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No 1 Squadron

The first complete unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), No 1 Squadron formed at Point Cook, Victoria, in January 1916. Sailing for Egypt two months later, the squadron was equipped on arrival with obsolete aircraft and allocated a reconnaissance and bombing role. Operating these old and frail aircraft, engine failure forced many of the squadron's pilots into forced landings behind enemy lines.

On 20 March 1917 Lieutenant Rutherford's aircraft was forced down behind enemy lines. Despite himself being severely wounded by anti-aircraft fire, Lieutenant McNamara landed his aircraft to rescue the downed pilot. Unfortunately, after collecting his colleague, McNamara's damaged aircraft crashed while taking off. Pursued by Turkish cavalry, the two aviators ran towards Rutherford's damaged aircraft. Despite severe blood loss and constant enemy fire, Lieutenant McNamara managed to start the aircraft and fly his colleague back to base. McNamara was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage - the only Victoria Cross awarded to an Australian airman during World War l.

During the war, No 1 Squadron was the home of many of the pioneers of Australian aviation. These included Lieutenant Lawrence Wackett - a founding member of the Australian aircraft industry; Captain Ross Smith - a brilliant aviator who, in 1919, with his brother Keith, would become the first pilot to fly from England to Australia; Lieutenant Hudson Fysh - one of the founders of QANTAS; and Captain Richard Williams - regarded as the father of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Shortly after the commencement of World War II, No 1 Squadron moved to Malaya and, while they inflicted significant losses on the invading Japanese, the Squadron's own losses mounted. After reforming in 1943, No 1 Squadron moved to the Northern Territory from where its Beaufort bombers continued their attacks on Japanese forces until January 1945, when the squadron was re-equipped with Mosquito aircraft. It subsequently moved to Borneo, where it operated from Labnan Island until after the war ended. The squadron was disbanded on 7 August 1946 but reformed in 1948.

Equipped with Lincoln bombers, No 1 Squadron moved to Singapore in 1950 and for the next eight years pounded enemy hideouts in the Malayan jungles. At the end of the Malayan Emergency, No 1 Squadron returned to Australia and converted to Canberra bombers. With these Australian-built jets, No 1 Squadron participated in numerous exercises and deployments, prior to converting to the F-4E Phantom in 1970.

No 1 Squadron received its first F-111s in June 1973, and operated these potent attack aircraft as Australia's primary defence deterrent. Major exercises took the Squadron throughout Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United States.

Since receiving the F-111C the RAAF has incorporated the Pavetack Bombing System and has completed the Avionics Update Program. The Avionics Update Program markedly increased the reliability of the F-111's equipment systems, as well as increasing the accuracy of the navigation system.

In 1997, the four RF-111C reconnaissance aircraft were transferred to No 1 Squadron. Consequently, the roles of No 1 Squadron were expanded to include tactical and strategic reconnaissance.

Over the following years, projects for the aircraft included a significantly updated Electronic Warfare Suite, the upgrade of the engines, the addition of the AGM-142 Standoff missile, and the incorporation of Night Vision Goggles.

In October 2008, after 35 years of F-111 operations, No 1 Squadron flew its last F-111 sortie. From 3 November 2008, No 1 Squadron has became the first designated F/A-18F 'Super Hornet' squadron outside of the USA, and reached initial operating capability with the new aircraft in December 2010.

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