Royal Canadian Armoured Corps

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Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
Canadian Armoured Corps.png
Active 13 August 1940 – present
Country  Canada
Branch  Canadian Army
Type Personnel branch
Size 3 Regular Force regiments, 18 Reserve Force regiments
Motto(s) Through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond
March "My Boy Willie"

The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC; French: Corps blindé royal canadien) is the armoured corps within the Canadian Army, including regular and reserve force regiments.[1] (click here to read the Tanks of Canada page and the List of modern Canadian Army equipment).


Canadian-manufactured Ram tanks during the Second World War. These AFVs were used primarily for training and did not see action as battle tanks, though a large number were converted into armoured personnel carriers, flamethrower carriers and armoured observation posts.

Originally formed as the Canadian Cavalry Corps in 1910,[2] Canada's first tank units were not raised until late in 1918. Initially these units were considered to be part of the Machine Gun Corps and the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion, 2nd Canadian Tank Battalion and the 3e Bataillon de chars d'assaut were all too late to join the fighting in the First World War. However, the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion was still training in Mark V tanks in the U.K. when the Canadian Tank Corps was finally authorized two days after the armistice. It seems like tanks were forgotten by the Cavalry after the war. Although, in the 1930s there were some small attempts at mechanization with motorcycles, experimental armoured cars and the purchase of a few tracked Carden-Loyd machine gun carriers for training. However, the first tanks since the First World War did not arrive until a few machine gun armed Vickers Mark VI light tanks appeared just one year before Canada went to war with Germany again. From these modest beginnings the modern Canadian Armoured Corps began on 13 August 1940 with Major-General (then Colonel) F. F. Worthington as its first colonel-commandant. Over the course of the war from 1939 to 1944, the Armoured Corps gradually took over responsibilities from other Corps, such as Tank Regiments all being converted to Armoured Regiments, the transition of infantry reconnaissance battalions to the Armoured Corps, as well as anti-armour responsibilities from the Artillery Corps. Towards the close of the Second World War, the Corps was subsequently bestowed the honour of the 'Royal' designation by King George VI in 1945.

Initially its equipment was 219 US M1917 tanks – a First World War design – obtained at scrap prices. They were sufficient for some training and familiarisation, but otherwise of very limited combat use. To form the 1st Army Tank Brigade, Valentine tanks were ordered. This British design was to be built in Canada. Aside from the necessary adjustments to the design to incorporate local engineering standards and available components, the Canadian Valentines used a GMC engine. This engine, being an improvement over the original, was later applied to British production. In practice, Canada never used most of the 1,400 Valentines they built as they were supplied under lend-lease to the Soviet Union.

In early 1941 the 1st Tank Brigade was sent to Britain and equipped with the Matilda infantry tank. For the formation of two armoured divisions it was expected that 1,200 cavalry tanks were needed. The United Kingdom was not in a position to supply them, as it had shortfalls in supply for its own needs. This meant that Canada had to develop its own production. To this end a tank arsenal was set up under the management of a subsidiary of a US firm engaged in tank production in order to build the Ram and Grizzly tanks and their variants in Canada.

Events of the Second World War would thrust Canada into large scale tank production with thousands of Valentine, Ram, and Grizzly (Sherman) tanks and their armoured variants being produced. Canada would also go on to build modern armoured fighting vehicles that served during the Cold War, the War in Afghanistan and global peacekeeping operations.

Canadian armoured regiments split their heritage between two primary sources. The first being the cavalry corps, from which many armoured regiments were created and in fact the first "armoured" regiments were titled "mechanized cavalry" regiments, and the second being the tank corps (which formerly belonged to first the infantry and then the machine gun corps). This began in 1936 with the creation of tank battalions and continued on from 1940 when many other types of regiment were mobilised as armoured units for the Second World War.

In 1968, with the unification of the Canadian Army into the Canadian Armed Forces, the name of the Royal Canadian Armour Corps was changed to simply the Armour Branch. Despite the change however, the Corps continued to use its traditional title. In 2003, Canada planned to replace all its tanks with lightweight Mobile Gun Systems.[3] In 2007, due to experience gained during Afghanistan, Leopard tanks were purchased.[4] As of April 2013, the traditional designation of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps has been restored for official use.[2]


Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School[edit]

The Corps' school at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, designs and conducts both tactical and technical training for armoured crewmen and officers, in addition to maintaining certain specialized qualifications on behalf of the Canadian Army. Crewmen and officers alike are trained on the Leopard 2A4 MBT, Coyote IFV and TAPV vehicle.[5]

Tactics School[edit]

The Tactics School at CFB Gagetown develops, conducts and monitors combined arms operations. Within a battle group context, the tactics school focusses on tactics, techniques, and procedures at the combat team level. The Tactics School's mission is to educate and train army junior officers in the integration of combat functions at the combat team level on the tactical battlefield.[5]

Regular Force[edit]

A doctrinal Canadian armoured regiment consists of four squadrons of medium to heavy tanks, as well as a close reconnaissance troop equipped with light tanks and/or armoured cars.

  1. The Royal Canadian Dragoons — One heavy armoured squadron (shared with the 12e RBC), and two light armoured squadrons.
  2. Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) — Two heavy armoured squadrons and one light armoured squadron.
  3. 12e Régiment blindé du Canada — One heavy armoured squadron (shared with the RCD), and two light armoured squadrons.

When required an armoured regiment will be tasked to provide an armoured squadron to its higher formation to provide it with a formation mounted reconnaissance capability.

Primary Reserves[edit]

  1. The Governor General's Horse Guards — household cavalry/armoured reconnaissance
  2. The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  3. 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) — armoured reconnaissance
  4. The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  5. The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  6. Sherbrooke Hussars — armoured reconnaissance
  7. 12e Régiment blindé du Canada (Milice) - armoured reconnaissance
  8. 1st Hussars — armoured reconnaissance
  9. The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  10. The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) — armoured reconnaissance
  11. The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) — armoured reconnaissance
  12. The South Alberta Light Horse — armoured reconnaissance
  13. The Saskatchewan Dragoons — armoured reconnaissance
  14. The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  15. The British Columbia Dragoons — armoured reconnaissance
  16. The Fort Garry Horse — armoured reconnaissance
  17. Le Régiment de Hull (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  18. The Windsor Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance

Supplementary Order of Battle[edit]

Units on the Supplementary Order of Battle legally exist, but have no personnel or matériel.

  1. 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
  2. 12th Manitoba Dragoons
  3. 14th Canadian Hussars


The main vehicles operated by the RCAC include:

Canadian Tanks of the First and Second World War to present[edit]

Main article: Tanks of Canada
  • Mark V tank - WWI ended while the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion was still training in Mark V tanks in the U.K. Shortly after the war ended, the tanks were returned to the British.
  • Carden Loyd tankette – 12 used by Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle School in a training role from 1931.
  • Vickers Light Tank Mk VI - 12 delivered in 1938, Pre WWII machine gun equipped light tank (some retained for driver training in Canada early in WWII)
  • M1917 - Acquired by Canada on an emergency basis early in WWII (used as a tank trainer in Canada)
  • Valentine tank - First Canadian built tank (most sent to the Soviet Union under Lend Lease a small number remained in Canada for training crews)
  • Matilda tank - Acquired in small numbers from British stocks to train crews in the U.K. prior to the arrival of the Ram Tank from Canada (Did not see action with the RCAC)
  • M3 Lee - Acquired in small numbers from British stocks to train crews in the U.K. prior to the arrival of the Ram Tank from Canada (Did not see action with the RCAC)
  • Ram tank - Canadian indigenous tank design based on the M3 (superseded by the Sherman tank as standard equipment in the RCAC but the Badger variant did see action as a flame thrower tank in NW Europe) The Ram tanks main contribution to the war effort was to fully equip armoured units in Canada and the U.K. with a modern tank to conduct essential tactical training prior to re-equipping with Sherman tanks for the invasions in Italy and Normandy).
  • Churchill tank - Issued to Canadian Tank brigades it seen action at Dieppe, Italy, Normandy and NW Europe.
  • Honey light tank - Used as a Recce Tank throughout the WWII campaigns. The updated Stuart tank known as the M5 and some turretless versions were also used.
  • Grizzly I cruiser - Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tank with modifications (production in Canada halted when U.S. factories overwhelmingly produced enough Sherman tanks for the U.S. and its allies).
  • Sherman M4A1 tank- U.S.-built, issued on a very large scale (mostly M4A4 or known as Sherman V in Canadian service) it became the standard medium tank in the Canadian Army during WWII replacing the Ram tank (some remained in Army Reserve service and were used for training during the post war years until replaced by the Canadian version of the M4A3E8.
  • Sherman Firefly - bolstered Canadian armoured formations giving them the firepower needed to defeat German Tiger and Panther tanks late in the Second World War. It was based on the US M4 Sherman but fitted with the powerful 3-inch (76.2 mm) calibre British 17-pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon.
  • M10 Tank Destroyer also mounting the British 17-pounder anti-tank gun (or M7 3-inch (76.2 mm) Gun as it was called by the Americans) in a rotating turret on a modified M4A2 Sherman tank chassis. The M10 was issued to Canadian Anti-Tank units in NW Europe.
  • Staghound Armoured Car - Although the Canadian Army used various machine gun and cannon armed light armoured cars in WWII as scout cars, the Staghound Armoured car with a turret mounted 37 mm main gun was the only heavy armoured car employed by Armoured Car and Reconnaissance regiments in the NW Europe campaign. The Staghound's were deployed for flank security, protecting lines of communication and in the screening force where they fought in the recce role. Some Staghounds remained in Army Reserve service and were used for training during the post war years.
  • Sherman 'Easy Eight' M4A2(76) W HVSS - Canadian nomenclature for the excellent M4A3E8, 294 were purchased by the Canadian government in 1947 for Korean War service. They were equipped with the long barrelled 76mm High Velocity gun. E8 referred to the revised hull fitted with HVSS Horizontal volute spring suspension giving a much better ride and so was nicknamed the 'Easy Eight". Canadians fought these tanks with distinction in the Korean War (afterwards they were replaced by the Centurion tank in the regular force but they lasted into the early 1970s with some reserve force units in Canada).
  • M24 Chaffee light tank - 32 were ordered in 1947 for recce duties.
  • Centurion Tank - Canada Initially ordered 274 Mk 3 Tanks, plus 9 Armoured Recovery Vehicles and 4 Bridge-layers and additional orders followed. Acquired for NATO use, most served with 4 CMBG in Germany and the remainder served in Canada. The Mk 5 (upgunned to 105 mm) were used later. Towards the end of their service the Mk 5 and Mk 11's were used as combat tanks and the earlier Mk 3 was retained as a training tank. From 1969 to 1970 the Canadian Army lists 77 tanks based in Germany (mostly Mk 5 and Mk 11's) and the remainder in Canada (60 at CFB Wainwright AB, 59 at CFSD Longpointe PQ, 46 at CFB Gagetown NB, 30 at CFB Borden, 29 at CFB Meaford ON, 27 at CFB Calgary AB, 12 at CFB Petawawa ON, 6 at RCEME School Kingston ON and 1 at the LETE Test Establishment Orleans, CFB Ottawa ON) for a total of 347 Tanks (including 120 Mk 5's, 3 Mk 5 Recovery tanks and some Mk 11's with IR and ranging guns fitted). Replaced by Leopard C1 MBT and to a limited extent, AVGP Cougars were originally intended (as a cost saving measure) to replace the Centurions that had been used for the training role in Canada. Many of the tanks were sold to Israel which converted them to diesel. Some are still in use as variants. (The Canadian Centurion tanks served for 25 years, from January 1952 to January 1977 when they were replaced by Leopard 1).
  • Ferret Armoured Car - 124 Ferret Armoured cars were operated by Canadian Armoured Recce units from 1954 to 1981. Canada ordered the Mk1's but some Mk2's were also acquired from BAOR stocks in Germany. They were replaced by the Lynx with some retained for reserve training.
  • Lynx reconnaissance vehicle - The Canadian Forces accepted 174 vehicles from 1968, replacing the Ferret. Lynx was issued to the reconnaissance squadron of an armoured regiment (D Sqn). Consisting of three troops, each equipped with seven Lynxes—three two-vehicle patrols plus the troop leader's vehicle. In addition, nine Lynxes equipped the reconnaissance platoon of an infantry battalion's combat support company. The commander operates a M2HB from the M26 manually traversed heavy machine gun cupola from inside the vehicle. The rear-facing observer operates the radio and fires the pintle-mounted 7.62mm machine gun. In 1993 they were withdrawn from service and replaced by the Coyote.
  • Cougar AVGP - manufactured at GM Diesel Division in London, ON (now part of General Dynamics Land Systems) the AVGP was the first Canadian built AFV in service since the Second World War. The amphibious Cougar was a direct Fire Support Vehicle (Wheeled) FSV(W) variant of the Armoured Vehicle General Purpose. It was based on the Swiss MOWAG 6X6 Piranha hull with a 76 mm main gun mounted in a British FV101 Scorpion Tank turret. Originally intended to be used as a tank trainer in Canada and as a light armoured vehicle in peace keeping missions Cougars entered service in the late 1970s in Canadian based regular and reserve Armoured Recce Regiments. They were also used as a quick air transportable fighting vehicle by the CAST Brigade for Cold War service in Norway and later with the 1st Canadian Division in NATO's CENTAG. They were too light to be effective against MBTs however the end of the Cold War meant they were used in stability operations in Serbia and Somalia, training the tank crews in Canada, and then serving in side by side with repatriated Leopord tanks brought back from the bases in Germany that closed in 1994.
  • Coyote Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle - A Canadian produced eight-wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicle based on the LAV-25, 203 in service by 1996.
  • Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank
  • Leopard C2 Main Battle Tank
  • Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank

Order of precedence[edit]

RCHA on parade without guns: (See note below)

Preceded by
Army elements of
Royal Military College of Canada
Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Succeeded by
Royal Canadian Artillery

RCHA on parade with guns: (See note below)

Preceded by
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Succeeded by
Royal Canadian Artillery

Note: The honour of "The Right of the Line" (precedence over other units), on an army parade, is held by the units of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery when on parade with their guns. On dismounted parades, RCHA units take precedence over all other land force units except formed bodies of Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College representing their college. RCA units parade to the left of units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's Printer, 1964)
  2. ^ a b Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (19 April 2013). "Restoring the historical designations of Canadian Army organizations". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Canada to replace tanks with Stryker Mobile Gun Systems". Military Procurement International. Switzerland: DAPSS. 13 (22). 15 November 2003. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    "ARCHIVED - Minister of National Defence Announces Acquisition of a Mobile Gun System". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Government of Canada. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    Storey, Ed (2012). "The Success of the Light Armoured Vehicle" (PDF). Canadian Military History Journal. Wilfrid Laurier University. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Tanks for the Lesson: Leopards, too, for Canada". Defense Industry Daily. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    Addinall, Robert (2012). "The Long Engagement" (PDF). The Canadian Army Journal. Government of Canada. 14 (3). Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    Landry, Eric (2013). "Something Old, Something New, and Something Borrowed" (PDF). Canadian Army Journal. Government of Canada. 15 (7). Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    "Cost of battle tanks double initial estimate, O'Connor reveals". CBC. The Canadian Press. 18 May 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
    "Cdn. troops to get new tanks in Afghanistan". CTV News. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Canadian Forces Schools


  • John Marteinson & Michael R. McNorgan "The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps - An Illustrated History" The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Association 2000