Canadian Wings :: The History & Heritage of the Royal Canadian Air Force

No. 407 Squadron


No. 407 Squadron  Badge A winged trident piercing the shank of an anchor, represents the blows struck against enemy shipping by the squadron.


No. 407 Squadron was formed at Thorney Island in the United Kingdom on 8 May 1941 and was originally equipped with Blenheim Mark lV aircraft but was soon re-equipped with Hudson Mark V aircraft.

The role of the squadron during World War II may be described in two phases; the first phase ending in January 1943 during which time 407 was engaged mainly in shipping strikes, and the second phase lasting from January 1943 to disbandment during which time the main function was anti-submarine activity. In its four-year period of duty in the British Isles the squadron, in addition to Thorney Island, was based at North Coates, Bircham Newton, St. Eval, Docking, Skitten, Chivenor, Limavady, Wick, and Langham. The squadron was disbanded on 2 June 1945 at Chivenor.

Although the squadron was engaged in many different areas, as can be attested to by the varied battle honours won, one particular excerpt from the squadron diary will give some indication of the work done by the squadron: 'During the month of May 1942 the squadron set up an all time record for damage caused to enemy shipping. A minimum of 83,000 tons of enemy shipping was attacked from April 30th to May 31st. Several crews had successfully attacked three ships each during this period and with the exception of very recent arrivals all crews had made claims. The previous record in Coastal Command was also held by this squadron when from September 1st to December 1st, 1941, it was credited with damaging 150,000 tons of enemy shipping. Since April 1st, 1942, 12 crews were lost - in all 50 persons either killed or missing. Furthermore, on every major operation at least two or three aircraft were so badly damaged that they were of no further use."

No. 407 Squadron was reactivated in 1952 at RCAF Station Comox and equipped with World War II Lancaster Mark 10 bombers. Although the squadron did not come under full control of Maritime Air Command until 1954, it was nonetheless, from its reactivation, engaged in the same role as it had been during World War II, that of maritime and anti-submarine patrol.

The squadron reached a peak complement of 15 aircraft in 1955, and between 1952 and 1957 thousands of hours were flown by 407 Lancaster crews from detachments at Churchill, Resolute Bay, Cambridge Bay, and Torbay in photo and ice reconnaissance operations off Arctic and Eastern Canadian coasts. The squadron also continued its wartime work by engaging in regular anti-submarine exercises, and in 1955 alone, participated in eight major joint exercises with NATO countries.

In 1958 the aging Lancasters were replaced with P2V7 Neptune aircraft. However, the addition of this newer and more capable aircraft made no change in the squadron's role.

In July 1959 the squadron was placed under control of Maritime Command Headquarters Pacific in Victoria and full control of the squadron was transferred to the West Coast.

The P2V7 Neptune remained in service with the squadron until May 1968 during which time the squadron flew 62,623 hours with only one major incident. The Neptune was replaced in 1968 by the CP-107 Canadair Argus which greatly extended the squadron's range.

In the years the Argus had been in service with the squadron, it has visited Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Japan, not to count Hawaii which is a regular port of call for the squadron, as well as many other Pacific islands which are used as stepping stones to the more remote deployment areas. In addition, the squadron has continued to participate in joint exercises such as RIMPAC, which is a yearly exercise held in the Hawaiian Islands with forces from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and, on occasion, the Japanese Defence Forces as well as Canadian Forces.

In 1969 the northern patrol, or NORPAT, became a fact of life and 407 crews continue to fly into the Canadian Arctic to ensure Canadian sovereignty and the protection of Canadian interests.

The Squadron converted to the CP-140 Aurora in the early 1980's which it continued to operate on maritime patrol, arctic surveillance and anti-submarine duties from CFB Comox, British Columbia. Flying four CP-140 Auroras, the crews spend long hours over the ocean looking for illegal fishing, migrant and drug smuggling and polluters. They also can perform SAR missions using air-droppable survival pods.

In recent years, 407 crews have attracted media attention for their part in enforcing the UN moratorium on high-seas driftnet fishing in support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans . 407 crews have also been deployed with Operation Apollo as part of Canada's commitment to the War on Terrorism.

So far, they have detected and gathered evidence against over a dozen suspected driftnet vessels, most of which have been operating in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Battle Honours:
Atlantic 1943-1945, English Channel and North Sea 1941-1945, Fortress Europe 1942, German Ports 1942, Normandy 1944, Biscay 1942-1945

  • Blenheim IV (May 1941 - August 1941)
  • Hudson III/V (June 1941 - April 1943)
  • Wellington XI (February 43 - April 1943)
  • Wellington XII (March 1943 - February 1944)
  • Wellington XIV (June 1943 - June 1945)
  • Avro Lancaster Mk X
  • P2V-7 Neptune
  • CP-107 Argus
  • CP-140 Aurora

No. 407 Squadron Patch circa. 1980s
B Flight 407 Squadron Patch
407 Squadron Patch
The Last Neptune of 407 Squadron - RCAF...
The Argus Flight Line - a rare appearance...
No. 407 Squadron Aurora in original MAG...
No. 407 Squadron CP-140 Aurora
No. 407 Demon Squadorn on the tarmac at...

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