History of RCAF Hurricane serial 5424
The general public and aviation historians may disagree with what I have to say, they will argue about the known facts and how each interpret them, but please remember my words are only an attempt to seek the truth. For decades many people have been involved in hiding the truth in regards to the identity of RCAF Hurricane 5424, serial number 44019. There is still time for many people directly or indirectly involved, to get enough courage to step forward and tell the truth. Is that too much to ask?
This story begins in November 1938, when Canadian Car and Foundry Ltd. were awarded a contract to produce Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the RAF at Fort William, Ontario, [now Thunder Bay]. The RAF flew one Hurricane Mk. I, [L1848] to Canada, and this became the new pattern production fighter aircraft. Between January 1940, when the first prototype aircraft flew, and June 1943, when the last fighter was built, 1,451 Hurricane aircraft of various variants were built. Most of the aircraft built at Fort William were the Mk. X, XI, and XII variants, with the two latter groups reserved for Canadian squadrons. A batch of 400 Mk. XII fighters was specially built for the RCAF and they were powered by the Merlin 29 engine and modified to carry 12 machine guns. They also carried RCAF serial numbers, while all the other aircraft received RAF serial numbers. A total of 30 aircraft in the first production order carried both RAF and RCAF serial numbers.
By March 1942, all the early problems with wartime shipping delays, and the introduction of the new American license built Merlin Packard engines were overcome, allowing 15 new Hurricane aircraft to leave the C.C. & F. plant every seven days. All of the Canadian built Hurricanes left the plant painted in RAF camouflage and markings for the period. The upper wing was painted with Type-B roundel, dark red inner and dark blue outer circle, ratio of 2:5. The under wing was painter with Type – A roundel, red inner, white and blue outer circle, ratio 1:3:5. The camouflaged fuselage carried the Type- A -1 roundel, red inner, white, blue and yellow outer circle, ratio of 1:3:5:7. These RAF markings were standard from 1940 until May 1942. The fin flash was Type – A, 27 inches high, three eight inch bands wide [24”] front – red, white and blue. This was RAF standard from December 1940 until July 1942. The RCAF serial number was painted in four-digit black number on the rear fuselage.
Hurricane #5398, a March of Dimes [nose art] presentation fighter at Calgary No. 4 Training Command new from the factory in correct markings, 16 July 1942.
She served with RCAF No. 133 [Falcon] Squadron. Tail fin flash is December 1940 to June 1942, size 24″ wide by 27″ high, three equal division of red, white and blue. The fuselage marking is A.I. [Matt] in use June 1940 to June 1942. Four equal colors red, white, blue, and yellow. The upper surface wing marking is B style, red and blue [matt] exclusive to all RAF- RCAF upper wing markings.
No 13 Photo Squadron Ottawa, in color pattern RCAF July 1942. Fin flash was 8″-2″-8″ used from July 1942 until 1947. Roundel was C.I. used on upper wing positions, and fuselage markings 1942-1945. It was large size fuselage 18″-24″-48″-54″. Serial markings remained the same.
In the first week of August 1942, a new Hurricane Mk. XII rolled off the production line with manufacture number 849 and serial number 44019. This aircraft was flown West across Canada to No. 4 Training Command and officially taken on strength by the RCAF on 18 August 1942. Hurricane serial 44019 was assigned to No. 135 [Fighter] Squadron which had been formed [stood up] at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, on 15 June 1942. No. 135 squadron daily diary book states they received their last two new Hurricane fighters from Fort William, on 18 August, to bring the squadron total to 24 aircraft. These last two aircraft, Fort William manufacture numbers 849 and 850 received RCAF serial numbers 5424 and 5425. Hurricane Mk. XII 849, serial 44019, RCAF serial 5424 received the unit code letter “Z” and a fighting image of a “Bulldog” was painted on the aircraft nose.
This image was copied from the original No. 135 (F) Squadron operations log book collection of ground crew member Palmer Dahl, Victoria, B.C., 2001.
Five Walt Disney artists created over 1,200 military insignia during World War Two, they were paid in full by Walt, who also instructed them to design and paint insignia for all branches of the fighting forces, including all Allied forces. Officially and unofficially this Disney insignia impacted aviation nose art in many forms during World War Two, including squadrons in the RCAF.
In the 26 May 1941 issue of LIFE magazine, the full story of Disney insignia was revealed to the American and Canadian public, complete with new released samples of U.S. military art insignia.
America was not officially involved in WWII, however a large number of U.S. nationals [over 6,000] were now serving in the RCAF and a special group had formed an All-American “Eagle” No. 71 Squadron in the Royal Air Force fighting for England. This LIFE article showed for the first time this special insignia created by Disney for the American Eagle Squadron. The art featured an American eagle in a fighting stance wearing boxing gloves over the “Eagle Squadron” insignia, clearly showing Americans had entered the ring [unofficially] to fight Nazi German world oppression. This was designed for No. 71 Squadron, formed at Church Fenton on 19 September 1940, and was re-designated 334th Squadron, 4th Pursuit Group, USAAF on 29 Sept. 1942.
On 27 September 1950, this Disney WWII emblem became the official insignia of the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the USAAF stationed at Johnson Air Force Base, Japan. It flew on the F-86 during the Korean war, the F-100 and F-105 in Japan and returned to United States on 8 December 1957.
This single Eagle Squadron insignia left a huge impact on WWII aviation nose art in Canada and England. A second Disney insignia, “Pugnacious Bulldog” was created for the American 62nd Pursuit Squadron stationed at Charlotte, N.C., and this also featured a ‘Bulldog’ in a boxing stance.
This attracted the attention of Canadian pilot FL./Sgt. Al Harley who [unofficially] adapted this fighting Bulldog image to the newly formed RCAF 135 [F] Squadron. This new fighter squadron was taking the early fight to the Japanese in the Home Defense of the West Coast of Canada.
This Walt Disney emblem was officially approved for use by the 56th Pursuit-Fighter Group, 62nd Interceptor squadron on 18 June 1943. It arrived at Kings Cliffe, England, January 1943, serving at Horsham St. Faith, Halesworth, and Boxted, England, returning to U.S. on 16 October 1945. On 16 August 1943, this same Bulldog emblem jointed the United States Alaska command, RCAF “Y” Wing fighting the Japanese alongside the American Forces in the Aleutian Campaign. Walt Disney had no idea his little insignia was painted on American flown P-47 Thunderbolts in England fighting the Germans, while the same insignia was painted on Canadian built and flown Hurricanes in Alaska, fighting the Japanese. The magic power of nose art.
The very first Hurricane Mk. XII flight took place at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, on 11 July 1942, recorded in diary log book. The very first four Hurricane aircraft used for training were received on loan from No. 133 [F] Squadron at Lethbridge, Alberta. [5385-5386-5389 and 5396]
On 20 July 1942, nine new Hurricane aircraft arrive for training at Mossbank, and each one received the new squadron “Bulldog” painted on the nose. These nine were manufacture numbers 827 to 835 and received RCAF serial numbers 5402 to 5410 in order. RCAF Flight/Sgt. Al Harley is credited as the man who adapted the 135 Squadron Bulldog insignia, and believed to be the squadron nose artist. The talent of this pilot/artist was limited and thus template was made. All of the nose art images are replica in size, with each Bulldog image freehand painted on each Hurricane aircraft port [left] nose engine panel.
These images appear in the official operational log book, possibly the first aircraft “U” painted with Bulldog. [Palmer Dahl]
RCAF Serial # – Date taken on strength – Date taken off strength – Remarks and Cat. accident date
5402 20 July 1942 15 Jan. 1943 Crashed into sea 28 Dec. 1942, Pat Bay. Killed pilot Sgt. John Luther Cornell, 21 years.
5403 20 July 1942 30 June 1943 Code letter “A”
5404 20 July 1942 8 Jan. 1944 Cat. A. 21 Dec. 1943. Killed P/O Ronald Franklin William Sedgwick, 21 years.
5405 20 July 1942 30 June 1947. Coded “O”, Cat. C. 4 Feb. 43.
5406 20 July 1942 30 June 1947. Coded “C”,
5407 20 July 1942 30 June 1947.
5408 20 July 1942 10 July 1947. Cat. C. 10 June 1943.
5409 20 July 1942 20 Aug. 1947.
5410 20 July 1942 26 April 1943 Failed to return 26 Apr. 43. Lost on official long-range patrol with pilot F/Sgt. Philip Whitney Aucoin, American from Louisiana, age 22 years.
On the 23 July 1942 the Squadron daily log book records the arrival of the tenth Hurricane Mk. XII, serial 5411. In fact three fighters were taken on charge that day.
5411 23 July 1942 13 Aug. 1947.
5412 23 July 1942 30 June 1947.
5413 23 July 1942 17 April 1947. Cat. C, Mossbank – 21 Sept. 42.
On 5 August 1942, seven more new fighters arrive at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, plus the new mascot Bulldog named “King.”
5414 5 Aug. 1942 20 Aug. 1946.
5415 5 Aug. 1942 11 Nov. 1942. Cat. A. 10 Nov. 42.
5416 5 Aug. 1942 31 March 1943. Cat. A. into sea, 22 Mar. 43. Mid-air propeller of 5420 cut off tail of Hurricane 5416 which went into a spin killing F/Sgt. Aulde Mark Beazer 22 years. This mid-air occurred ten miles south of Sidney, B.C. Pilot body recovered.
5417 5 Aug. 1942 30 June 1947. Cat. B. 4 Sept. 42.
5418 5 Aug. 1942 20 Aug. 1946 Cat. “C” accident 30 May 1943, [mid-air propeller of 5418 cut off tail of 5419] and second Cat. “C” accident on 25 October 1944.
Note – this original Hurricane #5418 survives today in the Reynolds Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwan, Alberta.
The mid-air accident took place on 30 May 1943, when Hurricane #5418 propeller cut off the tail section of Hurricane #5419. The Hurricane 5419 dove directly into the sea and the pilot did not bale out. Killed was F/O Richard Haviland Pallen, from Vancouver, B. C., age 28 years. Crash site four miles north of Sidney Island.
5419 5 Aug. 1942 30 May 1943. Cat. B. 8 Aug. 1942. code letter “L”. Cat. “A” on 30 May 1943, killed F/O Richard Haviland Pallen, age 28 years. F/O Pallen had been injured in a flying accident in England on 4 January 1942, and returned to Canada, then posted to No. 135 Squadron.
5420 5 Aug. 1942 30 March 1943. Cat. A. mid-air with #5416, crashed into sea, 22 Mar. 43. Pilot survived the crash.
S/L W.C. Connell took over command of No. 135 Squadron on 19 July 1942, and was possibly involved in the purchased of the first Bulldog mascot named “King.” King was a pedigree English male bulldog born 5 July 1941, number 166762. He was eleven months old when he appeared on the wing of Hurricane code letter “G”, 5 August 1942. The 135 Operational log book contains the original pedigree paperwork on the purchase of King and records he died of canine distemper at Pat Bay, B.C., 6 October 1942, age 15 months.
The first male Bulldog King with S/L W.C. Connell at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, 5 August 1942. [Palmer Dahl]
Palmer Dahl stated they had failed to get vaccination shots for King and he came down with canine distemper, and died 6 October 1942.
This forced landing of 135 Squadron, Hurricane #5419 took place on 8 Aug. 1942, and “L” has not received the “Bulldog” nose art marking. This new fighter had just arrived three days earlier. [Palmer Dahl]
The FL./Sgt. pilot proudly shows his “Bulldog” insignia made by Crest Craft of Saskatoon, Sask. [Palmer Dahl]
This was the first of three unit Bulldog insignia created for the squadron by Crest Craft.
On 12 August 1942, three more fighters arrive and this is recorded in the daily operations record.
5421 T.O.S. 12 August 1942 Struck off strength 30 June 1947
5422 12 August 1942 13 July 1946. Cat. C. accident 3 August 1942.
5423 12 August 1942 4 April 1944. Lost at Sea 8 February 1944.
The last two fighters arrive on 18 August 1942.
5424 18 August 1942 15 August 1946. Cat. C. 27 May 1943. Code letter “Z”.
5425 18 August 1942 26 June 1947. Cat. C. 29 Nov. 1942. Code letter “W”.
The Squadron has taken on charge 24 Hurricane Mk. XII fighters and three Harvard Mk. IIB aircraft for training.
The three Harvard aircraft are received on 2 July 1942, with serial numbers FE311, FE312, and FE313. In seventeen days Harvard FE311 will crash during an engine test training flight.
FE312 remains until 15 November 1946 and FE313 is struck off charge on 2 October 1946.
The crash site found one mile south of Dunkirk, Saskatchewan, image in operation records [Palmer Dahl].
F/Sgt. Gabriel Pierre Etiene Schoeler, age 23 years had taken ground crew air engine mechanic Cpl. William Basil Wintonick for a test flight engine check. They failed to return and both were found burned at the crash site, one mile south of Dunkirk, Saskatchewan.
On 10 September 1942, orders directed the relocation of ‘Bulldog’ squadron to Western Air Command and a new home base at Patricia Bay, [today Victoria] B.C. The aircraft arrived on 5 October, the new home base where the Hurricanes would fly West Coast Air Defense of Canada until 6 August 1943.
The 24th and last Hurricane MK XII Hurricane to be assigned to No. 135 [fighter] Squadron was 5579, which was taken on charge at Pat Bay, B.C. on 6 November 1942. This fighter received code letter “E” appearing in the above photo, which had to be taken after 6 Nov. 42. It was involved in a Cat. C. accident on 9 October 1943, repaired and continued service until struck off charge on 16 October 1946.
Accidents at Patricia Bay. B.C. involved six Cat. “C” including 5405, 5406, 5418, and 5425. [Crash images from 135 Operational Records Log -Palmer Dahl]
S/L W.C. Connell with the new female Bulldog named Queen, Pat Bay, undated. [Palmer Dahl]
Queen looking at her image painted on the plywood cover of the No. 135 Operational Flight Log Records Book. This log book was found in the garbage by Palmer Dahl when the squadron disbanded on 10 September 1945. It was recovered and saved by Palmer and these photo images were copied from this same log book. A new Crest Craft insignia [above] also appeared at Pat Bay.
Mess get together party in operational log book at Pat Bay
On 1 January 1943, No. 2 Group Headquarters was formed in Victoria, B.C. assuming tactical control of the expanding Home War Establishment along the southern B.C. coastline. By April 1943, long-range patrols began for No 135 Squadron in the assigned Ucluelet Area which was interlocked with the American Washington section to the south. The patrol area was approx. 300 miles west of home base Patricia Bay.
On 26 April 1943, American born pilot F/Sgt. Philip Whitney Aucoin [Baton Rouge, Louisiana] 22 years old, departed on a long-range patrol in Hurricane # 5410. He suffered engine problems and crash landed near Galiano Island, no body was found and he has no known grave. This was the only squadron aircraft and pilot causality lost on official RCAF No. 135 Squadron operations in WWII.
Hurricane serial 44019, RCAF 5424 flew these same routine Air Defense patrols until 27 May 1943, when it was involved in a category C crash. It was repaired and repainted with new roundels and the code letter “Z”. The old nose art image of the “Bulldog” was painted over and not replaced, possibly due to the fact the squadron was preparing to leave for Annette Island, Alaska. No 135 [Bull Dogs] moved to Annette Island, Alaska, RCAF “Y” Wing on 16 August 1943.
[5424 received the new standard RAF markings for the period. The upper and lower wing roundels remained the same, upper type B, lower type A. The fuselage roundel changed to type C-1, red inner, white, blue and thin outer yellow circle, ratio 3:4:8:9.This marking came into effect May 1942 until 1945. Behind the RCAF serial number a 14” light blue band circled the fuselage. The fin flash remained 27 inches high and 24 inches wide, however the colors [front] red became 11” white 2” and blue 11”. This became RAF standard from July 1942 until 1945.
The 14 inch light blue band painted on the fuselage rear, was possibly for identification in Alaska air space. It is impossible to make a distinction between what should have been painted and what actually was painted in wartime.
The history of the RCAF Alaska campaign begins in May 1942, when the war in the Pacific is running in Japan’s favour. The U.S. War Department had to increase Alaskan air defences at once and ask if Canada would led air assistance. Fact – “Uncle Sam asks the Canadian “Bulldogs” for help”. The Canadian Government consented to lending two Western Air Command RCAF squadrons to the Aleutian theatre of war. They were placed at the strategic control of the 11th American Air Force, and took operational orders directly from American Commander, Major General W.O. Butler.
This image is from the #135 operational log book. [Palmer Dahl] It has also been colored and used on Vintage Wings website. It was taken over Annette Island, Alaska, while under U.S. Alaska Air Command.
The general’s first order was directed at altering the colors of all RCAF red center roundel markings, each one must be painted over with blue paint, and each Canadian aircraft must have a 14 inch light blue band painted on the aircraft tail. RCAF squadrons No. 8, No. 111, and No. 14 followed the American orders, which possibly confused No. 135 Bulldog squadron in their move to Annette Island.
From 6 August to 16 November 1943, Bulldog squadron flew from Annette Island, Alaska, but they remained under Western Air Command control. Their main function was to provide air support for the City of Prince Rupert, B.C. and they were not required to over paint the red roundel circle or add the 14” lt. blue band. Photos show at least three 135 squadron Hurricane aircraft received the 14 inch light blue tail band, and RCAF 5424 was one of these.
Direct flying route 16 August 1943, from Pat Bay to Annette Island, 490 miles. Patrol area was north to Ketchikan [U.S.A.] and south to Prince Rupert, B.C. [Canada].
Unidentified photo recorded as Annette Island in the operational log book
On 4 Nov. 1943, No. 135 squadron received orders to relocate back to Canada at Terrace, B.C. where they remained until March 1944.
The Squadron Operational Log book records a total of 40 pilots on strength at Terrace, B.C. November 1943. These pilots flew at Annette Island under American command.
P/O Adams J.H.A.
Sgt. Aucoin M.P. [Philip Whitney Aucoin, killed 26 April 1943, age 22 yrs., lost on long range patrol, no known grave]. American from Batron Rouge, Louisiana.
Sgt. Battleson R. L.
Sgt. Beazer M.A. [Aulde Mark Beazer, killed 22 March 1943, age 22 yrs, flying Hurricane 5416, mid-air with 5420, propeller cut off tail].
Sgt. Binion M.P.
P/O Boileau P.
Sgt. Campbell W.J. C.
Sgt. Carragher W.
P/O Catterall W.A. C.
Sgt. Clarke R.W.
F/O Cormie T. [Thomas Cormie, killed 24 May 1945, Kittyhawk 861, crashed two miles south of Pat Bay, B.C.].
Sgt. Cornell J.S.C.
P/Sgt. Dewar V.C.R.
Sgt. Frey J.H.
Sgt. Forster D.S.F.
Sgt. Gallinger K.C.
F/Lt. Harley A. E. A.
Sgt. Hattie R. G. H.
P/O Harrison H. L. S.
P/O Hodgin B.
P/O Hope H. A
P/O Hopkiss M.A.B.
Sgt. Jackeen T . R.
Sgt. Justine J. F. P.
P/O Langill K.
Sgt. Lawson G. B.
Sgt. Luther J. [John Luther, killed 28 December 1942, age 21 yrs., crashed Hurricane 5402 three miles North of Active Pass, B.B.].
P/O Marsden K. C.
Sgt. Mc Gill D. R.
Sgt. Morton K. L. M.
P/O Pallen R. H. [Richard Haviland Pallen – killed 30 May 1943, age 28 years, mid-air collision in 5419, four miles North of Sydney, B.C. tail cut off by 5418 propeller].
Sgt. Passmore G. L.
S/L Reyno E. M.
Sgt. Roberts J.
Sgt. Schoeler G. P. E. [Gabriel Pierre Etienne Schoeler, killed 19 July 1942, age 23, Harvard FE311].
P/O Sedgwick R. [Ronald Franklin William Sedgwick, killed 21 December 1943, age 21 years, Hurricane 5404, unauthorized low flying and hit the Katwanga Ferry cable on Skeena River.
Sgt. Smith K. R.
F/O Sproat J. D.
Sgt. Stewart J.
P/O Suddaby A. R.
F/O Thompson J. A.
Sgt. Walcroft E. W.
Sgt. Wheeler A. B.
P/O Wiley B. K.
The squadron returned to Patricia Bay 19 May 1944, where they were re-equipped with new Kittyhawk Mk. IV aircraft. The first two Kittyhawk aircraft arrived on 6 May, serial #848 and #855.
Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. IV, code letter T.O. Strength S.O. Charge
848 “P” 6 May 1943 31 Aug. 1945
849 20 May 1943 16 Dec. 1946 Cat. A., 24 Feb. 1945.
850 “D” 20 May 1943 23 Aug. 1946
852 “M” 7 June 1943 16 Dec. 1946
854 “J” 7 June 1943 23 Aug. 1946 Bull dog nose art, 10 March 1945.
855 11 June 1943 16 Dec. 1946 Cat. C., 16 April 1945.
857 “V” 22 June 1943 23 Aug. 1946
858 22 June 1943 23 Aug. 1946.
859 “K” 7 July 1943 23 Aug. 1946
860 “H” 15 July 1943 23 Aug. 1946
861 17 Sept. 1943 21 Aug. 1946 Cat. A., 24 May 1945. Crashed two miles south of Pat Bay, killing pilot F/O Thomas Cormie, age 23 years.
862 “C” 17 Sept. 1943 23 Aug. 1946
864 “F” 17 Sept. 1943 23 Aug. 1946 Bull dog nose art.
865 “U” 17 Sept. 1943 23 Aug. 1946
866 “M” 17 Sept. 1943 23 Sept. 1946
871 19 Oct. 1943 16 Dec. 1946
872 “S” 19 Oct. 1943 21 Sept. 1945
875 “A” 11 Jan. 1943 23 Aug. 1946 Cat. C., 15 Aug. 1944.
876 11 Jan. 1944 18 June 1945 Cat. C., 15 Aug. 1944, Pat Bay.
879 “X” 16 March 1944 16 Dec. 1946
880 “N” 11 Sept. 1944 23 Aug. 1946
The new Kittyhawk aircraft received the very same “Bull dog” nose art and had their share of accidents.
Many of the Hurricane aircraft were left in storage at Terrace, and it is believed 5424 was one of the aircraft. It was ordered for disposal with No. 2 Air Command on 26 February 1945, and flown to No. 3 [SEHU] Single engine holding unit at Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
Beginning on 3 November 1944, Japan launched the first of 10,000 fire balloons into the high-altitude winds that swept over Japan towards the Pacific coast of North America. On 4 Nov. 1944, the first Fu-go balloon was recovered by a U.S. naval ship, floating on the ocean, 66 miles southwest of San Pedo, California. The first Canadian Fu-go landing was reported on 1 January 1945, when balloon fragments were found at Stoney Rapids, Saskatchewan. At once Canadian and American Governments imposed a total blackout on all balloon sightings and landings, to deny the Japanese any intelligence gathering. Both governments and intelligence officers began to fear the worst, the use of bacteriological warfare by Japan. The very first Canadian defensive measures involved the widespread deployment of RCAF fighter planes on the West Coast, and two “paper kills” are credited to No. 133 Squadron. RCAF pilots. The strong winds of the jet stream carried the 75 pound bombs at 125 to 200 miles per hour at an altitude of 30,000 to 38,000 feet. Even when stripped of all weight the old Hurricanes and Kittyhawks could not reach over 29,000 feet.
On 21 August 1944, No. 133 Squadron was posted to Patricia Bay and joined No. 135 Squadron in West Coast air defense. On 21 February 45, P/O E. E. Maxwell shot dawn a Japanese fire balloon at 25,000 ft over Pat Bay, B. C. in Kittyhawk #866, which was code “R”.
This unidentified photo was found in the No. 135 [Bull Dog] log book with remarks – “P-40 Pilot.” It is possibly an image of No. 133 Squadron “R” #866 and pilot Maxwell.
The No. 135 pilots order the third and last insignia from Crest Craft for use in their new Kittyhawk aircraft. This round insignia was also used by Palmer Dahl on his business card.
A second ‘paper kill’ was recorded on 10 March 45, P/O J. G. Patten in Kittyhawk #858 “F”, shot down a balloon at 13,500 feet near Pat Bay, B.C. Two days later Canso #9702 forced down a fire balloon 500 feet over Rupert Inlet, which was recovered intact and flown to Ottawa.
On I April 45, No. 133 Squadron was equipped with fifteen de Havilland Mosquito F.B. Mk. 26 in order to attain the speed and altitude required to attack the high flying Japanese fire balloons.
Image from No. 135 squadron operational log book photos. [Palmer Dahl]
This image records three No. 133 Squadron Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk. I aircraft at Pat Bay after 1 April 1945. Kittyhawk “X” is serial 1078, and “P” is 1064. The other aircraft are in fact new de Havilland Mosquito Mk. 26 fighters for hunting the Japanese fire balloons.
The fifteen Mosquito aircraft are RCAF KA103 – [N], KA111 – [P], KA112 – [L], KA113 – [I], KA118 – [H], KA123 – [M], KA124 – [B], KA125 – [O], KA126 – [C] KA127 – T], KA129 – [G], KA131 – [D], KA132 – [E], KA133 – [A], and KA143 – [R].
On 9 August 1945, [the day Nagasaki was atomic bombed] F/O J. A. T. Behan and P/O F. P. McKeran attempted to intercept a fourth fire balloon in Mosquito KA132 “E”, but they could not reach the altitude and were unsuccessful. Even the new Mosquito fighters could not reach over 36,000 feet in 1945.
This image records the No. 133 squadron fighter pilots waiting to intercept a Japanese fire balloon. Kittyhawk “B” – 1057 and “J” – 1945 can be seen in foreground. The new Mosquito aircraft are in background. Photo undated, possibly August 1945. [Palmer Dahl]
Once the balloons had crossed the Rocky Mountains, steps were taken to track and destroy in the altitude above 30,000 feet where they travelled. Two high altitude B-25 bombers were stationed at Suffield, Alberta, to give chase, record direction, speed and altitude.
On 1 March 1945, Air Commodore B.F. Johnson officially authorized the use of five Hawker Hurricane fighters, from nine that were in storage at No. 3 Single Engine Holding Unit, at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. The five old fighters had been taken out of storage between 3 to 16 April 1945, and flown to No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary for modifications. This involved the removal of all unnecessary weight including all of the 303 cal. machine guns except one. They were then assigned – one at Moose Jaw, two at Saskatoon #5424 & #5418, and two at Yorktown #5447, Saskatchewan. RCAF Hawker Hurricane serial 5424 was one of the five selected to patrol and track the Japanese Fu-go balloons, and remained in service until possibly August, as balloon sightings were reported until late July. It possibly flew from Saskatoon, Sask. but not confirmed.
In 1945, over 50 Japanese fire balloons were reported over British Columbia and two were in fact shot down as “Paper Kills.” Ten balloons were found in Alberta and eight in Saskatchewan, with a total of 285 reported in the Northwestern U.S. and the Canadian North. Canadian authorities forbid the radio broadcast of any balloon sightings and newspapers were not allowed to publish any details on balloon landings. On 22 February 1945, a fire balloon killed a heard of sheep at Lethbridge, Alberta and the farmer was not allowed to talk about it, plus nothing appeared in the local press.
Due to the fact all Japanese balloon details were forbidden and possibly never even recorded by Ottawa, it is impossible to know if any of the five Hurricane fighters sighted and shot down a fire balloon. It is still possible photos from the RCAF pilots may exist today in abandoned photo albums. Canadian Army message dated 3 April 1945 [COMD13] reports a balloon was shot down near Strathmore, Alberta, on 21 March 1945. No RCAF records can be found on this action but the army files clearly indicate an aircraft shot down a Japanese fire balloon at Strathmore. It is estimated 700 to 1000 fire balloons could still remain in the vast area of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The latest WWII Japanese balloon was discovered by two British Columbia forestry workers on 9 October 2014. A half-metre of metal bomb casing was under the earth with the tail section sticking out of the ground. It was located near Lumby, B. C. and was detonated by bomb disposal experts at Maritime Forces Pacific. It is amazing to realize that these 72 year old bombs are still actually a threat to kill Canadians.
RCAF Hurricane #5424 was returned to No. 3 S.E.H.U. after her duties and remained in storage until 15 August 1946. Struck off charge and sold by War Assets Corp. to a farmer in Regina, Saskatchewan in September 1946.
Author image from Lynn Garrison collection
The following statement was received from Mr. Lynn Garrison, [residing in Haiti] 9 February 2014. The history is titled “Grand Theft – Aircraft” and I have edited it to include only the history of RCAF Hurricane 5424.
The collection of WW II aircraft for the new “Air Museum of Canada” began in 1962, and this involved RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison and “my associate, fellow 403 Squadron pilot, and best man, the late Milt Harradence, who retired as a Canadian Appeals Court Justice, after a stunning career as a criminal attorney.” Ed Fleming was a mechanic who worked on the aircraft Milt Harradence owned and flew. In 1961, Ed Fleming purchased two complete Hurricane aircraft from two farmers in Saskatchewan, having serial numbers 42024 [RCAF 5389], and 44019 [RCAF 5424]. “I acquired this Hurricane  from mechanic Ed Fleming, in 1963, along with another Hurricane  now being rebuilt by the Reynolds/Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. “They were stored behind hangar number 4 at the Calgary airport, and both were complete aircraft airframes, without engines”.
“The Air Museum of Canada [Calgary, Alberta] was incorporated, as a non-profit corporation, in mid-April 1964. It originally had an issue of 100 shares. I held 98; my wife Evelyn had one and my mother Jean Garrison had the other. The structure saw a voting Board of Directors and a non-voting board of Governors. The Air Museum of Canada’s Board of Directors was Lynn Garrison, Evelyn Garrison and Jean Garrison. It was never amended.”
Peter D Norman became the general manager of the Air Museum of Canada from 1967 until 1971, and during this time – “Peter D. Norman had dispersed most of my 45 aircraft, in one way or another. Most were just aircraft I had collected, without much paperwork, so it is difficult to know which Blenheim, Lysander, Cornell, or Finch ended up where.”
All efforts to obtain any information on Peter D. Norman turn up blank. The City of Calgary still holds records containing the transactions of Mr. Norman, but most are sealed. It is clear to see the historical destruction of Hurricane 5424 begins with Mr. Norman in 1971.
The Air Museum of Canada is floundering, the aircraft [45 plus] are being sold [without permission], and total control is being lost. In 1971, a group of E.A.A. members in Regina, Saskatchewan, are interested in rebuilding a Hurricane and they are totally aware of the problems with the defunct Air Museum of Canada. The Regina group is headed by Mr. Rem Walker, 2348 Garnet Ave, S4T 3A2, and he makes contact with Peter Norman in Calgary. At this date [fall 1971] Peter D. Norman is involved with signing a legal “Bill of Sale”, transferring all the assets of the Air Museum of Canada to the City of Calgary. Peter D. Norman understands the two Hurricane fighters are part of the assets, and he cannot sell these for profit. Mr. Norman leases the fuselage, wings, and other components of Hurricane 5424 to Rem Walker in Regina, at $1.00 a year for the next 20 years.
On legal advice, Mr. Peter Norman and Rem Walker sign an affidavit saying a condition on the lease was that no part of Hurricane 5424 was to be sold out of Canada.
It would appear that Peter Norman wanted Hurricane 5424 out of Calgary before the City of Calgary took over all assets, and that was accomplished. The paper work for the sale of the “Air Museum of Canada” was dated April 1973, and the sale was registered and made legal on 23 July 1973.
For the total sum of $1 [one dollar] the Air Museum of Canada was now owned by the City of Calgary, Alberta. From a collection of over 45 original aircraft only seven remained along with four aircraft engines. This was all officially listed on Schedule “A” of the original Bill of Sale. [attached] This is a simple case of the Fox placed in charge of the hen house. Where did all the chickens go?
Only one Hawker Hurricane Mk. XIIA, aircraft AC41, 48084, RCAF serial number 5389 is listed on the original Bill of Sale.
In 1978, Mr. Les Hunt published his book titled – Veterans and Vintage Aircraft, Garnstone Press and on page 193 he stated – “Hawker Hurricane IIB #42024 construction number 44019 [RCAF 5424] is at present in Saskatchewan on lease.
What occurred in the next four or five years is only known by Mr. Rem Walker and other members of his Regina based Hurricane restoration group. It is well known to Canadian Aviation researchers, the Regina group visited the farm of Cameron Logan in Scotland, Ontario, to obtain spare parts to rebuild the Hurricane RCAF 5424 to flying condition.
It is very important to note that Cameron Logan had removed a large number of Hawker Hurricane WWII aircraft construction and serial number plates.
The following copy of original Bill of Sale for Air Museum of Canada, and list of aircraft [seven] in Schedule “A” was obtained by Mr. Lynn Garrison on 10 February 1995.
In 1973, the City of Calgary becomes the official owners of the assets of the defunct Air Museum of Canada, and just retired Calgary Airport Manager Bill Watts takes control of the new “Aero Space Museum of Calgary.” From the very beginning the City of Calgary did not want the old Air Museum or any of the aircraft. Calgary was [and still remains] a cowboy, rich rancher, rich oil man, rich farmer, controlled city. The new Aero Space Museum of Calgary received no building, no protection or storage for the remaining aircraft, and no money. The ex-RCAF officers involved in the old Air Museum of Canada slowly disappear like rats leaving a sinking ship, and along with them go many aircraft. How many of these men sold and made money from the Air Museum of Canada aircraft may never be known. The ex-Lynn Garrison aircraft collection, now down to seven aircraft, are moved to the rear alley of the new Calgary Planetarium and left to rot in the extreme hot and cold of the famous Calgary weather.
At some date in 1973-1975, one almost zero time Merlin 500-29 engine is sold by the Aero Space Museum of Calgary to Rem Walker in Regina, Sask., for $900.00. The RCAF Hurricane 5424 is now complete and legally in the hands of Rem Walker for the next eighteen years, [1971-1991].
At the time of this sale, Mr. Bill Watts was the Manager, chief financial officer, and totally in charge of operations of the new Aero Space Museum of Calgary. It would appear Mr. Watts possibly authorized the sale of one Merlin 29 engine to Rem Walker. Was Peter D. Norman still involved? I believe the answers to these questions can still be found in the City of Calgary archives, but they are sealed and not for public eye. During the 1992 legal action against the City of Calgary and the Lancaster FM-136, the Calgary lawyers were most protective of Peter D. Norman, and what he said and did with some 40-50 Lynn Garrison aircraft, including Hurricane 5424. Peter D. Norman was British born and had carpenter skills, making a living selling Life Insurance in Calgary. He just disappeared, with bags of money, and I would guess returned to England. Again, it is up to the reader to decide what occurred with so many aircraft purchased by Lynn Garrison.
Lynn Garrison – “Apparently the Regina, Saskatchewan, group headed by Rem Walker, who leased 44019, whose C/N correlates with RCAF Hurricane 5424 continued in its attempt to rebuild airframe 5424 to flying condition. It is known they visited the Cameron Logan farm in Scotland, Ontario. After WW II, Logan purchased up to 200 surplus aircraft, mostly RCAF Hurricanes, which he scrapped for profit. Rem Walker and his Regina group visited the farm to strip parts from many of his derelict Hurricane center-sections, which all contained RCAF serial number plates.”
From 1971 until 1991, RCAF Hurricane 5424 was under signed lease to Rem Walker and his Regina group. They only owned the Merlin 29 engine and in order to sell the complete aircraft they had to change the serial number to anything other than 5424. Only Rem Walker and his group can answer that question.
I became a 30 year card carrying, voting, member of the Aero Space Museum of Calgary in 1980. For a City that prides itself on everything being the “Best in Canada”, the Aero Space Museum was treated as the “outhouse” of all museums. We still processed no building, no storage for the aircraft, and meetings were held in the basement of the Planetarium located downtown.
The small amount of money allotted each year from the City of Calgary paid the wages of the manager Bill Watts, financial officer [bookkeeper], and directors, nothing was left. We were in fact a “paper museum” a total joke to the whole Canadian aviation community.
We volunteers, attended our monthly meetings in the Planetarium basement, drank coffee, and went home. It’s no wonder others took full advantage of the stupidity that destroyed forever, the fact no future generations of Calgary born would ever have the “Air Museum of Canada.”
In November 1982, the “Aero Space Museum of Calgary Association” learned that RCAF Hurricane 5424, on lease to Rem Walker in Regina, was being sold to someone in England for a reported $153,000. Bob Nelson, who was technical supervisor for the Calgary Planetarium, where the aircraft were parked, reported the stolen Hurricane to the Calgary City Police.
Hamilton based Canadian Warplane Heritage had accidently discovered this independent sale of Hurricane 5424 and reported the facts to Bob Nelson, who estimated, when Calgary’s Hurricane was restored to flying condition, it would be worth $500,000. Again a rare Canadian built RCAF WWII aircraft had been sold without permission and by the time the Calgary Police could put two and two together, it was already in England. Sadly the ‘Cowtown’ public would learn of these facts in the Calgary Herald newspaper story by reporter Earl Fowler on 10 January 1983.
Wealthy aircraft collector Stephen Grey had obtained one complete Hurricane RCAF aircraft from Rem Walker in Regina, Saskatchewan, for $153,000. The exact date the Hurricane arrived in England is still not public, but I believe it was 1981. When the Hurricane arrived in U.K. the construction and serial number had been removed from the airframe and it remained unidentified until 1983. The Aircraft Registration records show the Hurricane was then registered as RCAF serial 5547, however this was not based on any correct manufactures serial number, but just word of mouth by the respective British owners.
Finally in 1989, the CAA received notification of the correct serial number as being 72036 and the mystery Hurricane was registered as G-HURI, RCAF 5547. It is still a mystery where Steven Grey obtained the identify of RCAF 5547, but that is what the official CAA documents were registered in. In 2002, the mystery Hurricane was sold to Historic Aircraft Collections and registered as G-HURI. As of 15 January 2004, the Aircraft Registration CAA documents show this Canadian fighter still registered as RCAF 5447.
Today this fighter has somehow obtained a construction number and serial number for RCAF Hurricane 5711. The new owners want historians to believe that Rem Walker destroyed the original complete Calgary Hurricane fighter RCAF 5424 and then rebuilt a new Hurricane with parts from many Hurricanes he hauled from the Scotland, Ontario, farm of Cameron Logan. This may sound OK in the U.K., but Scotland, Ontario, is 2,586 k/m from Regina, Saskatchewan. That’s 40 plus hours of straight driving time, pulling a trailer loaded with Hurricane parts. I think Mr. Walker is giving everyone a ‘Rem” job. A number of Canadian historians are in fact still investigating the most suspicious nature of Stephen Grey using the identity of RCAF 5711 when he had the complete airframe of 5424 in England. Canadian farmer Harry Whereatt purchased his Hurricane XII, serial 5447, for $50 in 1946, and it is believed to be the aircraft that flew based from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, looking for Japanese fire-balloons. Before he died, Harry gave an interview where he stated Rem Walker used two old yellow school buses to haul his Hurricane fighter parts from Scotland, Ontario, to Regina, Saskatchewan. He further stated the center section from Hurricane RCAF 5711 was obtained by Rem Walker and this contained the serial number tag. This section had to be cut up, as it would not fit into the school bus.
You would never cut up a center section of an aircraft if you wish to use it to be restored to flying condition. However, it seems they only wanted the center section for the serial number, which has now showed up on the unknown Hurricane flying in England. How and when RCAF Hurricane 5424 disappeared and then was suddenly transformed into RCAF 5711 is only known by Rem Walker and his Regina group, plus a hand full of people in England. It is time to let the readers digest the known facts and they can decide what is the truth.
Like stolen Nazi art from WWII, this once proud RCAF Hurricane history has been totally destroyed by Canadian and British greed, with no respect for the No. 135 Squadron members in WWII. While the Aero Space Museum of Calgary had a ‘moral right’ to Hurricane 5424, who rightfully owns this fighter? Mr. Lynn Garrison still has the original bill of sale to Hurricane 5424 and should it be sold to a new owner in the United States or Canada, his right to ownership will be challenged in a Court of Canadian or American Law. That is why the lawyers in England want this stolen aircraft to have any serial other than 44019, ex-RCAF 5424. It is reported to be worth $2.6 million U.S. as of 2014.
This 19″ by 28″ acrylic painting of Hurricane #5424 was created at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in winter of 2013. It is painted on the original aircraft skin removed from Fleet Fawn Mk. II, serial 123, restored at Nanton, Alberta. This Fleet Fawn was assigned to the RCAF on 7 July 1938 and flew as a trainer until struck off charge 3 December 1945. This painting captures the month of March 1945, when artist was one years-old living on small farm at Acme, Alberta.
RCAF Hurricane #5424 is patrolling the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan looking for Japanese fire balloons. The Japanese launched the 33 foot gas-filled balloons into the warm high atmosphere jet steam and in three to five days they made a rapid descent, which resulted in the bombing of rural Alberta. While the snow covered ground temperature is around freezing, the air at 10 to 20 thousand feet is ten to fifteen degrees warmer. The proud Hurricane is looking to shoot down a Japanese fire balloon, and record a “Paper Kill.” Sadly today this Canadian built No. 135 Squadron RCAF Hurricane fighter history has been destroyed by British “Paper Kill.”
This article is dedicated to Palmer Dahl, original ground crew member of No. 135 [Bull Dog] Squadron. We met three times, first in 2001 and the last time at my home in 2003, where I copied the photos and material for this story. In mid-December 2015, I phoned Palmer at his home in Victoria, to wish a Merry Christmas. I was informed by his daughter that he could not walk, had little memory, and was being cared for in a seniors home in Victoria, B.C. The original operational log book recovered from the garbage in 1945 was donated to the British Columbia Aviation Museum at Sidney, B.C.