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No 75 Squadron

Formed in Queensland in March 1942, No 75 Squadron was to become one of the RAAF's most famous Units. Equipped with American-built Kittyhawk fighters and with only one week's training, the Squadron flew to New Guinea.

On the afternoon of their arrival, two Kittyhawks shot down a Japanese bomber, while the next day saw the Squadron destroy twelve enemy aircraft during an attack on Lae airfield.

After this most successful beginning, No 75 Squadron went on to extract a heavy toll on the Japanese.

Continuous combat took its toll on both men and machine and after six weeks of fighting, a battle weary No 75 Squadron - with just one serviceable Kittyhawk left - was relieved and returned to Australia. During its first forty-four days of combat, No 75 Squadron destroyed thirty-four enemy aircraft and damaged a further forty-four. Sadly, the Squadrons heroic defence of Port Moresby did come at a terrible price - twelve pilots were killed and many more wounded.

A replenished No 75 Squadron returned to New Guinea in August and joined with No 76 Squadron in the defence of Milne Bay. Soon after their arrival, a Japanese invasion force steaming towards Milne Bay came under attack from Squadron Kittyhawks modified to carry bombs.

Although a number of ships were damaged, the Japanese convoy sailed into Milne Bay on the 24 August, disembarking their troops before dawn. At first light, the Kittyhawks began shuttle attacks against landing barges, stores and troops. Despite torrential rain and appalling conditions ground personnel worked tirelessly to refuel and rearmed the Kittyhawks. Although Australian ground forces were contesting every yard, the enemy was soon so close that the Kittyhawks' guns were firing before their undercarriages had retracted.

Gradually the Australians gained the upper hand and when it became apparent to the Japanese that the battle was lost, Japanese ships, under the relative protection of darkness, entered Milne Bay and embarked what troops and equipment they could.

After playing its part in the first defeat of Japanese ground forces in the Pacific War, No 75 Squadron - operating from a succession of bases - continued to attack Japanese garrisons for the duration of the war.

The Squadron's first permanent deployment after the war saw No 75 Squadron personnel, operating Royal Air Force Vampire jet fighters in defence of the Mediterranean island of Malta.

After the Squadron's return to Australia in 1955, the Vampires were soon replaced by the highly manoeuvrable Sabre. This popular aircraft was in turn replaced by the supersonic Mirage in August 1965.

In 1967, No 75 Squadron deployed to Malaysia and after sixteen years in Butterworth, Malaysia, returned to Australia, based at Darwin to await conversion to the F/A-18 Hornet and eventual relocation to RAAF Base Tindal in October 1988.

Today, No 75 Squadron is the largest F/A-18 unit in the Air Force. The squadron's remote location requires self-sufficiency, including large numbers of maintenance crews to maintain operational readiness.

The pilots of No 75 Squadron have few airspace restrictions and, with the Delamere Range only 100 kms away, they are able to train with a large variety of air-to-ground weapons. The suitability of northern Australia for training gives the squadron the opportunity to exercise regularly with air forces from Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States of America. No 75 Squadron have also had aircraft and personnel involved in recent operations as a component of the International Coalition Against Terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean.

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