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No. 34 Squadron RAAF
RAAF Boeing 737-7DT(BBJ) CBR Gilbert-1.jpg
A No. 34 Squadron Boeing 737 BBJ in 2004
Active February 1942 – Present
Branch RAAF
Role VIP Transport
Part of 84 Wing
Garrison/HQ Defence Establishment Fairbairn
Motto(s) Eo et redeo
Aircraft Boeing 737 BBJ
Challenger 604

No. 34 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) transport squadron. It is currently based at Canberra International Airport in the Australian capital Canberra, where it operates two Boeing 737 Business Jets and three Bombardier Challenger 604s.

History[edit | edit source]

The Squadron was established on 23 February 1942 at Parap Airfield in Darwin, Northern Territory, just four days after the city was bombed for the first time.[1] Tasked with transport duties in northern Australia (including carrying freight and Japanese prisoners of war),[1] its initial equipment was a pair of de Havilland Dragons; within days one had been destroyed on the ground at Wyndham, Western Australia by enemy air attack,[2] and the other was unserviceable. The Squadron relocated to Daly Waters Airfield on 5 March 1942 and after several days another Dragon was allocated; this was joined by two Avro Ansons in late April and then two de Havilland Tiger Moths.[1] In mid-May the Squadron relocated again to Batchelor Airfield and again in mid-July, this time to Hughes Airfield.[1] The Squadron remained at Hughes until 27 August 1942, when it moved to Manbulloo Airfield; it operated from Manbulloo until it was temporarily disbanded on 13 December and its aircraft transferred to another unit.[1][3]

A former No. 34 Squadron Bristol Freighter preserved at the RAAF Museum

In January 1943 the Squadron re-formed at Parafield Airport in South Australia and received eight Dragons, but by the end of the month this had been reduced to three.[1] On 11 March one of these was destroyed in an accident at Parafield, causing the deaths of two Squadron personnel.[4] Within a few months the Dragons were replaced by Douglas Dakotas, the Squadron having seven on strength by August 1943; a Douglas DC-2 and an Airspeed Oxford were also brought on strength late in the year.[1] 1944 saw the Dakotas being used by the squadron to operate throughout Australia and also to New Guinea; meanwhile in June that year it became the first Operational RAAF squadron to have members of the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force in its ranks, with an officer and 20 Airwomen joining the Squadron.[1] In February 1945 the Squadron commenced a relocation to Morotai, being fully established there by mid-April. The Squadron remained at Morotai until the end of the war, at which time it became involved in repatriating Australian former prisoners of war from Singapore, and then in supporting the formation of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The Squadron returned to Australia in February 1946 and disbanded at RAAF Base Richmond on 6 June the same year.[1][3] The Squadron was reformed in March 1948 as a VIP transport and reconnaissance unit, operating primarily in support of the Woomera rocket range. During this time it operated the only Vickers Viking to be taken on strength by the RAAF, and was the only RAAF squadron to operate the Bristol Freighter.[3][5][6] Three Bristols were taken on strength in March and April 1949; one was lost in a fatal crash near Mallala, South Australia on 25 November 1953 after its wing failed in flight and another example was subsequently acquired to replace the loss.[7][8]

VIP operations[edit | edit source]

A No. 34 Squadron Challenger 604 in 2004

In July 1959 No. 34 Squadron became the RAAF's VIP fleet operator, tasked with transporting visiting heads-of-state and other VIPs. It took over this role from the VIP Flight of 86 Transport Wing, taking the VIP Flight's two Convair 440s[9] and once again taking Douglas Dakotas on strength; it also moved to its current home (at that time called RAAF Base Fairbairn).[10] In late 1964 two second-hand Vickers Viscounts were obtained to supplement the Dakotas and Convairs; the two piston engine types were withdrawn after the delivery in 1967 of three Dassault Falcon 20s and two Hawker Siddeley HS 748s.[10] In 1968 two BAC 1-11s joined the squadron and the two Viscounts were retired the following year.[10] One of the BAC 1-11s, A12-125, became the first RAAF aircraft to convey HM The Queen, on 2 April 1970, a further four Royal sectors being flown during April.[11] The fleet remained unchanged until the end of the 1980s, when the two HS 748s were transferred to 32 Squadron,[12] and the Falcon 20s and BAC 1-11s were retired.[13] The three diverse types were replaced by five Dassault Falcon 900s leased from Hawker Pacific, the first time the RAAF had leased aircraft from a commercial company.[13] The Falcon 900s were operated until replaced by the Squadron's current equipment in 2002.[14][15] The two BBJs and three Challenger 604s are also leased, from Qantas Defence Services.[16]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 History of 34 Squadron in World War II. Retrieved on 10 December 2008.
  2. Description of loss of Dragon A34-9. Retrieved on 10 December 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 RAAF Museum No. 34 Squadron history. Retrieved on 10 December 2008.
  4. Description of loss of Dragon A34-48. Retrieved on 10 December 2008.
  5. RAAF Museum Vickers Viking page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  6. ADF Serials list of Bristol Freighters. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  7. RAAF Museum Bristol Freighter page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  8. Aviation-Safety description of A81-2 accident. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  9. RAAF Museum Convair Metropolitan page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 RAAF Museum Vickers Viscount page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  11. Cooksley, Flight Royal, p.96
  12. ADF Serials list of HS 748s. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  13. 13.0 13.1 RAAF Museum Falcon 900 page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  14. ADF Serials BBJ page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  15. RAAF Museum Challenger 604 page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008
  16. Qantas Defence Services special purpose aircraft program page. Retrieved: 12 December 2008

References[edit | edit source]

  • Cooksley, Peter G (1981). Flight Royal: The Queen's Flight & Royal flying in five reigns. Leeds, UK: Patrick Stephens Limited, Cambridge. ISBN 0-85059-490-1. 

External links[edit | edit source]


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