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

No. 420 Squadron

City of London, Snowy Owl

No. 420 Squadron  Badge A Snowy Owl, wings elevated and adoresed. The Snowy Owl is indigenous to Canada and hunts by night.

Motto: PUGNAMUS FINITUM - "We Fight To The Finish"

No. 420 Squadron formed in No. 5 Group, Bomber Command on 19 December 1941, as the RCAF's 18th - fourth Bomber - squadron formed overseas, at Waddington. It was equipped with Handley Page Hampen Mk Is and began operations in January 1942, flying bombing raids by night over Germany and occupied Europe. In August 1942 it moved to Skinton-on-Swale and re-equipped with Wellington Mk IIIs, taking these on to Middleton St George on the formation of No. 6 Group in October of 1942. These it flew on the nightly attack against Germany until May 1943 when, now with Wellington Mk Xs, it came off operations and moved to Kairouan in Tunisia. Here it flew in support of the Allied invasion, first of Sicily and then of Italy, backing up the Wellington Wing already in North Africa. These duties were maintained until October 1943, when it returned to No. 6 Group in Yorkshire, setting up base at Dalton and then moving to Tholthorpe the following month where it re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk Ills. With these it returned to Bomber Command's activities and in the next 16 months dropped over 7,000 tons of ordnance, mainly by night although in 1945 it took part in some daylight raids. As the Second World War drew to a close No. 420 began to convert to Avro Lancaster Mk Xs, and these it took back to Canada in June 1945 where it set up base at Debert, Nova Scotia. It prepared to join 'Tiger Force ,in the Far East, but the end of the Japanese war brought its disbandment at Debert on 5 September 1945.

No. 420 Squadron reformed at London, Ontario on 15 September 1948, the squadron flew Mustang aircraft in a fighter role until disbanded on 1 September 1956. Reformed during the unification period No. 420 was an air reserve squadron based at CFB Shearwater and flew the CP-121 Tracker (Shared with No. 880).

No. 420 squadron is currently inactive.

Battle Honours:
Defence of Britain 1944, Fortress Europe 1942-1944, France and Germany 1944-1945, Normandy 1944

  • Manchester I (December 1941 - December 1941)
  • Hampden I (December 1941 - August 1942)
  • Wellington III (August 1942 - April 1943)
  • Wellington X (February 1943 - October 1943)
  • Halifax III (December 1943 - May 1945)
  • Lancaster X (May 1945 - September 1945)
  • Harvard
  • Mustang IV
  • CT-133 Silver Star
  • CP-121 Tracker
Historical Achievements
  • First Operational Mission in WWII: 2lst/22nd January 1942 : 5 Hampdens dispatched to bomb a target at Emden. 2 a/c bombed primary, 2 bombed alternative (town of Emden) & the other FTR. On same night another Hampden laid mines in Nectarines (Frisian Islands) area.
  • Last Operational Mission in WWII: 18th April 1945 : 18 Halifaxs bombed Heligoland & another Halifax crashed in sea en route to objective.

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