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Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force was the national air force of Canada from 1924 to 1968.

In the First World War Canadian airmen such as Billy Bishop, Roy Brown and "Wop" May served with the air forces of the British Empire: the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. In the last few months of the war, the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service and the Canadian Air Force were set up, but the war ended before these forces were fully organized and established. As a result of several post-war reorganizations, the Royal Canadian Air Force was formed on April 1, 1924.

In the Second World War the RCAF's 400-series squadrons were a key part of defending the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain, antisubmarine warfare during the Battle of the Atlantic, the bombinging campaigns against German industries, and close support of Allied forces during the Battle of Normandy and subsequent land campaigns in northwest Europe. At home in Canada, the force set up dozens of airfields to train pilots from all over the Commonwealth as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

About 250 000 Canadians served with the RCAF during the war (94 000 overseas), and the force suffered 17 000 killed.

On February 1, 1968, Canada's three military services were merged into one new service: the Canadian Armed Forces. Initially air force units were scattered among five commands of the new force, but in 1975 CF Air Command was created, and most air force units were placed under it. Air Command preserves many traditions of the RCAF, such as the RCAF tartan and the command march, "RCAF March Past." In 1988, Canadian air force personel returned to the traditional light-blue uniform colour of the RCAF. In 1993 air force formations called wings were reintroduced within Air Command, echoing the similar structure of the RCAF thrity years previously.


The Royal Canadian Air Force used a rank structure similar to the Royal Air Force's. The RCAF ranks, in English and French, were: