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No 6 Squadron

No 6 Squadron formed in England in September 1917, providing vital training for Australian fighter pilots prior to their posting to the Western Front.

At the outbreak of World War II, No 6 Squadron began flying anti-submarine and general reconnaissance patrols off the east coast of Australia.

In August 1942, No 6 Squadron Hudsons deployed to Milne Bay, New Guinea, to provide reconnaissance and bomber support in defence of the Australian garrison. During the Japanese invasion of Milne Bay, No 6 Squadron crews flew constant bombing and strafing missions against troop positions, landing barges and ships. These attacks, which complemented those of two Air Force Kittyhawk squadrons, were particularly damaging and resulted in considerable losses to the enemy.

Based at Port Moresby, the Hudsons began to drop vital supplies to Australian troops fighting their way along the infamous Kokoda Trail. Although not an ideal aircraft for this task, over 23 tonnes of supplies were delivered under extremely hazardous conditions.

During a reconnaissance mission a Hudson was attacked by six Japanese fighters, and in a remarkable engagement, the slow and poorly-armed bomber destroyed two of the fighters, and drove off the other four.

After being equipped with Lincoln bombers in 1948, No 6 Squadron provided training for Nos 1 and 2 Squadrons' aircrews throughout the 1950s. During this period, the Lincolns also participated in the British atomic bomb tests at Maralinga, South Australia, before being replaced with Canberra jet bombers.

From 1970, No 6 Squadron operated F-4E Phantoms leased from the United States Air Force, which were in turn replaced by General Dynamics F-111s in 1973. No 6 Squadron took on responsibility for F-111 conversion training, and late in 1979, also received the first of four reconnaissance conversions of the type, re-designated RF-111C. From 1982 until 1987, No 6 Squadron's Survey Flight also operated leased Learjet aircraft, and deployed to locations including Biak, Butterworth, Vanuatu and Fiji.

In 1995, a new chapter in Australian F-111 operations commenced with the arrival into service of 15 F-111G aircraft. These ex-USAF Strategic Air Command aircraft were purchased to extend the life of the type in RAAF Service, and served exclusively with No 6 Squadron. In 1996, the reconnaissance fleet transferred to No 1 Squadron, leaving No 6 Squadron dedicated to strike operations.

From October 2008, No 6 Squadron became the sole operator of the F-111, with No 1 Squadron preparing for the introduction of the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Finally, in December 2010, the F-111 fleet was retired, and No 6 Squadron is today re-equipping with the F/A-18F, known in Australian Service as the 'Rhino'.

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