3.2. 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron

RCAF North Star 17515 spent its service career in 26 "Thunderbird" Squadron. 426 Squadron has a long and distinguished history beginning with its formation on the 15th. October, 1942 at RAF Station Dishforth in Yorkshire, England. [Official History] RAF Dishforth was one of the ten RAF stations in the Vale of York that housed No. 6 (RCAF) Group Royal Air Force Bomber Command between 1942 and 1945.

426 Squadron flew the twin-engined Vickers Wellington when it became operational early in 1943 and converted to the Avro Lancaster Mark II in June of the same year, moving to RAF Station Linton-on-Ouse in the process. The famous raid on the German rocket development complex of Peenemunde on the night of 17th.-18th. August, 1943 was the squadron's first Lancaster operation. The squadron reluctantly [Official History] converted to Halifax Mark IIIs in April 1944 and continued flying the Halifax (Mark VIIs from June onwards) until its last wartime operation as a bomber squadron on 25th. April, 1945.

After the end of the War in Europe, 426 Squadron took on transport duties flying B-24 Liberators until the squadron disbanded in December 1945. At Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in August of the following year, 426 Squadron reformed flying Dakotas. It remained at Dartmouth until March 1947 when the squadron moved to Dorval, in Montreal, where it began training on Canadair North Stars in November.

On 8th. March, 1948, North Star 17515 was taken on strength and four months later, the aeroplane made 426 Squadron's first flight to the Arctic with a flight from Dorval to Lansdowne House by way of Rockliffe, Resolute, and Trout Lake. In January, 1949, a 426 Squadron North Star, 17512, made Canada's first coast-to-coast non-stop flight.

The North Stars of 426 Squadron played a very valuable part in the Korean War between 1950 and 1952, transporting supplies and troops to Japan in support of United Nations operations. In July 1950, a few days after the start of the war, 426 Squadron was detached to McChord Air Force Base in Washington State where it came under the operational control of the US Military Air Transport Service (MATS). A typical Korean Air Lift route for North Star 17515, and the other 426 Squadron aeroplanes was a physically and mentally demanding fifty hour round trip flight from McChord to Japan and back with stops at Elmendorf (Alaska), Shemya (eh Aleutian Islands), Handed and Misawa (Japan).

RACF North Stars flew all over the world in roles as divers as medical and casualty evacuations, Royal tours and VIP transport, and in support of United Nations air lift operations. They were seen in the Arctic, the Middle East and Europe, the Congo and Japan, and they continued in service until 1965. By then, The RCAF had begun flying the new Canadair Yukons and Cosmopolitans, and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

On 8th. December, 1965, North Star 17515 took part in the RCAF North Star stand-down ceremony at Trenton, after which it was flown to Mountainview. In 1966, 17515 came to the Canada Aviation Museum. [Milberry]