Computer made/mounted on velcro 4.0 inch-100mm
ROYAL AUSTRALIN AIR FORCE No. 2 SQUADRON
Formation and WWI. The second squadron of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) was formed, as 68 (Australian) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC), at Kantara in Egypt on 20 Sep 1916. Its initial personnel were soon supplemented by volunteers from the light horse regiments and extra mechanics from Australia. The squadron was deployed to the Western Front in Sep 1917. Equipped initially with DH-5 aircraft, the squadron was a ‘scout’ unit, mainly escorting larger, slower aircraft, and seeking out and destroying enemy aircraft, as well as providing support for ground troops. In France, notable engagements were the third battle of Ypres, and the battle of Cambrai (20 Nov-7 Dec 1917). On the first day of the battle the squadron lost seven of its eighteen aircraft either destroyed or badly damaged; on each day of the battle, losses among the ground attack squadrons averaged 30 per cent. Six Military Crosses were awarded to 67 Squadron personnel for their actions above the Cambrai battlefield. In Dec 1917, 67 Squadron was re-equipped with SE-5 aircraft but its operations throughout the winter of 1917-1918 were hampered by bad weather. The squadron was re-designated 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, on 4 Jan 1918. On 21 Jun 1918, 2 Squadron along with 4 Squadron, AFC, and 46 and 103 Squadrons of the RAF, became part of the newly formed 80th Wing. 2 Squadron was active throughout the Allied counter-offensive. It was almost as mobile on the ground as it was in the air, relocating on several occasions to ensure it was best placed to support the Allied advance. The squadron’s last major operation of the war was flown on 9 Nov 1918, finally disbanded with disembarkation of last members in Sydney on 18 Jun 1919.
World War II. 2 Squadron was reformed at Laverton, Victoria on 10 Jan 1937. At the outbreak of the Second World War the unit searched for enemy vessels in Australian waters using Anson aircraft. After being re-equipped with Hudson aircraft, the squadron moved to Darwin in April 1941 to perform anti-submarine activities and general reconnaissance. A detachment of four aircraft was sent to Koepang on 7 Dec 1941 and then to Penfoei on 11 Dec 1941. The detachment provided cover to Australian troops moving within the islands and attacked Japanese shipping at Menado and Kema early the following year. A Japanese bombing raid on the Koepang base on 16 Jan 1942 damaged a number of planes. Further losses of aircraft, equipment, and men saw the detachment withdrawn to Darwin on 20 Jan 1942 and to Daly Waters on 18 Feb. A total of 13 crew members were lost during 1942, the squadron’s most active period of operations. Between May and October 2 Squadron attacked Japanese positions and shipping at Ambon, Timor, Koepang, and other islands in the Banda Sea. For this work the Squadron was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for ‘outstanding performance of duty in action’. In 1943, as the Allies gained control of the sky, 2 Squadron made daily attacks on Koepang, Lautem, Penfoei, and Dili. Training on Beaufort bombers commenced late in the year. Working in concert with other units, the squadron opened the new year with attacks on enemy shipping and villages in Timor used by the Japanese and native informers. A combined attack on a Japanese convoy on 6 Apr saw a cruiser and several other vessels seriously damaged. Between May and June 1944 the squadron was withdrawn from operations and re-equipped with Mitchell aircraft, commencing its first operations on targets in Lautem West on Timor Island on 27 Jun 1944. The end of 1944 was spent targeting enemy barges and freighters, now relied upon to supply their outer garrisons. In early 1945 these tasks were continued in conjunction with 18 Squadron. 2 Squadron moved to Borneo shortly after the end of the war and played an important role in locating prisoner-of-war camps and dropping supplies to camps in the Celebes. The squadron assumed transport operations until it moved to Laverton in December, when it was reduced to a cadre basis and eventually disbanded on 15 May 1946. Over the period of the war the squadron suffered 176 casualties.
Vietnam. When eight Canberra jet bombers of 2 Squadron landed at Phan Rang Air Base in South Vietnam in Apr 1967, the squadron had already been serving in south-east Asia for nine years. In Jul 1958 it had been sent to Butterworth, Malaya, to relive 1 Squadron, as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve. The squadron remained at Butterworth during the Indonesian Confrontation.
Phan Rang Air Base was home to the USAF’s 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, which 2 squadron integrated into. The first of the squadron’s Canberra bombers landed at Phan Rang on 19 Apr and flew their first mission on 23 Apr 1967. For the next four years the squadron flew an average of eight missions a day, seven days a week. For the first few months the squadron mostly few ‘combat sky spot’ missions, where aircraft were guided by ground radar to a target and told when to drop their bombs. Most of the flights were flown at night and tended to be routine and boring. In September the squadron began low-level daylight bombing, hitting targets from low altitude, between 370 and 915 metres. The squadron had conducted similar bombing missions in Malaya but refined its accuracy in Vietnam to such an extent it consistently out-performed all other units of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. This high proficiency was not limited to just aircrew, but applied to the ground crew as well. The maintenance staff worked 24 hours a day on a two-shift roster, achieving the noteworthy rate of 97 per cent serviceability. The squadron hit targets from the demilitarised zone in the north, the border between North and South Vietnam, and the Mekong Delta in the south. This included enemy concentrations around Hue, the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968, and the South Vietnamese attack into Laos in 1971. In total, the squadron flew over 11 900 combat missions. It also lost only two aircraft during the conflict. After serving four years and two months in Vietnam, 2 Squadron returned to Australia in Jun 1971.
After Vietnam, No. 2 Squadron was based at Amberley, Queensland. It briefly returned to bombing role in training, but in the later years of the Canberra bomber’s RAAF operations, it was predominately used for target towing in support of the RAAF’s fleet of Dassault Mirage III fighters and survey photography to support the aerial mapping of Australia and other locations including Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya and the Cocos and Christmas Islands. Eventually, the squadron’s Canberra bombers were retired from service and in late Jul 1982 the squadron was disbanded.
Currently. The squadron was re-formed in Jan 2000 to operate Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft procured as part of Project Wedgetail, out of RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, responsible for conducting surveillance, air defence, fleet support and force coordination operations in defence of Australian sovereignty and national interests. On 26 Nov 2009, the RAAF accepted the first two of six Boeing 737s, and by the end of 2010, the squadron had begun training. In 2011, after a period of conversion training for its crews, it took part in Exercise Talisman Sabre with US and Australian forces. The squadron forms part of the Surveillance & Response Group’s No. 42 Wing, which is responsible for the RAAF’s AEW&C capability. On 14 Sep 2014, the Federal government committed to deploying one of the squadron’s Boeing 737s to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, as part of a coalition to combat Islamic State forces in Iraq. The aircraft began undertaking missions in Iraq on 1 Oct 2014.
When required, AEW&C will support civil or military operations through law enforcement, regional co-operation and peacekeeping.
Decorations. World War I, 6 x Military Cross (1 bar) ; 7 x Distinguished Flying Cross (2 bars) ; 4 x Military Medal ; 1 x Meritorious Service Medal.
World War II. US Presidential Unit Citation ; 2 x Order of the British Empire ; 21 x Distinguished Flying Cross (1 bar) ; 7 x Distinguished Flying Medal ; 1 x Air Force Medal ; 2 x Mentioned In Dispatches ; 2 x British Empire Medal.
Vietnam War. The Cross of Gallantry with Palm, from the Republic of Vietnam; United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ; 3 x Distinguished Service Order ; 2 x Member of the British Empire ; 8 x Distinguished Flying Cross (1 bar) ; 1 x Military Medal ; 1 x British Empire Medal ; 35 x Mentioned in Dispatches.