Air Force Life

While the Air Force is the younger sibling of the Army and Navy, it has nevertheless developed a wealth of symbols and heritage in its history. Many of these symbols were adapted from the Royal Air Force and are similar to symbols found in other Commonwealth air forces, such as the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.  Some of these traditions, such as Christmas dinner, are also celebrated by the Army and Navy.


The Globemaster with tail number 177301 was the first one delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

The first letter in an aircraft designation shows that it is Canadian and the second indicates what type of aircraft it is. So CC indicates a cargo aircraft, CH is a helicopter, CF is a fighter, CP is a patrol aircraft and CT is a trainer.

The three numbers indicate the particular aircraft fleet and are often based on the manufacturer’s name. So the C-17 Globemaster III became the CC-177 Globemaster III when it entered Canadian service. And yes, it really is the CF-188 Hornet although it’s commonly called the CF-18.

Aircraft tail numbers, which designate a specific aircraft, are composed of the three fleet numbers and three digits indicating that aircraft. So 177701 is the first Globemaster delivered to Canada. When the new J-model Hercules were brought into service, the last three digits were drawn from the 600 range rather than the 300 range because it was considered essentially to be a new aircraft.

And do the names take a hyphen or not? Well, officially and operationally no. But documents produced for the public use a hyphen because they follow the style of the civilian press. That’s why you can see the Griffon called both a CH146 and a CH-146.

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