[ Baden Soellingen ]

421 Squadron
421 Fighter Squadron was formed at Digby, Lincolnshire, England, 9 April 1942. Created for day fighter operations, the Squadron was equipped with Spitfires, and flew this famous fighter throughout its wartime service. The Squadron became operational in May 1942 and began a round of convoy patrols over shipping in the Bristol and St George's Channel.

While brief periods of combat duty were encountered, 421 was forced to spend many months on vital, yet tedious, convoy patrol. This period in the doldrums ended late in January 1943, when the Squadron left South Wales and moved to Kesley, an active station in the front line of the air offensive being waged over Northern France. From here the Squadron flew bomber escort patrols, fighter sweeps and ground strafings, with the occasional scramble against enemy bombers. By the end of the year the Squadron's bag had risen to more than 34 aircraft destroyed and 32 more probably destroyed or damaged.

In the Spring of 1944, the Squadron was assigned to a new role, that of dive-bombing, as preparations began for the invasion of the Continent. One of the Squadron's big days came on 15 June 1944, when eight of its pilots, flying from one of the new landing strips on the Normandy coast, encountered twenty German FW190s and ME109s near Caen. Seven of the enemy were destroyed and four more damaged. One Canadian pilot was lost.

Shifting to the Continent, the Squadron set up in Normandy and began a period of intense activity against enemy aircraft and ground tar gets. The Squadron leap-frogged from base to base, following in the wake of the advancing allied forces. Their last airfield was at Utersen in Germany, where the Squadron was disbanded on 23 July 1945.

The Squadron was reformed 21 September 1949, at Chatham, NB, the second post-war fighter squadron in the regular RCAF. It was equipped with Vampire Jet-fighters, and formed a part of Air Defence Command. In January 1951, the Squadron was selected to spend a year on advanced training with the RAF, and was moved from Chatham to Odiham, England. Here it was re-equipped with RAF Vampires, and began its period of operations with RAF Fighter Command. It was the first overseas move of an RCAF Squadron during times of peace. The Squadron returned to Canada in December 1951, and was relocated at St. Hubert, PQ, and re-equipped with Sabre jet fighters.

In October 1952, the Squadron again moved overseas in what was known as Operation Leap-frog II. 421, in company with 416 and 430 Squadrons, flew their single-seater Sabre jet fighters across the Atlantic to their new base at 2 Fighter Wing, Grostenquin, France. These three Souadrons thus became the first RCAF Squadrons to be stationed on the European continent since March 1946. From October 1952 to July 1963, the Squadron flew Sabres as part of 1 Air Division in support of NATO. On 31 July 1963, the Squadron held a shutdown parade and two weeks later the Sabres were flown to Prestwick, Scotland; their final resting place.

The Squadron was re-formed once more in November 1963 and re-equipped with CF- 104 Starfighters, entering the all weather, low level strike role. In February of 1964, the Squadron moved to Baden-Soellingen.

The Squadron began training for a secondary role, conventional attack, in the fall of 1968. The nuclear role was terminated at the end of 1971 and the Squadron aircraft were re-equipped with a variety of conventional weapons; thus conventional attack became the primary role. 421 Red Indian Squadron ceased CF-104 operations in October 1985, and was stood down until July 1986.

The Squadron was reactivated 22 July 1986 and was re-equipped with the CF-18 Hornet. For the first time in history, the Squadron assumed a multi-role capability with 1 Canadian Air Group, the primary role being fighter bomber attack, with a secondary role of air defence. With the re-formation of 1 Air Division on 28 May 1988,421 Squadron had gone full circle to serving its master of 36 years earlier.

The invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 and the hostilities leading to the outbreak of war on 15 January 1991, witnessed the deployment of a number of 421 Squadron personnel to Qatar to participate in all phases of Gulf Operations.

The Squadron ceased flying operations 31 March 1992 and disbanded officially on 1 June 1992.


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[ Baden Remembered | Forty Years ]