Greenwood Military Aviation Museum:
outstanding display of history and heritage

by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

Aviation fans who have an opportunity to be in Nova Scotia are certain to appreciate a visit to the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum (GMAM) at 14 Wing CFB Greenwood. I saw the museum for the first time during a whirlwind Maritimes vacation in September and was really impressed. Sunny skies ensured a perfect day to photograph the 10 aircraft and memorial exhibits at the Air Park surrounding the museum. Unfortunately, the museum building was closed by a power outage after post-tropical storm Dorian swept through.

The GMAM has grown significantly since it began in 1992 as an idea initiated by then Greenwood Base Commander Ken Allen. A small, dedicated group of retired and serving military personnel and local aviation enthusiasts formed a society and remain the backbone of the museum. The volunteers have a mission to provide free access, interpretation and display of the history and heritage of Base Greenwood. They deserve full accolades for accomplishing just that.

The Air Park is in a beautiful setting, somewhat like a sunken garden, which is fitting given the location in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Photographers can take pictures from a slope, enabling photos from a higher vantage point as well as ground level. What a delightful surprise for anyone with a camera!
After seeing a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star mounted as a monument at the main gate of the base, I was drawn to a breathtaking lineup of ‘heavy metal’ maritime patrol aircraft: a Lancaster Mk 10, a rare Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune and a Lockheed CP-140A Arcturus.

The Lancaster, Serial No. KB839 (painted as Serial No. JB226) flew 26 bombing sorties during the Second World War from the U.K. with the RCAF in the Pathfinder role. It sustained damage on two occasions but survived the war and is described as the only Lancaster in Canada today that sustained combat damage. It later flew with No. 408 (Goose) Squadron in Canada in the reconnaissance role in the 1950s. The aircraft was equipped post-war with cameras for Arctic mapping and maritime reconnaissance duties. Last flown on 11 March, 1964, it was retired at Greenwood in 1964.

The GMAM restoration crew returned the Lancaster to its wartime configuration by removing the 31-inch nose extension fitted after the war. Extensively refurbished, the bomber is now painted as “Gutless Gert,” as flown by 405 Pathfinder Squadron during the war. Of 60 operational missions, “Gutless Gert” flew 17 missions with 405 Squadron until sadly, it was shot down on the night of 17/18 November on a raid against Ludwigshaven, a city on the Rhine in the industrial heartland of Germany. “Gutless Gert” is a poignant tribute to the crew flying the bomber on its last fateful mission --- four Canadian, two British and one American member.

The Neptune was the first that I had seen, in RCAF colours, in many years. This attractive aircraft is the only Neptune in Canada and is on loan to the GMAM from the U.S. Navy.

The CP-140A Arcturus was flown primarily at Greenwood for Arctic and coastal surface patrol missions and pilot training. Retired in 2014, it was added to the GMAM in 2016 with a Lockheed CC-130E Hercules and a CC-144 Challenger. Challengers and Hercules flew out of Greenwood.

In fact, 434 Combat Support Squadron at Greenwood used Challengers in an electronic warfare role from 1995 to 2000, predominately working with the Royal Canadian Navy. The GMAM Hercules originally came from CFB Trenton, while the Challenger came from 412 Transport Squadron in Ottawa before it was retired in 2014.

A Dakota in striking RCAF post-war search and rescue colours is, in my view, the most photogenic of all of these significant display aircraft. The park also features another rarity --- a Piasecki H-21/Vertol 44 on display in RCAF search and rescue livery after extensive reassembly and refurbishment; a Boeing Vertol CH-113 Labrador, representing a versatile helicopter that was significant in SAR; and another Canadair Silver Star.

A Commemorative Gardens, adjacent to the Air Park, further enriches the GMAM. Impressive cairns and monuments, honoring Greenwood squadrons and aviators who made the ultimate sacrifice, are highlighted by a life-size bronze statue of a Second World War airman. Inviting walkways are lined with more than 400 commemorative granite stones remembering individuals who have served or are serving at CFB Greenwood. The memorial garden is truly moving and reflects exemplary leadership by the GMAM.

The Museum boasts more than 10,000 square feet of indoor display area, featuring six distinct eras in the history of Greenwood. Many exhibits are showcased, exemplified by cutaway engines, artefacts, paintings, photographs and mannequins in period costume.

An Avro Anson Mk II, built at Amherst, NS, in 1941 is among the highlights of the indoor aircraft. A Bolingbroke/Blenheim and a Beech Expeditor are under restoration. The Boly/Bleinheim achieved a major milestone this spring as it reached final assembly of multiple major aircraft structures after 10 years of effort. To date, more than 17,000 man-hours of work have been devoted to restoring one of the last Boly airframes in Canada. Boly 9997 will ultimately be painted in wartime colours representing a Blenheim flown by 404 Squadron out of Scotland with Coastal Command in the early years of the conflict.

The Expeditor will be the 11th aircraft on display. It’s expected to be restored in post-war RCAF colours which always look good.

The GMAM has a vibrant Facebook page, keeping everyone in the loop on all activities. There was some discussion, for example, on the issue of looking into a sprung shelter type facility to protect the aircraft on outside display from the elements. However, the cost would be substantial and the museum would be required, for example, to adhere to the building code for federal government buildings.

I have only scratched the surface with this brief report and I recommend the Facebook connection. I really hope to return to the CASM to see the entire museum next time! Congratulations to the GMAM for delivering so well on “Preserving the Past for the Future.”


Canadair Silver Star monument at Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, dedicated on 50th Reunion of 434 Bluenose Squadron in 1993.


Avro Lancaster Mk X, painted as JB266 with Gutless Gert nickname, was flown by 405 (Pathfinder)  Squadron during the Second World War.  Sept. 9, 2019.


Lancaster Mk X, Serial No. KB839, flew 26 wartime sorties with 419 (Moose) Squadron and then served postwar with 408 (Goose) Squadron. It was retired at Greenwood in 1964.


Of 60 operational missions, the Lancaster nicknamed Gutless Gert flew 17 missions with 405 Squadron until it was shot down in November 1943.


A plaque describing the Lancaster Mk X, Serial No. KB839, on display at the air park at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum.


Canadair CP-107 Argus 10717 entered service at Greenwood in 1958 and was struck off strength in 1980 as a permanent monument at the air park.


Lockheed P2V-7 in RCAF colours, loaned to the museum by the U.S. Navy,  represents Neptunes that replaced Greenwood’s Lancasters beginning 30 March 1955.


The P2V-7 Neptune at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum is the only Neptune on display in Canada.


Douglas Dakota at Greenwood air park, painted as an aircraft flown by 103 Search and Rescue Unit from 1946 to 1968.


An informative display at the Greenwood air park on the history of the Dakota.


Lockheed CP-140A Arcturus 140119 was one of three CP-140As ordered in 1991 after the initial purchse of the CP-140 Aurora.


A legacy of maritime patrol aircraft from the Lancaster to the Neptune and Arcturus on display at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum.


Canadair Challenger, RCAF 144616, served with 412 Transport Squadron and was retired in 2014.


Lockheed CC-130E Hercules, RCAF 130328, acquired from CFB Trenton, represents aircraft flown out of Greenwood by 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron.


Boeing Vertol CH-113 Labrador 11308 in Canadian Forces search and rescue colours.


A concise history of the Boeing Vertol Labrador is outlined on a plaque at the air park surrounding the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum.


Another Canadair Silver Star, in low visibility paint, displayed at the air park at Greenwood.


Piasecki Vertol H-21, H-44 displayed in RCAF search and rescue colours after extensive restoration at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum.


A life-bronze statue of a Second World War airman in a memorial to aircrew at the Commemorative Gardens at the Greenwood Miitary Aviation Museum.


A memorial dedicated to the crew of a Labrador who died in a tragic crash on 2 October, 1998.


A memorial cairn commemorating the men and women who have served on 404 Squadron since its inception in 1941.


Another impressive monument in honour of 405 Squadron.


A salute to aircrew at the Commemorative Gardens.