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No. 450 Squadron RAAF Plaque

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Description

No. 450 Squadron RAAF Plaque

A hand crafted 14 inch plaque of the No. 450 Squadron RAAF.

No. 450 Squadron was a unit of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that operated during World War II. Established at RAAF Station Williamtown, New South Wales, in February 1941, it was the first Australian Article XV squadron formed under the Empire Air Training Scheme.

The squadron embarked for the Middle East in April 1941; its personnel initially consisted solely of ground crew, who joined the pilots of No. 260 Squadron RAF to form No. 260/450 Squadron, which briefly operated Hawker Hurricane fighters in Syria. It was not until February 1942 that No. 450 Squadron, now with its own pilots and equipped with Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk fighters, commenced operations in earnest. Over the next 15 months, it fought in the North African and Tunisian Campaigns in both fighter and fighter-bomber roles, claiming 49 German and Italian aircraft destroyed in the air and earning the nickname “The Desert Harassers”.

Beginning in July 1943, No. 450 Squadron took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Italian campaign, primarily in the close support role. Its aircraft attacked targets in Yugoslavia as well as in Sicily and Italy. The squadron began converting from Kittyhawks to North American P-51 Mustang fighters in May 1945, but never saw action with its new aircraft. It was disbanded in August 1945 following the conclusion of hostilities, having suffered 63 fatal casualties during the war. Today, by agreement with the RAAF, the squadron’s number is carried by a Royal Canadian Air Force unit, 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

History
No. 450 Squadron was formed at RAAF Station Williamtown, near Newcastle, New South Wales, on 7 February 1941. Raised a week before No. 451 Squadron, it was the first Australian squadron established for service with the British military under the Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS). No. 450 Squadron was intended to be an “infiltration” squadron, which would consist initially only of ground crew and would receive a nucleus of experienced pilots after arriving in its designated theatre of operations.[8]

Inaugurated at Ottawa, Canada, in October 1939, EATS was a plan to expand the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) capacity to train aircrews by creating a pool of personnel from various Commonwealth countries—Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand—through the establishment of a common training system consisting of a series of initial, elementary, and advanced training schools. At the conclusion of advanced training, personnel were posted as required to RAF-controlled squadrons in Britain or the Middle East. These squadrons were designated as either RAF, RAAF, Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal New Zealand Air Force squadrons, but were paid for and administered by the British government, and personnel could be drawn from any Commonwealth nation. Seventeen RAAF squadrons were formed during the war under Article XV of the agreement.