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History Made Interesting
To many, history is a dull and boring subject ... depending on the teacher you had in your younger days.
We are trying our best to make it a little more interesting by adding pictures and short snippets of the highlights.
This overview will give you a quick understanding of 400 Squadron's glorious history.
FORMATION AND EARLY YEARS
The squadron was formed on October 5, 1932 as 10 (Army Cooperation) Squadron and began flying in 1934 at the Trethewey Farm airfield (aka de Lesseps Field) in Toronto. In April, 1935, the City of Toronto adopted the squadron which then became officially known as “10 (City of Toronto) Squadron”. In 1937, the squadron was re-designated “110 (City of Toronto) Squadron”.
The squadron flew five basic types of aircraft, all biplanes, from Trethewey until late 1939 when it deployed to Rockcliffe. During the Trethewey era, the squadron was involved in recruitment and flight training. At Rockcliffe, the squadron underwent conversion to the Canadian-built Westland Lysander until mid-February 1940. The squadron then deployed to the UK as the first RCAF squadron to enter the Second World War.
OUR AIRCRAFT - WWII
LYSANDERS AT ROCKCLIFFE
In the UK, the squadron was initially equipped with the Lysander III and was involved in the Army Co-op and photo recce role. The squadron was active in the Dunkirk evacuation (27 May - 3 June 1940) but not directly involved in the Battle of Britain (10 July - 31 Oct. 1940). In mid-1941, the squadron was re-designated “400 (City of Toronto) Squadron”.
The Tomahawk I arrived in mid-1941 and the squadron flew both the Lysanders and the Tomahawk I at the same time.
In early 1942, the Mustang I was issued to the squadron which participated in the Dieppe Raid in August 1942.
PR SPITFIRE XI
In June 1943, the squadron was reassigned to the fighter reconnaissance role and the unarmed PR Spitfire XI and the PR Mosquito XVI were assigned as the war progressed.
PR MOSQUITO XVI
The unit collected photographic intelligence for the Allied D-Day invasion planners, and before-and-after photos of allied air attacks on German V-1 launch sites. Following the Allied invasion of Europe in June 1944, it provided tactical photo reconnaissance for the British Second Army in Northwest Europe. Although the Spitfire XI and the Mosquito XVI were high-altitude and unarmed PR aircraft, the Mustang served in an armed reconnaissance role and exacted a significant toll of destroyed trains. In July 1944, the squadron began the move to France and other destinations in Europe.
During the Second World War, there were 28 casualties.
OUR AIRCRAFT - POST WWII
HARVARD II & VAMPIRE III
After flying from 21 different airfields in the UK and Europe, the squadron was disbanded at a captured German airfield in August 1945.
However, the squadron was reformed in early 1946 at Malton but soon moved to Downsview later in 1946.
The squadron was initially equipped with the Harvard II; the Vampire III arrived in 1948.
In 1955, the T-33 was added to the inventory and the squadron flew all three types of aircraft at the same time. In Oct. 1956, the Sabre Mk 5 arrived and replaced the Vampires.
During the jet era, there were seven casualties.
The squadron was reassigned to Air Transport Command (ATC) and re-equipped with the Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor in mid-1959.
The Expeditor was withdrawn from service in 1966.
400 SQN OTTER OVER ARCTIC WATERS
The DHC-3 Otter followed in early 1960. During the Otter era (1960-1980), the squadron deployed to the Arctic on several occasions and was involved in search and rescue activities in and around Ontario.
On 10 June, 1961, the squadron became the first RCAF squadron to receive its Standard.
Standards are a flag-type memorial to a unit’s battle honours and are usually allowed after 25 years of continuous service.
The original Standard was 'lain up' in October 2014. VIEW VIDEO.
The new 400 Squadron Standard is on display at the 400's Hangar Museum at CFB Borden.
Fleet Finch Restoration
In this era, a Fleet Finch aircraft underwent restoration by the squadron. The aircraft was flyable and was turned over to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM) in Ottawa in 1966.
Arriving at Downsview
In 1974, the McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee arrived from CASM for restoration.
In 1987, the restoration of the Banshee was complete and it was returned to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.
Squadron History Book
The squadron history book was published in 1998 by CWO Ron Wylie.
You may read our complete History Book in the 400 History Book Section
THE HELICOPTER ERA
After Air Transport Command, the Air Force Reserves were part of 10 Tactical Air Group. In early 1980, the Otters were withdrawn and the squadron was re-equipped with the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter.
KIOWA PAINTED FOR 60th ANNIVERSARY
In 1996, the squadron, after 50 years at Downsview, was relocated to CFB Borden, ON. During the Downsview era, the squadron participated in many Army combat support missions and annual airshows including the Canadian National Exhibition. Also, during this era, several members of the squadron deployed to participate in the many Canadian Forces peacekeeping missions.
CH 146 GRIFFON
In 1996, the squadron was re-equipped with the CH-146 Griffon helicopter.
75th ANNIVERSARY ARTWORK
With special 75th anniversary Griffon artwork added in 2007.
Helicopter Era - Special Events
During the helicopter era, the squadron made annual Christmas flights to the Sick Children’s Hospital utilizing the roof-top helipad.
See article CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
In 2010, the squadron was involved in security for the Winter Olympics and the G8 and G20 Conferences. The squadron operates in a tactical role and continues to be involved in Army combat support missions, including a significant deployment to Afghanistan, and in search and rescue operations. The squadron is an active Air Force Reserve unit at Borden, ON.
OUR PIPE BAND
The history of the Squadron Band dates back to the early years of the Squadron.
In 1939, pipes and drums were introduced as a second band. At that time, this ad hoc collection of pipes and drums performed for the entertainment of the squadron members and at many other functions.
During and after the Second World War, the pipes and drums continued and the band became an integral and important part of the squadron. The band continues to perform at all formal parades, social functions, and has won many awards and international competitions.
In summary, 400 Squadron was the first Air Force Auxiliary (Reserve) squadron formed (1932) and is now the oldest squadron in the Canadian Forces. In its early years, from a meager beginning, the squadron progressed and was ready to go to war in 1940. During the War, it had many achievements and was active at Dunkirk, Dieppe, Juno Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, and the crossing of the Rhine.
In addition to being the first squadron overseas, it was also the first RCAF squadron to move to the Continent after D-Day. It was the first squadron to cross the Rhine and flew over 3,000 reconnaissance missions from 21 different airfields.
Squadron members were awarded 11 DFC's (Distinguished Flying Cross), one BEM (British Empire Medal) one DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) and several "Mentioned-in-Dispatches."
There were 28 casualties, including four MIA's and one POW during World War II. VIEW OUR HONOUR ROLL
After the War, it was the first Auxiliary squadron formed in Canada and has flown a variety of aircraft. The squadron received its Standard in 1961 and our motto is "On Watch To Strike"
There were seven casualties post war.
Through the years 400 squadron has optimized the highest traditions of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Principal Aircraft Flown (1932-2012)
1. De Havilland Gipsy Moth
2. Kinner Fleet (Fawn)
3. Avro 621
4. Avro 626
5. De Havilland Tiger Moth
SECOND WORLD WAR ERA
6. Westland Lysander III
7. Bell Tomahawk I
8. North American Mustang I
9. Supermarine PR Spitfire XI
10. De Havilland PR Mosquito XVI
* indicates Canadian-built aircraft
EARLY POST WW2 ERA
11. North American Harvard II
12. Canadair T-33*
13. De Havilland Vampire III
14. Canadair Sabre Mk 5*
AIR TRANSPORT COMMAND
15. Beech-18 Expeditor Mk3
16. De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter*
TACTICAL HELICOPTER ERA
17. Bell CH136 Kiowa Helicopter*
18. Bell CH146 Griffon Helicopter*