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443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron
Active 8 February 1944 – 15 March 1946
12 September 1951 – 31 March 1964
25 October 1974 – present
Country Canada Canada
Branch Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg Royal Canadian Air Force
Role Maritime Helicopter
Part of 12 Wing Shearwater
Base Patricia Bay, British Columbia
Nickname(s) Hornet
Motto(s) "Our Sting is Death"
Battle honours Fortress Europe 1944, France and Germany 1944–1945, Normandy 1944, Arnhem, Rhine.
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge heraldry A hornet affronté[1]
Squadron Codes 2I (Feb 1944 – Mar 1946)[2]
PF (Sep 1951 – 1958)[3]

443 "City of New Westminster" Maritime Helicopter Squadron is a Canadian Forces helicopter squadron under Royal Canadian Air Force, located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It was originally a Second World War Royal Canadian Air Force squadron that operated as part of RAF Fighter Command in Europe with the Supermarine Spitfire.


Formation and World War II

Originally formed as No. 127 (Fighter) Squadron in the fighter role in July 1942, it operated along the East Coast of Canada until late 1943, when it was selected for overseas service. Arriving in Britain on 8 February 1944, it was redesignated No. 443 Squadron at Bournemouth and was soon based at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire, together with Nos. 441 and 442 Squadrons as Article XV squadrons under the control of the British Royal Air Force. Working up on Spitfire Mk.Vs from RAF Westhampnett, the squadron received Spitfire Mk.IXs the following month when a move was made to Holmesley South to form No. 144 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force and the squadron became operational. The first sorties were as bomber escorts and until the invasion in June the squadron carried out deep penetration missions using 90 gallon drop tanks. During the landings themselves, the squadron provided low level fighter cover and on 15 June it moved to France in the close-support and armed reconnaissance role. It was now heavily involved in ground attack sorties and continued to move forward following the Allied advance through Belgium and into the Netherlands to maintain its close air support of the ground forces. Having returned to RAF Warmwell for an air-firing course the squadron missed the Luftwaffe's New Years attack on Allied airfields. Unlike its two fellow squadrons, it did not return to Britain, but stayed on the continent, following the Allied armies advance into Germany equipped with the Spitfire Mk.XVI. With the end of the war the squadron joined the British Air Forces of Occupation until disbanding at Uetersen on 15 March 1946.

Post war

The squadron was re-formed on 12 September 1951 at RCAF Station Sea Island (Vancouver) and became New Westminster (Vancouver) Auxiliary Squadron. Aircraft flown include the North American P-51 Mustang, Harvard, and Expeditor. The squadron again disbanded on 31 March 1964.

No. 443 was reactivated again on 25 October 1974 as 443 Anti-Submarine Helicopter Squadron at CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia. In the late 1980s, the squadron moved to Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island. In 1995 the squadron changed its name to 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. No. 443 currently flies CH-124 Sea King helicopters.

Aircraft operated

Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
February 1944 – April 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb Single-engined piston fighter
April 1944 – February 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXb
January 1945 – January 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVI
January 1946 – April 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIVe
September 1951 – March 1964 Beechcraft Expeditor C-45 Dual-engined Trainer & Utility aircraft
December 1951 – September 1958 North American Harvard T-6 (Harvard Mk.2) Single-engined trainer
November 1952 – October 1956 North American Mustang P-51D (Mustang Mk.4) Single-engined piston fighter
August 1956 – 1958 North American Sabre F-86 (Sabre Mk.5) Single-engined jet fighter
October 1974 – present Sikorsky Sea King CH-124 Helicopter




  1. 1.0 1.1 Halley 1988, p. 518.
  2. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 56.
  3. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 165.
  4. Jefford 1988, p. 92.


  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Rawlings, John. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1969 (second edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982–1985). Orbis Publishing. 1985. 

External links

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