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In this episode, Grant McHerron talks with Stewart Wilson, aviation historian and author, about the history of military air power in Australia. The content of this episode supplements Stewart's article on the RAAF's history in the November issue of Australian Defence Magazine.
We start the episode with a review of Stewart's publishing history, including his "In Australian Service" series of books along with editing and publishing the Aero Australia magazine, before then moving on to discuss the birthplace of military aviation in Australia: Point Cook in Victoria. The discussion briefly covers the history of Point Cook, its near closure prior to being saved and the heritage organisations within the RAAF.
Heading back to the Australian Flying Corps, we discuss some famous names and their roles after WW1 then talk of the time between WW1 and WW2, where the RAAF was almost wound up, the amazing coastline survey and the Salmond report which lead to the, eventual, restructuring of the RAAF. This leads to a discussion of the urgent need for modern aircraft in WW2 and the growth of local aircraft production which continued into the 1980s then was all but lost.
Returning to WW2, we discuss the RAAF Sunderlands and crews flying in the UK during the war, the RAF's Article 15 squadrons, Australians serving with the RAF in other squadrons and the Empire Air Training Scheme. Meanwhile, closer to home there was plenty of action in the Pacific theatre with the defence of Port Moresby, the Milne Bay victory, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the notorious Morotai Mutiny.
The discussion then moves to Korea which saw the first combat use of a jet for the RAAF before moving on to Vietnam where the Australian reputation for punching above their weight came to the fore, covering the Caribous and Wallaby Airlines plus the Canberras having a sortie rate well above that of the USA's B-57s. We also cover the interim lease of F-4 Phantoms while waiting for the F-111s, the transition of RAAF helicopters to Army and a look to the future with unmanned systems and the modern network centric approach to warfare.
We wrap the episode with a quick plug for Stewart's RAAF Centenary 1921-2021 eBook, which can be accessed from the aeroaustraliamag.com website.
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Hosted by Grant McHerron
Producer - Steve Visscher
©️ Australian Defence Magazine - 2021