Royal Canadian Air Force (1924-1968)
Royal Canadian Air Force ( RCAF ) was from 1924 to 1968 the name of the Canadian Air Force . From 1968 to 2011 they were named Canadian Forces Air Command (AIRCOM) . Since August 2011 they have been called the Royal Canadian Air Force again .
The first regular flights with civil aircraft took place in Canada as early as 1909. The Canadian military, on the other hand, had neither its own aircraft nor pilots until the beginning of the First World War . All tasks were taken over by the Royal Air Force at this time . To support the British forces in Europe, the Canadian Aviation Corps was founded on September 16, 1914 . However, due to a lack of equipment and staff, it was disbanded after just eight months. Canadian soldiers were used to support the British Royal Flying Corps . Based on the experience gained there, the Canadian Air Force (CAF) was created in 1918 . A year later, however, the government decided against a permanent air force in peacetime, so that the CAF was dissolved again in February 1920. The protection of the Canadian airspace was again taken over by the Royal Air Force.
In the years that followed, the importance of a permanent air force for the civilian sector was finally recognized. The fight against smuggling, the monitoring of forest fires and precise mapping could be significantly improved through the use of aircraft. On April 1, 1924, the Royal Canadian Air Force was established at the Borden military base in Ontario . Just three years later it was decided to subordinate the civilian tasks to the newly created Directorate of Civil Government Air Operations (DCGAO) and to use the RCAF exclusively for military purposes. By the end of the 1930s, the RCAF finally had 11 active and 12 training squadrons. Both land-based aircraft and flying boats were used .
Second World War
Shortly after the start of the Second World War , the number of active squadrons had been increased from 11 to 15 in October 1939, three of which were immediately stationed in the British Isles . At that time, however, the majority of the RCAF aircraft were designed for training and transport tasks. There were only 29 fighters and bombers . In order to support the British Royal Air Force (RAF) from the start, Canada became Great Britain's most important partner in the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) in December 1939 . This envisaged the joint training of pilots from many parts of the British Empire in order to train 50,000 aircraft crews annually for the fight against the German Empire . Canada provided a total of 231 military bases for crew training. Over 70,000 Canadians were trained under the EATS by 1945.
In the course of the war, the RCAF grew many times over. In 1944, 215,000 men and women served in the RCAF and there were 78 squadrons, 35 of them in Europe and the Pacific . At that time it was the fourth largest Allied air force after the Royal Air Force , the United States Army Air Forces and the Soviet Air Force. They used mostly British and US aircraft types. The RCAF was on the side of the RAF and USAF throughout the war and played an important role in many missions, for example in the air war against Germany. On the RCAF side, the war claimed around 17,000 lives.
After the end of World War II, the RCAF returned to its strategy of reducing its troop strength to a minimum in peacetime. By the end of 1947, the number of staff had been reduced by 94 percent compared to 1944 to only 12,000. The number of squadrons was reduced to five. However, due to the Cold War and the Korean War , this strategy was quickly discarded and by 1954 54,000 men and women were again serving in the RCAF.
Together with the USA, Canada built a nationwide network of radar stations to detect approaching bombers from the Soviet Union at an early stage. In addition, three of the total of 41 squadrons were equipped with interceptors that were supposed to repel a Soviet attack within a few minutes. In 1958, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was established for this purpose in order to standardize the command structure and to be able to react even more quickly to an attack.
During the Cold War, RCAF units were also stationed in Europe as part of the NATO armed forces. The center of the RCAF in Europe was the English Air Force Base Northolt in west London . There were also four bases in the Federal Republic of Germany , the air force bases in Geilenkirchen , Zweibrücken , Lahr / Black Forest and Baden-Söllingen . There were also Grostenquin and Marville in neighboring Lorraine . The main fighter aircraft of the 1950s was the Avro CF-100 Canuck . In the 1960s this was replaced by the more powerful CF-101 Voodoo and the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter . P-2 Neptune aircraft were used for coastal surveillance and anti -submarine defense.
The end of the RCAF
In the 1960s, the Canadian government planned to dissolve the boundaries between the three branches of service army , navy and air force. This should on the one hand increase the flexibility of the armed forces and on the other hand result in a significant reduction in personnel. On February 1, 1968, the RCAF was merged with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Army to form the Canadian Armed Forces and placed under a joint command. However, as this merger did not bring the desired success, a new restructuring took place in 1975. From it emerged today's Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Forces Air Command (AIRCOM) .
- Larry Milberry: 60 Years - The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, Canav Books, Toronto 1984. ISBN 0-9690703-4-9