Operation FIREFLY

International Information

International Operation Name: Operation FIREFLY

International Mission Name: Operation FIREFLY

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name: Africa

Location: Eritria

Mission Date: 7 September 1993 - 21 October 1993

Mission Mandate: Return former Royal Canadian Navy Fairey Firefly aircraft to Canada.

Mission/Operation Notes: The Royal Canadian Navy operated 66 Fairey Firefly fighter-bomber aircraft between June 1946 and 1951. In March 1954, fourteen were sold to Ethiopia. Here they served and then languished until “discovered” in 1992.

In 1992, the Canadian Military Attache accredited to Ethiopia was visiting the newly created nation of Eritrea, which had just won its independence from Ethiopia. In Asmara he observed some Fireflys with Canadian markings showing through the paint and, following bilateral discussions, Eritrea offered two of the aircraft to Canada for heritage purposes provided Canada arranged for their delivery.

In late September and early October 1993, 426 Squadron conducted four flights to Eritrea to bring back the aircraft. Military personnel and members of the Canada Aviation Museum flew to Eritrea and disassembled the aircraft before loading them onto CF-130 Hercules for the return flights. This was conducted under the name Operation FIREFLY. One aircraft is now on display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum and the other is at the Canada Aviation Museum.

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