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

No. 421 Squadron

Red Indian

No. 421 Squadron  Badge Its Badge, in front of two tomahawks in saltire, a Red Indian warrior's headdress. The Canadian Red Indian is well known for his courage and fighting qualities and with the tomahawk, his traditional weapon, makes an appropriate device for a fighter squadron.

Motto: BELLICUM CECINERE - "They have sounded the war trumpet"
Adoption: McColl-Frontenac Oil Company of Canada

The last RCAF fighter squadron to formed in the UK, the squadron was established at Digby in April 1942 with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk Va's, moving to Fairwood Common in May and receiving Spitfire Mk Vb's. Operations in the 10 Group area continued until early 1943, using Warmwell, Bolt Head, Ibsley, Zeals and Charmy Down amongst other airfields. In January 1943 the squadron joined the Canadian Wing at Kenley using Redhill as a forward base. In May Spitfire Mk IX's replaced the Mk V's, operations continuing until August when the unit became part of No. 127 Airfield (later No. 127 Wing) of the 2nd TAF (Tactical Air Force). Operations in preparation for the Normandy invasion continued until May 1944. With the landing achieved the unit moved to French soil on the 16th of June, becoming involved in air superiority patrols over the beachhead until the breakout. The rapid advance into Belgium brought the Squadron to airfields there by October, Evere becoming a fairly permanent base late in the year. In December re-equipping with the Spitfire XIV's took place, followed by a move into Holland in March and then into Germany. With the ending of hostilities the unit had claimed 92 1/2 victories. The squadrons aircraft carried the unit code AU during this period.

Re-formed at Chatham, N.B., on 15 September 1949. The squadron was transferred to RAF Stn Odiham in England flying RAF Vampire and Meteor aircraft for most of 1951. The squadron then returned to Canada and reformed with the Sabre and participated in "Leapfrog 2', flying its F-86 Sabres across the Atlantic to Grostenquin, France, on 28 September 1952.  Later the squadron was transferred to Zweibrucken, Germany, and equipped with CF-104 Starfighters as a component of No. 1 Canadian Air Group based in Baden-Soellingen, West Germany. No. 421 Squadron flew the CF-104 until re-equipped with the CF-18 Hornet in the early 80's.  With the close of the European Air Wing the squadron was disbanded and its aircraft placed in storage/rotation.

Battle Honours:
Defence of Britain 1942-43, Fortress Europe 1942-44, France and Germany 1944-45, Normandy 1944 Arnhem Rhine

  • Spitfire Va (May 1942 - May 1942)
  • Spitfire Vb (May 1942 - May 1943)
  • Spitfire IXC (May 1943 - December 1944)
  • Spitfire XVI (December 1944 - July 1945)
  • Meteor T.7 (1951)
  • Vampire
  • Sabre
  • CF-104 Starfighter
  • CF-18 Hornet
Historical Achievements
The squadron was unique in that it aircraft carried the then familiar Indian Head emblem of the McColl-Frontenac Oil Company. One of the companies products was "Red Indian" Aviation Motor Oil.

No. 421 has been European-based since the...

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