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


the Cold War

Royal Canadian Air Force 1948 - 1968

Canadair Sabre

On the first of January 1944 the RCAF reached its peak wartime strength of 215,200 all ranks (including 15,153) women, 104,000 were in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, 64,928 were serving at home and 46,272 were serving overseas. There were 78 squadrons in service: 35 overseas, 43 at home (of which six had been ordered overseas). By April 1, 1945 the strength of the RCAF had been reduced to 164,846 all ranks through the termination of the BCATP and a reduction of the home war establishment. With the formal end to hostilities on September 2, 1945, and a proposed peace time establishment of 16,000 all ranks, a two year "interim period" was declared during which the emphasis was to be on demobilization of approximately 90% of the wartime force.

Beginning in 1948, the RCAF began to reorganize its command structure along functional rather than regional lines. No 9 (Transport) Group was elevated to Air Transport Command and No 1. Air Defence Group was formed. In 1949 , Maintenance Command became Air Materiel Command; Central Air Command was renamed Training Command; and Nos. 10 and 11 Groups were redesignated Maritime and Tactical Group respectively. Increased tension in world affairs in the early 1950's resulted in further expansion, with the formation of No. 1 Air Division Europe, No. 5 Air Division (formerly No. 12 Group) and No. 14 (Training) Group, while a number of groups were elevated to command status: Air Defence Command, Maritime Air Command, Tactical Air Command.

From a regular force of 11,569 officers and airmen and a Auxiliary of 655 on December 31, 1947, the RCAF was to show a steady growth a relations between the western democracies and the Communist bloc deteriorated. In January 1954 the strength "ceiling" was lifted to 51,000, placing the RCAF, for the first time in history, higher than the army. From five regular force squadrons in 1947 the RCAF reached a peak of 29 Regular and 12 Auxiliary flying squadrons in 1955. Commencing in 1962, it was gradually reduced as the CF-100's were withdrawn from operational service and replaced by fewer CF-101 Voodoos, and as the CF-104 Starfighter replaced the aging Sabres from the Air Division in Europe.

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