The Canadian Air Force Hornet Demo Team will be flying this beautiful CF-18 at its shows this year, painted to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle Of Britain. Over 100 Canadian pilots are estimated to have flown at the controls of Spitfires and Hurricanes in the battle, with 23 paying the ultimate sacrifice.
The Battle Of Britain was a baptism by fire for the RCAF. The No. 1 Fighter Squadron became the first Canadian fighter unit to engage enemy planes in battle when its Hawker Hurricanes tangled with a formation of German bombers over southern England on August 26, 1940. The engagement claimed three enemy kills and four enemy aircraft damaged, with the loss of one of its own aircraft and crew.
In the following months, RCAF pilots would take a heavy toll on German aircraft, but in the process lost many of their own pilots. Three members of No. 1 Squadron received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts during the Battle of Britain, and Canada’s top scoring Ace was Flight Lieutenant H.C. Upton, who had 10.25 confirmed kills. In addition to Canada’s fighter pilot contribution to defending the British Isles in the summer and fall of 1940, 200 or so RCAF pilots also flew with RAF Bomber Command and Coastal Command, and over 2,000 RCAF ground crewman were in the UK during Hitler’s months-long cross-channel aerial onslaught.
Canada was one of over a dozen countries that stepped in to help the UK defend itself from Hitler’s air forces – an act that would change the tide of the war and eventually lead to the Nazi's defeat. Canada is proud to have been a large part of the battle and rightfully so, and their CF-18 Demo Hornet decked out in Battle of Britain Hawker Hurricane colors exemplifies this.
Today, Canada's legacy of aerial warriors continues, with their Hornet pilots being among some of the most competent in NATO.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com