430 Squadron celebrates 75 years

The full complement of 430 Squadron personnel—aircrew, groundcrew, maintainers, civilian staff, gyrfalcon and others—gather for a squadron 75th anniversary portrait in front of a CH-146 Griffon helicopter emblazoned with a gyrfalcon head, which also appears on the 430 badge. PHOTO: VH2018-001-002

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By Captain Christian Déry

430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron proudly celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 1, 2018.

The squadron was created as an army cooperation squadron in England during the Second World War, on January 1, 1943. In June it was redesignated as 430 Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron. It took part in the training of Canadian and British aircrew, and in many ground attacks against the enemy. In 1944, the squadron participated in the preparations for the Normandy landing by undertaking photo reconnaissance, and by supporting the 2nd British Army on D-Day.

From 1943 to 1945, the squadron flew P-40 Tomahawk, P-51 Mustang I and Spitfire XIV aircraft. The squadron was disbanded in Lüneburg, Germany, at the end of the war, on August 7, 1945.

430 Squadron was reactivated in North Bay, Ontario, on November 1, 1951, equipped with F-86 Sabres, and designated for overseas duty. The squadron participated in Operation Leapfrog II, when its Sabres were flown to Grostequin, France, in September 1952. The squadron remained there until June 1, 1963, when it was dismantled once again.

In September 1963, it was reactivated as 430 Strike/Attack Squadron at Grostenquin and equipped with CF-104 Starfighter aircraft. A few weeks later, the squadron relocated to Germany, first at Zweibrücken and then at Lahr, where it remained until May 1, 1970, the day it was disbanded for the third time.

At last, on January 1, 1971, the squadron was permanently reactivated at Valcartier, Québec, and renamed 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. The revitalized 430 Squadron flew CH-135 Twin Huey and CH-136 Kiowa helicopters until 1992, the year when the Twin Hueys were traded in for more Kiowas, for a total of 16 Kiowas. In 1995, the Kiowas were replaced with the squadron’s current 16 CH-146 Griffon helicopters.

Today, the squadron includes Regular Force and Reserve Force members. Its role harkens back to where it began – providing ground forces with tactical air support. And, given the squadron’s rich history of achievements, today’s members are involved in a wide variety of tasks – in the Arctic, as part of the United Nations and NATO, and as an aid to civil power missions.

Celeriter Certoque (Swiftly and Surely)

Captain Déry is a public affairs representative with 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

430 Squadron led by Canadian Second World War ace

By Larry Milberry

To [Wing Commander] J.F. “Stocky” Edwards, the [F-86] Sabre was one of the all-time great fighters. [He] was a leading RCAF wartime ace, and was OC [officer commanding] of 430 Squadron when it formed with Sabres at North Bay, [Ontario,] in November 1951. [Wing Commander] Edwards writes: “The Sabre era gave a terrific boost to the RCAF in the fifties, especially after the post-war let-down. This was a ‘gung-ho’ time, with the induction of so many young pilots and groundcrew who would man our Sabre wings. The Sabre was a beautiful, natural fighter plane, filling a place in the fighter pilot’s dreams, as had the Spitfire.”

430 started Sabre flying in February 1952 and, as was usual in the squadrons training for overseas, these were hectic times . . . . During the 430 build-up, one curious event took place. Large crates began arriving and were stacked in a hangar. When [Wing Commander] Edwards inquired about them, his technical officer explained that they contained spare parts, and were all being handled in a new “automated” supply system. Everything 430 would need, and all at the push of a button! As more crates arrived, the OC became more curious, but was always told not to worry – just more spares for overseas. One day, though, he insisted on having a look. There were lots of “But sirs” from supply people, but the boss prevailed.

A crate was opened – and just as well. Inside, and in box after box destined for Grostenquin [France] were all the spares in the world that one would need to keep a squadron of P-51 Mustangs running!

Automation had failed its first big test as far as [Wing Commander] Edwards was concerned. [He] got right on the blower to Air Defence Command [Headquarters in] St. Hubert, [Québec,] and things were soon put right. From then on, [Air Defence Command] called him regularly to make sure 430 had everything it needed.

This anecdote originally appeared in The Canadair Sabre by Larry Milberry, published in 1986. It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

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