|427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron|
|427e Escadron d'opérations spéciales d'aviation (French)|
|Branch||Canadian Special Operations Forces Command|
|Type||Special operations helicopter squadron|
|Part of||Canadian Special Operations Forces Command|
|Motto(s)||Latin: Ferte manus certas, lit. 'Strike with a sure hand'|
427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS) (French: 427e Escadron d'opérations spéciales d'aviation, 427 EOSA) is a tactical helicopter unit that provides aviation support to Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. The squadron is based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario with a fleet of Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopters. It was founded as No. 427 Squadron RCAF.
427 Squadron started as a bomber squadron formed at Croft, England on 7 November 1942 and spent its wartime entirely in England as a part of No. 6 Group RCAF, RAF Bomber Command. 427 flew Vickers Wellington Mk IIIs and Mk Xs from its first operational mission on 14 December 1942, a minelaying sortie to the Frisian Islands, until May 1943 when it was relocated to Leeming, North Yorkshire. Re-equipped with Handley Page Halifax Mk V aircraft, the squadron flew intensely until early 1944 when it replaced its inventory with Halifax Mk III aircraft. This fleet saw the greatest number of missions and in slightly more than a year's time they were then replaced by Avro Lancaster bombers prior to the end of World War II. The Lancasters were used for Prisoner of War repatriation until the end of May 1946. 427 was stood down on 1 June 1946.
The squadron was reformed on 1 August 1952 at RCAF Station St Hubert (a suburb of modern-day Montreal, Quebec, Canada) as 427 Fighter Squadron, flying Canadair Sabres, and was transferred to No. 3 (Fighter) Wing at Zweibrücken in March 1953. Selected as the first European RCAF squadron to receive the CF-104 Starfighter in the nuclear strike role, the squadron was stood down from its day-fighter role on 15 December 1962 and reformed as 427 (Strike-Attack) Squadron two days later.
The squadron has also taken an active role in humanitarian efforts such as the January 1998 Ice Storm in Eastern Canada, where the squadron deployed eight aircraft to Ottawa and Kingston, and the November 1998 mission to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch. With only 24-hours notice, four 427 Squadron Griffons deployed to La Ceiba, Honduras. Once in the country, Griffon crews airlifted medical teams into communities cut off by the hurricane. For the next six weeks, the squadron ferried supplies and aid workers to many isolated towns and villages.
On 1 February 2006, command of 427 was transferred to Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, as it took on a full-time role of special operations aviation support. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed as, 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (SOAS). Unlike the 160th SOAR (US Army) and other units in CANSOFCOM – JTF 2, CSOR, and CJIRU – there are no specialized standards (in the "Special Operations" context) for any 427 SOAS members and entrance into 427 SOAS requires only "negotiations through Career Managers and losing units."
Aircraft flown by 427 Squadron
- Vickers Wellington III (November 1942 – April 1943)
- Vickers Wellington X (February 1942 – May 1943)
- Handley Page Halifax V (May 1943 – February 1944)
- Handley Page Halifax III (January 1944 – March 1945)
- Avro Lancaster I/III (April 1945 – May 1946)
- Canadair Sabre
- CF-104 Starfighter
- L-19 Bird Dog
- CH-135 Twin Huey
- CH-136 Kiowa
- CH-178 (leased 2010–2011)
Battle honours in small capitals are for large operations and campaigns and those in lowercase are for more specific battles. 427 Squadron was awarded the following battle honours, which are carried on their standard:
- English Channel and North Sea, 1943–1945
- Baltic, 1944–1945
- Fortress Europe, 1943–1944
- France and Germany, 1944–1945
- Biscay Ports, 1943–1944
- Ruhr, 1943–1945
- Berlin, 1943–1944
- German Ports, 1943–1945
- Normandy, 1944
- Biscay, 1944
- Canadian Armed Forces
- Canadian Special Operations Regiment
- Joint Task Force 2
- List of Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons
- Similar units in other armed forces
- 4th Special Forces Helicopter Regiment (French)
- 3rd Special Operations Helicopter Regiment (Italian)
- 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (US)
- 171st Aviation Squadron (Australia)
- Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing (British)
- Canadian Forces (December 2008). "427 Squadron". Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
- Canadian Forces (December 2008). "427 Squadron History World War II". Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
- Canadian Forces (December 2008). "427 Squadron History Re-Activated as Fighter Squadron". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
- Canadian Forces (December 2008). "427 Squadron History Tactical Helicopter Squadron". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
- Royal Canadian Air Force. "427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- Morehen, Travis A. (Winter 2010). "The Proposed Canadian Model for Special Forces Aviation Part II" (PDF). The Canadian Air Force Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
- Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 15 August 2019 to 0901Z 10 October 2019.
- "South-West Asia Theatre Honours". Prime Minister of Canada. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.