Unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services 

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War in the air: Australian Flying Corps & Royal Australian Air Force

  • No pretence is made that this is a complete report on Australia's war in the air in any conflict. I have tried to give an overview and concentrate on the aircraft used in close support of the army. 

  • Thousands of Australians did magnificent work in heavy bombers, for instance, that is not fully covered here. I can only deal briefly with it. It should be told in full in another place.

In 1917 the  best military aircraft had two or maybe three levels of wings; 

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by the time of Viet Nam the most useful aircraft had no wings, it was a chopper.

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 You can see many of them here . Just choose from the list to the right to go to a sub-category of your choice . . . 
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Fighting planes of 3 wars.

  • In the 8 months from VE-Day to the end of 1945, over 2,500 aircraft owned or operated by the RAF were lost to air accident, ground incident or as a consequence of enemy action in the Far East: an average of about 10 aircraft per day.

  • More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than in the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%. 

  • Not that bombers were helpless. A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo.

  •  The US 8th Air Force shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.

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1939 - 1945

Many RAAF men were seconded to the RAF >>

and many others joined the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) and ended up in over 200 different RAF Squadrons 

The Royal Australian Air Force underwent a massive expansion during World War Two. By the end of the war there were 75 Australian squadrons in existence of which 15 were to fight solely in the European theatre. The Australian air effort also involved the Empire Air Training Scheme where thousands of Australians were trained for service in the RAF.

On 28th August 1939, three days before Germany invaded Poland, the RAAF possessed . . .

  • 82 Ansons, 
  • 54 Demons, 
  • 7 Wirraways and 
  • 21 Seagulls, together with 
  • 82 training aircraft. 

These aircraft were organised into the 12 squadrons available for service. On 17 September the Australian Government offered six of these squadrons to Britain for service.

The air war against Japan in the Pacific
After Japan entered the war in December 1941 the Australian Government approved a plan (March 1942) to expand the Royal Australian Air Force to 72 Squadrons.

The RAAF at War in WW2 by the blokes that were there.

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces