An often overlooked Canadian contribution to United Nations operations in Korea was Operation Hawk - an airlift from North America to Japan. An excellent description of Operation Hawk can be found on the Operation Hawk Page at the RCAF 426 "Thunderbird" Squadron Association web site.

From the Canadian Air Forces web site, a brief article on "United Nations Operations Korea (1950-53)" provides an overview of Operation Hawk:

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and thus Air Transport Command, newly formed on April 1, 1948, was to perform its first long term airlift in support of overseas United Nations operations. From July 27, 1950, until June 9, 1954, less than two dozen North Star Aircraft of Air Transport Group flew 599 missions, netting over 34,000 flying hours without fatality or serious injury. Staging out of McChord AFB in the United States, the venerable Aircraft were typically flown to Tokyo via Alaska, Shemya in the Aleutians and Misawa in Northern Japan. Throughout the four years the small contingent of North Stars airlifted 13,000 personnel and 7,000,000 lbs. of freight and mail. This was to become the third largest airlift of all time for the RCAF and CAF.


No. 426 Squadron deployed to McChord AFB in Washingston State, USA for Operation Hawk. Final destination of airlift flights was typically Haneda AFB in Japan.


Arthur Cox - 426 Squadron's remarkable record of achievement during the Korean airlift is common knowledge in RCAF circles. 599 round trips, in some of the worst flying weather imaginable, without a single loss of passenger or piece of cargo, is well documented. Notwithstanding that fact a few incidents occurred along the way; notably a/c 17509's near-fatal encounter with trees while on approach at Ashiya, Japan, and the write-off of 17505 while attempting to land in severe crosswind conditions at Shemya in the Aleutians. These are the two events I'll describe here. I should mention also that Larry Milberry's book the Canadair North Star is my source of reference material just so I keep my facts straight.

Firstly, the near mishap of 17509. The flight was on a three hour hop from Tokyo to Ashiya with twenty-three passengers, including the O/C, W/C Mussells, the squadron ops officer, S/L Morrison plus a dead-heading crew on board. Nearing destination in instrument conditions, in weather, ATC gave the crew clearance for a GCA Approach along with instructions to descend to a lower altitude. Shortly thereafter the aircraft ploughed through tree-tops on the crest of a hill. On the overshoot W/C Mussells instructed the dead-heading pilots to relieve the obviously shaken crew whereupon F/O Bob Edwards and his co-pilot, W/C Macdonald, took over. An assessment of damage showed no. 3 engine overheating badly and was, consequently, shut down. Also, power was reduced on no. 2 engine as it wasn't much better off; thus the option of returning to Tokyo was ruled out and a subsequent landing made at Ashiya. Once on the ground further damage was discovered to the nose area. Needless to say, as F/O Edwards put it, the several bottles of bourbon which appeared at the debriefing, courtesy of the USAF, were much appreciated! The hearing determined that the GCA controller had cleared the flight to descend too soon while still some considerable distance back from the glide-slope intercept point.

17505's demise was attributed to the atrocious weather conditions which prevailed at Shemya at the time of arrival; 50 knot crosswinds in blowing snow when touchdown was made on an ice-covered runway. The a/c was simply uncontrollable and blown off the runway into a gulley. Luckily all eight on board were unhurt but the a/c was a write-off.