No. 1 Squadron RAAF “Fighting First” F-111 Model
Fly with the No. 1 Squadron RAAF in this hand crafted F-111E Model. Each piece is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a piece you’ll love.
Length: 18 inches
Wingspan: 15 inches
No. 1 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron headquartered at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. Controlled by No. 82 Wing, it is equipped with Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighters. The squadron was formed under the Australian Flying Corps in 1916 and saw action in the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns during World War I. It flew obsolete Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s, B.E.12s, Martinsyde G.100s and G.102s, as well as Airco DH.6s, Bristol Scouts and Nieuport 17s, before re-equipping with the R.E.8 in October 1917 and finally the Bristol Fighter in December. Its commanding officer in 1917–18 was Major Richard Williams, later known as the “Father of the RAAF”. Disbanded in 1919, No. 1 Squadron was re-formed on paper as part of the RAAF in 1922, and re-established as an operational unit three years later.
During World War II, the squadron flew Lockheed Hudson bombers in the Malayan and Dutch East Indies campaigns, suffering severe losses before being reduced to cadre in 1942. It was re-formed with Bristol Beauforts the following year, and re-equipped with de Havilland Mosquitos in 1945 for further operations in the Dutch East Indies. Reduced to cadre once more after the war ended, No. 1 Squadron was re-established at Amberley in 1948 as an Avro Lincoln heavy bomber unit. From 1950 to 1958 it was based in Singapore, flying missions during the Malayan Emergency, where it bore the brunt of the Commonwealth air campaign against communist guerillas. When it returned to Australia it re-equipped with English Electric Canberra jet bombers. It operated McDonald Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs leased from the USAF from 1970 to 1973, as a stop-gap pending delivery of the General Dynamics F-111C swing-wing bomber. The F-111 remained in service for 37 years until replaced by the Super Hornet in 2010. In 2014–15, and again in 2017, a detachment of Super Hornets was deployed to the Middle East as part of Australia’s contribution to the military intervention against ISIL.
Role and equipment
No. 1 Squadron is located at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, and controlled by No. 82 Wing, which is part of Air Combat Group. Its mission responsibilities include air-to-air and air-to-surface combat. The squadron is nicknamed the “Fighting First”. The blazon of its crest is “the Australian Kookaburra in a diving position superimposed on the cross of Jerusalem”, which symbolises the Victoria Cross-winning action of No. 1 Squadron pilot Frank McNamara in Palestine during World War I. The unit motto is Videmus Agamus (“We see and we strike”).
The squadron operates Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighters, the first of which entered service in March 2010. Nicknamed the “Rhino”, its missions include air superiority, fighter escort, land strike, maritime strike, close air support, and reconnaissance. The Super Hornet is larger than the “classic” McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet operated by the RAAF, carries more ordnance, and has a greater fuel capacity. It is fitted with a 20 mm cannon and can be armed with air-to-air and anti-shipping missiles, as well as a variety of air-to-ground bombs and missiles. Flown by a crew of two, a pilot and an air combat officer (ACO), it is capable of engaging targets in the air and on the surface simultaneously. It can be refuelled in flight by the RAAF’s Airbus KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transports. The Super Hornets are serviced at the operating level by No. 1 Squadron technical staff; heavier maintenance is conducted by Boeing Defence Australia and other contractors.
World War I
No. 1 Squadron was established as a unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) at Point Cook, Victoria, in January 1916 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel E.H. Reynolds. With a complement of 28 officers, 195 airmen, no aircraft and little training, it sailed for Egypt in mid-March 1916, arriving at Suez a month later. There it came under the control of the 5th Wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). After training in England and Egypt, the unit was declared operational at its new headquarters in Heliopolis on 12 June, when it took over aircraft belonging to No. 17 Squadron RFC. Its three flights were, however, operating in isolation at different bases in the Sinai Desert, and the squadron did not reunite until December. Flying primitive and poorly armed Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 two-seat biplanes, its primary roles during this period of the Sinai Campaign were reconnaissance—including aerial photography—and artillery spotting for the British Army. No. 1 Squadron pilots attached to No. 14 Squadron RFC took part in the Battle of Romani in July and August. In September and October, B and C Flights, led by Captains Oswald Watt and Richard Williams respectively, undertook bombing and reconnaissance missions in support of the Australian Light Horse in northern Sinai.
On 12 September 1916, the British began to refer to No. 1 Squadron as No. 67 (Australian) Squadron RFC. This practice continued until January 1918, when the unit officially became known as No. 1 Squadron AFC. The relationship between airmen and ground crew was less formal than in British units; squadron members recalled that “The CO is the only one who is ever called ‘sir'” and that officers did not demand “saluting and standing to attention and all that rot”. The unit received the first of several Martinsyde G.100 single-seat fighters to augment the B.E.2s on 16 October; although considered obsolete, the “Tinsyde” was substantially faster than the B.E.2, and armed with forward-firing machine guns. Shortly before the squadron took part in a bombing raid against Beersheba on 11 November, Lieutenant Lawrence Wackett managed to fix a machine gun to the top plane of one of the B.E.2s, using a mount he designed himself. Each flight was also assigned a Bristol Scout beginning in December, but it too was obsolete and under-powered, and the squadron ceased operating the type within three months. Other older models issued to the unit included the Airco DH.6, Martinsyde G.102 and Nieuport 17. On 17 December, the squadron’s flights were finally brought together at one base, Mustabig.
March 1917 saw the heaviest bombing campaign carried out by the squadron to date; short of its regular 20-pound (9.1 kg) ordnance, the pilots improvised by dropping 6-inch (150 mm) howitzer shells on Turkish forces along the Gaza–Beersheba line. During one such mission on 20 March, Lieutenant Frank McNamara earned the Victoria Cross for landing his Martinsyde in the desert under enemy fire and rescuing a fellow pilot whose B.E.2 had been forced down. On 26 March, No. 1 Squadron took part in the First Battle of Gaza; it suffered its first combat death the next day, when one of its B.E.2s was attacked by a German Rumpler. The unit participated in the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April; like its predecessor, the attack was a failure for the Allies. Williams, later known as the “Father of the RAAF”, assumed command of the squadron in May. Two B.E.12s were delivered the same month; like the Martinsydes, they were armed with a forward-firing machine gun and employed as escorts for the B.E.2s. By June, mechanical issues caused by hot summer weather and the threat from new German Albatros scouts were rendering the B.E.2s largely ineffective, and Williams urgently requested newer models. Modern aircraft were eventually delivered, first the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 in October, and then the Bristol F.2 Fighter in December. “Now for the first time,” wrote Williams, “after 17 months in the field we had aircraft with which we could deal with our enemy in the air.
No. 1 Squadron joined the 40th (Army) Wing of the RFC’s Palestine Brigade on 5 October 1917. On 22 and 24 November, the squadron bombed Bireh village during the Battle of Jerusalem. The first of its 29 confirmed aerial victories, over an Albatros, occurred on 3 January 1918. By month’s end, its complement of aircraft included five B.E.2s, five Martinsydes, two R.E.8s, and nine Bristol Fighters. The squadron supported the Capture of Jericho in February 1918. It carried out air raids and reconnoitred prior to the First Transjordan attack on Amman in March and prior to the Second Transjordan attack on Shunet Nimrin and Es Salt a month later; it also flew reconnaissance missions during the advance to and fighting near Es Salt and Jisr ed Damieh. By the end of March, it was equipped with 18 Bristol Fighters, which had replaced all the other types. As well as undertaking offensive operations, the Bristol Fighters served in the photo-reconnaissance role. During the last week of April 1918, the squadron moved its base forward from Mejdel to a new aerodrome outside Ramleh. Williams relinquished command in June to take over 40th Wing.
Beginning in August 1918, members of No. 1 Squadron, including one of its aces, Lieutenant Ross Smith, were attached to Colonel T.E. Lawrence’s Arab army to protect it against German bombing. In September, the squadron began operating a Handley Page 0/100, the only Allied heavy bomber in the Middle East and the only twin-engined aircraft flown by the AFC. That month it joined the Bristol Fighters in the final offensive of the Palestinian Campaign, the Battle of Armageddon, inflicting what the Australian official history described as “wholesale destruction” on the Turkish Seventh Army. By October, the Bristol Fighters had moved forward from Ramleh to Haifa and by the middle of the month were required to patrol and reconnoitre an exceptionally wide area of country, sometimes between 500 and 600 miles (800 and 970 km), flying over Rayak, Homs, Beirut, Tripoli, Hama, Aleppo, Killis and Alexandretta. They bombed the German aerodromes at Rayak, where 32 German machines had been either abandoned or burnt, on 2 October. On 19 October, the first German aircraft was seen in the air since fighting over Deraa in mid-September, just prior to the Battle of Sharon. Smith and another pilot forced a DFW two-seater to land, and destroyed it on the ground by firing a Very light into the aircraft after the German pilot and observer had moved to safety. In the wake of the 31 October armistice with Turkey, the squadron relocated to Ramleh in December, and then in February 1919 to Kantara. There its members were personally farewelled by General Sir Edmund Allenby, who congratulated them for achieving “absolute supremacy of the air … a factor of paramount importance” to the Allied campaign.
No. 1 Squadron returned to Australia on 5 March 1919, and was disbanded. In 1921, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was established as a separate branch of the military, and on 1 January 1922, the squadron was re-formed on paper. Its planned strength, approved by the Air Board in December 1921, was three officers and five airmen, operating four Airco DH.9s. Funding problems for the fledgling Air Force resulted in the disbandment on 1 July of No. 1 Squadron and other units established at the same time, their aircraft and personnel instead forming a single squadron of six flights under the control of No. 1 Flying Training School (No. 1 FTS) at Point Cook. No. 1 Squadron was reactivated as an operational unit of the RAAF reserve, known as the Citizen Air Force (CAF), at Point Cook on 1 July 1925. Its commanding officer was Flight Lieutenant Harry Cobby.
Like No. 3 Squadron, formed the same day at Point Cook but transferred to RAAF Richmond, New South Wales, three weeks later, No. 1 Squadron was a multi-purpose or “composite” unit made up of three flights, each of which had a different role and comprised four aircraft: A Flight operated DH.9s for army cooperation, B Flight operated Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 fighters, and C Flight operated DH.9A bombers. A third of the squadron’s complement of 27 officers and 169 airmen was Permanent Air Force (PAF), and the rest CAF. No. 1 Squadron relocated from Point Cook to nearby RAAF Laverton on 1 January 1928. The RAAF retired its S.E.5s the same year, and in 1929 took delivery of Westland Wapiti general-purpose aircraft to replace its DH.9s and DH.9As. Through the inter-war years, No. 1 Squadron undertook various tasks including civil aid, flood and bushfire relief, search and rescue, aerial surveys, and air show demonstrations. In October 1930, a de Havilland DH.60 Moth attached to the unit conducted Australia’s first crop-dusting operation, at the behest of the Victorian Forestry Commission.
RAAF squadrons began adopting specialised roles in the early 1930s, No. 1 Squadron becoming No. 1 Single-Engined Bomber Squadron. By November 1935 it was made up of two flights of newly delivered Hawker Demon fighter-bombers, and one of Wapitis. In December 1935 it was augmented by No. 1 FTS’s Fighter Squadron and its six Bristol Bulldogs, which were redesignated fighter-bombers. Nos. 21 and 22 (Cadre) Squadrons were formed on 20 April 1936 at Laverton and Richmond, respectively, absorbing the CAF personnel of Nos. 1 and 3 Squadrons, which became PAF units. The same day, No. 1 Squadron was renamed No. 1 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron. This reorganisation temporarily denuded No. 1 Squadron of most of its aircraft, leaving only A Flight, with four Bulldogs and a Wapiti, in operation. The Wapiti was transferred to No. 1 FTS in July, and by the end of the month the squadron’s complement of aircraft stood at four Bulldogs and one Moth.
No. 1 Squadron began receiving new Demons in November 1936. In January 1937, it relinquished its Bulldogs to No. 21 Squadron, which was to hold them until they could be transferred to the soon-to-be-formed No. 2 Squadron. By the end of February, No. 1 Squadron’s strength was 12 Demons and one Moth, 11 officers and 108 airmen. The unit was redesignated No. 1 (Bomber) Squadron in August 1937. Towards the end of the year, it was plagued by several Demon accidents, resulting in a series of inquiries and a review of RAAF procedures in 1938 by Marshal of the RAF Sir Edward Ellington; the so-called Ellington Report and its criticism of air safety standards led to the removal of Air Vice-Marshal Richard Williams from his position as Chief of the Air Staff, which he had held since the formation of the Air Force. No. 1 Squadron received the RAAF’s first three CAC Wirraways on 10 July 1939. As the likelihood of war increased, the squadron’s role was altered to incorporate reconnaissance as well as bombing, resulting in the transfer out of all Demons and Wirraways and the transfer in from other units of nine Avro Ansons on 28–29 August 1939; at the end of the month its personnel comprised nine officers and 122 airmen.