Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed on 13 April 1912 to satisfy Britain's need for a military presence in the expanding field of aviation.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was formed on 13 April 1912 to satisfy
RFC Comes to
The Royal Flying Corp comprised a military wing, a naval wing (later the Royal Naval Air Service, RNAS) and a flying school. The Corps’ duties included reconnaissance, bombing, observation for the artillery, co-operation with the infantry in attacking enemy positions, scout (or fighter) flights, supply drops, and observation for the Royal Navy. On 1 April 1918, the RFC joined with the RNAS to become the Royal Air Force.
When the First World War began,
This situation changed in December 1916. The RFC needed more training squadrons, but
The training program was commanded by Lt-Col Cuthbert Gurney Hoare and handled by the newly founded Department of Aviation at the Imperial Munitions Board (IMB). Training airfields were constructed throughout southern Ontario, including Long Branch (the former
Canadian Aeroplanes Limited
The IMB also nationalized the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, which was re-christened Canadian Aeroplanes Limited. Nearly 3,000 airplanes were constructed between December 1916 and September 1918, including a Canadianized version of the "Jenny" biplane – the JN-4 (Canadian) “Canuck.” These aircraft improved upon the airframe’s design, adding new controls and a re-designed tail fin.
In addition to the Canuck, Curtis/CAL factories also built 30 F-5 flying boats for the American navy and the multi-engine, C-1 “Canada” bomber. In 1918, almost five hundred Avro 504s were ordered to replace the venerable JN-4s, but the war ended before they were needed.
Outside the factories, establishment of the training program moved just as quickly. By April 1917, five training squadrons were operating and, two months later, a formal training program was in place at the No. 4 School of Military Aeronautics, located at the University of Toronto (U of T). It split cadet training into two phases, an initial eight-week course as part of a Cadet Wing, and a six-week program at the No. 4 School. Instruction included aerial navigation and meteorology, study of aero engines, airframe rigging, photography, and artillery co-operation.
Over the course of the war, nearly 16,000 men passed through the RFC/RAF Canada Recruit Depot(s). By November 1918, the program had graduated about 3,000 pilots and observers, and more than 7,000 mechanics and aircraftsmen.
Initially, flying cadets were recruited, equipped, and housed at
When winter ended flying in
In the spring of 1918, the RFC (soon to be RAF)
Both the output of Canadian Aeroplanes Limited and the RFC/RAF Canada training program were significant wartime undertakings. The program's graduates included such notable pilots as Donald MacLaren, W.G. Claxton and Alan McLeod – McLeod being one of only three Canadian airmen awarded the Victoria Cross during the war (along with Bishop and Barker), and the only Canadian-trained RFC pilot so honoured.
The training McLeod and other cadets received in southern
The RFC and the RNAS became the Royal Air Force in April 1918. Despite several failed attempts, Canada did not have a permanent air force of its own until the Royal Canadian Air Force was established in 1924.
S.F. Wise, Canadian Airmen and the First World War: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force. (1980);Alan Sullivan, Aviation in Canada, 1917-1918: Being a brief account of the work of the Royal Air Force Canada, the Aviation Department of the Imperial Munitions Board, and the Canadian Aeroplanes Limited. (1919).