Russell Bannock

Last updated
Russell "Russ" Bannock

Born (1919-11-01) November 1, 1919 (age 99)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Allegiance Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957.svg Canada
Service/branch Royal Canadian Air Force
Years of service1941 1945
Battles/wars World War II
Other workAviator and test pilot

Russell "Russ" Bannock OOnt DSO DFC* (born November 1, 1919), is a Second World War ace and former chief test pilot for de Havilland Canada.

Order of Ontario order

The Order of Ontario is the most prestigious official honour in the Canadian province of Ontario. Instituted in 1986 by Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander, on the advice of the Cabinet under Premier David Peterson, the civilian order is administered by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour current or former Ontario residents for conspicuous achievements in any field.

Distinguished Service Order UK military decoration

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the Commonwealth, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. Since 1993 all ranks have been eligible.

de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. was an aircraft manufacturer with facilities based in what is now the Downsview area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The original home of de Havilland Canada was the home of the Canadian Air & Space Museum located in what is now Downsview Park.


Early years

Bannock was born in Edmonton in 1919, and worked as a commercial pilot before the Second World War, obtaining his private pilot's license in 1938 and his commercial pilot's license in 1939.

Edmonton Provincial capital city in Alberta, Canada

Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor".

World War 2

After entering the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Bannock received his pilot's wings in 1940 and was appointed as an instructor at Trenton, Ontario. Later he was posted to Royal Air Force Ferry Command from June to August 1942. In September 1942, Bannock became chief instructor with the Flying Instructor School at Arnprior in Ontario. Bannock's request for overseas service was granted in 1944 and he joined 60 OTU based in RAF High Ercall, England.

Royal Canadian Air Force Air warfare branch of Canadas military

The Royal Canadian Air Force is the air force of Canada. Its role is to "provide the Canadian Forces with relevant, responsive and effective airpower". The RCAF is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2013, the Royal Canadian Air Force consists of 14,500 Regular Force and 2,600 Primary Reserve personnel, supported by 2,500 civilians, and operates 258 manned aircraft and 9 unmanned aerial vehicles. Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger is the current Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Chief of the Air Force Staff.

CFB Trenton airport

Canadian Forces Base Trenton, formerly RCAF Station Trenton, is a Canadian Forces base located within the city of Quinte West, Ontario. It is operated as an air force base by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and is the hub for air transport operations in Canada and abroad. Its primary RCAF lodger unit is 8 Wing, commonly referred to as 8 Wing Trenton. CFB Trenton is Canada's largest Air Force base.

RAF Ferry Command was a Royal Air Force command formed on 20 July 1941 to ferry aircraft from the place of manufacture or other non-operational areas, to the front line operational units, e.g., the squadrons. It was subsumed into the new Transport Command on 25 March 1943 by being reduced to Group status. It had a short life, but it spawned, in part, an organisation that lasted well beyond the war years during which it was formed.

In June 1944, Bannock was then transferred to No. 418 Squadron RCAF, flying intruder missions over Europe with the de Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI fighter-bomber. He quickly proved adept at this type of operation and achieved his first victories. In October 1944, he was promoted to Wing Commander and took command of the squadron. Bannock also flew 'Diver' operations against the German V-1 "flying bombs" launched against London and southern England. On one mission he shot down four V-1s in one hour. A bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was added for his missions against the V-1s.

No. 418 Squadron RCAF

No. 418 "City of Edmonton" Squadron RCAF was a unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force, formed during World War II.

de Havilland Mosquito Multi-role combat aircraft

The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito is a British twin-engine shoulder-winged multi-role combat aircraft, introduced during the Second World War, unusual in that its frame was constructed almost entirely of wood. It was nicknamed The Wooden Wonder, or "Mossie" to its crews. Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, nicknamed it "Freeman's Folly", alluding to Air Chief Marshal Sir Wilfred Freeman, who stoutly defended Geoffrey de Havilland and his design concept against orders to discontinue the project. In 1941 it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world.

V-1 flying bomb cruise missile

The V-1 flying bomb —also known to the Allies as the buzz bomb, or doodlebug, and in Germany as Kirschkern (cherrystone) or Maikäfer (maybug)—was an early cruise missile and the only production aircraft to use a pulsejet for power.

Bannock was transferred to No. 406 Squadron RCAF in November 1944 as commanding officer, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). By April 1945, Bannock had destroyed 11 enemy aircraft (including 2 on the ground), 4 damaged in the air and 19.5 V-1's destroyed. Bannock became Director of Operations, RCAF Overseas Headquarters, in London in May 1945 until September 1945 when he attended the Royal Air Force Staff College.

406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron

406 "City of Saskatoon" Maritime Operational Training Squadron is a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) unit of the Canadian Armed Forces. Based at 12 Wing Shearwater since 1972, it is responsible for crew training on the Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopter, but will be solely training with Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone since summer of 2016. The squadron was formed during World War II as part of RAF Fighter Command.

The Royal Canadian Air Force Overseas Headquarters, often abbreviated to RCAF Overseas, was responsible for Canadian airmen serving outside Canada during and just after World War II. The headquarters was established on 1 January 1940 and it was based in London. Its main functions were to conduct liaison with the British Air Ministry, to provide a central location for personnel records, and provide general administration. As the War progressed, the Overseas Headquarters gained increasing administrative authority over Canadian personnel but never gained any significant operational responsibility for RCAF units and formations which were integrated into the RAF's command structure.

Post-Second World War

Retiring from the RCAF in 1946, Bannock joined the de Havilland Canada Aircraft Company as chief test pilot, flying prototypes like the Beaver and various short take-off and landing aircraft. In 1950 Bannock became Director of Military Sales and later Vice President and President from 1976 to 1978. In 1968 he formed his own consulting business, Bannock Aerospace Ltd.

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver floatplane

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a single-engined high-wing propeller-driven short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft developed and manufactured by de Havilland Canada. It has been primarily operated as a bush plane and has been used for a wide variety of utility roles, such as cargo and passenger hauling, aerial application, and civil aviation duties.

In 1956 Bannock was appointed an associate fellow of the Canadian Aeronautical Institute. He was also chairman of the Canadian Aerospace Industries Association’s Export Committee 1964-1968, and was a director from 1976-1977. Bannock was also President of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, Director of the Canadian Industrial Preparedness Association, and the Canadian Exporters Association.

In the late 1990s, his wartime navigator, Robert Bruce, recorded his Symphony in B flat, dedicated to Bannock and in part inspired by the night sorties they flew together. [1] In 2011 he was made a member of the Order of Ontario "for his contributions to the aerospace industry". [2]

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