[ Baden Soellingen ]

427 Squadron

427 Squadron was first formed on 7 November 1942, as the eighth of fifteen RCAF bomber squadrons and was originally equipped with Wellington MK III twin-engine bombers. Experienced crews borrowed from 419 Squadron enabled 427 to be operationally ready by 1 December 1942, and to commence operations against the Frisian Islands on the 14th of the same month. Initially part of 4 Group, Bomber Command, the squadron was transferred to 6 (RCAF) Group, Bomber Command upon formation 1 January 1943, and remained with this group until the war's end. The squadron was transferred to Leeming on 4 May 1943, and was re-equipped with Halifax four-engined aircraft. This bomber was used for the greater part of the squadron's operations, being replaced by the Lancaster in March 1945.

The squadron was assigned to bombing targets located all over Europe; however mine laying and the occasional dinghy search were also part of the job. The squadron's last sortie of the war was, perhaps fittingly enough, once again to mine the Frisian Islands.

The war ended with 427 Squadron having amassed an enormous amount of flying hours and having won an impressive list of Battle Honours and individual distinctions. A total of 3200 sorties comprising 26,000 flying hours dropped an incalculable amount of high explosives on Fortress Europe and its ports. During the war, a total of 415 personnel were lost, another 121 were shot down and taken prisoner and 14 escaped to Allied lines.

One of the lighter and perhaps more famous moments of 427's wartime era occurred when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer adopted the squadron on 24 May 1943 and allowed the names of their stars (such as Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford and Hedy Lamarr) to be displayed on squadron aircraft. In addition, MGM presented a bronze lion to the squadron, and from this came the name "Lion Squadron". Another highlight was the adoption by the squadron of one of Winston Churchill's lion cubs, Mareth; for this, the squadron was sent a letter of appreciation from the British Prime Minister.

After the cessation of hostilities, the Lions were involved in flying POWs and troops back from Europe to Britain. On 31 May 1946, the squadron was disbanded.

427 was reactivated on 1 August 1952, in St Hubert, Quebec, as a fighter squadron in Air Defence Command. The Lions were initially equipped with the F-86 Sabre MK III fighter and through replacement and updating, later flew the MKV and VI versions of this fine and extremely popular aircraft. Following training in St. Hubert, the squadron deployed across the Atlantic during March and April of 19S 3 on Exercise LEAPFROG III, and took up residence in Zweibruckcn, Germany (one of their wartime targets) as part of 3 Wing.

As part of NATO, 427 had numerous exchange visits with other squadrons and participated in many multi-national exercises. Detachments were sent regularly to Rabat, Morocco and later Decimomannu, Sardinia for air-to-air gunnery, as well as to Marville, France to stand quick reaction alert.

On 16 December 1962, 427 (Fighter) Squadron became 427 (Strike/Attack) Squadron. It was the first Canadian squadron to be equipped with the CF- 104 Starfighter. In this role they had to develop new techniques and tactics including high speed low level radar navigation. During this period, the Lions operated from Zweibrucken, then moved in June 1969 to Baden-Soellingen, changing from 3 Wing to 4 Wing in the move.

During this era the squadron carried on the fine traditions of the Lions by winning several trophies such as the Air Division Trophy in 1965, the Bradshaw Trophy in 1966 and Top Gun in 1967 and 1970. Other highlights included the discovery in 1967 of DK 135, one of 427's Halifax bombers, in a marsh in Holland; parts of this aircraft are now held by the squadron as momentous. Also, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer met with the squadron in 1968 and presented the Lions with a film of the adoption ceremony that had taken place twenty-five years before. The squadron was disbanded on 1 July 1970.

The 427 Crest was not inactive for long, as the squadron was re-established on 1 January 1971, as a Tactical Helicopter Squadron with 10 Tactical Air Group of Mobile Command (and now of Air Command). The squadron is currently equipped with the CH 13 $ Twin Huey and the CH 136 Kiowa helicopters and operates out of CFB Petawawa.

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