Australia and the Vietnam War

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Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

Overview

To most Australians who served in Vietnam the RAAF presence was exemplified by the Iroquois helicopter. [AWM VN/68/0011/07]

To most Australians who served in Vietnam the RAAF presence was exemplified by the Iroquois helicopter. [AWM VN/68/0011/07]

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) began its involvement in the war in 1964 when a flight of Caribous began flying transport operations around South Vietnam. The following year RAAF helicopters began operations and in 1967 a squadron of Canberra bombers arrived in the country. Other RAAF personnel performed a variety of roles in Vietnam, from aeromedical evacuations to airfield construction and combat flying with United States forces.

35 Squadron

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Coupled with its already demanding workload, 35 Squadron routinely carried out wide-ranging unscheduled daily tasks, allocated at short notice, including transporting military and civilian passengers, medical evacuations and delivering mail or general cargo (food, fuel, livestock, ammunition, spare parts). more…

9 Squadron

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No. 9 Squadron’s helicopters carried out a range of roles in Vietnam, the most important of which were the transport of infantry and logistic support. In the battle of Long Tan, pilots flew at tree-top height in appalling conditions to drop ammunition to beleaguered Australian troops and retrieve the wounded. more…

2 Squadron

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Equipped with Canberra bombers and flying out of Phan Rang Air Base, No. 2 Squadron operated day and night missions destroying a wide range of infrastructure targets as well as attacking Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops. more…

Other RAAF Personnel

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RAAF personnel also served in logistics tasks and aeromedical evacuations using Hercules aircraft, in airfield construction, as forward air controllers calling in and guiding artillery strikes, in reconnaissance operations, and flying F-4s with the US Air Force. more…

RAAF 1975

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In April 1975 the Vietnam War was in its final throes. Thousands of refugees were fleeing south before a fast-moving, unstoppable communist offensive. Into the chaos flew 'Detachment S', eight RAAF Hercules, their crews and supporting personnel. Australia's last involvement in the Vietnam War was both an evacuation and a humanitarian operation whose participants witnessed a country on the verge of complete collapse. more…


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'3 Squadrons in Vietnam Air Operations'
By 1967 three RAAF Squadrons were flying very different kinds of operations in Vietnam. For No. 9 Squadron's helicopter crews day-to-day operational life meant close work with the infantry and dangerous flights in support of ground operations. No. 2 Squadron's aircrew flew high above the war, bombing remote targets as part of a United States Air Force wing, while Caribou crews of No. 35 Squadron flew supply runs throughout South Vietnam risking life and limb landing on barely maintained airstrips at nondescript jungle outposts in support of special forces units. [RAAF News, Vol. 9, No. 3, April 1967 Front page. AWM RC07159]