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

No. 438 Squadron

City of Montreal, Wildcat

No. 438 Squadron  Badge Its Badge, the head of a wildcat affronte. The wildcat represents the squadron's nickname. The motto is taken from the last instruction of the formation leader when Typhoon bombers of this unit were about to attack.


Authorized on 1 September 1934 as No. 18 Bomber Squadron of the Non-Permanent Active Air Force, based at St. Hubert, the unit was redesignated as No. 118 Squadron in November 1937.

During the war the squadron served on the east coast for a time before it was transferred to the other side of the country for a tour in B.C. and Alaska. Then, late in 1943, it was sent overseas, where it received its present designation of No. 438.

The squadron was initially equipped with Hawker Hurricane Mk IV's, later converting the Hawker Typhoon Mk IB in January 1944. The Squadron formed No. 143 Wing, along with Nos. 439 and 440 squadrons, RCAF, and were involved during the spring in the pre-invasion 'softening-up' raids and then flew in the close support role with No. 83 Group , 2nd TAF. Based on the continent in the fighter bomber role few aerial engagements took place but No. 438 was able to claim 1 aerial victory.

One memento of its wartime role as a fighter-bomber squadron is its motto, "Going Down", which derives from the radio call of formation leaders as they went into their bombing dive. At the end of hostilities, after more than five years of distinguished service, the squadron was disbanded in Germany. Twelve years almost to a day from the date of its first formation.

After the war it became No. 438 City of Montreal(F) Squadron (Reserve) and was equipped with Vampires and Sabres. Reformed as an Air Reserve squadron at CFB Montreal the squadron flew the CSR-123 Otter and eventually the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter.  In 1981 the squadron changed roles, becoming 438 Tactical Helicopter squadron and currently flies the CH-146 Griffon.

Battle Honours
Fortress Europe 1944, France and Germany 1944-45, Normandy 1944 Arnhem Rhine

  • Hurricane IV (November 1943 - May 1944)
  • Typhoon IB (January 1944 - August 1945)
  • Vampire
  • Sabre
  • CSR-123 Otter
  • CH-136 Kiowa
  • CH-146 Griffon

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