International Operation Name: Operation METROPOLIS

International Operation Dates: 22 to 23 October 1949

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name: North America          

Location: Canada and the United States                     

Canadian Operation Name: Operation METROPOLIS

Canadian Operation Dates: 22 to 23 October 1949

Mission Mandate: To demonstrate the ability of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Auxiliary and United States (US) Air National Guardsmen to integrate forces in the event of an emergency.  

Mission Notes: In October 1948, the RCAF and the United States Air Force initiated a planned operation to demonstrate and test the integration of the two forces in the event of a major conflict. The mock raid was arranged by Air Marshal W.A. Curtis, Chief of the Canadian Air Staff, and General H. S. Vanderberg, US Air Force Chief of Staff.  Operation Metropolis, as the effort was named, was expected to furnish valuable data to the senior staffs of both countries for assessing reserve efficiency.  Another aim was to stimulate public interest, increase morale of the reserve forces and encourage recruiting in both countries.

New York City was to be the target when Canadian and American fighter planes joined forces to defend the city from a mock “enemy” bombing raid.  Twelve to 18 B-26 bombers were to penetrate the city’s outer fringe of defences with an imaginary load of bombs.  The National Guard’s F47 Thunderbolts and eight RCAF Vampire jets intercepted the “enemy” from airfields around the city. 

This was the post-war operation of its kind and would demonstrate the ability of the RCAF Auxiliary to perform in the air defence role.  Some 240 RCAF reservists, including 80 officers and 160 other ranks were involved,  401 Fighter Squadron and 438 Fighter Squadron from Montréal provided 60 members and 4 Vampire fighter each.  Two Aircraft Control and Warning Squadrons equipped with one AMES II Radar Convoy and 60 personnel each were also involved.  One AC&W unit was deployed at Stewart Air Force Base (AFB) and one AC&W unit plus the two fighter Sqns at Mitchel AFB.  426 Transport Squadron provided six North Star aircraft to transport the RCAF personnel and special equipment from St-Hubert to and from New York City..

Original plans had called for the fighters to operate at about 12,000 feet but poor weather conditions forced them to run at about 6,000 feet.  The control room, staffed by the Canadian and US air chiefs, was established in the White Plains, New York armoury, with bomber headquarters at Floyd Bennett AFB and fighter headquarters at Mitchel AFB.

This was the first of many such bi-national efforts, which were named “exercises” and not “operation.”  This was also a prelude to greater integration that led to the creation of the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD).

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