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No 33 Squadron

Initially equipped with Empire flying boats, No 33 Squadron formed at Townsville in February 1942. Shortly after, the Squadron's inventory was supplemented with a variety of lighter aircraft including Dragons, Ansons and Tiger Moths.

After moving to Port Moresby in January 1943, No 33 Squadron was heavily involved in airlifting vital supplies to Australian forces in the jungles of New Guinea. Many freight runs to Myola and Kokoda were made - where even the diminutive Tiger Moths were pressed into service, delivering 77 kilograms of cargo each trip!

In October 1943, No 33 Squadron was re-equipped with Dakotas and operated this type on transport duties until the end of the war. After Japan's surrender, No 33 Squadron ferried POWs and Allied troops from their remote locations back to Australia, before disbanding in May 1946.

On 1 July 1983, No 33 Squadron was re-established as a strategic transport squadron based at Richmond. Equipped with Boeing 707s, the Squadron's role also included VIP transport and air-to-air refuelling for the RAAF's F/A-18 Hornets.

Aside from its VIP tasks, No 33 Squadron has undertaken many important operations since reforming. Until the RAAF withdrew its fighter presence from Butterworth in the late 1980s, regular transport flights were made to Malaysia. In 1989, No 33 Squadron was involved in the deployment of Australian troops to Namibia for United Nations peacekeeping operations.

In 2003, No 33 Squadron's Boeing 707s provided an important capability to the International Coalition Against Terror, and carried out refuelling sorties for US, French and other allied aircraft from bases in Kyrgyzstan.

In June 2008, the RAAF finally retired the Boeing 707, and No 33 Squadron immediately relocated to RAAF Base Amberley to prepare for the arrival of the new Airbus KC-30A aircraft. Compared to the 707, the KC-30A is not only considerably larger, and can carry more passengers, cargo and fuel, but the aircraft is also fitted with an Advanced Refuelling Boom System, in addition to the hose and drogue system similar to that used by the 707. With the first of five aircraft delivered in 2011, No 33 Squadron is carrying out training for maintenance technicians, aircrew and support stuff prior to reaching operational capability.

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