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No 76 Squadron

Shortly after forming in Queensland during March 1942, No 76 Squadron Kittyhawks deployed to Milne Bay to confront the advancing Japanese.

On 24 August, the Japanese invaded Milne Bay. The following battle for Milne Bay was to become one of the most significant battles in the South West Pacific and represented the first land defeat of Japanese forces in the War. The two-week battle saw No 76 Squadron Kittyhawks flying bombing and strafing operations in support of the desperate Australian diggers - who were slowly but inexorably being pushed back towards the RAAF airstrips.

With Australian ground forces contesting every yard and constant air attacks by the Kittyhawk Squadrons, the Australian defenders slowly gained the upper hand. After six days of bloody combat, it was becoming apparent that the Japanese were loosing the battle and pressure on the Australian troops gradually decreased.

By September, the first signs that the Japanese were losing the will to fight were detected and soon Japanese ships under the cover of darkness began embarking troops and equipment. The battle raged on, however, until the evening of 7 September when the last remnants of the Japanese force evacuated Milne Bay.

Having played a vital part in the Australian victory, an exhausted No 76 Squadron withdrew to Australia where it re-grouped at Potshot, Western Australia in 1943. Sadly, it was while the Squadron was based at Potshot, that it lost one of its most colourful officers and the RAAF's second highest scoring ace pilot, when Squadron Leader 'Bluey' Truscott was killed in a flying accident.

After being re-equipped with new Kittyhawks in May, the Squadron returned to combat operations at Goodenough Island, located north of New Guinea. A succession of moves saw the Squadron operating from a number of Pacific Island bases, until its final wartime deployment to Labuan - where the Squadron supported the invasion of Borneo.

After the war, No 76 Squadron was re-equipped with Mustangs and deployed to Japan for duty with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.

On its return to Australia in 1948, No 76 Squadron pilots converted to Vampire jet fighters, before deploying to Malta in 1952 to join NATO forces in the Mediterranean area.

From 1960, No 76 Squadron was based at RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales operating Australian-built Sabres. In 1966 the Squadron entered the supersonic age when it began operations with the French designed/Australian built Mirage. The Squadron's fighter role came to an end with the replacement of the Mirage by the Macchi jet trainer in 1989. This aircraft provides jet experience for pilots selected for duty with the RAAF Hornet Squadrons. In addition to its training role, No 76 Squadron also operated specially equipped PC-9 aircraft in forward air control operations until this role was passed to No 77 Squadron. In 2001, the BAE Hawk 127 replaced the Macchi aircraft. No 76 Squadron's current operational role is to conduct Introductory Fighter Training, Fleet Support and Close Air Support. To fulfil these roles the Squadron is organised into two flights

Training Flight conducts three Introductory Fighter Courses (IFC) each year for newly-graduated pilots and pilots with extensive experience on other Air Force aircraft. The students then go on to F/A-18 or F-111 conversion courses. Operations Flight is responsible for advanced jet training above and beyond what is taught during IFC, allowing pilots to enhance their flying skills, operational skills and leadership abilities. Operations Flight also provides Fleet Support to the Royal Australian Navy and Close Air Support training to the Australian Army.

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