401 Tactical Fighter Squadron reborn

From Royal Canadian Air Force History and Heritage Archives

News Article / July 3, 2015

From 4 Wing Cold Lake

The commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, Major-General Dave Wheeler, along with the commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, Colonel Eric Kenny, participated in a ceremony to re-activate 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron on June 30, 2015.

401 Squadron was disbanded on June 23, 1996, after 55 years of operation. Before its most recent disbandment, 401 Squadron flew the CH-136 Kiowa helicopter out of St. Hubert, Quebec. With this reactivation, 401 Squadron becomes the fifth Royal Canadian Air Force squadron to fly the CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph “Scotty” Mullins has been appointed the newest commanding officer of the squadron, whose members are nicknamed the “Rams”.

The return to four operational fighter squadrons, in addition to the one fighter training squadron, is an important change for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“The re-activation of 401 Squadron will enable the fighter force to more effectively carry out its mission sets,” said Colonel Kenny.

“The stand-up of this squadron was the right thing to do. The fighter force has been very active in operations at home and abroad.  Having four operational fighter squadrons – two in Cold Lake and two in Bagotville (Quebec) – provides us the flexibility and capacity to respond to our NORAD and international commitments more efficiently.”

Major-General Dave Wheeler presided over the ceremony.

I’m very pleased to see such a historic squadron come to life once again and in Cold Lake – the home of the fighter force,” he said. “Transitioning to four tactical fighter squadrons will provide the RCAF with a better structure to maintain operational effectiveness and flexibility.

A brief history of the squadron

Badge description

Argent a rocky mountain sheep head Sable horned Or caboshed.

The mountain sheep, indigenous to many parts of Canada, is known for its great stamina and fighting power.

Motto

MORS CELERRIMA HOSTIBUS (Very swift death for the enemy)

Battle Honours – Second World War

  • BATTLE OF BRITAIN, 1940;
  • DEFENCE OF BRITAIN, 1940-1944;
  • ENGLISH CHANNEL AND NORTH SEA, 1942;
  • FORTRESS EUROPE, 1941-1944; Dieppe;
  • FRANCE AND GERMANY, 1944-1945;
  • Normandy, 1944;
  • Arnhem; Rhine.

Lineage

  • Authorized as ‘1 Squadron, CAF’ from ’81 Squadron (Canadian), RAF’ about November 20, 1918.
  • Disbanded on January 28. 1920.
  • Reformed as ‘No.1 (Operations) Squadron’  on April 1, 1925.
  • Redesignated ‘No.1 Squadron (Training)’  on April 1, 1927.
  • Disbanded on July 1, 1927 on transfer to the non-military Directorate of Civil Government Air Operations.
  • Reformed as ‘No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron’ on  November 1, 1935.
  • Redesignated ‘Fighter Flight’ under ‘3 (Bomber) Squadron’ in 1935.
  • Redesignated ‘1 Fighter Squadron’  on  March 1, 1937.
  • Redesignated ‘No. 401 Squadron’ on March 1,  1941.
  • Disbanded on  June 23, 1945.
  • Reformed as ‘401 (Fighter) Squadron’ on  April 15, 946.
  • Redesignated ‘401 “City of Westmount” (Fighter) Squadron’  on  September 4, 1952.
  • Redesignated ‘401 Squadron’ on November 1, 1958.
  • Redesignated ‘401 Squadron (Auxiliary)’ on February 22, 1964.
  • Redesignated ‘401 Air Reserve Squadron’ on January 1, 1969.
  • Redesignated ‘401 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron’ on  October 22, 1991.
  • Disbanded on January 1, 1998.
  • Reformed as 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron on June 30, 2015.

The Second World War

The squadron flew in western Canada on air defence operations under ‘Western Air Command’. After transfer overseas, it flew on fighter operations under ‘Fighter Command’ and the ‘2nd Tactical Air Force’. It was the first Canadian squadron to engage in combat against the Luftwaffe.

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