Articles – RAAF in WWII

RAAF In WWII cover, and AERO Australia special issue




Page 3


Coming of Age:

The Royal Australian Air Force grew from a relatively minor air arm in 1939 to the world’s fourth largest in 1945. In the meantime it made a very substantial contribution to the Allies’ victory in World War II. p 6


Prelude to War:

The very existence of the RAAF was threatened in the early 1930s but its value to the nation was gradually recognised as the threat of war increased. p 12


For King and Country:

Rallying to the cause – for the first time in two years of the war Australia’s role was supporting Britain in its fight against Nazi Germany. One major contribution was its part in the Empire Air Training Scheme. p 16


Tiger Moth: the pilot maker

The de Havilland Tiger Moth was the aircraft on which many thousands of Commonwealth pilots learned to fly. p 20



With the outbreak of war in September 1939, many civilian aircraft were pressed into service with the RAAF. p 22


Sunderland: Atlantic Warrior

The U-Boat menace in the North Atlantic was a serious threat to the convoy lifelines from North America to Britain. Two Australian Sunderland squadrons were heavily involved in the pivotal Battle of the Atlantic. p 24


Desert Hawks:

Many Australian pilots were involved in the vital North African campaign against Germany and Italy, flying in both RAAF and RAF squadrons. Their usual moount was the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk and Kittyhawk. p 32


Hudson: Modernising the RAAF

The realisation that modern aircraft were urgently needed for the RAAF and doubts about the supply of aircraft from the UK led to the Lockheed Hudson entering service in 1940. p 38


Defending Australia:

Japan’s entry to the war in December 1941 saw Australia suddenly threatened with invasion – and the RAAF had no fighters with which to deal with the threat. p 40


Wirraway: Australia’s Own

The CAC Wirraway general purpose advanced trainer represented the start of a viable aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia to help meet the needs of war p 46


Kittyhawk: Workhorse Fighter

The rugged and reliable Curtiss P-40 family was the RAAF’s most numerous and widely deployed fighter ‘at home’. p 50


New Guinea: Gateway to Australia

New Guinea and its surrounding areas were vital to Japan if it wished to succeed in its ambitions. They were also vital to Australia in its efforts to repel the enemy from its doorstep. p 52


Spitfire: Thoroughbred Down Under

Britain responded relatively slowly to Australia’s pleas for modern fighters in early 1942, mainly because her own resources were severely stretched. But the first of eventually 656 RAAF Spitfires began arriving later in the year. p 58


Over There:

Australian aircrew made a massive contribution to Britain’s war against Germany, serving with both regular Royal Air Force squadrons and the RAAF units which were established during World War II. p 60


Mustangs over the Med:

Too late to see action in the Pacific, RAAF Mustangs based in Italy were kept busy during the final six months of the European War. p 67


Biscuit Bombers:

Combat aircraft would not have been able to fly and troops on the ground would not have been able to supply men and equipment. p 72


Boomerang: Made in Australia

Designed, built and flown in just five months when Japan threatened, the Boomerang is the only indigenous Australian combat aircraft to enter production and operational service. p 78


Catalina: roaming the Pacific

In many ways the RAAF’s unsung heroes of the Pacific War, the Catalina flying boats and their crews ranged far and wide undertaking a variety of hazardous missions against the Japanese. p 82


Beaufort: Creating an industry

The Beaufort’s importance lay not only in the major operational role it played in the RAAF’s Pacific War, but also in the massive industrial mobilisation which accompanied its local production. p 88


Beaufighter: Whispering Death

Its hitting power, speed and range were tailor-made for the RAAF making the Beaufighter one of the RAAF’s most potent weapons in the fight against Japan. p 96


Heading North:

As the Pacific War started to swing in favour of the Allies Japan would soon be pushed back as territory was regained. RAAF squadrons were heavily involved in this ‘island hopping’ campaign – up to a point. p 103


Liberator: late war ‘heavy’

The only heavy bomber to serve the RAAF  ‘at home’ during WWII, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator had a relatively brief but successful career towards the end of the conflict. p 108



The RAAF’s aircraft and operational squadrons of World War II and local aircraft production listed. p 112