Canada marks the centenary of the Royal Canadian Air Force, with a coin showcasing the aircraft it’s used in service of its people

A respected military force for its entire history, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was formed on 01 April 1924, from the CAF, itself inaugurated in 1920. However, Canadian pilots were a potent part of the British air forces of the First World War, over 100 of them gaining 10 or more kills. Most famous of these were Billy Bishop, whose 72 kills marked him out as the top Allied ace of the conflict, and Arthur Roy Brown, credited with shooting down the infamous Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen.

It was a similar story in the Second World War, where the RCAF accredited itself with honour, flying alongside the RAF during the pivotal Battle of Britain, and helping maintain air superiority over France and the Low Countries during D-Day, Canadian pilots flew in all theatres of operations, and in the Korean War in the early 1950s. Today, they remain active, with a varied force of airframes, and around 15,000 personnel in total.

During that illustrious history, the RCAF has operated some truly iconic aircraft. The three chosen for the coin are some of the most recognisable of them all. From their early days, there’s a Sopwith Camel, a difficult to master fighter, that in the right hands was a devastatingly effective aircraft. Billy Barker, a Canadian pilot, flew a Camel (serial B6313), that remains the most successful single aircraft in RAF history, with 46 kills.

From the Second World War we have that most beautiful of aircraft, (second only to the Mosquito, in my view) the Supermarine Spitfire, a legend that needs little introduction, and one flown extensively throughout the war by the RCAF. Finally, and representing the future tip of the spear of the RCAF, is the Lockheed Martin F-35. A fifth-gen stealth fighter-bomber, it’s had a troubled development, but seems to have matured into an extremely capable aircraft. A recent acquisition, for a long period it wasn’t favoured by the Canadian government, but found increasing favour as development continued, and costs fell. It should serve them well, and allow interoperability with the USAF.

The coin, designed by artist David Moore, is a dynamic one, featuring those three aircraft soaring upwards over a retro-style set of bars denoting speed. The F-35 is most prominent, giving the coin that looking forward vibe, with the two icons in the background reminding us of the organisations’ heritage. The RCAF roundel sits at the bottom, along with the inscribed centenary dates. The inscription ‘Sic Itur ad Astra’, means ‘Reach for the stars’.

The obverse depicts the Steven Rosati effigy of King Charles II. The coin comes in a black snapper box with a Certificate of Authenticity, and has a mintage of 12,000 pieces. As you may have guessed, we like this one a lot, offering a fine encapsulation of a force that has more than earned its place in modern world history. Available now, it should start to ship next week.

$20 CAD (Canada) 31.39 g of 0.9999 silver 38.0 mm Proof 12,000