Air International 1994-08
M.Wright - The Royal Australian Air Force
Last RAAF operator of the venerable Dakota is the Edinburgh-based Aircraft Research & Development Unit which was scheduled to retire its last five examples in 1982 - 12 years later four of these still soldier on with the unit, including A65-86 illustrated here! The type has seen continuous RAAF operation since 1939 with some 127 examples having seen service at one time or another, together with ten DC-2s.
Now largely supplanted in the training role by the PC-9/A, the MB-326H remains in regular RAAF use in a number of other roles including instructor training, tactical training, lead-in fighter training, target facilities and F-111 navigator training. A7-074 from 76 Squadron at Williamtown seen here is used in the lead-in fighter trainer role, including weapons training and combat manoeuvring.
First supersonic type in RAAF service was the Dassault Mirage III as exemplified by Mirage IIIO A3-18 of 75 Squadron seen here in 1965 - the natural metal scheme was later replaced by camouflage. All but two of the 116 delivered between 1964 and 1968 (comprising 100 IIIO single-seaters and 16 IIIDO two-seat trainers) were assembled locally, the first example flying in November 1963. The type was progressively replaced by the Hornet between 1985 and 1988 with the last RAAF Mirage sortie being undertaken on September 26, 1988.
A 10 Squadron P-3C Orion demonstrates dropping a rescue/survival capsule. Although the scheme seen here in this 1991 photograph is already somewhat toned-down, a new three-tone grey livery was trialled in early 1993 and is being progressively applied to all RAAF P-3Cs. Initially operating ten P-3Bs, supplemented by ten P-3Cs later, the former were eventually replaced by ten more P-3Cs. Nineteen examples remain in service, one having been lost on Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean on April 26. 1991.
Mainstay of the transport force is the ubiquitous Hercules with a dozen C-130Es being operated by 37 Squadron and a similar number of C-130Hs by 36 Squadron, both based at Richmond as part of 86 Wing. The 12 C-130Hs were delivered in 1978 to replace a similar number of elderly C-130As which had served faithfully since 1958.
English Electric Canberra B.20 A84-229 in 2 Squadron markings was one of 48 of this variant acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force, five later being converted to T.21 trainers. These aircraft were built under licence by the Government Aircraft Factory at Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne, although two UK-built B.2s were also bought as pattern aircraft together with a pair of T.4s. The RAAF B.20s saw operational service in Vietnam following deployment of 2 Squadron there in April 1967, initially to undertake Combat Sky Spots high-level bombing missions as part of the US air offensive against the North Vietnamese.
F-111 of 6 Squadron RAAF
F-111C A8-127 from 6 Squadron at Amberley getting airborne. The RAAF's entire force of 18 F-111Cs and four RF-111Cs is based at Amberley with 82 Wing, the aircraft being split between 1 and 6 Squadrons, while the wing is also now taking delivery of 15 USAF-surplus F-111Gs.
RAAF/1 Squadron F-111C A8-114 from Amberley carrying a Harpoon under the starboard wing taxies out for another sortie. Originally ordered in 1963, the first examples were not delivered until ten years later. Now considerably updated, the surviving aircraft remain in service and are being supplemented by 15 refurbished former USAF F-111Gs, the first pair of which were delivered to Amberley on September 28, 1993.
As a replacement for the MB.326 under specification AFTS 5045 the Pilatus PC-9 was chosen to become the new follow-on trainer for the CT-4 and a total of 67 PC-9/As were delivered, commencing in October 1987. The type is flown by 2 FTS at Pearce, the CFS and the Roulettes aerobatic team, both at East Sale.
Five Dassault Falcon 900s are operated in the VIP transport role, all serving with 34 Squadron at Fairbairn under 86 Wing. A26-077 seen here was the fifth and last of the type to be delivered.
A quartet of RAAF NZAI CT-4A-8 Airtrainers from the now disbanded 1 FTS maintain close formation over the sea near their base at Point Cook. An initial 37 Airtrainers were delivered from 1975 with a further 14 following from late-1981, the aircraft serving with 1 FTS at Point Cook and the CFS at East Sale. Following disbandment of 1 FTS, 36 of the type were auctioned off to private buyers in May 1993.
Sharp end of today’s RAAF is the F/A-18A/B Hornet which replaced the Mirage III in 3, 75 and 77 Squadrons and 2 OCU (illustrated) of the Tactical Fighter Group/81 Wing. As with many other aircraft acquired overseas, an offset deal meant that all but the first two of the 57 F/A-18As and 18 F/A-18Bs were assembled locally by GAF.
First type to be built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory was the Wirraway which first entered RAAF service in 1939 - a total of over 700 were eventually built and the type was the RAAF’s main basic trainer for 20 years. Seen here is Wirraway 3 A20-691, one of the last survivors in service, in 1961.
Typifying the earlier equipment of the RAAF, much of which was of UK origin until the 1950s, is Anson GR.1 A4-1 seen here in 1937.
Winjeel A85-415 from the CFS - the type was one of relatively few indigenous designs to see service with the RAAF. Built by CAC, the first CA-22 Winjeel three-seat basic trainer flew in 1950 and the definitive CA-25, the production version, followed on February 23, 1955. Although long-since retired from the training role, several examples remain in use with 76 Squadron at Williamtown in the forward air control role, with a more appropriate camouflage scheme having replaced the high-visibility silver-and-DayGlo training colours.