Home' Air Force News : March 1st 2012 Contents Civil Skills Data -- Keeping you updated!
ADF commanders & task planners
Keep your Personal Data and Civil Skills Data on PMKeyS up to date - increases
options for you and ADF.
Skills in Reserve
March 1, 2012
CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Brown has congratu-
lated 24 Air Force personnel who have been
awarded the Australian Service Medal
Special Operations clasp for Operation Vista.
"Operation Vista was an evacuation of
454 Australian citizens and other foreign
nationals out of Cambodia in July 1997.
Air Force personnel did a great job on
the evacuation and I am pleased that our
people are now being more formally rec-
ognised for their role," AIRMSHL Brown
said.A total of 44 Air Force personnel have
been assessed as eligible for this clasp,
but despite extensive research only 24
could be contacted.
If you have discharged from the Air Force and
believe you may be eligible for the award, con-
tact the Directorate of Honours and Awards on
1800 111 321 for further information.
KNOWN for its high-profile transport role today
at Defence Establishment Fairbairn, 34SQN has
its origins in the bombing of Darwin on February
Australia needed to quickly mobilise its forces
across the Top End if it was to have any success in
defending against Japanese attacks, which led to the
formation of a new transport unit in Darwin.
On February 23, 1942, 34SQN was created at
Parap Airfield with a humble workforce -- two offic-
ers, four airmen, and a pair of DeHavilland DH84
A day later, it flew its first mission. On Bathurst
Island, a Dragon collected its first passenger.
Coincidentally, it was the first Japanese POW to be
taken on Australian soil.
Hajime Toyoshima was a Japanese Navy pilot
whose Zero fighter had crashed on Melville Island
during the bombing of Darwin. Flown by 34SQN
Dragon back to Darwin under armed guard,
Toyoshima was interned and later played a key role
during the Cowra breakout in 1944.
A week after forming, the squadron grew by 10
airmen and an officer. FLTLT J.W. Warwick was
selected as the unit's first CO (albeit temporary) on
March 1, and disaster quickly struck.
On March 3, Japanese Zeros strafed a 34SQN
Dragon on the ground at Wyndham in Western
Australia. The aircraft had landed moments before
the raid, allowing a lucky escape for the crew and
The attack was followed by a series of 34SQN
moves to bases across the Northern Territory, as suc-
cessive Japanese raids rolled across Australia's Top
Enemy forces aside, the job of flying the Dragon
biplane transports in northern Australia was no easy
feat. While suitable for landing on remote outback
airstrips, Dragons suffered poor serviceability with
Tasks could take several days to complete as the
Dragons cruised at 95 knots with only room for eight
passengers. By contrast, today's Challenger CL-604s
flown by 34SQN carry nine passengers over a dis-
tance of 5600km at 450 knots.
By April 1942, the 34SQN fleet grew with a
replacement Dragon, a pair of Avro Anson light
transports, and three Tiger Moth biplanes.
With this modest fleet, the squadron delivered air
transport in an area with few alternatives. Northern
Australia had few roads between its major centres,
and sea lanes were preyed upon by Japanese forces.
By January 1943, 34SQN was relocated to
Parafield Airport in South Australia, preparing to
receive the Douglas Dakota.
Each Dakota could carry 28 troops and ranged
much further than the Dragons. From June, the
squadron was equipped with its first three Dakotas,
which soon allowed it to fly tasks into New Guinea.
The modern era of 34SQN began on March 12,
1956, when the RAAF VIP Flight in Canberra was
renamed No. 34 (VIP) Flight. Initially equipped
with Dakotas, the flight also received the first of two
Convair Metropolitans in May 1956.
In June 1959, the flight was renamed No. 34
(Special Transport) Squadron.
For more than half a century, it has operated in its
role of VIP transport.
The VIP fleet has varied over the years, and today
34SQN is equipped with the Boeing Business Jet
(carrying up to 36 passengers on longer-range tasks),
along with the Challenger CL-604 (with space for
nine passengers on shorter haul tasks).
BIGGER REACH: A
34SQN Dakota during
WWII. Photo courtesy South
Australian Aviation Museum
Facts about 34SQN
In the past 12 months, it has supported
three royal tours (Queen Elizabeth II, Prince
William, and Frederick and Mary, Crown
Prince and Princess of Denmark).
It has flown every Australian prime minister
since Robert Menzies and served over 23
It supported the Government's response to
the 2011 Queensland Floods crisis.
It was the first RAAF operational flying squad-
ron with female members. On June 1, 1944,
it received one officer and 20 airwomen from
the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force.
It also had one of Air Force's first female
pilots. PLTOFF Deborah Hicks was posted
to fly Mystere 20s with 34SQN in June 1988
after completing 144 Pilots' Course with
FLTLT Robyn Williams, who was posted to the
School of Air Navigation.
It was the first RAAF squadron with a turbo-
fan equipped aircraft -- the BAC-111, powered
by the Rolls Royce Spey.
Numerous 34SQN aircraft survive in Australia
today, including Bristol Freighter A81-1 (at
the Air Force Museum) and four war-era
Dakotas (in civil use).
Links Archive February 16th 2012 March 15th 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page