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Selected Photographs: Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force

During the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) became the fourth-largest allied air force, growing from 4,061 officers and men on September 1, 1939 to more than 263,000 men and women by the end of the war. The RCAF managed the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which trained 131,553 pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators, air gunners and flight engineers at schools throughout Canada.

Seventy-eight RCAF squadrons saw action in major theatres of war -- North America, Great Britain, North Africa, Italy, Northwest Europe and Southeast Asia. They engaged in a variety of operations: air-to-air combat, strategic bombing, photo-reconnaissance, anti-submarine patrols, anti-shipping strikes, close air support and tactical air supply. The cost was high: the RCAF's fatal battle casualties numbered 13,498, of which 9,919 were Canadians flying with the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command.