No. 426 Squadron RCAF

No. 426 Squadron RCAF

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=No. 426 Squadron RCAF
426 Transport Training Squadron

dates= October 15, 1942 to January 1, 1946
August 1, 1946 to September 1962
May 3, 1971 until present day
branch= Royal Canadian Air Force
motto= On Wings of Fire
identification_symbol= Thunderbird

No. 426 Squadron RCAF,cite web|url=
title=No. 426 Squadron RCAF
] also known as 426 Transport Training Squadron,cite web|url=
title=426 Transport Training Squadron
] and 426 Thunderbirdcite web|url=
title=No. 426 Squadron
] is a transport training squadron in the Royal Canadian Air Force. It fought during World War II as a bomber squadron. After undergoing several reformations, it remains active today as a transport training squadron.

The motto of the squadron is "On Wings of Fire" and the squadron's badge contains a Thunderbird. The badge refers to the squadron's "Thunderbird" designation.


econd World War

No. 426 Squadron RCAF was created during the Second World War as a result of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to supply aircrew for the war in Europe.cite web|url=
author = Hatch, F.J. and Hillmer, Norman
title=British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
work=The Canadian Encyclopedia
] It first formed at RAF Dishforth, England on October 15 1942 with Vickers Wellington Mk IIIs and Mk Xs. The squadron was used as bomber unit in No. 4 Group RAF. Its first operational mission occurred on the night of the 14th and 15th of January 1943, when seven Wellingtons bombed Lorient. The squadron used to fly by night, principally over Germany. Unlike the other RCAF Wellington squadrons it did not go to Tunisia in that year, but remained operating over Germany. That year the squadron transferred to No. 6 Group RCAF. In June of that year it moved to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, where it re-equipped with the Bristol Hercules-engined Avro Lancaster II. With this type it soon resumed the offensive, and continued with the night campaign from Linton for the next ten months. On April 1944 it began to re-equip with Handley Page Halifax IIIs and VIIs, and for the next year continued to operate with these types as part of No. 6 Group.

During the war it flew 261 operational missions (242 bombing missions and 19 mining excursions) involving 3,213 sorties, and in doing so lost 88 aircraft. Its last operation took place on April 25 1945 when 20 Halifaxes bombed gun batteries on island of Wangerooge. On May 25 1945, the squadron was renamed to 426 Transport Squadron.

Possibly, the most heroic act realized by a member of the squadron during the war took place on October 20 1943 when Flight Sergeant Stuart (the pilot) and his crew were sent to bomb Leipzig. During the mission he was engaged by enemy fighters, Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Junkers Ju 88, initially managing to shake them off but not before having his aircraft rendered almost unfit to fly, leaving it with shattered cockpits and gun turrets; holes in the fuel tanks, damaged hydraulics and no navigation instruments. Against all odds Stuart decided to continue the mission and successfully bombed his target before guiding his crippled aircraft home. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.cite web|url=
title=Relatives of hero pilot visit building named in his honour
] [LondonGazette|issue=36254|supp=yes|startpage=5076|date=16 November 1943|accessdate=2008-01-25]

Peace time

The squadron was disbanded on January 1 1946.cite web|url=
title=426 Transport Training Squadron History
] It reformed at RCAF Station Dartmouth on August 1 1946 as a transport squadron. They moved to RCAF Station Lachine, Quebec, in March 1947, where it began using the North Star.cite web|url=
title=3.2. 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron

On March 8, 1948, a North Star of the squadron was used to make 426 Thunderbird's first flight to the Arctic with a flight from Dorval, Quebec to Lansdowne House by way of Rockliffe, Resolute, and Trout Lake. Later, in January 1949, a 426 Squadron North Star made Canada's first coast-to-coast non-stop flight.

Korean War

During the Korean War, between 1950 and 1952, the squadron transported supplies and troops to Japan in support of United Nations operations. On July 1950, a few days after the start of the war, 426 Squadron was detached to McChord Air Force Base in Washington where it came under the operational control of the Military Air Transport Service of the United States. A typical Korean Air Lift route for 426 Squadron aeroplanes was a physically and mentally demanding fifty hour round trip flight from McChord to Japan and back with stops at Elmendorf Air Force Base (Alaska), Shemya (Aleutian Islands), Handed and Misawa Air Base (Japan).

Events until present day

On September 1 1959 the squadron was moved to Trenton, Ontario. It was moved to Saint-Hubert on January 1962. It was disbanded at Saint-Hubert on 1 September of that year. It reformed again as 426 Transport Training Squadron on May 3, 1971 at Uplands. The squadron moved to Trenton in August 1971 where it remains today, conducting training on the CC-130 Hercules.

The squadron has carried out many tasks since the end of Korean War, including casualty evacuations, Royal tours and other VIP transport, and United Nations air lift operations. Thunderbird has worked in many places: the Arctic, the Middle East and Europe, the Congo and Japan.

quadron profile

Code letters



Battle honours

The squadron has been awarded a number of battle honours during its operational history:
*English Channel and North Sea 1943
*Baltic 1944-1945
*Fortress Europe 1943-1944
*France and Germany 1944-1945
*Biscay Ports 1943-1944
*Ruhr 1943-1945
*Berlin 1943-1944
*German Ports 1943-1945
*Normany 1944
*Biscay 1943

Activities related to the squadron

During one attack in Belgium during World War II, one Halifax (serial LW682) crashed near Geraardsbergen. The entire crew perished. The remains of only five airmen, four Canadians and one British were recovered by the German authorities; the corpses of three other crewmen could not be retrieved because it had crashed in the boggy ground near the Dender river. In the late 1990s a group of Canadian volunteers recovered the remains of the three Canadian airmen and brought them to Canada.cite web|url=
title=426 Squadron and the Halifax LW682

Former members of the 426 Squadron have held biennial Thunderbird veteran reunions since the end of the Second World War. cite web|url=
title=17th Biennial Reunion

In recognition of his bravery, a new building of RAF Linton-on-Ouse was named after Flight Sergeant Frederick Stuart. The place was visited by relatives of the soldier, amongst them, his daughter, whom he wasn't ever able to meet because he was shot down and killed in December 1943, one month before his child's birth.

Notes and references

External links

* [ 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron Association]

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