RAAF Base Wagga has been an integral part of the Wagga Wagga community since 1940.
RAAF Wagga delivers:
- initial military training through No 1 Recruit Training Unit
- initial and post-initial employment training for ADF aviation maintenance personnel through the RAAF School Technical Training
- initial and post-initial employment training for Air Force members specialising in logistics and personnel capability management through the RAAF School of Technical Training
- post-graduate education across enlisted personnel and officers through the School of Postgraduate Studies.
These training endeavours are supported by:
- Headquarters Ground Academy, providing command oversight, training development, personnel services, logistics, chaplaincy, and physical training
- No 31 Squadron, providing key management functions as the Airbase Operations Squadron
- Wagga Health Centre, providing medical and dental support to base personnel
- a station of the Joint Military Police Unit, providing military policing functions across the base in support of command
- other Service groups including representatives of Estate and Infrastructure Group and Chief Information Officer Group, and their contractors.
In the late 1930s, an Air Force Committee of Investigation examined possible sites for a permanent facility for a flying training school. In addition to Wagga, the Committee considered other locations in the NSW Riverina such as Junee, Deniliquin and Narrandera; the Committee also considered Echuca and Kerang in Victoria, and Smithfield and Gawler in South Australia.
In 1939, the Australian Government purchased a 300-acre farm known as ‘Allonville’ at Forest Hill, 10km from Wagga. Established as ‘RAAF Station Forest Hill’ in July 1940, the base was first home to No 2 Service Flying Training School and formed one of a number of Empire Air Training Scheme bases in the Riverina.
No 31 Squadron formed at the base on 14 August 1942, flying Beaufighter aircraft; in time, the squadron moved to the Northern Territory and the South West Pacific Area to fly operations against the Japanese. In October 1942, No 5 Operational Training Unit would also be established at the base, also primarily flying Beaufighters.
When flying operations at the base were discontinued in the last few years of the war, the base became home to No 5 Aircraft Depot, a maintenance unit. At war’s end, the hangars and associated technical equipment were passed to the RAAF’s Ground Training School, formed on the base in March 1946; on 01 December 1952, the unit would be renamed as the RAAF School of Technical Training, a name it still bears.
The base was formally renamed as ‘RAAF Base Wagga’ in 1952 to more closely align the base’s activities with the City of Wagga Wagga. In 1961, the local council granted the base the Freedom of the City, an honour which has been regularly exercised since the honour was first granted.
In 1985, two other units would be formed from within the RAAF School of Technical Training:
- the RAAF School of Management and Training Technology, a forebear unit to the current School of Postgraduate Studies, formed in 2003
- the RAAF Clerical and Supply Training School, which in 2005 would be renamed as the RAAF School of Administration and Logistics Training.
No 1 Recruit Training Unit first arrived in Wagga in 1960. The unit moved to South Australia ‘temporarily’ in 1964 for facility refurbishment, but did not return to Wagga until 2008.
No 31 Squadron was disbanded post-war, but was reformed on 01 July 2010. In recognition of the activities of both No 5 Operational Training Unit and No 31 Squadron from the base, the combined Officers’/Sergeants’ Mess has been renamed as the ‘Beaufighter Mess’.
In January 1999, Ground Training Wing was established at RAAF Wagga. Following the movement of RAAF College to the base in 2008, the two units briefly amalgamated as RAAF College, before again being established as separate entities. In January 2019, following a review of training delivery across Air Force, Ground Academy was formed from RAAF College and Ground Training Wing to provide oversight of all Air Force-managed ground training.
Much of the base’s wartime infrastructure still exists; much is also still in daily use. Key wartime facilities still intact on the base include:
- the original brick guardhouse and dwarf gates on the highway
- two large brick hangars (Hangars 88 and 89)
- one large steel hangar (Hangar 84)
- a semi-circular spray of 13 Bellman ‘temporary’ hangars, believed to be the largest number of Bellman hangars in one location in the world
- the original 1940s Officers’ Mess, still replete with open fire
- the parade ground
- a 25 metre firing range
- a brick ‘stop butt’ facility into which aircraft weaponry could be test-fired safely.
RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre
The Heritage Centre originally opened in 1995 as the 'RAAF Museum - Wagga Annex' to provide a focus on the Air Force's involvement in the Riverina and access to the history and memorabilia of military aviation and training.
RAAF Base Wagga is the last remaining Riverina World War II base within a network of bases incorporating Narrandera, Temora, Deniliquin, Tocumwal and Uranquinty. It is the only place to see regional-specific Air Force memorabilia, including photographs and documents, which show the activities of the region during World War II and after.
The Centre is also an important aid in promoting present day Air Force activities and tourism for Wagga, and supports numerous local Air Force Associations.
Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm.
Entry is free.
There is also a display of static aircraft at the front gate, which can be viewed at any time, and includes:
Visit Heritage Centres for more details.
Air Force has an honest and open approach to aircraft noise that may affect neighbours of our bases and training areas.
Our pilots and crews operate their aircraft in a way that minimises aircraft noise, and we freely distribute information about aircraft noise, such as Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) maps.