Canada Air

Two posters for Canada day today, centred on Canada’s contribution to World War Two’s air war – in men and machines.


Above is an aircrew group being briefed ready to board their Douglas Boston medium bomber. The point, of course, is to demonstrate there are more flying jobs in the air force than the pilot. Interestingly, looking closer, it’s possible the (unnamed) artist has used a photo or photos for the inspiration as the grouping is a classic propaganda photo ‘rally around chaps’ three-quarter circle.

Also the Boston is in a desert camouflage scheme, of browns, rather than grey or brown and green. This may be the artist using artistic licence to achieve a scheme matching the aircrews’ uniform colours. While some members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) flew Bostons with the RAF, only 418 Squadron RCAF was equipped with the type, and that was the nightfighter / intruder version over Western Europe. The closer one looks, the more questions arise.

And more. Gary Brindle commented on Facebook: “Interesting, I would suggest that the crew is having a de brief, the int officers were generally in a hurry to get a report ready for the telex to HQ. Another aspect is that on some stations the crew were expected to fly in collar and tie! as well as flying coveralls.”

And I responded: Good points! We must remember it’s not ‘real’ (if it were based on a photo) because the viewpoint is unobstructed, like on stage marks, but I agree it could be meant to simulate post flight. Taking another point further, the collar and tie was very much a case, but that expectation degraded over time and distance from the air force command – the Desert Air Force was notoriously ‘casual’. But are they in the desert? They may be meant to be in Canada, but the RCAF never operated Bostons in Canada – though they were ferried through, but not with a full crew. The questions keep coming…


The lower poster is more straightforward, featuring the Bristol Bollingbroke, the Canadian built version of the Bristol Blenheim medium bomber, and a flagship in the early war period of the Canadian war effort. Here an uncamouflaged ‘Bolly’ flies above a production line in the conventional early war disruptive scheme. However the artist hasn’t understood the roundels were of different colours and configuration depending on location. But that’s pretty common, then, and now. Happy Canada Day!

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Top image found here, lower from here.

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