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

No. 431 Squadron


No. 431 Squadron  Badge The Iroquois Indian's head represents the squadrons nickname. The motto is in Iroquois.

Motto: The Hatiten ronteriios (Warriors of the air)
Adoption: Town of Simcoe, Ontario Ancestry: King George VI, March 1945

No. 431 Squadron was formed on 11 November 1942 with Vickers Wellington Mk Xs at Burn as part of No. 4 Group, Bomber Command, and commenced night raids with a 'Gardening' mission on 2 May 1943. In July the squadron moved to Tholthorpe, joining No. 6 (RCAF) Bomber Group and re-equipping with Handley Page Halifax Mk Vs. It was soon operational with this type again in the night offensive against Germany, flying farther afield as the longer winter nights permitted. At the end of 1943 the squadron moved again, to Croft in County Durham, where it began to re-equip with Halifax Mk IIIs in March 1944, maintaining the operational offensive all the while. These were used for seven months until the production of Canadian-built Avro Lancaster Mk Xs was sufficient to enable the squadron to re-equip with this type. Laneasters were used for the remainder of the Second World War in Europe, the last of the squadron's 3,000 or more sorties being flown with them on 25 April 1945 in a daylight raid on Wangerooge. In June 1945 the squadron crossed the Atlantic and settled at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but disbanded on 5 September 1945.

Reformed in January 1954 as an interim F-86 Sqn awaiting production of the CF-100. The Squadron's greatest claim to fame, however, was its four plane aerobatic team which participated in "Prairie Pacific" across Canada in 1954 to demonstrate the skills of RCAF personnel to the Canadian public. The team was led by Flying Officer F.G. Fern Villeneuve who would later be selected to be the first leader of the Golden Hawks in 1959. The Squadron was once again disbanded in October 1954.

The squadron was reformed April 1, 1978 as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron the "Snowbirds"

The squadron celebrated 30 years of active service in 2004 and continues to display the quality of Canadian Pilots to the World as the world famous Snowbirds aerobatic team.


Battle Honours:
English Channel and North Sea 1943-1944, Baltic 1943-1944, Fortress Europe 1943-1944, Rhine, France and Germany 1944-1945, Biscay Ports 1943-1944, Ruhr 1943-1945, Berlin 1943-1944, German Ports 1943-1945, Normandy 1944, Biscay 1943-1944

Honours & Awards
1 DSO, 63 DFC's, 10 DFM's, 2 CGM's 1 MiD

  • Wellington X (December 1942 - July 1943)
  • Halifax V (July 1943 - April 1944)
  • Halifax III (April 1944 - October 1944)
  • Lancaster X (October 1944 - September 1945)
  • Sabre
  • CT-114 Tutor
Historical Achievements
  • First Operational Mission in WWII: 2nd/3rd March 1943 - 5 Wellingtons laid mines in Nectarines I (Frisian Islands) area
  • Last Operational Mission in WWII: 25th April 1945 - 15 Lancasters dispatched to bomb gun batteries on island of Wangerooge.
  • Sorties: 2584 (including 11 airlifting 240 POW's back to England).
  • Operational Flying Hours: 14,621 Non-Operational Flying Hours: 8986
  • Bombs Dropped: 14,004 tons
  • Victories: Aircraft: 6 destroyed, 1 probable, 4 damaged
  • Casualties: (Operational) Aircraft 72, aircrew 490 (313 killed, 54 missing, 104 POW, 18 safe, 1 injured)
  • Casualties: (Non-operational) 14 personnel killed

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