- No. 426 Squadron RCAF
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=No. 426 Squadron RCAF
426 Transport Training Squadron
October 15, 1942to January 1, 1946 August 1, 1946to September 1962 May 3, 1971until present day
Royal Canadian Air Force
motto= On Wings of Fire
No. 426 Squadron RCAF,cite web|url=http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/h426.html
title=No. 426 Squadron RCAF
accessdate=2008-01-23] also known as 426 Transport Training Squadron,cite web|url=http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca/site/hist/426sqn_e.asp
title=426 Transport Training Squadron
accessdate=2008-01-23] and 426 Thunderbirdcite web|url=http://www.rcaf.com/squadrons/400series/426squadron.php
title=No. 426 Squadron
accessdate=2008-01-23] is a transport training
squadronin the Royal Canadian Air Force. It fought during World War IIas a bombersquadron. 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 Planto supply aircrew for the war in Europe.cite web|url=http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001002
author = Hatch, F.J. and Hillmer, Norman
title=British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The Canadian Encyclopedia
accessdate=2008-01-30] It first formed at
RAF Dishforth, England on October 15 1942with Vickers WellingtonMk 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 Tunisiain 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 LancasterII. 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 HalifaxIIIs 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 1945when 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 1943when Flight SergeantStuart (the pilot) and his crew were sent to bomb Leipzig. During the mission he was engaged by enemy fighters, Messerschmitt Bf 109and 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=http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/index.cfm?storyid=8E639203-1143-EC82-2E65DF0379F6DEB0
title=Relatives of hero pilot visit building named in his honour
16 November 1943|accessdate=2008-01-25]
The squadron was disbanded on
January 1 1946.cite web|url=http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca/8wing/squadron/426hist_e.asp
title=426 Transport Training Squadron History
accessdate=2008-01-23] It reformed at
RCAF Station Dartmouthon August 11946 as a transport squadron. They moved to RCAF Station Lachine, Quebec, in March 1947, where it began using the North Star.cite web|url=http://www.projectnorthstar.ca/northstarprimer/ch03s02.html
title=3.2. 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron
March 8, 1948, a North Star of the squadron was used to make 426 Thunderbird's first flight to the Arcticwith a flight from Dorval, Quebecto 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, between 1950 and 1952, the squadron transported supplies and troops to Japanin support of United Nationsoperations. On July 1950, a few days after the start of the war, 426 Squadron was detached to McChord Air Force Basein Washingtonwhere it came under the operational control of the Military Air Transport Serviceof 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
September 1 1959the squadron was moved to Trenton, Ontario. It was moved to Saint-Hubert on January 1962. It was disbanded at Saint-Hubert on 1 Septemberof that year. It reformed again as 426 Transport Training Squadron on May 3, 1971at 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 Eastand Europe, the Congoand Japan.
The squadron has been awarded a number of
battle honours during its operational history:
English Channeland North Sea1943
*France and Germany 1944-1945
*Biscay Ports 1943-1944
*German Ports 1943-1945
Activities related to the squadron
During one attack in
Belgiumduring 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 Denderriver. 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=http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=feature/belgium
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=http://426sqdn.ca/documents/31.html
title=17th Biennial Reunion
In recognition of his bravery, a new building of
RAF Linton-on-Ousewas 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
* [http://426sqdn.ca/documents/34.html 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron Association]
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