Royal Canadian Naval Air Service

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The first group of cadets of the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service being trained at the US Navy Ground School, Walker Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, circa Sept 1918.
The first group of cadets of the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service being trained at the US Navy Ground School, Walker Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, circa Sept 1918.

The Royal Canadian Naval Air Service (RCNAS) was established in 1918 during the First World War in response to the Royal Canadian Navy's recommendation that defensive air patrols be established off Canada's Atlantic coast to protect shipping from German U-boats.

Britain warned Canada that an attack by a new class of U-boat that could voyage across the Atlantic was possible. Although U-boats were few in number and not yet capable of posing a major threat in open ocean where ships were difficult to locate, they could be a threat near ports, bays or channels where ships would be certain to be grouped together. Aircraft had proven themselves in similar defensive situations such as convoys, where aircraft forced submarines to remain submerged.[1] The United States already had aircraft and bases to defend its own shores, but it was concluded that additional stations in Canada would be needed.

The United States supplied aircraft and personnel while Canada recruited and trained its own aircrew and support personnel who were intended to replace the Americans. RCNAS aircrew were trained in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The United States Naval Flying Corps flew convoy escort missions and reconnaissance patrols from two air stations which were established in Nova Scotia near convoy assembly ports:

Escorts were provided to ships leaving and entering port. No U-boats were ever located, however, although 110,000 tons of shipping were sunk in North American waters in the last two months of the war.[2]

The war ended before the RCNAS aircrew had completed training and the RCNAS was disbanded. The Air Board took control of both stations. The Halifax station would remain in operation, while the North Sydney station was left inactive until the Second World War.[3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Greenhous 1999, p. 19.
  2. ^ Greenhous 1999, p. 20.
  3. ^ Kealey 1967, p. 9.

References[edit]

  • Greenhous, Brereton; Halliday, Hugh A. Canada's Air Forces, 1914–1999. Montreal: Editions Art Global and the Department of National Defence, 1999. ISBN 2-920718-72-X.