 401 (Fighter) Squadron, coded YO.

No. 402 (Fighter) Squadron, coded AE.

No. 403 (Fighter) Squadron, coded KH.

No. 404 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded EE, 1939-1941, coded EO, 1942-45.

No. 405 (Bomber) Squadron, coded LQ.

No. 406 (Fighter) Squadron, coded HU.

No. 407 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded RR.

No. 408 (Bomber) Squadron, coded EQ.

No. 409 (Fighter) Squadron, coded KP.

No. 410 (Fighter) Squadron, coded RA.

No. 411 (Fighter) Squadron, coded DB.

No. 412 (Fighter) Squadron, coded VZ.

No. 413 (Fighter) Squadron, coded QL.

No. 414 (Reconnaissance) Squadron, coded RU.

No. 415 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded GX, NH, 6U, 1941–43, 44, (Bomber), 1944-45.

No. 416 (Fighter) Squadron, coded DN.

No. 417 (Fighter) Squadron, coded AN.

No. 418 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, coded TH.

No. 419 (Bomber) Squadron, coded VR.

No. 420 (Bomber) Squadron, coded PT.

No. 421 (Fighter) Squadron, coded AU.

No. 422 (Coastal Patrol) Squadron, coded DG.

No. 423 (Coastal Patrol), AB, 1943, coded YI, 1944-45.

No. 424 (Bomber) Squadron, coded QB.

No. 425 (Bomber) Squadron, coded KW.

No. 426 (Bomber) Squadron, coded OW.

No. 427 (Bomber) Squadron, coded ZL.

No. 428 (Bomber) Squadron, coded NA.

No. 429 (Bomber) Squadron, coded AL.

No. 430 (Reconnaissance) Squadron, coded G9.

No. 431 (Bomber) Squadron, coded SE.

No. 432 (Bomber) Squadron, coded QO.

No. 433 (Bomber) Squadron, coded BM.

No. 434 (Bomber) Squadron, coded IP.

No. 435 (Transport) Squadron.

No. 436 (Transport) Squadron, coded U6.

No. 437 (Transport) Squadron, coded Z2.

No. 438 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, coded F3.

No. 439 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, coded 5V.

No. 440 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron, coded I8.

No. 441 (Fighter) Squadron, coded 9G.

No. 442 (Fighter) Squadron, coded Y2.

No. 443 (Fighter) Squadron, coded 2I.

During the Second World War pilots who served in the 600-series RCAF squadrons were recruited from the Royal Canadian Artillery in England and Italy, and trained to fly at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School RAF Cambridge (England), completing their operational flying training at 43 OTU (RAF Andover). Observers were trained at Larkhill (England); these were selected 'Other Ranks' from the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Artillery. The three Canadian 'Air Observation Post' squadrons operated under the command of No. 70 Group RAF, RAF Fighter Command; the first two squadrons saw action while serving with No. 84 Group RAF, RAF Second Tactical Air Force.

No. 664 (Air Observation Post) Squadron.

No. 665 (Air Observation Post) Squadron.

No. 666 (Air Observation Post) Squadron.

Air Force Command badge, 1968-2013.

RCAF badge, approved 13 March 2013, following the restoration of the traditional name for the RCAF 16 August 2011.

Subsequent to the Second World War the RCAF expanded their squadron numbers to include 444–450. No. 450 was also a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron during the war and the Canadian squadron duplicated the number by error, which was discovered when No. 450 Squadron RCAF was formed in 1968.

No. 444 Squadron.

No. 445 Squadron.

No. 446 Squadron.

No. 447 Squadron.

No. 448 Squadron.

No. 449 Squadron.

No. 450 Squadron.

Other Squadrons

21 Aerospace Control and Warning Squadron

103 Search and Rescue Squadron – This unit was operational in the RCAF from 1947–1968. Initially as 103 Search and Rescue Flight it was renamed as 103 Rescue Unit in 1950 and remained active until 1968. It was reactivated in 1977 by the Canadian Forces and redesignated a squadron in 1997.

107 Rescue Unit – formerly a detachment of 103 Search and Rescue Squadron was created in 1954 and remained there until the RCAF left and transferred it back to Transport Canada as civilian airport St. John's International Airport.

No. 2 Air Command

Royal Canadian Navy Aviation units

10 Squadron or Heavier-than-air Experimental Air Squadron VX 10, was established in 1953 to test and evaluate aircraft for the RCN within the Royal Canadian Naval Air Station Shearwater. It was disbanded in 1970.

RCN No. 870 Squadron.

RCN No. 880 Squadron.

RCN No. 920 (Composite) Squadron.

RCN No. 921 (Composite) Squadron.

RCN No. 922 (Composite) Squadron.

RCN No. 923 (Composite) Squadron.

RCN No. 924 (Composite) Squadron.

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