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No 87 Squadron

Initially equipped with Mosquito and Wirraway aircraft, No 87 Squadron was formed from elements of No 1 Photographic Unit on 10 September 1944. Based at Coomalie Creek, No 87 Squadron provided photo reconnaissance support for Allied air force operations to the north of Australia.

The Squadron's Mosquito and Lightning aircraft were ideally suited to the aerial reconnaissance role, as their manoeuvrability and high speed meant that enemy aircraft rarely troubled them. This is clearly demonstrated by an incident in April 1945, when a Mosquito was intercepted by a Japanese fighter during a shadowing operation on the Japanese cruiser "Isuzu" and four smaller warships. The Mosquito crew, on observing the enemy approaching simply increased their speed, leaving the enemy fighter far behind.

No 87 Squadron's longest reconnaissance mission of the War was carried out in July 1945, when a Mosquito conducted aerial reconnaissance over targets in Java - a flight which covered over 3,700 kilometres.

After Japan's surrender, No 87 Squadron moved to New South Wales where it disbanded in July 1946. The Squadron was reformed at Fairbairn in 1948 when the Survey Flight was redesignated No 87 Squadron.

Operating in the photo survey role, No 87 Squadron carried out many important operations in conjunction with the Commonwealth Survey Committee and National Mapping Council. March 1953 saw the commencement of No 87 Squadron's last major task - a survey of the Great Sandy Desert. On completion of this survey No 87 Squadron was disbanded in December of that year.

In 2005, No 87 Squadron was reformed to provide Intelligence Branch support to RAAF operations, and will encompass Intelligence, Photography, Signals Operator and Geospatial Analyst musterings.

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