RCAF joins RAF in first bombing of Berlin

Today, in 1940 during the Second World War, Royal Canadian Air Force planes joined the Royal Air Force in the First bombing attack on the centre of Berlin, Germany.

King George V authorized the Canadian Air Force (CAF) to be redesignated as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) effective in 1924, but the history of Canada’s military in the air began even earlier. To honour the creation of the RCAF, Canada Post, in September, 1999, issued this pane of 16 authentically detailed aircraft stamps.

To mark this historical day in RCAF history, below is an article from the August/September, 1999 issue of Canada’s Stamp Details that steps back in time, and explains the process in designing these historic stamps.

The War in the Air

During The Great War (1914-1918), Canadians flocked to join the British air services. By war’s end, one in four Royal Air Force (RAF) officers was Canadian. More than 1,600 Canadian airmen gave their lives.

Between the two world wars, the RCAF was involved with various military and civilian duties, flying supplies to the north, performing aerial surveys, and carrying out forestry and fire detection patrols.

During World War II, Canada’s air force grew to be the fourth-largest allied air power. Some 247,000 Canadian men and women wore the proud RCAF blue around the world and more than 17,000 aircrew perished.

The RCAF provided a transportation squadron during the Korean War (1950-1953), then joined in the defence of North America and Western Europe and provided land-force transportation and search-and-rescue (SAR) service at home.

The air force returned to combat in the Gulf War (1990-1991) and in 1999 with NATO forces in the Balkans.

Always concerned about authenticity, Canada Post selected the 16 featured aircraft after consulting a panel of eminent historians, aviation experts, and representatives from the Office of Air Force Heritage and History. The selection criteria called for a range of planes that marked significant milestones in the development of Canada’s air force. Consideration was given to visual appeal, time period, aircraft finish and affiliation with specific air-force units. Aircraft previously featured on Canadian stamps were excluded from the selection process.

“The researchers deserve a lot of the credit when it comes to this set,” said Tiit Telmet of Toronto’s Telmet Design Associates. “The authenticity they were able to help us achieve is outstanding.”

Illustrator Garry Lay concurs. “Each of these aircraft drawings represented 30 to 40 hours of computer drawing time alone ­ largely because we went through so many revisions in our attempts to be accurate.”

The exhaustive research, impeccable detail and fine artistry that have gone into the production of this special series ensure that it will be a favourite with philatelists and aircraft enthusiasts alike.

Burgess-Dunne Vickers-Armstrong Wellington Mk.II
Sopwith F.1 Camel Canadair (North American) F-86 Sabre 6
Sopwith 5.F.1 Dolphin De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter
Avro 504K Canadair CL-28 Argus Mk.2
Armstrong Whitworth Siskin IIIA De Havilland Canada CC-108 Caribou
Canadian Vickers (Northrop) Delta II Sikorsky CH-124A Sea King
Avro Anson Mk.I Canadair (Lockheed) CF-104G Starfighter
De Havilland Mosquito F.B. VI McDonnell Douglas CF-18
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