Bombing of Darwin

19 Feb 1942

In two attacks this day, Japanese aircraft caused widespread destruction to the port of Darwin, including the town’s civil aerodrome and RAAF air base. The first raid, carried out at 9.55 am by 188 carrier-based aircraft, focused on the harbour before turning on the town itself. With the advantage of numbers, the element of surprise and the absence of significant fighter opposition, Japanese dive-bombers were largely untroubled as they selected their targets. While buildings, installations and aircraft at the RAAF base were damaged in the first raid, the worst destruction came in a second attack carried out by 54 land-based bombers at 11.55 am. This wrecked the remaining buildings, including many of the living quarters, and caused the majority of the RAAF’s casualties (seven dead and five injured). Allied losses totalled 23 aircraft, eight ships and 255 people killed. Only five Japanese aircraft were definitely downed.

Related base

  • RAAF Base Darwin