Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 1: Canadian Vickers (Supermarine) Stranraer

Canadian Vickers (Supermarine) Stranraer

Data Current to 9 Feb 2021.

 (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), 9 Bomber Reconnaissance (BR) Squadron, coming into dock after a patrol flight at Bella Bella, a passage that runs up between Campbell Island and Denny Island on Canada's West Coast, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.  Note the two depth charges under the starboard wing, and the drogue/sea anchor hanging from the middle hatch just behind the depth charges.

The Canadian Vickers (Supermarine 304) Stranraer was a 1930s flying boat that entered operations in 1937.  Many were in service at the outbreak of the Second World War, carrying out anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols.  In addition to British-built aircraft, the Canadian Vickers company in Montreal, Quebec, built 40 Stranraers under licence for the RCAF.  The RCAF Stranraers served in anti-submarine and coastal defence capacities on both Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and remained in service until 1946.  Following their withdrawal from military service, many Canadian Stranraers were sold off to fledgeling regional airlines and they served in commercial passenger and freighter operation well into the 1950s.

Canadian Vickers Stranraer (40), (Serial Nos. 907, 908, 909, 910, 911, 912, 913, 914, 915, 916, 918, 919, 920, 921, 922, 923, 927, 928, 929, 930, 931, 932, 933, 934, 935, 936, 937, 938, 947, 948, 949, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, 955, 956 and 957).

The Stranraer was flown by RCAF Operational Squadrons of the Home War Establishment (HWE) by the following units based in Canada.

Eastern Air Command

No. 5 Squadron RCAF(Nov 38 – Sep 41)

No. 117 Squadron RCAF (Sep 41 – Oct 41)

Western Air Command No. 4 Squadron RCAF (Jul 39 – Sep 43)

No. 6 Squadron RCAF (Nov 41 – May 43)

No. 7 Squadron RCAF (Feb 43 – Mar 44)

No. 9 Squadron RCAF (Dec 41 – Apr 43)

No. 13 Operational Training (OT) Squadron RCAF (Oct 41 – Nov 42)

No. 120 Squadron RCAF (Nov 41 – Oct 43)

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL-9596 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), 9 (BR) Squadron, on a patrol flight, possibly over Bella Bella, a passage that runs up between Campbell Island and Denny Island on Canada's West Coast, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL-9595 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), 9 (BR) Squadron, on a patrol flight, possibly over Bella Bella, a passage that runs up between Campbell Island and Denny Island on Canada's West Coast, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.

 (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), 9 (BR) Squadron, on a patrol flight, possibly over Bella Bella, a passage that runs up between Campbell Island and Denny Island on Canada's West Coast, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL 9594 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), 9 (BR) Squadron, RCAF Station Bella Bella, British Columbia, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.

 (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 937), British Columbia, ca Dec 1941-Apr 1943.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL-9608 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF aircrew cooking up lunch.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL-9609 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF aircrew having lunch.

 (British Columbia Aviation Museum Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer (Serial No. 932), ca 1942.

 (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF, being refueled at night.

 (Bill Larkins Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 952), at the San Francisco Coast Guard Air Station, California, 23 Nov 1941.

 (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 913), coded QN-B, No. 5 General Reconnaissance (GR) Squadron, Eastern Air Command, flew on anti-submarine patrols while operating out of Dartmouth and  Sydney, Nova Scotia and Gaspé, Quebec.

Stranraer (Serial No. 913), coded QN-B, was taken on charge 8 Sep 1939, and flew on a patrol on 17 Sep 1939. 

No. 5 (GR) Squadron held seven Stranraers, (Serial Nos. 907, 908, 909, 910, 911, 913, and 914).

The Stranraer carried maximum 1000 lbs of bombs, and on paper had a range of 1,080 miles, empty.  In actual operations, the armament, equipment, and aircrew weight significantly reduced the old Stranraer performance to 540 miles, while the Canadian east coast weather conditions also greatly reduced the days this 1934 flying boat could even get into the air. As recorded on the anti-submarine patrol instructions, Stranraer flying boats accompanied all departing and arriving Halifax ship convoys, with safe flying time of five and one-half hours, for each dawn to dusk patrol. The maximum safe endurance of a Stranraer with 1,000 lbs of bombs was 6 hours, cruising speed of 90 mph.

  (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 914), coded QN-O, No. 5 (GR) Squadron, Eastern Air Command.

The Stranraer flying boat was flown from RCAF station Dartmouth by No. 5 (GR) Squadron (code letters QN) from Nov 1938 to Sep 1941.  During the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada from May to June 1939, No. 5 Squadron Stranraers from RCAF Station Dartmouth escorted the ocean liner Empress of Britain on its departure from Halifax harbour with the King and Queen on board.  The first operational mission of the Second World War was flown from Dartmouth on 10 Sep 1939, when Stranraer (Serial No. 908) was tasked to conduct an enemy shipping search off the Halifax approaches.  In the following months No. 5 Squadron Stranraers would typically take-off from Dartmouth at 0530 hours, provide anti-submarine protection to an outbound convoy from Halifax, then land on the water at Sable Island at noon to refuel.  By late afternoon the Stranraer would take-off from Sable Island, rejoin the convoy or conduct independent anti-submarine operations, finally landing back at RCAF Station Dartmouth around midnight.

 (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 914), coded QN-O, No. 5 (GR) Squadron, Eastern Air Command.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo PL-105 via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 914), coded QN-O, No. 5 (GR) Squadron, Eastern Air Command, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584227)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF, April 1949.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203454)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 912), based at RCAF Station Jericho Beach, British Columbia.

 (City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-380)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 912), RCAF Station Jericho Beach, British Columbia.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581388)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 912), RCAF Station Jericho Beach, British Columbia, 13 July 1939.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584228)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 954), coded BD-H, in flight, 7 Apr 1949.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650431)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 902), Jericho Beach, British Columbia, 1936.

(Comox Air Force Museum Photo via WO CD Cunningham)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 935), coded XE-C, No. 6 Bomber Reconnaissance (BR) Squadron, at Alliford Bay, British Columbia, in 1941.  The unit code of XE-C is underlined indicating a home based squadron. Tragically on 14 Feb 1943, while on a training flight, this Stranraer crashed in Skidegate Channel between Maude and Lina Islands.  P/O DS MacLennan, P/O LG Thompson, P/O FW McConkey, Accounts Officer CT Fields, Sgt JO Gilmour and Cpl JP Spraling were all killed.  Squadron members sent out to investigate the crash site found a lot of debris and a large number dead fish floating all over the area.  From the evidence, investigators concluded that the aircraft's four depth charges had exploded on impact.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3553994)

Canadian Vickers Stranraers under construction, Canadian Vickers Plant.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3651067)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 907), No. 5 (GR) Squadron, Eastern Command. 

907, flown by Flight Lieutenant Leonard Birchall flying Stranraer (Serial No. 907) and his crew, were responsible for the capture of an Italian merchant ship, the Capo Nola, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, hours after Canada declared war on Italy on 10 June 1940.  Flight Officer Birchall had been tasked with locating any Italian vessels still in Canadian waters as war became imminent.  On 10 June, he located the Capo Nola, which had recently departed from Quebec.  Birchall had been informed of the declaration of war by radio and so made a low pass over the freighter, as if making an attack. This panicked the captain into running his vessel aground against a sandbank. Birchall then touched down nearby and waited until Royal Canadian Navy vessels reached the scene. The Capo Nola's crew were the first Italian prisoners taken by the Allies during the war.

At 16:34 Hrs, 10 September 1939, No. 5 (GR) Squadron was officially at War, and three Stranraer flying boats (Serial Nos. 907, 908 and 909), were in the air on patrol.

 (CFJIC, DND Photo via Don Smith)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer formation, RCAF (Serial Nos.), coded FY-A, FY-D and FY-B, Tofino, British Columbia.

 (British Columbia Aviation Museum Photo) 

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 921), No. 13 Operational Training (OT) Squadron, Patricia Bay, British Columba, ca 1942.  

 (RCAF Photo via Joel Rushworth) 

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 910), No. 4 Bomber Reconaissance (BR) Squadron, after a forced landing, Coal Harbour, British Columba, 1942.  

On 7 Feb 1943, a ferry trip in 910 was flightplanned out from Coal Harbour to Ucluelet to enable the aircraft to undergo a major inspection.  The pilot, Flying Officer Buchanan and his five other crew members, were to do a coast crawl from Coal Harbour to Ucluelet Gouges.  Stranraer 910 had to make a forced landing due to bad weather on 8 Feb 1943 and landed in Malksome Inlet at 09:10 hours. While taxxing in unfamiliar waters, the hull slightly scraped an uncharted rock causing Category C4 damage. The crew spent the night in the aircraft.  This photo may have been taken after 910 returned to RCAF Station Ucluelet the following day.. (Chris Charland)

 (RCAF Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer Air Gunner L.A.C. Jacques Louis of St. Marie de Beauce, Quebec, manning his Browning Machine Gun in the nose turret position, on Canada's West Coast, 18 July 1942.

RCAF patrol areas on Canada's West coast during the Second World War.

Stranraers were flown out of several air stations set up on the west coast of Vancouver Island and further up the coast of British Columbia and the Queen Charlotte Islands (now known as the Haida Gwaii Islands).  The Stranraers were flown on the west coast of Canada further into the Second World War than the squadrons east coast which switched over to the Catalinas and Cansos because of the higher threat from the German Navy than was being experienced on the west coast from Japan.  The map attached shows the more northern portion of their stations and patrol areas with the northern tip of Vancouver Island just visible at the bottom of the map.  (Victor Penner)

 (Michael Gaylard Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 920), Reg. No. CF-BXO, survives in the collection of the RAF Museum, Hendon, London in the UK 920 was built in 1940, one of the 40 built by Canadian Vickers.  While in service with the RCAF,  920 flew with several squadrons, on anti-submarine patrols, as a training aircraft and carrying passengers.  In 1944, it was disposed of.  In civil service, it was flown by Canadian Pacific Airlines until 1947, then Queen Charlotte Airlines, who replaced its original British engines with American Wright R-1820 engines.  Queen Charlotte Airlines flew it on passenger flights until 1952, flying from Vancouver along the Pacific coast of British Columbia.  It flew with several other private owners until damaged by a ship in 1966.  In 1970, it was bought by the RAF Museum and transported to the UK. 

 (Clemens Vasters Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 920), RAF Museum, Hendon, London in the UK.

 (Doug Gent Photo)

Canadian Vickers Stranraer, Queen Charlotte Airlines, ca 1952-1955.

Parts of a second Stranraer, RCAF (Serial No. 915), Reg. NO. CF-BYJ, are owned by the Shearwater Aviation Museum, CFB Shearwater, near Halifax, Nova Scotia.  This aircraft also operated with Queen Charlotte Airlines until it crashed on Christmas Eve 1949 at Belize Inlet, British Columbia. Most of the aircraft was recovered in the 1980s, with the exception of the forward fuselage and cockpit.

Queen Charlotte Airlines owned five Stranraers

CF-BXO, known as “Alaska Queen”, Supermarine Stranraer (Serial No. 920).  Built by Canadian Vickers at its St. Hubert, Montreal, Quebec Plant, using British equipment, and fitted with 810 hp Bristol Pegasus X engines. Sold to PWA and now in the RAF museum, last known survivor of this plane.

CF-BYI, known as “Haida Queen”, Supermarine Stranraer (Serial No. 907).

CF-BYL, known as “Skeena Queen”, Supermarine Stranraer (Serial No. 909).

CF-BYJ, Supermarine Stranraer (Serial No. 915 1947.

CF-BYM, Supermarine Stranraer (Serial No. 949), last Stranraer in service with RCAF until 20 Jan 1946, sold to PWA.  Crashed 1 Oct 1957, into trees and burned taking off from Sovereign Lake, BC killing 4 occupants, plane written off.