9 Squadron of the RAAF

TIMELINE

No. 5 Squadron

WWI

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1917

No. 5 Squadron formation

No. 5 Squadron was formed at Shawbury in England on 15 June 1917, as a unit of the Australian Flying Corps, under the command of Captain Andrew Lang, and was initially known as “29 (Australian) (Training) Squadron” of the Royal Flying Corps.
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1918

Official Recognition of 5SQN

No. 5 (Training) Squadron, AFC, officially recognised. Equipped with a variety of aircraft, including Maurice Farman Shorthorns, Airco DH.6, Avro 504s, Sopwith Pups, S.E.5as and Sopwith Camels, the squadron provided training to Australian pilots in Britain during World War I.
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1919

Piloting in WWI

During the war, the squadron graduated on average of eight pilots per month, who were trained by combat experienced pilots transferred from the operational squadrons. No. 5 Squadron was embarked to return to Australia in May 1919 and was for formally disbanded on reaching Australia the following month.

The First Era

1925 – 1944

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1925

101 Fleet Co-operations Squadron

101 Fleet Co-operations Squadron was the precursor to 9 Squadron operating six Seagull Mk IIIs amphibians. Formed at RAAF Point Cook, VIC, on July 1, 1925 (relocated to Richmond, NSW in October 1925).
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1926

101 Moves to Bowen

August 1926, No. 101 FC FLT moved to Bowen, QLD (from Richmond).
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1928 - 1929

HMAS Albatross

HMAS Albatross – a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) seaplane carrier – is launched and commissioned the following year on the 29th January 1929. Personnel from 101 FC Flight embarked upon the new ship on the 21st February 1929 at Port Philip Bay.
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1936

No. 5 Squadron (Fleet Co-operation) Formed

On 20th April at Richmond New South Wales, No. 5 Squadron (Fleet Co-operation) was formed from 101 Flight.
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1939

No. 9 Squadron Formed

No. 9 Squadron was formed on 1 January 1939 at RAAF Base Richmond by renumbering No. 5 Squadron.
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1941

No. 5 Squadron, 1941

No. 5 Squadron was re-formed at RAAF Base Laverton, January 9th, 1941, as an army co-operation squadron equipped with Wirraways.
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1942

No. 5 Squadron relocated

No. 5 squadron was relocated to Toogoolawah on November 17th, 1942, for three months before redeploying to Kingaroy.
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Nov 11, 1944

No. 5 Squadron 1944

No. 5 Squadron was deployed to Piva Airfield at Torokina on Bougainville under No. 84 (Army Co-operation) Wing, and operated with units of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, undertaking reconnaissance, artillery observation, ground attack, and aerial resupply missions in support of Australian ground troops fighting against the Japanese on the island. The squadron also operated detachments on New Britain and New Guinea.
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Dec 31, 1944

No. 9 Squadron 1944

All remaining RAN cruisers had their catapults removed and No. 9 Squadron was disbanded at RAAF Base Rathmines on 31 December 1944. Casualties during the war amounted to 22 killed, many of whom were lost when the ships they were serving on were sunk.
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Sept, 1945

No. 5 Squadron

Shortly after the end of the war, the squadron received three or four P-40 Kittyhawks, but retained Boomerangs and Wirraways.
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Oct, 1945

No. 5 Squadron Disbanded

No 5 Squadron was disbanded on 18 October 1946 at RAAF Base Pearce.
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Dec 1, 1945

Solomon Islands

Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands – Airmen of No. 5 (Army Co-operation) SQN RAAF at Piva airfiled, Torokina, moving a Boomerang propeller to the workshop. Source: AWM

The Second Era

1962 – 1971

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1962

9 Squadron Reformed

No. 9 Squadron was re-formed at RAAF Base Williamtown on 11 June 1962 (under CO, SQNLDR Ray Scott). The squadron was re-equipped with UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and moving to RAAF Base Fairbairn. While originally formed to provide the RAAF with a search and rescue capability, the squadron’s main role rapidly became providing airlift to the Australian Army.
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Oct, 1962

Iroquois Arrive

The squadron moved to RAAF Base Fairbairn, ACT, in late 1966 and on the 29th of October that year eight Bell Iroquois (UH-1B) arrived. Over the next 2 years more Iroquois were added to the squadron.
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May, 1966

Advanced Party to Vietnam

May 3rd, 1966, a 9SQN advanced party arrived at Vung Tau airfield in Vietnam in preparation for the squadron’s arrival.
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June, 1966

Deployed to Vietnam

Under CO WGCDR Ray Scott the squadron was deployed to Vietnam on HMAS Sydney with eight Bell UH-1B Iroquois. The squadron’s call sign was “Albatross”.

The squadron deployed to South Vietnam in mid-1966 as part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF). On 13th June 1966 4000 kg of ammunition was frown to Nui Dat in support of 1ATF unit, 5RAR. Deploymemt included 8 x Bell UH-1B Iroquois Helicopters and about 90 personnel.

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Aug, 1966

Battle of Long Tan

During the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966 two No. 9 Squadron Iroquois flown by Flight Lieutenants Cliff Dohle and Frank Riley completed a hazardous mission to resupply D Company, 6 RAR which was heavily outnumbered and running dangerously low on ammunition. The mission proved vital in ensuring the survival of the Australian infantry until a relief force could fight its way through from Nui Dat and was completed despite heavy rain and the risk of ground fire.
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1967

Vietnam ’67

The squadron was re-equipped with updated versions of the Iroquois, and was also reinforced with personnel from the RAN and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Operations in South Vietnam proved hazardous, with aircrews regularly exposed to ground fire, poor flying conditions, nighttime medevacs and dangerously small jungle landing zones that were sometimes booby trapped with land mines. The unit lost seven Iroquois and two crewmen in action during its deployment.
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July, 1967

RAN & RNZAF Fly with 9SQN

8 RAN pilots were attached to 9SQN for 12 months and RNZAF pilots were posted to 9SQN from July 1967 to the squadron’s withdrawal in December 1971.

It was on 29 July 1967 that the RAAF suffered their first wounded.

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Nov, 1967

Santa Fe

November 1967 – 9 Squadron Iroquois lands to pick up members of the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR) during operation Santa Fe, a gruelling three week-long operation through inhospitable country some 23 kilometres from the Task Force Base at Nui Dat. [AWM COL/67/1127/VN source: anzacportal.dva.gov.au]

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1968
The Ned Kelly Gunship

Starboard view of No. 9 Squadron RAAF Iroquois helicopter gunship, UH-1B A2-1025, commonly known as “Ned Kelly”. This aircraft was the first RAAF helicopter to be fitted with a trial armament system which was fitted to each side of the helicopter. Source: AWM

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Apr, 1969

Bushrangers

Iroquois gunships (call sign “Bushranger”) became operational on April 21, 1969. This new firepower gave 9SQN the ability to support SAS recon patrols, and escort and provide fire support for 1ATF operations.

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April 23, 1968
Vung Tau Rocket Attack
Vung Tau Airfield came under heavy enemy rocket attack and a US Caribou was destroyed. 9SQN equipment was damaged and personnel came under enemy ground fire as they recovered helicopters from the field.
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18 June 1970

40,000 hours flight time

June 18, 1970 marked an important day for 9 Squadron. After four years of the Huey,  a new and impressive milestone had been reached; 40,000 hours of flight time. 

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1971

Outstanding Operational Performance

US Army engineering were very interested in the exceptional aircraft serviceability rate of 9SQN, with a serviceability rate of 90.7% recorded in October 1971. 9SQN won The Duke of Gloucester Cup (for operational proficiency) for 1967-1968, 1968-1969, and 1969-1970.
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Dec 8, 1971
Departing Vietnam
After 5 and a half years of combat, No. 9 Squadron departed South Vietnam on 8 December 1971. Upon its return to Australia, No. 9 Squadron was based at RAAF Base Amberley, where it continued to provide airlift to the Australian Army and search and rescue for the civilian community.

The Third Era

1972 – 1989

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1970s-1980s

5 Squadron

In the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, No. 5 squadron contributed Iroquois to peacekeeing missions in the Middle East Egypt, firstly to Ismailia with the United Nations Emergency Force and then later to the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force and Observers
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1982-1989

5/9 SQN Sinai Peninsula

Between 1982 and 1986, No. 9 SQN and No. 5 SQN contributed eight aircraft and aircrew to the Australian helicopter detachment which formed part of the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
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1984

AS350B Squirrel

No. 5 squadron acquired AS350B Squirrel utility helicopters in early 1984, and along with the Iroquois UH1-Hs, the squadron continued the training role and Army support, in addition to providing aid to the civil community in times of natural disaster.
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1986

Government Decision on 9 SQN

The Australian Government decided to transfer all of the RAAF’s battlefield helicopter capability to the Australian Army after a decision that all battlefield helicopters should be controlled directly by the Army
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1989

5 Squadron Disbanded

In December 1989, No. 5 Squadron was disbanded and absorbed into the Australian Defence Force Helicopter School (ADFHS) in 1990.
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Feb 14, 1989

9 SQN Disbanded

During February 1988, No. 9 Squadron was re-equipped with S-70A Blackhawk helicopters. Upon converting to the new aircraft the squadron moved to Townsville where it was disbanded on 14 February 1989. The squadron’s aircrew and aircraft were then used to form ‘A’ Squadron of the Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment. The squadron’s last commanding officer was Wing Commander (later Air Chief Marshal) Angus Houston.