No. 402 Squadron RCAF


No. 402 Squadron RCAF

402 "City of Winnipeg" Squadron is a Canadian Forces (formerly a Royal Canadian Air Force) squadron based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Pre-war history

402 Squadron began on 5 October 1932 as Number 12 Army Co-operating Squadron, a unit of the non-permanent active Air Force. During the early years, meetings were held in Minto Armories, while flying facilities were based at Stevenson Field, now the site of the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (previously the Winnipeg International Airport and renamed on 10 December 2006 for James Armstrong Richardson, Sr.). The aircraft flown included a number of Avro Tutors, de Havilland Gipsy Moths and a few other light aircraft. On 15 November 1937, No. 12 Army Cooperation Sqn. was renumbered No. 112 Army Cooperation Sqn., flying the Westland Lysander.

The Second World War

No. 2 Squadron, RCAF was formed at Digby, Lincolnshire, England, in December 1940 from personnel of No. 110 and No. 112 Squadrons, RCAF and initially equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk I. Renumbered as No. 402 Squadron in March 1941, the unit was re-equipped with the Hurricane Mk II in May and then Hurricane Mk IIBs in June. With these, it began training to become the first "Hurribomber" (Hurricane IIC) unit, commencing operations in this role in November, carrying pairs of 250-pound bombs beneath the wings.

In March 1942, the Squadron resumed its fighter role moving to Colerne and converting to Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vbs. Cross-Channel sorties from various bases followed, notably Kenley and Redhill, until August when it received Spitfire Mk IXs, employing these over Dieppe on 19 August. A move to Digby in March 1943, brought a return to Spitfire Mk Vs, which were flown from a variety of airfields right up to and during the Battle of Normandy, when it operated from Horne, Westhampnett (now Chichester/Goodwood Airport) and Merston, mainly in a fighter-bomber role. Spitfire IXs were again received in July, but their stay was brief, as in early August, a move was made to Hawkinge where the Squadron re-equipped with the Griffon-engine Spitfire Mk XIVs and operations against the V-1 flying bombs were commenced.

At the end of September, with the V-1 threat being largely over, the squadron was posted to the 2nd Tactical Air Force (TAF) in Belgium, joining No. 125 Wing. A move to Grave in the Netherlands followed where the first victories were claimed over Nijmegen on 6 October. In December, the Squadron joined No. 126 Wing, RCAF to fly alongside the Wing's Spitfire IXs. It continued to see regular action against Luftwaffe aircraft during the last weeks of the European war; 19 victories being claimed in April 1945 alone. The ending of the hostilities found the unit on German soil at Wunstorf with total victories for the war of 49 1/2 aircraft. The code letters carried by the Squadron during this period were "AE." The Squadron disbanded at Faßberg, Germany on 10 July 1945.

Wartime aircraft

* Hurricane I (April 1943 – May 1941)
* Hurricane IIA (May 1941 – April 1942)
* Hurricane IIB (June 1941 – April 1942)
* Spitfire VB (April 1942 – May 1942)
* Spitfire IXC (May 1942 – April 1943)
* Spitfire VC (April 1943 – June 1944)
* Spitfire IXC (July 1944 – August 1944)
* Spitfire XIVE (August 1944 – June 1945)
* Spitfire XVI (June 1945 – July 1945)

The Cold War

The squadron was re-formed as No. 402 (Auxiliary) Squadron on 15 April 1946, North American Harvard Mk. II trainers initially in preparation for a transition to a new role. On 18 September 1950, the title "City of Winnipeg" was added to the squadron name. For two years, parading two nights each week and on weekends, 402 carried out air training on Harvards in addition to ground training on a variety of subjects, including lectures on jet aircraft and engines. For a short period the de Havilland Mosquito was considered as the squadron's new aircraft, but eventually 402 converted to a fighter role on 1 March 1947, equipped with de Havilland Vampire Mk IIIs. With the arrival of the Vampire, in addition to interception and tactical training exercises, 402 Squadron took part in many air shows.

During the early postwar years, a large part of 402 Squadron's training was conducted in the form of summer camps held throughout western Canada. In 1951, it was converted to a fighter-bomber squadron, the squadron receiving the P-51 Mustang Mk. IV (P-51D). November 1954 saw the delivery of the first Silver Star Mk. III (T-33 Shooting Star) to 402 Squadron in anticipation of a switch to this type which could be operated as an armed version of the standard trainer. However, the Mustang was retained until its retirement in 1957.

In 1957, the squadron changed from a fighter-bomber role to become 402 Transport Sqn (Auxiliary), initially equipped with eight Beech CT-128 (C-45) Beechcraft Model 18 Expeditors. In April 1960, the Squadron was equipped with two CC-123 (DHC-3) de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter aircraft. The Otter proved to be a highly versatile aircraft and greatly increased the scope of squadron operations. On 1 April 1961, 402 Squadron was transferred to Air Transport Command. This change brought the additional responsibility of the provision of regular service flights from Winnipeg, west to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan as well as to many northern points, and, by 1964, two additional Otters had been added to the Squadron inventory.

Unification

The squadron's name was changed in 1968 to 402 "City of Winnipeg" Air Reserve Sqn. based at CFB Winnipeg at that point, operating nine examples of the venerable CC-129 (C-47) C-47 Skytrain in the light transport, search and rescue operations, support for the Canadian Forces SkyHawks Parachute Team, Air Cadet familiarization and VIP transport roles, becoming the last unit in the Canadian Forces to fly the type.

The present

In the late 1980s, the name changed to 402 "City of Winnipeg" Transport and Training Sqn. with the CC/CT-142 de Havilland Canada Dash 8 used to provide light transport and training for the Canadian Forces Air Navigation School. In 1997, the two CC-142 Dash 8 light transport aircraft were disposed of, leaving 402 operating only the CT-142 Dash 8s, affectionately nicknamed "Gonzo" operating only in the air navigation training role.

References

* Butt, Bob. "The Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Forces Dakota: 1943 – From Debutante to Matriarch". Winnipeg: Media One Productions, 1989. (bilingual)
* Kostenuk, Samuel and Griffin, John. "RCAF Squadron Histories and Aircraft: 1924–1968." Toronto: Samuel Stevens, Hakkert & Company, 1977. ISBN 0-88866-577-6.
* Krall, Dean. "402 "City of Winnipeg" Squadron History: 60th Anniversary". Winnipeg: CFB Winnipeg, 1992.
* McNorgan, Pat, ed. "402 'City of Winnipeg' Squadron History". Winnipeg: 402 Squadron Association, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9784109-0-2.
* McNorgan, Pat and Patrick, Robert W. "402 City of Winnipeg Squadron History 70th Anniversary 1932-2002". Winnipeg: 402 Squadron, 2002.
* Zwickel, R.A. "City of Winnipeg 402 Squadron 1932-1974". Winnipeg: 402 Air Reserve Squadron, 1974.


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