Historical Aircraft

Canadian Military Aviation Chronology 1930-1938



29 July to 16 August

On 29 July HM Airship R.100 left its base at Cardington, England, and arrived at St. Hubert on 1 August where it used the new mooring mast. After a demonstration flight to Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls, the R.100 left St. Hubert on 13 August and reached Cardington on 16 August. G/C EW Stedman, Chief Aeronautical Engineer, Department of National Defence, was a passenger on the return flight. The visit of the R.100 was expected to inaugurate a regular trans-Atlantic airship service, but the loss of the R.101 later that year cancelled the scheme.

Despite the world-wide depression, service and Civil Government flying, supported by the largest appropriation since 1919, continued to expand. Service flying increased to 13,996.13 hours, the greater part being devoted to training and practice at Vancouver and Camp Borden. The first course in instrument flying
was given at Camp Borden in the latter part of the year. One hundred hours were flown on various combined operations with the Army and Navy.

In April, a special demonstration flight of Siskin fighters was formed at Camp Borden, under the command of F/L FV Beamish, on exchange from the RAF, with F/O RC Minnes, and P/Os RC Hawtrey, FM Gobeil and EA McNab as pilots. During the sununer the flight presented exhibitions of formation flying and aerobatics at Whitby, Brantford, St. Hubert, Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, and London.

Although the rapid rate of expansion of the previous two years was checked, Civil Government air operations rose to a peak of 14,935 hours.

The major increase of 1930 was in photo survey operations. Eleven Photographic Detachments flew 5,463.03 hours on 73 photo assignments and 26 other varied tasks; 98,275 photographs were taken covering an area of 54,100 square miles. One detachment, from Vancouver Air Station, operated in British Columbia, particularly in the Nimpkish Lake area on Vancouver Island. This detachment also carried out a few forest fire patrols and assisted in the search for a civil aircraft missing in the Prince Rupert area. Five detachments worked in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories. The major sectors covered were Lake Nipigon, Ont; Porcupine Hills, Man; Dillon, Green Lake, Ile-a-la-Crosse Lake and Lake Athabaska, Sask; Lac la Biche, and Lesser Slave
Lake, Alta; Resolution, Great Slave Lake and Lockhart River, NWT. These detachments also made some forest fire patrols in Ontario, and various transportation flights. One photographed the air mail route from Winnipeg to Calgary. The remaining five detachments were engaged in eastern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. Their areas included Guelph, Algonquin Park, Lake Nipissing and Coral Rapids in Ontario; Lachine, Blue Sea, Mont Laurier, Oskelaneo and Notastgan Lake in Quebec; and Newcastle, NB.

Most of the photographic work was now done on Fairchild seaplanes, together with a number of Vedettes. Transportation was provided by five Vancouver flying boats. Forest fire protection work continued on about the same scale as the previous year. High River Air Station (sub-stations Pincher Creek, Rocky Mountain House and Grande Prairie) flew 643.21 hours on patrol over 3,260.826 acres in the southern area and 22,000,000 acres in the Peace river sector; 46 fires were reported. Winnipeg Station recorded 4,672.45 hours’ flying over 44,468.480 acres of forest in Manitoba and 22,076,160 acres in Saskatchewan; 522 fires were detected and suppression action taken. Buffalo Park sub-station (Fitzgerald, Alta) was added to the list of bases operated by the Winnipeg unit.

RCAF operations extended to the shores of the Arctic Ocean this summer. On 2 July two Fairchilds of No. 1 General Purpose Detachment, under the command of
F/O JC Uhlman, left Fort McMurray and proceded on an inspection tour that carried them to Aklavik and Herschel Island. By 24 July they had returned to McMurray, having flown 140.35 hours and covered 11,365 miles. (Learn more here)

No. 2 General Purpose Detachment also was involved in the area. On 4 July a Fairchild 71 and a Vedette, commanded by F/L FJ Mawdesley, left Ottawa to inspect oil caches and photograph water and air routes in the Northwest Terri to”ries. They, too, reached Aklavik (19 July) and attempted to reach Herschel Island. Turning south again, they flew to Hunter Bay (Great Bear Lake), photographed the route to Reliance (Great Slave Lake), then proceeded to Coronation Gulf, up the Coppermine to Lac de Gras, back to Reliance, and eastward to Chesterfield Inlet, Wagner Bay, and Repulse Bay. From there they followed the coast of Hudson Bay, via Mistake Bay and Eskimo Bay, to Churchill. On 1 October the detachment returned to Rockcliffe, after taking 3,100 photographs on an expedition covering 12,000 miles.

S/L JH Tudhope, MC, Superintendent of Airways in the Civil Aviation Branch, Department of National Defence, was awarded the McKee Trans-Canada Trophy for 1930. He was the fourth recipient of this award “for meritorious service in the advancement of aviation in Canada”.


Despite the depression and a slight decrease in the annual appropriation for the RCAF, service flying rose to 19,171.45 hours. In addition to the usual seaplane and unit training at Vancouver, personnel of this unit participated in pelagic seal_and customs patrols and naval and militia co-operation exercises. At Camp Borden the ninth, last, and lagest course of 47 PPOs began ab initio training, while 23 members of the seventh course qualified as pilots.

Exhibition flying (1,376 hours) again featured in the year’s work. The special Siskin flight took part in the Trans-Canada Air Pageant which toured Canada between 1 July and 12 September. Demonstrations were given at 21 cities. The Siskin flight also visited the National Air Races at Cleveland, Ohio.

The new air station at Trenton was opened. For some years Camp Borden, the Force’s major training centre, had been considered too large, too isolated and too costly to maintain; the buildings, of temporary wartime (1917-18) construction, were rapidly deteriorating. A better site was selected at Trenton late in 1929; construction of permanent buildings and facilities began and in September 1931 two flights were transferred here from Camp Borden.

New additions to the government’s air fleet were the Fleet 7B trainer and the Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker.

The appropriation for Civil Government air operations was sharply reduced and the federal government transferred control of natural resources in the prairie provinces to the provincial governments. As a result, forestry protection work by the CGAO Directorate almost ceased, and total Civil Government flying for the year dropped to 11,185.10 hours. Flying operations were discontinued at High River and the station was placed on a care and maintenance basis on 1 April. The virtual cessation of forestry work also led to a decrease in the Winnipeg Station; the sub-station at Norway House and detachments at Lac La Ronge, Winnipegosis, Berens River and Thicket Portage were all discontinued.

On the other hand air mapping was continued on a wider scale than ever before. Once again eleven Photographic Detachments were in the field and, including work done by the Winnipeg and Ottawa Air Stations, 4,820.50 hours were flown photographing over 76,000 square miles of the Dominion. One detachment in British Columbia completed eight operations, chiefly around northern Vancouver Island, Quesnel and Garibaldi Park. Five detachments based in Winnipeg covered the vast central area from northwestern Ontario to the Northwest Territories in the course of 20 photographic assignments, including work around Great Bear Lake, NWT; the eastern shore of James Bay and Hudson Bay and the Belcher Islands. Five detachments based in Ottawa worked in eastern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, completing 35 photo operations in addition to many transportation and reconnaissance flights. One detachment also shared in the work along the eastern shore of James and Hudson Bays and delivered mail along the route every fortnight. Several of the photographic and reconnaissance operations were carried out during the winter months.

Winnipeg Air Station remained responsible for forestry patrol over 1,600,000 acres in the two national parks of Riding Mountain, Man, and Prince Albert, Sask
(320.15 hours). A detachment was located at Clear Lake, Man, to protect Riding Mountain Park. An experiment in mosquito control dusting was carried out near Winnipeg for the Department of Agriculture.

During the year the Winnipeg and Ottawa stations flew 3,721.20 and 3,225.45 hours respectively. Over half of the flying time was for transportation, including flights for RCMP officers making the decennial census in northern Saskatchewan and flights for treaty money parties in northern Ontario. In addition to its sub­stations at Lac du Bonnet, Cormorant Lake, Ladder Lake and Fitzgerald and detachment at Clear Lake, Winnipeg had three General Purpose Detachments in the field.


31 March

As a result of the depression and the pressing need for economy, the air services appropriation for the fiscal year 1932-33 was slashed by 67 percent from the previous year. This necessitated a drastic reduction in the strength of the RCAF, and 78 officers, 100 airmen and 110 civilians — almost one-fifth of the Force — had
to be released.

1 November

To obtain the maximum economy and efficiency with the very limited funds available, the government air services were again reorganized. The RCAF and CGAO Directorates were consolidated and, with the Aeronautical Engineering Division, were placed under a Senior Air Officer responsible to the Chief of the General Staff. The fourth branch of the government air services, the Controller of Civil Aviation, remained under the Deputy Minister. Under the SAO, RCAF, the Aeronautical Engineering Division retained certain responsibilities with respect to civil aviation.

Under the dark cloud of a depression which almost washed away its financial support, the RCAF began a reorganization which, during the next few years, converted it into a military, as distinct from a civil, air force. Service designations, which had lapsed -in 1927, were revived, the first to appear being No. 4 (Flying Boat) Squadron at Vancouver on 17 February 1933. In addition to this unit with its two Mobile Detachments, the,RCAF now compised: Headquarters, No. 1 RCAF Depot, and RCAF Photographic Section at Ottawa; four stations at Winnipeg (three General Purpose Flights and three Mobile Detachments), Camp Borden (Flying Training, Technical Training, Army Co-operation, and Air Armament and Bombing Schools), Trenton (Fighter and Army Co-operation Flights), and Ottawa-Rockcliffe (Test Flight, General Purpose Flight, and seven Mobile Detachments). The two stations at High River and Dartmouth remained on a care and
maintenance basis; the sub-bases of Winnipeg Station at Fitzgerald and Ladder Lake were also reduced to a care and maintenance basis.

Approval was given for the formation of No. 1 (Army Co-operation) Wing and Nos. 10, 11 and 12 (Army Co-operation) Squadrons located at Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. They were the first units of the Non-Permanent Active Air Force to be formed. Authorized establishment of the NPAAF was 128 officers and 624 airmen.

Due to the financial restriction, construction at Trenton Station was suspended and it was not possible to complete the move of the Training Station from Camp Borden.

Training likewise was severely curtailed; the intake of PPOs had to be suspended and the technical training of boys also ceased. Total instructional flying at Camp Borden and Trenton was 4,921.49 hours, chiefly on advanced flying training and instruction of the last course of 15 PPOs. Almost 200 hours of exhibition
flying were included in this total.

In addition the Force flew 1,982.05 hours for the Department of National Defence. These included transportation, photographic, test and development
flights for the RCAF, the Militia and the Controller of Civil Aviation Branch.

Civil Government air operations accounted for 3,521.30 hours which, added to the service flying, made the total RCAF flying time for the year 10,425.24 hours. (CGAO flying alone for the previous year had been 11,185.10 hours).

Civil Government air operations were under the control of the Directo½ CGAO until 1 November, and thereafter under the SAO, RCAF. The general reduction of estimates, which resulted in the elimination of a separate appropriation for civil air operations and its consolidation with that of the RCAF, necessitated the abandonment of much of the planned civil program. Personnel and aircraft were available only for urgent work. Nevertheless the Force was able to carry out services for the Departments of Interior, Indian Affairs, Mines, Marine, Public Works, and Post Office, for the RCMP, and the National Research Council.

Most of the work was· done by the units of Ottawa Air Station (2,672.05 hours); Winnipeg and Vancouver flew 468.45 and 371.25 hours respectively, while Camp
Borden contributed 9.15 hours on a special search for lighthouse keepers missing on Lake Erie.

Aerial photography was reduced this year to a mere 376.50 hours, carried out on the west coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island by No. 1 Photographic Detachment from Vancouver, and in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario by a General Purpose Detachment from Ottawa.

Forestry protection was restricted to 77.35 hours by two Forestry Detachments from Winnipeg stationed at Riding Mountain and Waskesiu to patrol the Riding Mountain and Prince Albert National Parks.

Transportation flights accounted for a further 636.50 hours. An Indian Treaty Payment Party was conveyed to various points in northern Ontario, and government officials were transported to isolated parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

28 June to 17 August

Ottawa Air Station conducted an air mail service between Rimouski and St Hubert for trans-Atlantic mails, and also instituted a special service in connection with the Imperial Economic Conference. Mails were flown between Montreal and the Strait of Belle Isle to connect with the mail steamers. Total flying on air mail services was 732.50 hours.

The most important item in the year’s CGAO work was 1,697.25 hours’ flyin on preventive service patrols undertaken by four RCMP detachments. One, the Pacific Detachment, flew 117.45 hours on patrol over the west coast of Vancouver Island. The other three, located at Gaspe, Shediac and Dartmouth, covered a beat that extended from Rimousi to Miscou Island, thence to Cape North (Cape Breton Island) and around to the Bay of Fundy.


1 January

S/L GR Howsam, MC, was appointed as Air Staff Officer in Military District No. 2, to act as adviser to the District Officer Commanding on air force matters and to supervise and assist the organization of the NPAAF unit in Toronto.

1 June

G/C JL Gordon, DFC, was appointed District Officer Commanding, Military District No. 12 (Regina), with the temporary rank of Brigadier. He later became DOC, MD 10 (Winnipeg), a post which he held until 9 June 1939.
G/C Gordon was the first and only RCAF officer to hold such a military appointment.

The continuing shortage of funds was still restricting air operations. Construction work on air stations was held up and no new aircraft could be purchased. The latter handicap was serious, as the air staff, in keeping with the re-organization of the Force along more strictly military lines, began to study questions and problems relating to the air defence of Canada.

The Force had at its disposal 184 aircraft, of which very few were service types. No new machines had been purchased since 30 January, 1931, and all were rapidly becoming worn out or obsolete. Of the 19 aircraft that could be called “service” types, nine were Siskins, a type which the RAF had already withdrawn as
obsolete; five were Vancouvers designed for civil work but converted for service use. The 82 training machines consisted chiefly of D.H.60s and Fleet 7Bs. The civil and transportation fleet of 83 machines comprised Fairchilds, Vedettes, D.H.80As and Bellancas, with three miscellaneous types.

No aircraft were available for issue to the three new NPAAF squadrons and, although recruiting was actively in progress, no flying training could be given.

Total flying for the fiscal year was 10,762.45 hours, a slight increase over the previous year. The total was subdivided into 5,940.10 hours on instruction and training, 1,331.45 hours for Department of National Defence operations, and 3,490.50 hours for Civil Government operations.

Service training at Camp Borden, Ottawa, Trenton and Vancouver was still restricted by lack of funds. PPO training was discontinued after the 13 members of the last intake completed their course early in the summer. A new item in the training program this year was an Air Gunner’s course at Camp Borden attended by eight airmen. At Ottawa, advanced photographic and camera operator’s courses were conducted for officers and airmen.

Demonstration flying (92.50 hours) was limited to four displays in Quebec and Ontario and a goodwill tour in Manitoba.

National Defence operations included flights for transportation, aerial photography, reconnaissance, aircraft tests and other test and development work for the RCAF, the Militia and Naval Services and the Controller of Civil Aviation Branch. A special search was made for an RCNVR sailboat and crew lost on Lake Winnipeg. Some photographic and reconnaissance flights were also made in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick in connection with
Unemployment Relief Projects that included construction of a chain of civil aerodromes across Canada.

Over half of the National Defence operations were carried out by the Ottawa Station, where the Test Flight worked with the Aeronautical Engineering Division and the National Research Council in the test and development of aircraft and equipment. A tri-camera mount for aerial photography was devised and tested; and trials were made of the automatic pilot as an aid in photography. Much study was devoted to various winter flying problems in the use of engines and skis, and, at the request of the RAF, the Hawker “Audax” was given winter trials.

Ottawa Station also did almost 80 percent of the flying on Civil Government air operations (2,725.10 hours out of a total of 3,490.50). The largest item in 1933
was preventive service for the RCMP, with five detachments on both coasts flying 2,093.35 hours.

Second in importance was aerial photography (586.10 hours) carried out by General Purpose detachments from Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa. They worked over the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island and western British Columbia, the North West Territories, northern Ontario, Quebec, the Gulf of St _Lawrence and the Maritimes.

Transportation flights accounted for 432.55 hours. RCMP officers were flown into the Northwest Territories and the Yukon; the annual Indian Treaty Party was conveyed on its round of northern Ontario, and many other government officials were carried by air over routes that would have required days or weeks of travel by land.

Over 275 hours were flown for the Post Office Department on the reconnaissance of air mail routes in the Maritimes and Newfoundland and in continuation of the trans­Atlantic mail pick-up service between Rimouski and St Hubert.

Forestry patrols had now dwindled to 102.25 hours by two Forestry Detachments protecting the Riding Mountain and Prince Albert National Parks.


19 March

A second Air Staff Officer, F/L KM Guthrie, was appointed to Military District 10 (Winnipeg).

18 June to 27 July

Five Hawker Fury aircraft from No. 1 Squadron, RAF, visited Canada to take part in Toronto Centennial celebrations and a goodwill tour of cities in Ontario and Quebec. On 14 July the RAF Furies and RCAF Siskins presented a combined display at Ottawa which attracted 25,000 spectators.

1 September

The formation of Nos. 15 (Fighter) and 18 (Bomber) Squadrons of the NPAAF was authorized at Montreal.

In 1934 the annual appropriation showed a modest increase of $565,000 and the RCAF started to expand once more. Twelve officers and 98 airmen were added
to the strength; ten service aircraft were purchased; construction at Trenton was resumed; Dartmouth (on a care and maintenance basis since 1931) was reopened
and a new squadron (No. 5 Flying Boat) was formed there on 16 April; the three original NPAAF squadrons were equipped with five Moths each and began
elementary flying training, and two more NPAAF units were authorized; a more extensive photographic and survey program was undertaken; and total flying by
the Force was increased by over 1,700 hours.

The acquisition of “new” aircraft – the first since January 1931 – was a noteworthy event, but the machines were obsolescent Armstrong Whitworth Atlas aircraft which had to be reconditioned before being put into service.

Total flying for the fiscal year was 12,467.10 hours, of which 7,331.30 hours were for training, 1,389.45 hours for Department of National Defence operations,
and 3,745.55 hours for Civil Government air operations.

Included in the training total were 1,081.30 hours on courses for commercial pilots. Two Radio Beacon Courses were given at Ottawa – the first of their
kind in Canada. Also included in the training total were 487.05 hours’ flying by the three original NPAAF squadrons which had started elementary flying training.

Training of airmen air gunners continued and new courses for wireless operators were added. The Force also conducted many courses on ground training during
the year, notably specialized training, e.g. – courses on explosives and armament, stores, inspection, instrument flying, night flying, etc. An enlarged photo survey course was launched at Station Rockcliffe in January, using Bellancas and Fairchilds on skiis.

Department of National Defence operations embraced transportation, serviceability tests, test and development, photography and reconnaissance for the RCAF, Militia, Controller of Civil Aviation and Unemployment Relief Projects. Test and development included experiments in infra-red photography for mapping. Operations also provided an early example of supply by air. When Relief Camps in British Columbia were cut off by floods, RCAF aircraft dropped supplies from the air.

The major Civil Government operation continued to be preventive patrols for the RCMP (2,047.05 hours). Most of the work was done by No. 5 (FB) Squadron, formed on 16 April from four MP Detachments of Ottawa Air Station. Based at Dartmouth (where repair and new construction on the reopened station was being done as an unemployment relief project) the squadron had detachments at Rimouski, Gaspe, Sydney and Shediac. No. 4 (FB) Squadron at Vancouver detailed one aircraft for patrols on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Aerial photography, increased to 1,085.10 hours. About 66 per cent of the work was done by two General Purpose Detachments from Winnipeg Station, operating in western Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. Additional work was done by two Ottawa GP Detachments in Quebec and Ontario and along the western shore of James Bay, No. 5 Squadron over Chaleur Bay and No. 4 Squadron on the west coast.

Forestry patrols were continued by the two Winnipeg Detachments covering Riding Mountain and Prince Albert National Parks (139.05 hours).

Transportation flights (474.35 hours) included Treaty Party flights in Manitoba and northern Ontario, geodetic reconnaissance and transportation during the winter months, forest fire’reconnaissance in New Brunswick, a mercy flight in Manitoba for a sick Indian, and searches for a civil aircraft missing near Senneterre, PQ and a fisherman lost off Cape Canso. RCAF aircraft from Shediac participated in welcoming French delegates to the Jacques Cartier celebrations.

F/L EG Fullerton, a pioneer bush pilot, became the eighth recipient of the McKee Trans-Canada Trophy and the second RCAF officer to receive the award.


1 January

The first peacetime awards to RCAF personnel were announced; S/L RS Grandy received the OBE and FS HJ Winny the BEM. The OBE was also awarded to F/L WR May, DFC, of the Reserve Officers.

3 June

In the King’s Birthday and Silver Jubilee Honours List S/L GE Brookes received an QBE while WOl AA Rabnett was awarded the MBE.

The annual vote was almost doubled, permitting further re-equipment, expansion and construction, and an increase of almost 30 per cent in total flying time. The RCAF signals system was also further developed and extended.

Continuing the reorganization of the Force along service lines, seven new units were authorized. No. 7 (General Purpose) Squadron was formed from the Test Flight, GP Flight and two Mobile Photo Detachments at Ottawa Station (amalgamated late in 1935 but not formally constituted until 29 January 1936). No. 8 (GP)
Squadron was formed from the GP Flight and four GP and Forestry Detachments at Winnipeg (merged in the fall of 1935 and redesignated a squadron on 17 February 1936). At Trenton the Army Co-operation Flight was the nucleus of No. 2 (AC) Squadron, and the Fighter Flight became part of No. 3 (Bomber) Squadron, both formed on 1 September. No. 6 (Torpedo Bomber) Squadron began to organize in Vancouver. In the NPAAF the formation of No. 19 (B) Squadron at Hamilton and No. 20 (B) Squadron of Regina was authorized on 15 May and 1 June respectively.

Camp Borden was reorganized as the RCAF Training Group, comprising Group Headquarters, with Schools for Technical Training, Flying Training, Air Armament
(formerly Air Armament and Bombing), and Air Navigation anri Seaplane (a new creation). The School of Army Co-operation, formerly at Borden, moved to Trenton. TTS at Borden introduced 10-month courses in a wide variety of trades for airmen apprentices: carpenters, fitters, armament artificers, motor mechanics,
fabric workers, motorboat crew, etc.

Although the aircraft situation remained unchanged in 1935, orders were placed for 28 aircraft to be delivered in 1936. Of these, 13 were purchased in the United Kingdom – six Westland Wapitis, four Blackburn Sharks and three Avro 626s. The remaining 15 – 10 Fleets, three Northrop Deltas and two Fairchild Super 71s – were manufactured in Canada.

Total flying time by the RCAF was 16,059.10 hours, including 10,720.35 for flying training, 4,049.55 for Civil Government departments and 1,288.40 for National Defence operations.

Flying training was broken down into 5,113.25 hours for service training and 5,607.10 for individual training. The former embraced 2,604.40 hours by five permanent squadrons (Nos 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8: Nos. 3 and 6 had not yet reached the stage of unit training), and 2,170.55 hours by the three NPAAF squadrons, Nos. 10,
11 and 12, each of which included a 10-day summer camp in their training program. (Nos. 15 and 18 Squadrons were ready to begin flying training, but Nos. 19 and
20 had not yet reached that stage of organization.) There were also 337.50 hours devoted to Navy and Army co-operation training. Individual flying training included a wide range of courses from ab initio to instrument and specialized flying, conducted at Borden, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Trenton.

National Defence operations, for the RCAF, Naval and Militia Services and CCA, included reconnaissance, transportation, aerial photography, serviceability tests, and test and development as in previous years.

Preventive patrols for the RCMP continued to be a major Civil Government operation. No. 5 Squadron, with detachments at Gaspe; Shediac, Sydney and Dartmouth flew 1,543.55 hours, while one aircraft from No. 4 squadron flew 192.20 hours on the west coast.

Aerial photography rose to top position in the Civil Government phase of the Force’s work. Of the 1,736.55 hours spent on this duty, No. 8 Squadron (Winnipeg•) accounted for 981.40 hours; Nos. 2 and 3 GP Detachments worked in northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, Nos. 6 and 7 GP Detachments of No. 7 Squadron· (Ottawa) flew 753.50 hours in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, while No. 4 Squadron did one small assignment in British Columbia.

Nos. 4 and 5 Forestry Detachments of No. 8 Squadron continued their protective patrols in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (207.35 hours).

Transportation flights for government officials totalled 369.10 hours. Nos. 7 and 8 Squadrons made Indian Treaty Party flights in northern Ontario and Manitoba respectively. Other flights were made for the Chief Electoral Officer to transport ballot boxes to Senneterre, PQ and the Magdalen Islands. No. 3 GP Detachment, operating near Great Slave Lake, flew the wife of the Army wireless operator at Resolution to hospital at Fort Smith.



The RCAF Photographic Section, hitherto quartered in Ottawa, moved to new accommodation at Rockcliffe and
was re-designated the Photographic Establishment.

17 August to 16 September

While flying to Fort Reliance from a point in the Barren Lands, 220 miles northeast of Aylmer Lake, F/L SW Coleman and LAC J Fortey of No. 8 (GP) Squadron were forced down at Point Lake, NWT. It was four days before Reliance learned that the Fairchild aircraft was overdue. An extensive search began, directed by S/L LF Stevenson, and employing RCAF and civilian aircraft. Bad weather hampered the search, but on 14 September a message was found in an empty gasoline drum. Two days later two bush pilots, AM Berry and HM Kennedy, located the missing men. For the first three weeks Coleman and Fortey had lived on reduced rations; when these were exhausted, they had subsisted on berries and some ground squirrels that they snared.


A Navy, Army and Air Supply Committee was formed, under the chairmanship of the Master-General of the Ordnance, to explore the sources of supply of materials necessary to meet the requirements of the Services in time of emergency. A survey of Canadian industry was undertaken.

The aircraft situation was still causing concern. The Force had on charge 135 aircraft; 58 were civil or transport types, 46 training and 31 service. The great majority were obsolete or rapidly becoming so. Of the service aircraft ordered in 1935 only the four Sharks had been received; delivery of the Wapitis and Avros had been delayed. New orders were placed for 24 aircraft: five Supermarine Stranraers, four Deltas, three Sharks, and 12 training machines. Delivery was expected during 1937. The RCAF was still flying Siskin fighters.

The development of Trenton as the major training centre was carried further by the transfer there, from Camp Borden, of the Technical Training School and the Air Navigation and Seaplane School. A new Wireless School was also formed at Trenton to meet the demand for increasing numbers of W/T Operator Mechanics. The
RCAF Training Group was now enlarged to include both Camp Borden and Trenton Stations, with two schools at the former and four at the latter.

No new flying units were formed this year, but both Nos. 7 and 8 (GP) Squadrons were reconstituted. At the end of the season’s operations the two mobile GP
(photographic) detachments and some of the personnel of the GP Flight (Lac du Bonnet) of No. 8 were moved from Winnipeg to Ottawa, where they were amalgamated with the two GP-(photographic) detachments of No. 7 to form a re-organized No. 8 (GP) Squadron.

The remaining personnel of No. 8 provided the nucleus for No. 2 Depot at Winnipeg. No. 1 Depot at Victoria Island had been re-designated an Aircraft Depot in
1934; the new Depot at Winnipeg was known first as a Supply Depot, then an Aircraft Depot, and finally an Equipment Depot.

Total flying for the fiscal year was 16,927.15 hours, consisting of 10,971.45 for flying training, 1,269.05 for National Defence operations and 4,686.25 for Civil Government operations.

Service training accounted for 6,148.35 hours, including unit training by permanent squadrons and units, preliminary training by Nos. 10, 11, 12, 15 and 18
NPAAF Squadrons, and Army and Navy co-operation exercises and training. The three original NPAAF units carried out service training during their fortnight summer camp, while Nos. 15 and 18 began preliminary training; Nos. 19 and 20 were still organizing. Of the permanent squadrons, Nos. 2, 3 and 4 carried out service training following RAF syllabi, No. 6 was still in process of organization, and Nos. 5, 7 and 8 were primarily employed on Civil Government operations.
Individual training in various courses was done at the two training centres(Camp Borden and Trenton, at Ottawa, Vancouver, Dartmouth and Winnfpeg (4,823.10 hours).

National Defence operations consisted chiefly of test, development and delivery for the RCAF (1,139.10 hours) with a small amount of flying on aerial photography
and other duties for the Militia Service.

This was the last year in which Civil Government operations were one of the major roles of the RCAF. The total flying time consisted of:

Transportation ••.••••••..•••… 1,726.20 hours

Photography •.••..•••••.••..•••• 1, 35 7. 50 hours

Preventive service .•••..•••…• 1,335.05 hours

Forestry patrol •.••••••.••..••• 267.10 hours

The photographic work was done by Nos. 2 and 3 GP Detachments of No. 8 Squadron, working in Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories (759.25 hours) and by Nos. 6 and 7 GP Detachments of No. 7 Squadron, operating in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (508.25 hours). For the first time aircraft employed on photography were equipped with W/T sets. The tests showed that sets more powerful than one watt were necessary for this work.

The usual preventive patrols for the RCMP were flown on the west coast by one aircraft of No. 4 Squadron (97.05 hours) and on the east coast by detachments of No. 5 Squadron based at Dartmouth, Shediac and Gaspe.

Nos. 4 and 5 Forestry Detachments of No. 8 Squadron continued their patrols over the National Parks in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (257.50 hours), while No. 7 Squadron made some patrols over the Petawawa area during a period of high fire hazard (9.20 hours).

Transportation flying increased this year, largely because of special searches and emergency flights. In addition to the month-long search for F/L Coleman and his mechanic, RCAF aircraft searched for men lost in the woods near Rat Rapids, Ont, a hunting party lost in the Gaspe area, and the bodies of men believed drowned in Lake Simcoe. Emergency flights carried one patient from Fort Hope, Ont to Sioux Lookout, and another from Sable Island to Halifax. Medical and other supplies were flown to the rescue of men entombed in the Moose River gold mine in Nova Scotia, and the rescued men were transported to Halifax. Another special flight
was made to reconnoiter an area in Lake Erie where a ship had foundered.

A flight of No. 8 Squadron made daily flights at Fort Smith, NWT, during the winter to observe upper air conditions and radiation. This flight also transported replacement engines for aircraft engaged on photographic work in the Aylmer Lake area, NWT. Normal transportation duties for government officials included the annual treaty party flights in Manitoba and northern Ontario, and an inspection flight for the Commissioner of the RCMP from Ottawa to posts in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

1 November

On the formation of the Department of Transport the Controller of Civil Aviation Branch, a division of the Department of National Defence since 1923, was transferred to it. The new department also took over most of the Civil Government air duties previously performed by the RCAF, leaving the Force responsible only for aerial photography and some transportation work.


12 May

An RCAF detachment of eight officers and 22 airmen, from both the Permanent and Non-Permanent Active Air Force, participated in ceremonies attending the coronation of HM the King. Commanding the detachment was W/C H Edwards.

15 November

Units of the NPAAF were renumbered by the addition of 100 to their previous designations, e.g. No. 10 became No. 110.

The annual vote skyrocketed to over $11,750,000. As there was a decrease in the appropriation for civil government operations,. the RCAF’s share was almost
$11,400,000, a sum greater than the total for the previous four years. Reorganization, re-equipment and expansion of the Force proceeded rapidly as the international situation became more serious. Orders were placed for 104 new service and training aircraft and 168 engines and quantities of other new equipment, e.g. Browning machine-guns to replace the Vickers.

To free the RCAF from dependence upon UK and RAF sources of equipment, steps were taken to have armament stores manufactured in Canada.
Direction finding equipment was ordered, and there was a further expansion of RCAF signals work, although handicapped by shortage of trained personnel.

Development of existing air stations and construction of new bases were accelerated. Construction of an air firing and bombing range at Trenton began. The growing importance of aerial defence focussed attention on the two coasts. Surveys were made on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards to find potential bases and advanced bases, gather meteorological data and prepare maps.

On the Pacific coast the seaplane base at Vancouver (Jericho Beach) was further developed and sites were selected at Patricia Bay (landplanes), and Alliford
Bay (seaplanes) for new bases. On the Atlantic coast there was further development at Dartmouth to accommodate landplanes as well as seaplanes; landplane sites were selected at Yarmouth, Sydney and Truro.

The strength of the RCAF increased by 50 per cent during the year; 594 officers and airmen were added to the Permanent Force, and 240 to the Non-Permanent. During the past few years there had been a significant rise in the number of applications received; from 4,000 in 1934, the total rose to 9,000 for 1935. 12,000 for
1936 and 14,000 for 1937.

Included in these totals were numerous requests for enlistment in the RAF. Since 1932 the RCAF had been handling such inquiries and nominating suitable candidates. For the first three years the total number accepted was only 16, but for 1935 it rose to 37 as the RAF began to expand rapidly. In 1937 35 Canadian candidates were accepted and 15 more began training to qualify for commissions under a new “Trained in Canada Scheme”. To accommodate these RAF pupils a new flight was added to the Flying Training School at Trenton.

The concentration of the Training Group at Trenton was completed during the year with the transfer from Camp Borden of the Flying Training and Air Armament Schools and the formation of a new Equipment Training School. It was necessary, howeve, to retain Camp Borden for No. 2 Technical Training School formed to take the overflow of recruits from No. 1 TTS at Trenton.

To make room for the seven schools at Trenton No. 2 (AC) and No. 3 (B) Squadrons were moved to Ottawa. Prior to the move the Fighter Flight was separated
from No. 3 Squadron and became No. 1 (F) Squadron. It remained at Trenton with No. 6 (TB) Squadron.

No. 3 Repair Depot was opened at Vancouver, which now became a Station Headquarters. Two Technical Detachments, No. 11 at Montreal and No. 12 at Toronto, were also formed, under the command of RCAF engineer officers, to account for and inspect work done in plants manufacturing aircraft on contract for the Department.

Nos. 4 and 5 (FB) Squadrons were renamed General Reconnaissance Squadrons and No. 2 Aircraft Depot became No. 2 Equipment Depot.


On 1 January, No. 13· (F) and No. 21 (F) Squadrons of the NPAAF were authorized at Calgary and Quebec; they became Nos. 113 and 121 when all NPAAF units were renumbered later in the year. No. 111 (Vancouver) was changed to a Coast Artillery Co-operation Squadron.

Total flying by the RCAF increased to 19,777.35 hours, mostly for service and individual training (15,755.15 hours), and Departmental operations (1,661.55 hours);
only 2,360.25 hours were devoted to Civil Government operations.

Service flying training consisted of preliminary training by the seven NPAAF squadrons, unit training by the Permanent squadrons and stations, and Army and Navy co-operation exercises. Four NPAAF squadrons spent a fortnight in summer camp. Individual flying training at Trenton, with a small amount at Camp Borden, covered an increasing variety of elementary and specialized courses, including several for RCMP personnel. Technical training of airmen in No. 1 TTS, Trenton and No. 2 TTS, Camp Borden embraced 18 different courses; other courses were conducted at Ottawa and No. 1 AD and No. 2 ED for automatic pilots, photography, engines and parachutes.

The number of students attending courses abroad was increased and for the first time included airmen as well as officers. A new addition was the Link Aviation
Trainer Course in the USA.

National Defence operations, carried out chiefly by the units at Ottawa Station, included the usual transportation for the Militia, transportation, serviceability tests, and test and development work for the RCAF.

The Force’s Civil Government tasks now consisted chiefly of aerial photography (1,807 hours) with some transportation flights (553.25). The Interdepartmental Committee on Air Surveys and Base Maps, under the chairmanship of Dr. Charles Camsell of the Department of Mines and Resources, drew up an extensive program of air survey, for which the RCAF detailed No. 8 (GP) Squadron. Four detachments of two aircraft each worked in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. Among the sections covered were the drought areas of the prairie provinces
and the trans-Canada airway in northwestern Ontario.

A total of 74,959 square mile& was photographed. This year all the photographic detachments used more powerful W/T sets with marked success.

Transportation operations included flights for the Governor General from Aklavik, NWT, to Cooking Lake, Alta, and over Tweedsmuir National Park, BC, (August­September).

1 March

Western Air Command (authorized in 1937) was formed with Headquarters at Vancouver; it embraced all RCAF units in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. G/C GO Johnson, MC, was the first commanding officer.

1 April

The formation of three more NPAAF squadrons was authorized; No. 114 (B) at London, No. 116 (CAC) at Halifax and No. 117 (F) at Saint John, NB.

1 June

RCAF Record Office was organized at Ottawa.

15 September

Air Training Command was formed with Headquarters at Toronto. The first commanding officer was G/C AE Godfrey, MC, AFC, who was succeeded on 16 December by G/C AAL Cuffe. Eastern Air Command was formed with Headquarters at Halifax, under the command of G/C NR Anderson.

19 November

The Senior Air Officer, hitherto responsible to the Chief of the General Staff, was made directly responsible to the Minister of National Defence, and the RCAF
was thereby placed on an equal footing with the RCN and the Canadian Army. At the same time an Air Council was appointed, consisting of the Senior Air Officer,
Air Staff Officer, Air Personnel Staff Officer, Chief Aeronautical Engineer and a Secretary.

1 December

The Non-Permanent Active Air Force was renamed the Auxiliary Active Air Force.

9 December

The first separate Air Force General Orders were issued. Previously they had been included in General Orders of the Canadian Militia.

15 December


The Senior Air Officer was redesignated Chief of the Air Staff, a title corresponding to the head of the other two Services. A/V/M GM Croil, AFC was the first CAS. (Learn more about Croil here)

Although there was a slight decrease in the annual appropriation, actual expenditures rose by almost $1,200,000. Because of the great program of aerodrome extension and development, a Directorate of Works and Buildings was added to the Equipment and Development Staff Division at Headquarters. New buildings were erected at Ottawa and Trenton Stations. Construction of aerodromes at Dartmouth, Yarmouth, Sydney and Truro, NS, continued, and sites for
possible advanced bases were selected in the Magdalen Islands, Anticosti and the Bay of Chaleur area. On the west coast progress was made in the development
of sea- and landplane aerodromes at Vancouver, Patricia Bay and Alliford Bay; a tentative site for a seaplane base was selected at Seal Cove, near Prince Rupert. Further tentative sites were chosen for wireless direction finding stations. To serve RCAF needs in WAC, action was taken to have the Department of Transport establish a meteorological station at Vancouver.

In furtherance of the policy of developing Canadian sources of supply, it was decided to purchase Canadian designed and manufactured aircraft wireless sets.

During the year, in addition to the three Air Connnands and Record Office, the following new units were formed: Station Headquarters at Dartmouth, Test & Development Flight at Ottawa, No. 4 Repair Depot at Dartmouth, and No. 21 (Magazine) Detachment at Kamloops. Authority was also given for the formation of No. 9 (GR) and No. 10 (TB) Squadrons, and No. 13 Technical Detachment (Vancouver), and the three new Auxiliary Squadrons mentioned above, but these units did not actually organize during the year. In the Auxiliary Force provision was also made for three Wing Headquarters, No. 100 at Vancouver, No. 101 at Toronto, and No. 102 at Montreal. Another change was the establishment as individual units of the Permanent Force Detachments (Nos. 110 to 121) which previously had been carried as integral parts of the several Auxiliary Squadrons.

The operational strength of Western Air Command was expanded by the move of Nos. 1 (F) and 3(B) Squadrons from Trenton and Ottawa respectively to Calgary and No. 6 (TB) from Trenton to Vahcouver. No. 1 Squadron (with three Siskin fighters) made the journey by rail late in August. Prior to its transfer No. 3 made a long distance flight with four Wapitis from Ottawa to Halifax and return, completing the outward flight in one day and the return in two. In October, the squadron, now eight aircraft strong, flew to Calgary, completing the first long distance transfer of an RCAF squadron by air. No. 2 (AC) Squadron also carried out a movement exercise from Ottawa to Halifax where it took part in coastal artillery co-operation practice. After its return to Ottawa, the squadron was transferred to Trenton where it took over the personnel, equipment and functions of the School of Army Co-operation which was thereupon closed.

During the year the RCAF flew 27,069.10 hours, an increase of more than 36 per cent over the previous year. Over half of the flying was done by units of the Training Group at Trenton (13,615.05 hours). Ottawa Air Station did 4,991.35 hours, and Nos. 119 and 120 Auxiliary Squadrons each logged more than 1,600 hours.
Flying activities for the year included:

Individual Flying Training 14,012.25 hours

Preliminary Training (by seven Aux Sqns) 5,646.10 hours

Service Training 2,838.30 hours

Photography 1,774.30 hours

Transportation 1,089.20 hours

Test & Development 1,023.40 hours

Army & Navy Cooperation 665.10 hours

Militia Service 19.25 hours

Individual flying training was done primarily at Trenton with some courses at Ottawa and other stations. The program of the Flying Training School was reorganized to conform with the RAF Standard Syllabus which divided the training into three stages, elementary, intermediate and advanced. Each stage lasted about 16 weeks, so that, allowing for travelling time between stages, the whole course was completed within a year. It was decided to have elementary training done in civil schools and arrangements were made for eight flying clubs (at Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax) to conduct three courses with a total of 32 pupils in each course. The training scheme was designed to produce approximately 75 fully-trained pilots annually for the RCAF, and 50 for the RAF.

Preliminary training by the Auxiliary squadrons (Nos. 110, 111, 112, 115, 118, 119 and 120) included a fortnight of service training at the annual summer camp. Permanent squadrons Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 carried out service training in their several operational roles, and also engaged in co-operation exercises with the Navy and Army.

An addition to the 1938 test and development agenda was investigation of a cathode ray direction finder (radar) carried out by the Directorate of Air Development in close collaboration with the National Research Council.

No. 8 (GP) Squadron was engaged on an extensive program of air survey, covering all parts of the Dominion except Manitoba. As in 1937 the drought area in the prairies received particular attention. In all 86,250 square miles were photographed. This represented a marked increase over the previous year yet, thanks to the use of more modern aircraft and better film, the work was completed by 1 October, two months earlier than usual. A photographic trailer was designed, tested in the field and found to be most useful.