Signed into existence on December 17, 1939, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) put Canada at the forefront of one of history’s largest multinational aviation training programs. During the Second World War, over 130,000 air crew members from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and other allied countries trained as pilots, radio operators, gunners, crew members and flight engineers in facilities across Canada. It was one of Canada’s largest wartime contributions to the Allied cause, and has left an enduring legacy on the home front that is still seen today.
The reverse design by Canadian artist David A. Oram presents an intricately detailed image that is brought to life through stunning finishes and meticulous engraving. Two airmen take to the skies in a de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth biplane, which was used as a basic trainer for would-be pilots training in Canada during the Second World War. This close view allows the viewer to glimpse the struts and flying wires that held the wooden wings in place in their stacked position. This “winterized” version also includes adaptations that were typical of the models produced in Downsview, Ontario, including a sliding cockpit canopy and a tailwheel instead of the usual skid. Here, the two-place, fixed-wing aircraft flies above the communities of southern Ontario, as outlined by the engraved map in the background. Below our two flyers is an overhead view of the No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) in Malton, Ontario, which illustrates the layout of this BCATP training facility and runways.