Exhibit: Tribute to the Korean War

  • Image of an illustration of Sabre F-86

    Recalled by many veterans as the “forgotten war”, defense of the Korean peninsula was the third largest military deployment in Canadian history. More than 26,000 Canadian troops served and more than 500 died.

    This exhibit explores Canada’s aviation contribution to the Korean war, including the Canadair North Stars flown by 426 Squadron on the airlift portion, hundreds of (L-20) deHavilland Canada Beavers, in service with the US Army, and 60 older-model Canadair F-86 Sabre aircraft.

    During Operation HAWK, 426 Squadron flew 599 round-trip flights with the Canadair North Stars between McChord AFB (Tacoma, WA) and Haneda airfield (Tokyo) while working with the USAF on the airlift. The North Stars shuttled troops, personnel and cargo and were also used for medivac and air rescues.

    Although Canadians did not fly the Beavers in Korea, deHavilland Canada sent a technical representative to service the aircraft.

    About 20 per cent of all combat missions by Canadian pilots were flown in Canadian-built Sabres and some missions saw MiG kills. Fast, agile and able to fly to 14,325 m (47,000 ft) in altitude, the Sabre became the only airplane able to match the new Russian designed Mig-15. The Sabre was slower than the MiG, but it could outmaneuver it in a dogfight. Even if the majority of the North American F-86 Sabres were American, the Canadian Sabre Mk2 was our contribution to the campaign.

    The exhibit also explores the lives of two Canadian RCAF pilots who were loaned to the USAF to patrol the Korean skies over MiG Alley – where most of the world’s first jet fighter dogfights occurred.

    • Omer Lévesque – World War II pilot and Canada’s last fighter ace
    • Andy Mackenzie – Shot down in the Korean War and became a prisoner of war in China for two years before he was released.

    A short biography on these brave pilots is below.

    Image of Canadian troops boarding a Canadair North Star aircraft at McChord AFB en route to Japan during Korean War

    Omer “Trottle” Lévesque

    Image of Omer Lévesque, Canadian fighter pilot

    • Born: May 21, 1920
    • Died: June 2, 2006
    • Birth Place: Mont-Joli, Quebec
    • Squadron Nos.: USAF 334th FS
    • Top Rank: Squadron Leader
    • Fighter Aircraft: F-86 Sabre

    Andy Mackenzie

    Image of Andy Mackenzie, Canadian fighter pilot

    • Born: August 10, 1920
    • Died: September 21, 2009
    • Birth Place: Montreal, Quebec
    • Squadron Nos.: USAF 39th FIW
    • Top Rank: Squadron Leader
    • Fighter Aircraft: F-86 Sabre

    Image of Canadair North Star aircraft being unloaded in Japan during Korean War

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