Remember Eureka!

Remember Eureka!
text by “Rickshaw”
Profiles by “Apophenia”​

1854 is the point of departure for this counterfactual history of the Great Southern Land. Why 1854? Well, 1854 was the year that the Eureka Stockade happened. One of only three attempts at insurrection against the Crown in the short, glorious history of Australia.

For our overseas readers, Eureka Stockade was basically an uprising by a group of malcontent gold miners, resentful at being taxed excessively by the Colonial Government. While presenting grievances to the authorities, they were ignored and met with increasing oppression by the heavy-handed use of colonial police to collect their licence fees. In the end it seemed to them nothing short of armed insurrection would solve their problems. I won't bore you with the details except to point out how, in our trouser-leg of time, the rebellion was put down fairly easily and quickly by the authorities and most of the ring leaders either killed or arrested and placed on trial, later to be acquitted with one eventually even becoming a long standing member of the colonial parliament and judiciary.

However, in this other trouser-leg of time, where the insurrection was successful, the settlers of the colony of Victoria, rose up and threw off the shackles imposed upon them by their distant imperial masters in London. President John Basson Humffray declared the Republic of Victoria on 4 December 1854, after the defeat of the English forces led by Commissioner Robert Rede, the colonial government's representative on the diggings around Ballarat. After a swift march to Melbourne, the rebels found themselves in control of the entire colony and a very large fund of gold indeed, in the vaults of the Colony's banks which was worth the equivalent today of several billions of Pounds Stirling. Interestingly, there was a strong American contingent of gold miners in Ballarat on that fateful day and their influence continues beyond 1854 and colours Victoria's outlook for some time.

The other colonies, at least initially, remained loyal to the Crown. New South Wales, in particular was vehement in its condemnation of the upstart Victoria for seceding from the Empire. It attempted to impose a blockade upon the new nation. However, as most trade was by sea and the wealth of the new administration ensured its failure as NSW lacked the means, as did the Royal Navy of the day (being largely distracted by distant events in the Crimea and later India).

South Australia however, being settled by many non-English Europeans took a far more liberal attitude towards Victoria's actions. The large German population in particular, in and around Adelaide, had much less allegiance to young Queen Victoria. When the free colony went into virtual bankruptcy in 1865, it too broke away from the Empire and declared its independence. Welcomed by the Victorians, the result was two independent nations on the continent. South Australia also claimed at this stage and had administered what was later to become known as the North Territory, with the result that it controlled a wide strip across the continent from North to South. That left Western Australia, isolated from the other pro-imperial colonies on the East coast of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. Tasmania also remained loyal to the Crown.

While tension was high between Victoria and NSW, it was in fact the eastward movement of South Australia, into what in our timeline was to be far-western NSW to grab the mineral rich Broken Hill area which precipitated the first modern conflict in Australia's history in 1885. Neither colony was really in a position to wage large scale conflict and the distance from Sydney prevented the grab from being resisted. Much later, when the borders were being drawn up, South Australia ceded a much larger area in compensation between Birdsville and Tanbar.


So, as the map shows, by the time that Federation was being talked about in our trouser-leg of time, in the 1890s - in this one, Australia was very much a divided continent. Victoria, being the main source of funds and supplies for Tasmania, infiltrated that colony and fomented a desire to be free from the shackles of London's tyrannical rule and, with the turn of the century, they declared UDI. (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) Again, London was simply too preoccupied to be able to respond (in Southern Africa and China).

While one may imagine that these shenanigans in a far off, southern land would have little consequences beyond their shores, the reality is somewhat different. When the 2nd Anglo-Boer War occurs in our timeline, in 1899, the British find themselves just as unable to counter the independent minded (and very rich) Boer republics. However, whereas in real life they were able to call on a large series of colonial and then Dominion contingents from Australia (it is not well known but the 2nd Boer War was a major impetus to the Federation of Australia in 1901) the divided continent’s reaction as much different. The result was that the Canadian contingent is considerably larger, drawing that Dominion and London much closer together. Eventually, the Boers were forced into surrender but not without cost. A small contingent of Central Australians actually fought on the Boers' side but not much notice was taken of their presence even when their commander Harry “Breaker” Morant was executed for the murder of several British officers whom he ambushed under a false flag of truce.

In this new time line, the Australian colonies, that is NSW and Queensland do Federate but several years later, in 1905. Victoria, South Australia (renamed “Central Australia”) and Tasmania go their own ways as independent nations. Western Australia seeks and gains Dominion status in its own right. This has several interesting outcomes.

World War One

World War One breaks out “on time”, that is 1914. With the heavy German influence in Central Australia's society, its sympathies lie with the Central Powers. Graf von Spee, instead of sailing his German East Asiatic Squadron to its fate off the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, flees to Port Darwin, on the Northern Coast of Australia, where the nominally neutral Central Australian Republic interns them. With the Royal Navy fully occupied in home waters, countering the High Seas Fleet and there being effectively no Royal Australian Navy to prevent this, Graf von Spee and his squadron sit out the war, enduing the climate of the Top End. The Japanese Navy, then an ally of the RN keeps vigilant watch off shore. Its presence inflames Australian suspicions about Japanese intentions in the region.

The RAN exists only really in name consisting only of a few colonial naval relics only useful as a coastal defence force. Indeed, the ocean going RAN does not come into being until after WWI, when it is gifted several well worn RN cruisers and destroyers. The Australian Imperial Force on the other hand, is formed however, it is considerably smaller. The Australian Militia Force, formed in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales remains in Australia, to keep a watchful eye on the Central Australian Republic's forces, this in turn robs the AIF of reinforcements and after Gallipoli, it is not redeployed to the Western Front until 1917, after the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres).

Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia send their own, independent contingents to France. Because of the thorny problems of co-operation between these forces and the AIF, they are deployed widely across the British sector of the front and kept well separated. However, the exigencies of the German 1918 offensive force them together where a new spirit of co-operation is formed out of necessity. WWI drags on into 1919 but ultimately the central powers are inevitably forced to surrender. The newly formed ANZAC corps in France, under the command of General John Monash, made up of the AIF and the other Australian contingents spearhead the attack and break through the Hindenburg Line, following the German Army in full retreat. Hailed as the Empire's “Stormtroopers”, the ANZAC Corps proved their mastery over their enemies, helping force the German Army to surrender.
The Interwar Years


Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, successive Australian politicians, both in the Federated states and in the independent republics and dominion warn of the dangers of the growing Japanese threat. At the same time, amongst their military forces, the hard lessons learnt in France are digested. The RAAAC – the Royal Australian Army Air Corps is transformed into the RAAF. Central Australia finds itself in possession of largest and while not necessarily most modern, naval force when the Graf hands his squadron (and most of its crews) to the Republic's government at war's end with the abdication of the Kaiser to prevent them falling into the hands of the Allies. The AIF demobilises, as do the various independent forces. However, the spirit of co-operation is not forgotten and regular defence talks are instituted improving preparedness against any external threat that may eventuate. The Anglo-Japanese Naval Treaty was not renewed in 1923.


In the late 1930s, each nation found its finances stretched by the Great Depression. However, a nucleus of the various military and airforces are kept in being, against the hope that when matters improve, they can be expanded.

By 1938 however it is obvious to all, with the Munich Crisis, the Japanese invasion of China and the Italian attack on Abyssinia that the storm clouds of war are gathering. Rearmament begins. Because of the regular defence talks held between all nations on the Australian continent which are pro-British, some degree of uniformity is present but primarily amongst the ground forces. Only Victoria, with its pro-American sympathies buys non-British aircraft. All except Tasmania attempted to undertake license manufacture of their selected aircraft.

Lasco Lapwing Trainer: This colour scheme came about because of the purchase of a large quantity of surplus USAAC paint stocks in 1935. Victoria saw the bright blue and chrome yellow as an easy way to distinguish its aircraft from all other Australia air forces (and other government air services).

RAAF Tugan Tropicbird Light Transport.

RVAF Lasco Lascoter Light Transport

Central Australia, still pro-German in its sympathies instead buys its equipment and of course takes its military lead from Germany. While not openly pro-Nazi there are many of its citizens who sympathise with Hitler and his beliefs. The old Imperial German Asiatic Squadron's ships were modernised or replaced, however the need to split its navy between the north and the south coast places it in an invidious position with a force that is not able to defend either coast adequately. Fundamentally its position was towards neutrality, believing that this will be another European War, well away from its shores and borders.
War Approaches

World War Two

While tensions remained high between the dominions and republics, hostilities were not entered into. Australia and Western Australia sent contingents to the Middle East. Victoria and Tasmania dithered. Pro-Nazi sentiments increased in Central Australia with the successes of the Nazis Blitzkrieg warfare in Poland, Norway, then the Low Countries and France. Anti-Semitism increased and became open. This situation exploded with an attempted pro-Nazi putsch in Adelaide. Put down by the alarmed authorities, who reacted swiftly, several Central Australian prominent Nazis were killed, captured and imprisoned. A few who attempted to flee to Victoria were caught crossing the border and extradited. One was executed by a Jewish Victorian border guard when he found out that he had murdered several prominent Jews in Adelaide. Most Australians found themselves repulsed by the Nazis' open anti-Semitism.

Industrial production of war materiale, particularly aircraft stepped up across the continent. The Central Australian Republic built appreciably more aircraft than the other countries. Its stated policy was that in order to defend itself, its air force must be at least half as large as that of the largest Dominion neighbour's air fleet. This resulted in the creation of the largest independent air force in the region. However, this could only be accomplished at the expense of its ground forces because of manpower shortages. By mid-1941, the CAR's airfleet possessed nearly 150 single engined fighters, all advanced He100s, 75 twin engined Fokker fighters and 150 bombers, all advanced Do215s (with the even more advanced Do217 soon to start leaving the production line). Plans were in hand to produce improved versions of the Fokker, utilising the same common DB601 engine that the He100s and Do215s utilised.

As a side note, during the first 2 years of the war, because of the neutrality of the CAR, it still had trade and diplomatic relations with the Third Reich. Trade was undertaken through other neutral countries, such as (initially) Japan and the Soviet Union. This allowed the CAR to be kept abreast of the latest developments in Germany, a factor which allowed it to develop its DB600 production line into one manufacturing the DB601 and start producing the BMW801 to power the new Do217s.

Victoria's air force had decided to start re-equipping with new fighters, placing the P-40 into production, along with the P-39 as a single-engined “heavy fighter”. Both utilised the same Allison V-1710 engine but with the P-39 featuring a 37mm cannon firing through the hub and 2 .50in and 4 .303in machine guns, while the P-40 featured 4 .50cal machine guns. Victoria in turn passed some of its oldest P-36s to Tasmania in order to replace their biplane fighters.

Tasmanian P-36. Sporting the distinctive red triangle marking of the Republic's Air Corps, this ex-Victorian aircraft looks faded and worn.

The Dominion of Australia stepped up production of its Hurricane fighters, adopting the Mk.IIc with 4 20mm cannons. While it had ordered the Gloster Reaper fighter, on advice from the RAF that this fighter was not to be produced it had been given a choice between the Whirlwind and the Beaufighter. Sensibly it had opted for the Beaufighter, recognising the opportunity for commonality with the Beaufort, which it ordered at the same time. Unable to find a more modern replacement quickly enough for its obsolescent Anson patrol aircraft; the Dominion had broken with tradition and turned to the United States for a new aircraft, deciding on the Lockheed Hudson on the advice of the RAF again. However they had also opted to adapt the Hudson to utilise the Bristol Hercules engines already in production for the Beaufort and Beaufighter. The first squadron though was delivered with the standard Twin Wasp power plant.

Lawrence Wackett, the leading light of Australia's aeroindustry had been disappointed with the decision to first purchase the Bristol Blenheim and then the Beaufort and Beaufighter. He had been sketching out plans for a twin engined light bomber. As the Official History points out:
CAC, under Sir Lawrence Wackett, began work on its own design, hoping to out-perform the Beaufort by building a machine that could serve as both a torpedo bomber and dive bomber. To keep down weight, Wackett dispensed with traditional self sealing fuel tanks and opted to make the wing cavities liquid-tight, and thus serve as fuel storage. The Australian Government was initially uninterested in the CAC design. However, in mid-1940, when at the height of the Battle of Britain, the Dominion was cut off from the supply of British-made components for its expansion programme, the Australian Government ordered a prototype of the CAC design, even before the Royal Australian Air Force had expressed a view about the machine This prototype CA4 took to the air on September 19, 1941.

The CA4 was a low wing, twin-engined, multi-role bomber with a crew of three. It was armed with four nose-mounted .303 calibre machine guns and two remote-controlled twin machine-gun barbettes mounted at the rear of the engine nacelles. It could carry either 500 lb (230 kg) bombs, 250 lb (110 kg) bombs or two torpedoes. It was originally powered by two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-S3C3-G radials.

Bristol Blenheim Mk.IIT. While awaiting delivery of the Beaufort, the RAAF adapted some of its Blenheims as torpedo bombers, removing the turret in order to save weight and reduce drag, replacing them with an open gun position. The additional scrap views shows how one aircraft was modified as a trials aircraft to help in the development of the CA4's remote-controlled turrets.

By the time the prototype flew, British supplies had resumed and the need for the CA4 decreased.
Unfortunately, many of the novel systems, such as remote-controlled turrets, “wet” wing fuel tanks were never reached a reliable enough level to allow it to enter service, and in January 1943 the CA4 prototype was completely destroyed in a mid-air explosion, probably due to a fuel leak.

In the West, that Dominion's air service had only a nascent aeroindustry to rely upon and was much more dependent upon imports. It let contracts with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in the Dominion of Australia for Hurricanes and also requested that it receive some directly from the UK. Mk.1s were dispatched and the RAAF let go some of its older Mk.1s as well, retaining the newer Mk.IIs for its own use. The Fairey Battle had entered production in Perth. At the same time, Fairey had allowed the RWAAF to see plans for the proposed twin engined version, the Falcon. The WRAAF had decided that this would make an excellent heavy fighter, armed with multiple cannon. The Government Aircraft Factor at Midland had proposed that production be switched to the Falcon and it performed the role of fighter-bomber as well. After the disastrous showing of the Battle during the fall of France, the WRAAF had seen the sense of this and agreed. The result was only one squadron was ever equipped with the Battle and the Falcon quickly replaced it in WRAAF service. Powered by twin Merlins and armed with 4 20mm cannon and 4 .303 machine guns, it was a formidable aircraft and second only to the Fokker G1b until early 1942 when the first Beaufighters rolled off the production line in Sydney.

RWAAF Fairey Battle. Sporting the typical brown over stone camouflage employed by the RWAAF, this aircraft is displayed with the original roundels which were later discarded to prevent confusion with Japanese markings.
While this was going on, many Australians never lost sight of who the real enemy was – the Japanese. Watching, stunned like a kangaroo caught in a shooter's spotlight, they saw the Japanese take over most of the coast of China and then advance into Indo-China. Central Australia moved to reinforce its forces on the North Coast. Its only heavy cruiser, CARS (Central Australian Republic Ship) ADELAIDE was sent to Darwin. Several squadrons of aircraft (primarily He100, G.1b and Do215) were also publicly dispatched North. New defence talks were hurriedly undertaken between the nations on the Australian continent. It seemed the racist fears of many Australians, no matter which of the continent’s young nations they resided in; of an Asiatic “Yellow Peril” advancing southwards and attacking the vulnerable North were coming true.

By the end of 1941, the force mix of the Dominions and Republics had not changed significantly.

Then Pearl Harbor occurred on 8 December 1941. Simultaneously, Japanese forces attacked Malaya and the Philippines. British and Australian forces found themselves involved in a new war. RAAF Blenheims dropped the first bombs when they attacked Japanese transports off Khota Baru. The British forces found themselves being rapidly pushed back down the Malay Peninsula to Singapore. Ah, Singapore, the great “Gibraltar of the East”, a massive naval base defended by 15 inch guns. Unfortunately for the British, the Japanese were attacking from the wrong direction and the guns weren't supplied with HE, only having AP for use against ships. Anyway, just as in our timeline the Japanese rapidly overcame resistance in Malaya and on 20 February 1942, Singapore surrendered.

Most of the two Dominions' ground troops were overseas, serving in the Middle-East. The Dominion of Australia's Prime Minister, John Burtin demanded the return of the two divisions of the 2nd AIF serving in North Africa. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, had to abide by the agreement signed between the Dominion and the British Governments in 1939, that if required by the Dominion, those troops would be returned to Australia, forthwith. They were duly withdrawn from the theatre and sent to Port Said for embarkation where they were hurriedly loaded onboard British and American ships. The sole Western Australian division, the 9th wasn't demanded home by the Government in Perth, yet.

With the near simultaneous surrender of Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies, northern Australia suddenly found itself on the front line. Central Australia maintained its neutralist stance. No longer particularly pro-Axis after the attempted Nazi putsch, it asked the Japanese to respect its neutrality. Japan indicated its position on such matters when it invaded Portuguese East Timor on the same day as the fall of Singapore. Previously, the CAR as a precaution had reinforced the Darwin area, moving several more squadrons of fighters and bombers into and around the city in order to prevent the possibility of another Pearl Harbor at Port Darwin, its major fleet base on the northern coast.

What was not known was the location of the Imperial Japanese Navy's main striking force, its carriers, nor the intentions of its commanders. In the three months since Pearl Harbor, they had essentially disappeared. We now know they returned to Japan for a quick refit and then proceeded on towards the Indian Ocean to eliminate the last, large, remaining threat to Japanese naval dominance in the region - the Royal Navy's Far Eastern Fleet. Their route took them through the NEI and through the Timor Sea towards the Indian Ocean. They struck, almost in passing at the port facilities in Port Darwin which was a potential Allied major fleet anchorage. The attack, falling a week after the fall of Singapore and East Timor was too much for many Australians, no matter which nation they resided in.

However, whereas in our timeline the attack came as a complete surprise, the forces of the Republic of Central Australia were better prepared. By chance, the CARAF's 4 (R) Squadron was now stationed in Darwin. While equipped with the then standard Do215 for long range reconnaissance it also had on strength the sole He219v1. A separate, twin-engined development of the He119 “Blitz”, it had been the losing competitor to the Fokker G1.b. However, its performance was such that it was decided to place it in service. With an approximately 2,000 mile range and a speed of 350 mph, the He219 was considerably faster and had longer legs than the Do215. On 26 February, the He219 flying a reconnaissance sortie, to the NNE of Darwin, detected the approaching carrier task force and was able to elude detection itself. This gave sufficient warning for the Darwin defences to be placed on alert.


With the use of superior German designed radar, Darwin's defenders were almost able to follow the Japanese force from the moment of take-off from its carriers until it struck at Darwin. The Republic's forces were well placed to intercept. Over 100 He100s and 25 Fokkers mixed with the Japanese. A vast whirling, twirling dogfight ensured, with the He100s attempting to strike at the Vals and Kates and the Zeros attempting to protect them and themselves. The He100s, with their heavy armament and armour, downed many. Of the over 150 aircraft sent against Darwin, some 75 were shot down on the Japanese side. 50 Republican aircraft were lost. The resistance came as a surprise to the Japanese. The Kidô Butai had never encountered anything like it.

However, an even greater surprise was to occur. At the same time as the strike had been inbound to Darwin, the wily Central Australians had sent their own counterstrike against the Japanese carriers offshore. 25 Fokker G.1bs escorted 48 Do215s. The Fokkers attacked the defending CAP of 25 Zeros. The G.1bs distracted the CAP sufficiently to allow the Do215s to sweep in at medium altitude. Hampered by a lack of aerial torpedos, the Do215s attempted to utilise either level or dive bombing against the Japanese ships. The Japanese task force consisting of the carriers AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU and HIRYU and their escorts, rapidly dissolved into a mass of ships, turning as hard as they could, firing as much as they had up against the diving twin engined bombers. The carriers were caught preparing a second strike against Darwin. They had armed Vals and Kates on the deck while they were frantically attempted to fly their remaining Zeros off. The result was carnage. The two carriers, AKAGI and KAGA were almost complete write offs, damaged beyond repair, consumed by fire as aircraft exploded on their decks. SORYU was also severely damaged but repairable and limped away. HIRYU escaped virtually unscathed. The Fokkers and Dorniers withdrew, avoiding the mauled Japanese strike force as it returned to its carriers. The Australians lost 20 Fokkers and 30 Dorniers for the loss of 20 Zeroes in the air and another 100 aircraft on the carriers, unable to take off. 30 more Japanese aircraft had to be ditched as there was simply no deck space for them to land on the remaining carriers. In the space of a few hours, the Battle of the Timor Sea had changed the balance of power in the Pacific. Now neither the Imperial Japanese Navy nor the Allies had a clear superiority over the other.


While the defeat in the Timor Sea had obviously bought some time for the Australian nations, it was also obvious that they were ill prepared to face the probable Japanese counter-attack. All their industries started in earnest producing the sinews of war. The Dominion of Australia ordered into production its own fighter, the CA13 Boomerang, based on the Wirraway trainer, in turn based on the North American NA-16 trainer. While no real match for the superlative Zero, it was a tough little plane and able to give a good account of itself in a pinch. It also stepped up production of the Beaufort and Beaufighter.

Victoria stepped up production of the Curtiss Kittyhawk and introduced the Bell Aeracobra. Older Hawks were given to Tasmania, to replace its biplane fighters. Western Australia sought to import more aircraft from the UK and increased its production of the Fairey Falcon, developing it to replace the Battle as a fighter-bomber as well as heavy fighter. Even more importantly, in the face of the impending threat the divisions and enmity between the various nations were put aside. It made good sense to co-ordinate their forces and so a joint command structure was set up under the overall command of General Tom Blamey.

The overall effect of the Japanese campaign to isolate Australia was to force the independent nations to recognise that disunited they were much more likely to fall. Immediately orders were given by each government for the Australian nations to pool their resources. A special conference was convened with representatives from all the independent Australian nations on 15 August 1942. Rationalisation was the first order of the day and industries were directed to work together. The result was that commonality was to be established but what a smorgasbord there was to choose from for the Aeroindustry!

On the airframe side there were immediate problems. Each service was very much in favour of its preferred mount. However, the poor showing of the Hurricane thus far against the Japanese fighters had made sensible heads think about what was required. The superior performance of the He100, both in aeronautical and combat terms during the Battle of the Timor Sea had been noted. Its heavier structure and armour were seen as advantageous but its lighter armament however was seen as a detriment. It was decided therefore that while the He100 would continue in production at a low level, it would be better to look around to find another alternative which utilised the Merlin. The first obvious choice was the Spitfire but its short range made it less than suitable in the broad expanses of the region. The RWAAF representative to the conference at this point piped up and suggested the Mustang. His service representative in the United States had sent excellent reports of this aircraft and its potential, particularly once a Merlin was fitted, as was planned in the near future. In the meantime, the early versions utilised the same Allison V-1710 as the P-40 and P-39, so a local source of engines was available. While not very good above 15,000 ft with that engine, its range still remained exceptional compared to the He100, Spitfire and other fighters. So, it seemed that the new common fighter for all the Australian air forces was to be the P-51 Mustang. Negotiations were to begin immediately and a license was agreed upon, with production of the P-51B to start at the end of 1942. All nations agreed to make the P-51 their “standard fighter”.

Then came the question of a heavy fighter/fighter-bomber. The contest was between the three aircraft already in production; the Fokker G1, the Fairey Falcon and the Bristol Beaufighter. The Falcon had the advantage, as it used the Merlin engine. The Fokker G1 was about to have a new version introduced on the production lines, utilising BMW801 engines rather than had originally proposed the DB601, which effectively doubled the amount of available power, with a consummate increase in its performance. The Beaufighter had just entered production with the Hercules engine. The arguments flowed back and forth across the conference table. In the end, the heavier armament and longer range of the Beaufighter secured its position, even if it was lower in performance to the other two aircraft.

CARAF Fokker G1.d. Sporting subdued markings, this aircraft belongs to the famous 15 (F) Squadron which specialised in night intruder operations. Not the famed “swooping Magpie” squadron emblem.

No other Australian air force had an advanced dedicated bombing platform like the CARAF's Do217. The closest was the obsolescent B-23 Dragon flown by the Victorian Air Force. While that force had ordered the B-25 as a replacement, none had been yet supplied. The possibilities offered by the Do217 were such that it was decided to increase production of this aircraft and make it the standard medium bomber.

The patrol aircraft was easily standardised on the PBY Catalina flying boat with its exceptional range and cruising abilities. The question of shipboard aircraft for use from cruisers and other catapult equipped vessels produced a surprising result in that the Supermarine Walrus was accepted as it was relatively cheap and easily available.

On the question of engines, it was obvious that the Rolls-Royce Merlin was henceforth to become the standard inline engine. The CAR protested as it had invested considerable resources in its DB601 production line. So that engine was designated to remain in low-scale production, primarily for the provision of spares for the CAR's He100s and Do215s. The Bristol Hercules was designated to be the primary radial engine, being in production for the Bristol Beaufort and Beaufighter. However, again the CAR pointed out that it had just brought into production the BMW801 for use with its new Do217 bombers. While the Hercules was technically a more advanced engine with its sleeve-valve technology, the BMW was considerably more powerful. The decision was made therefore that the BMW801 would continue in production for the Do217 for the moment.

Victoria, on the other hand was content to change production to the Merlin. The Allison V-1710 had proved somewhat of a disappointment. As Curtiss had already adapted the P-40 to utilise the Merlin, it was relatively easy for the Victorian Government Aircraft Factor at Fisherman's Bend near Melbourne to do the same. The P-39 was more problematic. The thrust lines of the Merlin and the V-1710 were completely different (the Merlin's high, the V-1710 low) but it was soon found possible to adapt the Merlin to the P-39 by adapting the gearbox between it and the drive shaft. In both cases, while a lacklustre performance at altitude was improved considerably, manoeuvrability was another matter. These though, were short term solutions as was the decision to build the CA13 Boomerang as an emergency fighter (but more about that later).

Western Australia was happy to go along. It had no aero engine manufacturing abilities and relied on imports for the airframes that it produced which were now almost exclusively based on the Merlin anyway.

Boffins in both the Holdens' aero engine factory in Adelaide (where DB601 and BMW801 were manufactured) and Lidcombe Aero Engines Factory in Sydney (where the Merlin and Hercules were produced) immediately recognised that if research was pooled, it would be possible to produce hybrid engines which offered considerably better performance than the originals had. However, that was a longer term project.

As further note on domestic aircraft development mention must be made of indigenous developments. The Wirraway was the first major foray into indigenous design. As already mentioned, it was a modification of the North American NA-16 trainer (which Victoria had adopted in its native form). Whilst the Wirraway had been pressed into use as a fighter it was totally inadequate to that task. It found its combat forte to be as an army cooperation aircraft and light dive-bomber.

The next issue was the CA12 Boomerang. Developed from the Wirraway trainer, the Boomerang was an emergency response to feared impending threat of Japanese invasion by the Dominion of Australia. As the Official History states:

The Wirraway trainer provided a starting point for the Boomerang's airframe. CAC general manager (and former chief designer) Lawrence Wackett and chief designer Fred David began detailed design work at the CAC factory in Sidney on 21 December 1941. David was a Jewish refugee from Austria, who had worked on aircraft designs for Heinkel in pre-Nazi Germany, as well as for Mitsubishi and Aichi in Japan. He had also worked for Holdens aircraft works in Adelaide in the Central Australian Republic before being lured to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Sydney. As a result, he had an excellent understanding of advanced fighter designs such as the Heinkel He100 and the Mitsubishi A6M ("Zero").

The RAAF ordered 105 CA-12 (Mk I) Boomerangs on 2 February 1942, before the prototype first flew on 29 May 1942.

The Boomerang was a small fighter, designed with an emphasis on manoeuvrability. It had an overall length of just 7.7 metres (25.5 ft) and an 11 m (36 ft) wingspan. Although the original intention had been to use as many Wirraway components as possible, the final design was quite different, with shorter wings, a shorter, wood-sheathed, aluminium-framed fuselage, increased strength for combat stresses and a new centre section.

Test flights found that the CA-12 handled well. It was very well-armed, with two 20 mm cannon and four .303 calibre (7.7 mm) machine guns, all mounted in the short, thick wings. The Boomerang was also generously equipped with armour plating to protect the pilot. However, general performance was mediocre. Although lively at low level, performance fell away rapidly over 15,000 ft (4,600 m), and at the maximum speed of 265 knots (490 km/h) was not sufficient to make it an effective counter to the Zero. In addition, the best European fighters were reaching almost 350 knots (650 km/h), and even relatively sluggish fighters like the Wildcat and the Kittyhawk were much faster than the Boomerang.

The CA12 though, did fulfil the need for a cheap and easily produced emergency fighter. In order to address the problems with performance, Fred David proposed replacing its Twin Wasp engine with either a more powerful radial or an inline engine, with a better supercharger or even a turbocharger. The CA14 prototype was re-engined with a Hercules. While the engine was heavier, it developed slightly more power at altitude but was not sufficient to offset the increased weight so performance actually fell. The CA15 was then proposed with the BMW801. This appeared, at least on paper to have more potential but would require considerably more development.

As we noted, while this very important conference was going, the Japanese had not been idle. The news came of Japanese forces landing on the north coast of New Guinea on 25 July 1942. Initially a small force at Buna, it was soon reinforced to the size of approximately a Brigade and started to advance along the Kokoda Track towards Port Moresby. Australian forces were rushed forward to meet the Japanese at the village of Kokoda, deep in the Owen Stanley ranges one of the most remote places on Earth. At the same time, the Dominion government in Sydney appealed to the other Australian nations and the US and UK for aid. Victoria immediately dispatched a brigade to Port Moresby but it would take time for them to arrive and acclimatise. Tasmania offered a Battalion. The CAR offered two Battalions, all it felt it could spare from the defence of the Top End. However, to compensate for the small quantity of ground forces, it offered two squadrons of Ju52 3/m transports, two squadron of He100 fighters and a squadron of Do217 medium bombers. The US forces, under the command of General Douglas Macarthur decided to redeploy the US 32nd Infantry Division, a National Guard unit undergoing jungle training in far north Queensland to New Guinea. An inauspicious decision, the 32nd did not perform well initially in the New Guinea campaign.

The Do217 was found to have too light a protective armament and while local efforts were made to improve it by mounting .50cal HMGs instead of the lightweight 7.92mm guns, it was eventually restricted to night time raids. The He100 gave a good account of itself and encountered for the first time its Japanese equivalent, the Ki61 Hien. The similarity of silhouette was such that the He100s received special recognition markings to prevent them being shot down by their own side. These consisted of white bands around the wings and a solid white tail. In early 1943 the He100s were modified and equipped with drop tanks which increased their ranges to approximately 700 miles. Problems with their cooling in the heat of the tropics had also necessitated the introduction of an enlarged ventral radiator.

The Ju52s surprisingly turned out to be the most valuable contribution. They allowed the newly established joint command to resupply their forces as they were forced down the track by the advancing Japanese and then, later after the Japanese in turn were forced to retreat because of supply problems, they allowed the rapid redeployment of forces from other AOs. Even more valuably, their deployment allowed the CARAF and the RAAF to work under a joint command.
Cute timeline and I can see you put a bit of work into it. One omission though is NZ - I cannot see that you have mentioned it at all, which is an odd omission given how close the Australian and NZ colonies were at the time.

NZ at the start of your timeline had just gained "responsible government" but was still lightly settled by British settlers everywhere and still reasonably heavily populated by Maori. There may have even been a British regiment in NZ as well (i'm not sure about this point).

For economic purposes NZ was still an extension of NSW and the wider Australian colonies. Many of the same Settlement groups or companies operated in both NZ and Australia, for example Wakefield was one of the prime movers for the settlement of both Adelaide and Wellington

So, anything along the lines of what you have proposed in Australia* would have a massive impact in NZ and with its early development. I can quite see that NZ would have wanted to have a closer relationship with the loyal Australian colonies if
In real life, the Kiwis were rather heavily occupied with the Maori Wars (1845-1872). They were offered and actually are named as Australian states in our Constitution, however they never took up the offer.

In this time line, because of the lack of Australian participation in the Maori Wars, the white settlers find it harder and it takes longer to impose their rule on the Maoris.
The Tide Turns

The tide though, was now turning against the Japanese. During 1943 they were forced back from the Loyalty and New Hebrides Islands. In New Guinea they were pushed back to their bridgeheads on the north coast and eventually defeated. They were then pursued along the north coast. Under the overall command of General Douglas Macarthur, the Allied forces in the South-West Pacific Theatre proved they had gained the mastery over their adversaries in the art of jungle warfare.

Early 1943 also saw the deployment by the RAAF of one of the first practical G-Suits. Developed by Dr. F. S. Cotton, Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Sydney, it consisted, according to the Official History of
a series of overlapping rubber sacs incorporated in two separate leggings and a pair of Shorts. The leggings extended from the soles (or from the ankles in some modifications) nearly up to the top of the thigh . The thigh portions of the Shorts were arranged to overlap the leggings . Each legging contained four rubber sacs ; the Shorts contained two, the lower one covering the lower part of the abdomen and the upper one extending to the lower borders of the ribs . Each rubber sac was so arranged that when inflated an inextensible fabric in its outer wall prevented it from expanding outwards, while the rubber coating on its inner wall allowed it to expand and press smoothly against the skin . The rubber sacs did not inflate until the body was subjected to moderate accelerations, and then the pressure was so regulated that it increased in proportion to the acceleration . This automatic regulation of pressure was attained by means of a valve. In the design and fabrication of the rubber portions of the suit Cotton received much help from Dunlop Rubber Australia Ltd.

This suit enabled Australian pilots to better withstand the G-stresses of dogfighting and so outmanoeuvre their opponents. It allowed them to withstand up to four more “Gs” than a normal pilot leading to much tighter turns and other manoeuvres. The ratio of kills started to turn decisively in favour of the Allies.

1943 also saw efforts to improve the defences of the Do217. Martin turrets, mounting twin .50cal machineguns were substituted for the original one mounting a single 7.92mm weapon. Twin .50cal packs were placed either side of the nose, firing forward and twin .50cals were placed in the lower deck, rearward firing position. Further improvements were put in hand to utilise remotely controlled twin .50cal MG turrets both above and below. The Japanese fighters found the bombers increasingly difficult to attack successfully.


Do217 Armament evolution

The RAAF, CARAF and RWAAF all decided that heavier, longer-ranged bombers would be required if the fight was to be carried to the much further flung bases of the Japanese. The B-24 Liberator was ordered and placed into service. Equipped with long range tanks it was capable of flying to Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines with a useful warload and returning to bases in Northern Australia.

Late 1943 also saw the Australian air forces combine their forces and formed under RAAF command, 1 Australian Tactical Air Force (1ATAF). By this stage of the war, the initial command problems and logistics had been largely ironed out during the New Guinea campaigns when they had fought together. This force moved forward with the Australian forces and was in control of all air operations during the Borneo campaign and afterwards.

It was though, in 1944 that the final benefits of the standardisation and rationalisation conference which had been held in 1942 finally started to appear. It had been decided at the conclusion of the Standardisation Conference of 1942, to hold regular meetings to review and make new decisions on the Australian aero industry. These became annual affairs. In 1944 further decisions were made.

It was decided that a new fighter-bomber/heavy fighter would soon be required. The choice came down to between the Mosquito, the Beaufighter, the P-61 “Black Widow” or the P-82 “Twin Mustang”. The Mosquito had the advantage in that it utilised the now standard Merlin engine. In addition, it utilised “non-strategic” wood in its construction. The P-82 also utilised the Merlin (although in a special “handed” version). It was also the least developed of the contenders. The P-61 utilised different engines and more crew and was considerably larger and more expensive.

Of those proposed, perhaps one of the most interesting was a new model of the Beaufighter. Called the Mk.22 by DAP, it utilised BMW801 engines supplied from Holdens' in Adelaide.. Both Hercules and the BMW801 were of approximately the same diameter so it was easy to adapt the engine-bearers of the Beaufighter to accept the BMW801 The chief advantage of using the BMW801 was that it was considerably cheaper and easier to build than the Hercules, as well as more powerful. Holdens with help from the CSIRO had improved the BMW801, having developed a process which according to the Official History utilised a new type of engine cooling fins:

Ordinarily, fins of air-cooled cylinders were machined out of a solid forging of high-quality steel, and in the course of boring and turning operations about 90 per cent of the metal was cut away . This was not only waste of a valuable material always in short supply, but a time-consuming and expensive process. A method was worked out whereby fins were furnace-brazed with copper on to the steel barrel . By placing the fins much closer together than could be done by machining them, and by making them of a material of high thermal conductivity, a greater output could be obtained from the cylinder.

This had significantly decreased the weight and increased the power from the BMW801Au (“Au” for “Australia”) from 1,500hp to nearly 2,000hp. Compared to the Hercules VI which was the standard model engine on the Beaufighter Mk.21 which developed 1,600hp, this was a significant improvement.

DAP had also, in the process of developing the Mk.22, started work on another version, the Mk.24, which was referred to as the “sports model”. A single-seater, with a cut down fuselage and a bubble canopy, similar to that on the CAC produced P-51D. It was hoped to be powered by an even more powerful version of the BMW801Au developing 2,500hp, using sleeve-valve technology from the Hercules. One example was built. It was later modified with a taller tail to improve directional control.


The arguments flowed back and forth but it was the Mosquito which won. The use of the Merlin and non-strategic materials and its exceptional performance were the deciding factor. The Beaufighter was not to be developed further and the two prototypes were the only ones produced.

DAP Beaufighter Mk.21 development aircraft, equipped with BMW801au engines. Used by Holdens and DAP to develop the Mk.22.

The Mustang was now in production, in its Merlin powered form as the standard fighter.. The RAAF however, brought to the table a proposal for a new, indigenous designed fighter, the CA15. The proposal was to utilise the BMW801au rated at 2,000hp or greater. Armed with four 20mm cannon it was to have a range of 2,450 miles. Alternatively, the Rolls-Royce Griffon, a development of the Merlin could be utilised. It was decided to build two prototypes powered with each engine and a decision taken when which was shown to be the better. Most representatives however favoured the BMW801.

The real surprise of the conference was when the representatives from the Central Australian Republic announced that they were working on a revolutionary new power plant – the turbojet. Having received word and then drawings of Heinkel's HeS30 turbojet engine in mid-1941, Holdens had started development of their own, referred to as the HoJ30. Development had been relatively slow but when word came from overseas of Frank Whittle's work, it had sped up. The increasingly close association between Holdens and the Lidcombe Engine factory, where Rolls-Royce trained engineers helped with their knowledge of impeller and intake designs for superchargers had meant that by the end of 1943 it was running on test benches and developing approximately 2,000 lbs thrust. What was even more important though, as the official history noted:

Key to the engine's working cycle was an axial compressor of then-unique construction. Most German engines of the era had the stators do all of the actual compression, with the rotors speeding up the air for them to compress. In the HoJ 30, the rotor and stators shared compression, about 50-50, a design originally provided by Rudolph Friedrich of Junkers. Overall the engine had a five-stage compressor providing air at a 3:1 compression ratio to ten flame cans, which powered a single-stage turbine. The turbine was also unique for the era, using a set of guide vanes that were adjustable for various operating speeds. Like most German axial engines, the engine also included a variable-geometry exhaust cone to lower back pressure when starting, and an electric starter motor.

Of all of the early engines, the HoJ 30 was by far the best design. It produced a thrust of approximately 2,200 lbs (later versions nearly doubled that), about the same as contemporary designs, but weighed only 850 lbs, providing a much better power-to-weight ratio. The engine also had better specific fuel consumption and was smaller in cross-section as well. It has been said that the overall performance was not matched until 1947.

The first aircraft to fly with the new engine was a modified He100 which had retained its DB601 powerplant and had two HoJ30 engines, one slung under each wing. Teething problems were still persistent and it was a wise choice to keep the piston engine during the early flights. Just as with the Me262, the bicycle undercarriage gave troubles and it was soon modified to utilise a fixed nose wheel. When the DB601 was removed, this became a retractable one and a heavy armament of four 20mm cannon was put in its place. Stability problems also forced the wing to be moved backwards about 18 inches and the cockpit forward for improved visibility.

The Conference was astounded by the films of tests being conducted. They immediately saw the potential but recognised it was early days. It was decided to give priority to Holdens and allocate resources from the other aircraft manufacturers. This would have repercussions on the CA15's development. While the BMW801au powered version entered production with a turbocharger and sleeve-valves from the Hercules incorporated into its design, it was never to reach its full potential, always being eclipsed by the new turbojet powered fighters. In the end, just over 100 were produced and they soldiered on until the Korean War.
The Final Act

Throughout 1944 the Japanese tide rolled further back. New Guinea, Tarawa, Pelleliu, the Philippines, Borneo, Guam, Okinawa, Iwo Jima all fell to the Allies, one after the other. During the latter battles, the Australians found themselves increasingly sidelined as America sought to ensure that it would be the main victor over the Japanese and gain the lion's share of the spoils at the peace conference which was sure to follow. The Australian governments, unable to do otherwise, were forced to acquiesce.

Domestically, moves had started amongst the various governments towards a formal recognition of the cooperation that had occurred in a defacto manner when facing the existential threat that the Japanese had presented. Tentative moves and soundings were taken and all it seemed were in favour of creation of some formal structure to combine the previously independent nations into a federation. New Zealand was approached as well, as the other major European nation in the Southern Pacific. Wellington was initially cool to the idea but found itself overwhelmed by the bulldozing tactics of the Dominion of Australia's energetic Minister for External Affairs, Herbert Vere “Doc” Evatt. This resulted in a formal pact known as the ANZAC Pact, signed in early 1944 that committed all parties, including New Zealand towards, as the Official History put it:
establishment of a regional zone of defence for the South-West and South Pacific.

The Agreement required the governments to exchange information and views concerning all developments affecting the islands of the Pacific.

A South Seas Regional Commission was proposed in the Agreement . This became the South Pacific Commission which still functions today.

The Agreement also called for “the development of commerce between Australia and New Zealand….by consultation….and by joint planning.”

References in the Agreement to civil aviation and policing in the South Pacific are mirrored by joint activities in these areas that are still in existence.

The final section of the Agreement called for permanent machinery to ensure continuing collaboration. A secretariat was established immediately which functioned formally for at least 15 years.

While the work of the secretariat extends beyond the end of the period under discussion in this chapter, it must be recognised that it was that work which led to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australasia in 1955. In 1944-5, it led though, to a much more assertive stance by the Australian and New Zealand governments, which alarmed London and Washington. They were forced to take into consideration the very real concerns of those governments rather than ignore them as they had.

However, once the time came for Operations OLYMPIC & CORONET the invasion of Japan itself, the size of the undertaking was such that the martial abilities and the size of the Australian forces could not be ignored. General Macarthur, in one of his rare generous moments insisted that Australian forces take part. A division of ground troops, several individual ships and a large air contingent would be utilised.

The Australian air forces moved forward their best and newest equipment. P-51D Mustangs, B-24 Liberators, CA15 Kangaroos, Mk.21 Beaufighters, Mosquitos FB Mk 40, PR Mk.41s and B.Mk.42s.



The real surprise however came when 19 (F) Squadron CARAF,, staging through the Philippines on their way to Okinawa to take part in Operation CORONET landed at a Manila air strip with their brand new He110 fighters. They were the talk of the USAAF's Fighter squadrons on Okinawa, particularly when it was discovered in mock dogfights they were able to outmanoeuvre their American counterparts because of their G-Suits. The wily Australians had managed to keep the existence of the He110 a secret, even from their Allies! In mock combat with USAAF P80 jet fighters, the He110 proved they were at least their equals although as one CARAF pilot drily noted, “if they had got in front of our guns, they'd have been walking home!” The He110's 4 20mm cannon was significantly more powerful than the P-80's 6 .50 cal machineguns.


Their first action was against Japanese aircraft attempting to attack the massive USAAF bomber base on the island where they were one of the few Allied aircraft able to intercept the very fast and very high flying Japanese Dinah reconnaissance aircraft which overflew the island. Soon, after the landings commenced they flew to Japan and operated from forward operating strips. Flying numerous fighter-bomber sorties they occasionally encountered Japanese fighter aircraft but their superior speed and manoeuvrability ensured they rarely lost such dogfights. Then the Atomic bombs were dropped in February 1946 on Yamagata and Kaminyama, where the Japanese had massed most of their forces for one last major defensive effort and so the war ended.

At this point, the various Australian air arms had a combined strength of approximately 4,000 aircraft of all types, making it one of the largest air arms in the world after the “Big Three”, the RAF, the USAAF and the Red Airforce.

[To Be Continued]
In real life, the Kiwis were rather heavily occupied with the Maori Wars (1845-1872). They were offered and actually are named as Australian states in our Constitution, however they never took up the offer.

In this time line, because of the lack of Australian participation in the Maori Wars, the white settlers find it harder and it takes longer to impose their rule on the Maoris.

I am aware of the early colonial history of NZ (I am from there after all!), but I do think you discount it. The history of the British colonies in the area are too intertwined in the 1850s to unpick as simply as you do. Besides of which, the main Land Wars did not really start in earnest till the later 1850s then rumbled right through the 1860s to the early 1870s, with plenty of Imperial involvement as well. If the Empire was willing to devote those troops to NZ, a much less valuable area than Australia, then I suspect they would have not so easily given up in Australia

The lack of interest in federation was in part due to the fact that by the time it became a serious political force in the Australian colonies NZ had been settled, pacified, unified and stable for several decades. In your TL that all gets thrown out. Settler NZ is no longer quite so able to deal with the Maori, it has potential enemies (your republics etc) nearby which it never had IOTL (Russian scares do not really count, but it does show how paranoid we were). All of which fundamentally changes the case for federation or tighter relations with the loyal Australian colonies.
I am aware of the early colonial history of NZ (I am from there after all!), but I do think you discount it. The history of the British colonies in the area are too intertwined in the 1850s to unpick as simply as you do. Besides of which, the main Land Wars did not really start in earnest till the later 1850s then rumbled right through the 1860s to the early 1870s, with plenty of Imperial involvement as well. If the Empire was willing to devote those troops to NZ, a much less valuable area than Australia, then I suspect they would have not so easily given up in Australia

They devoted relatively minor forces to the Land Wars in NZ. At the time the major events occur in this time line, the Empire is heavily engaged elsewhere, fighting major conflicts which prevent it from really pay much attention to events on the other side of the world. First the Indian Mutiny, then the Crimean War and then the 2nd Boer War (and it must be mentioned, the Boxer Rebellion, which because of the lack of Australian colonial involvement actually becomes much worse).

Further, because there is a much smaller contribution to the Land Wars from the Australian colonies, they are prolonged and of greater intensity. I suppose I could have had the Maoris win as a consequence. That'd have fixed the problem, now wouldn't it? ;)

The lack of interest in federation was in part due to the fact that by the time it became a serious political force in the Australian colonies NZ had been settled, pacified, unified and stable for several decades. In your TL that all gets thrown out. Settler NZ is no longer quite so able to deal with the Maori, it has potential enemies (your republics etc) nearby which it never had IOTL (Russian scares do not really count, but it does show how paranoid we were). All of which fundamentally changes the case for federation or tighter relations with the loyal Australian colonies.

The Republics represent no threat, afterall, they are preoccupied with events on their own continent and there Dominions of Australia and Western Australia do remain loyal to the Crown and are able to deter any expansionist tendencies that might develop.
Late addenda to Part I.

Group Captain Clive Robertson Caldwell DSO, DFC & Bar (28 July 1910 – 5 August 1994) was the leading Australian air ace of World War II. He is officially credited with shooting down 28.5 enemy aircraft in over 300 operational sorties. In addition to his official score, he has been ascribed six probables and 15 damaged. Caldwell flew Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks in the North African Campaign and Hurricanes and North American Mustangs in the South West and Pacific Theatres. He was the highest-scoring P-40 pilot from any air force and the highest-scoring Allied pilot in North Africa. Nicknamed “Killer”, a name he disliked, Caldwell was ruthless and skilful in air combat.

Caldwell was born in Lewisham, Sydney and educated at Albion Park School, Sydney Grammar School and Trinity Grammar School. He learned to fly in 1938 with the Aero Club of New South Wales. When World War II broke out, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), with the intention of becoming a fighter pilot. As he was over the age limit for fighter training, Caldwell persuaded a pharmacist friend to alter the details on his birth certificate. He was accepted by the RAAF as a Flight Lieutenant, rising by war's end to the rank of Group Captain, commanding 80 Fighter Wing, part of 1 Australian Tactical Air Force during the invasion of Japan.

The profile below, portrays Caldwell's Mustang in 1945 on Okinawa, bearing as was his custom, his personal initials as its code letters. It features the record of his kills and his Gp Capt pennant, as well as the personal recognition dark bands on spinner and fuselage.
Aircraft Projects
by "apophenia"

Two Unbuilt Lasco Trainer Projects

Lasco's Lapwing emerged as virtually a monoplane version of the Lark II biplane trainer. But that was not the original intention. As planned, the Lapwing was to be a lead-in trainer for planned RVAF P-26 Peashooter fighters. The original Lapwing concept shared the Peashooter's spats and bracing wires. Power was to be a 200 hp 6-cylinder Menasco B6S Buccaneer.

Economic conditions force the delay and ultimately the cancellation of the P-26 contract. In the end, Lapwings were delivered with the Lark II's 145 hp Menasco C4 Pirate 4-cylinder. The production Lapwing proved too slow to be a lead-in trainer for the new Curtiss 75A fighters.

The Lasco Lark III was intended to be a follow-on replacement for RVAF Lark II trainers. The Lark III essentially placed Lark II flying surfaces on the more refined Lapwing fuselage. A supercharged Menasco C4 Pirate 4-cylinder was to be the powerplant.

The RVAF intended to replace all ab initio trainers with the Lark III. Earlier model Larks were to be passed on to the Victorian flying schools which fed recruits to the RVAF. As with the Lapwing, economic conditions disrupted plans. The RVAF passed its Lark Is to Tasmania, retained its Lark IIs as trainers, and cancelled further development of the Lark III.


Unbuilt Lasco Fighter Project - Lares I

The Lasco Lares was designed to compete in a contest to replace the RVAF's aging Boeing biplane fighters, the Model 251s (or P-12E). Orders for Boeing's P-26 had already been cancelled both for reasons of expense and conceptual obsolescence. Lasco believed that a simple monoplane fighter built in Victoria could be very competitive in this contest.

As originally conceived, the Lasco Lares was to be a fixed-gear Fokker D.XXI powered by a 875hp Wright GR-1820-G3 Cyclone radial engine. Armament was to be two .50-calibre Brownings synchonized to fire through the propeller and two wing-mounted .30-calibre guns.

The original Lares concept was rejected by the RVAF when a retractable undercarriage was made a mandatory feature in an addenda to the Defence Department's fighter specification.

Lasco proceeded to update and modernize its Lares concept. The result featured a Messier retractable undercarriage and a new rear fuselage (the wooden monocoque section bolting to the original tubular frame aft of the cockpit). Some elements with the selection committee reacted well to the revised Lares but the increased development risks tipped the scales in favour of the proven Curtiss 75A Hawk.

Both versions of the Lares were also offered to the KMT government of China. The ROCAF was interested in a locally-built version of the original concept but suitable factory space was never found. The revised Lares was also well received but its Messier undercarriage was seen as unneccessarily complex and potentially vulnerable on China's rougher landing fields.


Unbuilt Lasco Fighter Project - Lares II

The Lasco Lares II was a completely new lightweight fighter project. The concept sprang from an all-metal fighter being designed by Victoria Aircraft Parts.* As a small supplier, VAP was not capable of completing this project and design staff were loaned to Lasco.

At Lasco, the VAP fighter underwent a complete redesign. The all-aluminum structure was abandoned in favour of the more familiar steel-tube and moulded plywood. The powerplant was also changed from a Ranger SGV-770C-1
to a similar design from Lasco's US West Coast engine supplier, Menasco. This decision would later be the cause of much regret.

As a fighter lead-in trainer, the Lares II would have a fixed and spatted undercarriage. The powerplant was to be the new Menasco D12S Privateer (or XIV-980-1). Originally known as a 'Twin Buccanneer', this inverted V-12 engine was to generate 520 hp but the prototype could only produce 460 hp on the bench.

Despite a somewhat disappointing, the original Lares II concept was unveiled to the RVAF as a private venture. However, the RVAF decided that such trainers weren't needed with NA-16s on the way to Victoria.

Rather than abandon the Lares II, elected to clean up the design as a light fighter for the export market. A Messier retracable undercarriage was adopted and the wooden wings given more dihedral to improve handling.

Lasco was betting that Menasco's 'Super Privateer' would eventually deliver its promised 520 hp. It never did and Menasco abandoned the D12S, moving on to focus on its new IV-2040 'hyper' engine concept for the USAAC.


Central Australian developments

The CARAF's He-51Bau-1 Butcherbird differed slightly from Luftwaffe Heinkel fighters. Simple exhaust ejectors were chosen, coolant and oil radiators enlarged, desert survival kits were standard, but no radio was installed. Except for aerial display teams, Butcherbirds always carried the 170 litre belly fuel tank.

By the outbreak of WWII, CARAF frontline fighter squadrons had converted to Heinkel He-100D Peregrine monoplane fighters. However, He-51s continued to serve as fighter-trainers as well as squadron hacks.

The only Butcherbird variant was the He-51Bau-1N, a fighter-bomber conversion devised as a wartime expedient. The N's were fitted with exhaust flame dampers, a reinforced bomb rack (displacing the belly tank), armoured head rests, and radio R/T sets.

These aged biplanes were expected to continue the fight at night should the Japanese land troops near Darwin. Once the invasion threat subsided, the He-51Bau-1Ns returned to training fighter pilots while their nocturnal roles were taken on by the twin-boomed Fokker G-1s.


The CARAF used BMW 132K-powered Heinkel He-170Fau-1 Harlequins as their light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. A 1942 emergency upgrade was re-engining this fleet with BMW 801 radials (resulting in He-170F/Ms).

When the Dornier Do-217 took over the reconnaissance role, Heinkel Adelaide was anxious to regain its products' earlier dominance within the CARAF. Several attempts were made to produce a modernized version of the He-170 that would tempt the CARAF.

Heinkel Adelaide's first submission was the He-170M/S floatplane as a potential replacement for the He-60 biplane. The He-170M/S was to be a straightforward float adaptation/rebuild of in-service He-170F/M airframes. Instead, the CARAF elected to re-engine its He-60 fleet as BMW 132K-powered He-160Au Avocet IIs.

Heinkel Adelaide then submitted an unsolicited bid to replace He-170s with DB601-powered He-270Au Harlequin II. Based on the German He-270v1 prototype, this aircraft differed in minor detail to permit He-170 rebuilds as a possible alternative to new construction.

When the Harlequin II evinced no interest, Heinkel Adelaide revised their bid, submitting the He-270Au/S with purpose-designed floats as a possible He-160Au Avocet II replacement.



Two failed proposals to replace the CARAF's Heinkel He-100 fighter

The proposal that the Merlin should become a standard engine for all Australian air forces sent a shock through the aviation industry in the Central Australian Republic.

Heinkel Adelaide scrambled to see if the Merlin could realistically be installed in their He-100 airframe. Since the He-100 design had been carefully tailored to the inverted DB601, much redesign was required. Heinkel took the opportunity to slightly enlarge the airframe and submitted the results as the HA-101A.

The threat was even greater to Adelaide engine-maker, Holden Aviation. Holdens was hard at work on a new jet engine but believed that there was still potential in the original DB601. Their proposal was a new DB601ASM, a high altitude engine with mixed methanol/water boost. Heinkel Adelaide declined this engine and continued to pursue its Merlin-powered HA-101A.

Stung by Heinkel's rejection, Holdens embarked on its own fighter replacement project. This was a Mustang airframe adapted to the proposed DB601ASM powerplant and CARAF armament (4 x wing-mounted MK151-20 cannons). Following North American's wild horse theme, this proposed Amero-Australian fighter was dubbed the NA109H Brumby.

In the end, the CARAF chose not to purchase any new piston-engined fighter design. Industry was instructed to proceed with the Holden-powered, Heinkel-built HA-110 jet fighter with all possible haste.

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Remember Eureka! - Part 2 – 1946 to 1960
Text - "Rickshaw"
Profiles - "Coops" & "apophenia"

Korean War

On 3 December 1952, high in the skies above North Korea Captain Wang Hai had manoeuvred his flight of MiG-15 fighters into position to intercept a flight of American F-86 Sabres in "MIG Alley", the strip of land inside North Korea adjacent to the border with the Peoples' Republic of China. He intended after a sweeping pass to elude the usual pursuit by ducking back over the border. He glanced around, making sure his wingmen were in formation and that there were no enemy fighters nearby. His glance took in the other MiGs. Just as he finished his look around and he turned his head back to the front his mind suddenly registered that there were twice the number of MiGs that there should have been! Realising his mistake, he screamed a warning into his radio and pushed the stick hard forward and kicked his rudder to port as cannon shells flashed past the wing of his fighter. One of his wingmen exploded into flames and the sky was suddenly filled with turning, slashing silver shapes. Wang Hai escaped but several of his wingmen weren't so lucky.

So the CARAF's Ho-150 Buuli (Aboriginal for "Whirlwind") had its first introduction to combat. Armed with 4 20mm cannon with a single HAJ-50 turbojet, the Buuli was approximately the same size and shape as the MiG-15. Indeed, it was easy to confuse the two silhouettes. Both had a short, circular fuselage, nose intake, high set swept wings and tail surfaces. Whereas the MiG-15 mounted those part-way up the tail, the Buuli's were in the shape of a "T" tail. Both possessed similar performance, although the Buuli was a better gun platform. The Buuli in Korea wore special identification markings in the form of black and white stripes, similar to the D-Day invasion stripes of WWII around its fuselage in order to prevent confusion. It often didn't work though, and occasionally the US pilots would take pot-shots at what they believed were MiG-15s but which were in reality CARAF aircraft.

The Buuli was the result of the work by the famous aeronautical engineer Kurt Tank. Tank, at a loss at war's end had offered his skills to the victors of WWII. He tried the British, the Americans, even the Soviets but all seemed disinterested or untrusting of the former member of the Nazi Party with his close connections to the deposed regime. Looking around for the opportunity of a way to restart his aeronautical career, one of his engineers suggested the Central Australian Republic which was advertising for new immigrants and already had a large German emigre population. Intrigued, he applied to the CAR Government. When it was realised who he was, his application was rapidly approved, along with 30 of his former Focke-Wulf employees and their families. He was immediately put to work in the design office at Holdens in Adelaide after his arrival in early 1947.

Having brought with him the plans for the Fw183, he set to work adapting them to the requirements of the CARAF. Holdens, having found that the He110 while an excellent initial introduction to the problems of jet powered flight was essentially a developmental dead end was delighted. Worked started immediately on what was to eventually become the Buuli. Jet engine development was also continuing apace, with the HoJ50 being developed, producing some 5,000 lb thrust to power it. With the first production example flying on the day that the Korean War broke out, the Buuli received special impetus. However it took another 2 years before it actually entered service. Even then, the first squadron to receive it, received only brief training before being thrown into the fray, essentially learning "on the job". Initially only able to carry drop tanks, the Buuli was utilised purely as an air-superiority fighter. After their experiences encountering the advanced MiG-15 in their by now rather outdated looking CA15, the CARAF pilots were delighted with how well their Buuli handled. Attrition was high though, as the pilots had to learn the hard way just how hot their new aircraft really was with its swept wings.


Both the CARAF and the RAAF, the only airforce contributors to BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Forces Japan) were very much caught on the hop by events in Korea. Both squadrons of fighter-bombers, No.77 RAAF and No.39 (F) CARAF were winding down when the North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel on 25 June 1950. Within hours of attending farewell parties, both squadrons were in action with their F-51D Mustang fighter-bombers. The CARAF unit also had a sole CA15 still on strength, the personal "hack" of the air attache stationed at the Tokyo Embassy. In the desperate days as the ROK and American forces fell back on the southern port of Pusan, beset on all sides by the KPA (Korean People's Army), even this aircraft was armed and thrown into the fray. Flown by the CO of 39 (F) Squadron, it accounted for two Yak-11 fighters in a dogfight over the Pusan perimeter.

Both forces immediately reversed the flow of personnel and equipment, dispatching additional pilots and ground crew to the theatre. The CARAF alarmed at the wear and tear on their unit and the high combat attrition rate they were experiencing, also dispatched reinforcements. The CARAF, caught still in the forces' wind down after WWII found itself with obsolescent equipment while it awaited the development of the Buuli. With the choice between the He110 and the CA15 it decided because of the range from mainland Japan to Korea that the CA15 was more suitable. Another fighter-bomber squadron, No. 40 (F) Squadron, equipped with CA15s was immediately placed on alert and then dispatched to Japan with minimal notice. The RAAF on the otherhand decided to keep 77 Squadron in place and feed new personnel through it and made the early decision to replace the Mustangs of 77 Squadron with F-84s which it was re-equipping its squadrons with in the belief that the superior performance of the jet would be more useful.

At the same time, the Dominion's infantry unit in Japan, 3 Battalion Royal Australia Regiment, which like the other units in BCOF had been winding down before going home to Australia was urgently readied for combat in Korea. The flow of personnel for the Army was also reversed and pre-deployment training hurriedly undertaken in Japan. The CARN's destroyer was hurriedly dispatched to the seas off the Korean peninsular in order to provide warning of any attempt to invade Japan by either the Soviet Union, the Red Chinese or the North Koreans.

While quick to become involved, both the CAR and the Dominion sought to limit their involvement in this new war. Both believed that it would be advantageous to support the United Nations but neither wished to be drawn into an open-ended or heavy commitment, particularly if it meant that they were once more facing the possibility of a general World War. This meant that once the initial force levels had been decided, requests to increase them were resisted. While the two nation's Prime Ministers - Robert Menzies (Dominion) and Thomas Playford (CAR) sought different outcomes from the decision to commit forces, both agreed on the method to achieve them - support of the fledgling United Nations (and in the case of Menzies, the United States, after having concluded the ANZUS treaty in 1951).

77 Squadron RAAF, 39 and 40 (F) Squadrons CARAF fought well together. However, the RAAF and CARAF found themselves increasingly having to call on the USAF for support for their Mustangs as spares and replacements became difficult to source from home. In early 1951, the first RAAF F-84s arrived and 77 Squadron was withdrawn to Japan to re-equip. The CARAF took the decision to re-equip 39 (F) Squadron with CA15s at the same time. The RAAF's experience with the F-84 paralleled that of the USAF. While an excellent first generation jet, it was largely outclassed by its opponents the MiG-15 and the La-15. Lacking power and range, 77 Squadron found themselves being increasingly used as CAS (Close Air Support) fighter-bombers, just as the CARAF's CA15s were. In their few encounters with MiG-15s, the F-84s suffered disproportionate losses, to the point that 77 Squadron's pilots coined the song, "All I want for Christmas are my wings swept back," to the tune of the song, "All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth". When it was announced that 39 (F) Squadron was to be re-equipped with the Buuli several 77 Squadron pilots threatened resignation and that they would then re-enlist with the CARAF!

The CARAF experience with the CA15 in Korea was that while an excellent fighter-bomber, its day was largely done in the face of the opposition's use of MiG-15 and La-15 jet fighters. When they occasionally encountered the NKPAF (North Korean People's Air Force) propeller powered fighters or ground attack aircraft they invariably made short work of them. This however did not stop at least two jet fighter "kills" when they encountered MiG-15s on favourable terms.

By 1952, the war had settled down largely to a stalemate. Both sides in the Korean War were tired of the costs and the effort that the War required and negotiations, which had started in late 1952 dragged on until an armistice was signed in late 1953. This did not officially end the war, merely ended the fighting and both sides sat down to an uneasy truce which continues to this day, facing each other across the sinisterly named DMZ (De-Militarised Zone). The ROK and the DPRK had essentially returned to the same border as they had started with in 1950 and both now had guarantees from their Superpower sponsors of their continued existence.

Back in Australia, Holdens Aircraft Limited's main competitors, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation under Lawrence Wackett hadn't been idle while Holdens had been developing the Buuli. While the Dominion Government's decision to accept MAP aid from the United States and adopt the F-84 as the RAAF's first jet fighter had been seen largely as a mistake after the initial experiences with it in Korea, Wackett had decided to negotiate a license with North American, whom he had collaborated closely with during war time to build the Mustang and Rolls-Royce whose engines it had used to build a licensed copy of the F-86 which had proved the shining star of the air combat over the Peninsular. The result was the CA27 Avon-Sabre, equipped with 2 30mm ADEN cannons it was perhaps the fastest variant of the F-86. The RAAF and RWAAF were quick to adopt the new aircraft, placing them in service in 1954, too late to see the Korean War, they were to soldier on until the end of the 1960s.




At the same time as new jet fighters were being adopted, new jet bombers were felt to be needed. At war's end the RAAF and RWAF had been equipped with a mix of Mosquitos and B-24 Liberators. The RAAF and RWAAF, chose the Canberra. While the first dedicated jet bomber which was produced post war, the real choice was made on the basis of secret Imperial Atomic war fighting plans which suggested that it was highly likely in any future Atomic war, that the UK would be obliterated and the Empire and Commonwealth would need to fight on from the "periphery". These plans, once highly secret have since become a footnote of history. The Australians' role was to be the main Imperial strikeforce in the Asian region, utilising British atomic weapons. RAAF/RWAAF Canberras based in Malaya was to provide that force, primarily for use against China and the USSR's Far Eastern bases. The result was that the RAAF and RWAAF were allocated one squadron each of the first production batches of B.2s. In addition, the GAF (Government Aircraft Factory) was granted licenses to produce the Canberra B.20 and its trainer derivatives and it entered service in 1952.

The B-24 Liberators acquired during the war were to soldier on for some time, initially in the Heavy Bomber role they were designed for but increasingly as Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. In 1950, GAF proposed that they be re-manufactured into a purpose designed aircraft and so the B-24J became the B-24J(A) with all turrets removed, a lengthened nose, to allow two new observer positions behind the bomb aimer's, two fixed 20mm cannon, a purpose designed Leigh Light installation and surface search radar. 4 Squadrons, Nos. 21, 23 & 24 Squadrons (RAAF) and No.25 (City of Perth) RWAAF were equipped. In 1954, the RWAF Liberators were replaced by Shackleton MR.2s, while the RAAF's were to be replaced after Federation and Amalgamation with P2V Neptunes which also later replaced the Shackletons.

The CAR was forced to continue with its Mosquitos for several more years before choosing the Canberra as well. However, its choice was the the bomber-interdictor version, the B(I) Mk.6 with 28 being purchased and entering service in early 1955.

The two smaller airforces from Victoria and Tasmania had found it increasingly difficult to fund their procurement of new aircraft and were forced to continue on for appreciably longer with the equipment that they had finished WWII with. The result was that the RVAF did not receive its first jet aircraft until 1955, just before Federation and amalgamation when it purchased a squadron of CA27 Sabres. Before that, its strength had slumped considerably to basically two squadrons of fighters (F-51D), one of bombers (Mosquitos), one of flying boats (PBYs) and another of transports (C-47). Tasmania's Flying Corps was in an even worse state by 1955, with only one squadron of fighters (F-51D) and one of transports/patrol aircraft (C-47 and PBYs).



Naval Aviation Developments

The changing nature of warfare meant new capabilities were sought by the Australian Nations. The UK, desperate itself to generate foreign currency reserves decided that the several MAJESTIC class Light Fleet Carriers it had laid up in various stages of construction at war's end, would be sold. They offered them first to the various Commonwealth Countries. The RAN was interested and purchased HMS TERRIBLE, commissioning her as HMAS Sydney in 1948. MAJESTIC was purchased at the same time but needed considerably more work. She was to be commissioned much later as HMAS MELBOURNE after being upgraded with new technologies and equipment such as the angled flight deck and mirror landing system. Canada purchased two carriers, MAGNIFICANT and POWERFUL (commissioned as HMCS BONAVENTURE). India purchased HERCULES, commissioning her as INS Vikrant. When no takers were found for the last in the class, LEVIATHAN, she was offered for general sale. The CAR, very interested in acquiring a carrier after observing the lessons of the Pacific War snapped her up in 1953. She also was upgraded with an Angled Flight Deck and other improvements being commissioned as CARS LEVIATHAN in early 1955.

With their purchases of carriers, both the Dominion and the CAR also essentially established their Fleet Air Arms. For the RAN, the RAN FAA was initially equipped with Hawker Sea Furies and Fairey Fireflies. SYDNEY saw action off Korea, earning distinction for the number of sorties flown and the time on station and one Sea Fury even downed an La-15 (the only recorded kill of the type). The Sea Furies continued in service until the late 1950s when SYDNEY was paid off before being modernised. With the arrival of MELBOURNE and then LEVIATHAN in 1955, the jet age was ushered in. However, the choices made by the two FAAs could not have been more different.


The Anglophile RAN continued with British aircraft, choosing Hawker Sea Hawks as fighter-bombers, De Havilland Sea Venoms as all-weather fighters and Fairey Gannets for ASW work and later AEW duties. The CARN (Central Australian Republic Navy) however decided not to purchase British aircraft but rather what they perceived as much more capable US Navy aircraft. It chose the F2H Banshee for its fighter-bomber and the AD-1 Skyraider as its ASW and AEW aircraft. For an all-weather fighter, it opted for the F3D Skyknight.



CA28 Sabre Dingo

Wackett, mindful of the possibilities that the F-86 offered, decided in 1954 to offer to the RAAF and RWAAF the F-86D, powered like the CA27 Sabre with the Rolls Royce Avon turbojet. Designated the CA28, the F-86Da was also armed with 2 30mm ADEN cannon, rather than the 24 "Mighty Mouse" rockets of the original version (making it roughly analogous to the F-86M). As one air historian wrote:

Although very similar to the F-86D, especially in its use of the AN/APG-36 all-weather radar fitted in a radome in the nose; larger fuselage.., the CA28 was noticeably different as well. Foremost amongst the differences was its use of two crewmen. This was due to the RAAF’s stated preference for a dedicated operator of the radar equipment – especially when operating in severe weather conditions (where the pilot may be totally dedicated to flying the aircraft). The fact that Australia did not possess an established Ground-Controlled Interception (GCI) network also contributed to this choice – interceptors needed to be able to operate largely independent of ground control.

Coupled with the uprated Avon 26 developing over 7,500 lbs of thrust, the F-86Da was like the CA27, substantially faster and more powerful than its American cousins. The CA28 came to equip several squadrons in the new CAAF (Commonwealth of Australasia Air Force), in the all-weather fighter role. When equipped with AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs and cannon, it proved a very capable fighter. Upon introduction it was immediately nicknamed the “Dingo” by its crews and the name stuck, entering official nomenclature.



CA29 Sea Dingo

Wackett, also mindful of the use of the F-86 Sabre, by the US Navy as the FJ-2 Fury offered the CA27 and CA28 to the newly formed CAN (Commonwealth of Australasia Navy) in 1956 to replace their first generation, straight winged jets. While the CA27 was seen as not a substantial enough development over the existing aircraft in service, the need for new all-weather capable fighters was understood and so it was decided to adopt the CA28. Offered as a low-risk development, utilising FJ-3 wings and the CA28 fuselage, stressed for carrier arrested landings, the development of the new subtype went quite smoothly and so the CA29 Sea Dingo was created. Entering service in 1959, on MELBOURNE it replaced the Sea Venom, on LEVIATHAN it replaced the Skyknight.

Political developments post war until 1955 and Federation

1946 had brought about the end of WWII. Earlier though, in late 1945, the world had seen the formation of the United Nations Organisation in a historical conference at San Francisco. The Australian nations, as original belligerents had been automatically accorded membership. The joint delegation from Australia had been energetic in taking part in the negotiations and the Dominion's Minister for External Affairs, H. V. “Doc” Evatt was instrumental in formulating several proposals which broke deadlocks that had occurred during the negotiations between the large and medium powers. He was later to go onto be the first President of the UNO's General Assembly. A strong believer in the judiciary (he spent several terms on the NSW Supreme Court and the Australian High Court's bench) and the rule of law, he was a strong advocate for the concepts of international law.

He was also not paradoxically, an advocate after the end of the Pacific War of a strongly defended Australia and proposed a ring of bases pushing the Australian defensive perimeter northwards, into the Islands around Australia. The key piece was to be Manus Island. Described as the “Scapa Flow of the Pacific” the harbour was twice the size of Scapa Flow and surrounded by a ring of islands in a similar manner it provided anchorage for the entire British Far East fleet in 1945-6.

The views were not incompatible. However, while his efforts in the UN met with considerable success, culminating as already mentioned in his election to the Presidency of the General Assembly, the plan for the ring of bases were however to founder on the economic realities besetting the various Australian nations in the post-war wind down.

Post war, while the Australian economies were in a far better position than the European or Asian ones, they were still beset with problems associated with balance of payments difficulties and a lack of foreign exchange. In addition, most industrial plant and machinery was sorely in need of replacement because of the over-extension that had occurred during the war where it was worked excessively to meed war needs.

This hurt the smaller nations much worse than the larger ones. All though, were primarily Agricultural based. The governments of the day sought to capitalise on the industrial development that had occurred during the war. The Dominion, in particular sought to increase it's industrial output and started to out produce both the CAR and Western Australia. Only the Dominion however was successful in its efforts to diversify. Possessing excellent iron and coal deposits, it had established foundries at Newcastle and Wollongong, even before the turn of the 20th century. In the late 1940s, as part of the aforementioned secret Imperial Atomic War plans, it had also begun building the Snowy Mountains Electrical Scheme which was to provide it with massive amounts of electricity required for Atomic weapons production. While this was never to come about (primarily because of British desire to instead buy into American nuclear secrets), it was to provide an excellent springboard for industry along the Eastern seaboard of the continent.

Each of the other nations found themselves specialising. In particular, the CAR under the careful stewardship of its long-running Prime Minister, Tom Playford found that it was able to attract business for white goods manufacture and the car industry (not surprising really, as Holdens had begun life primarily as a car manufacturer at Port Adelaide at the turn of the 20th century) based on the excellent iron ore and coal deposits near Spencer Gulf. Victoria managed to attract the car industry in the form of Ford motor company, building a large factory although it had to import steel to do it from the other nations on the continent. Western Australia's economy was mainly primary industry based (wheat, wool and mining, primarily gold). Slowly the spiders of commerce began to draw the Australian nations closer in a web of trade.

Because of transport problems of differing rail gauges, this was more despite, than because of being situated on the one continent. The Dominion had two gauges - narrow (3'6") in Queensland and standard (4'8") in New South Wales. Victoria luckily was broad gauge (5'3”). The CAR had two gauges - narrow (3'6") and broad (5'3"). Western Australia was primarily narrow (3'6") gauged with a very small amount of standard (4'8") gauge and Tasmania was all narrow (3'6”). There was no link, either between the West and the East, nor the South and the North (the CAR's narrow gauge line only reached as far north as Alice Springs while another line stretched from Darwin, southwards to Adelaide River). This "break of gauge" problem required all goods to either be unloaded and reloaded at national borders or special lines to be laid (such as the broad gauge link between the CAR and Victoria). While there were extensive roads, most were unsealed and in the case of the CAR's link to Darwin had until WWII been largely non-existent as far as heavy traffic was concerned! The result was an increasing reliance on coastal shipping. During the war, the dangers and difficulties that this presented had not gone unremarked upon by the Australians' Allies and General Macarthur in particular had been most disparaging about it in discussions with the Governments' representatives on more than one occasion. Some of the earliest international agreements between the nations had concerned the rail gauge problem. Indeed, it still bedevils them to some degree even in the 21st century but that is beyond the scope of this article.

Slowly the Economies improved. The Korean War in particular had proved a boon, causing a massive surge in wool prices. As all of the Australian economies "rode on the sheep's back", as it was once put, all benefited but there was another slump when the Korean War ended. What this meant was that there was little money and even less foreign exchange to fritter on what were perceived as "unnecessary frills". When new military equipment was purchase - primarily aircraft - license manufacture were sought.

The move towards some form of political amalgamation started during the War continued, although without the immediate threat that the Japanese had presented, it was largely a background issue. The Secretariat, established under the ANZAC pact of 1944 did much, good work, behind the scenes. Efforts were made to gain agreement without making the issue an overt one. In the case of rapidly rising Cold War tensions, this was perhaps the best strategy. A conference of all nations was held first in 1948. It was inclusive but there was sufficient good will for the effort to continue. Another was held in 1950, just before the outbreak of the Korean War.

Each of the Nations in the meantime pursued, as already mentioned, their own agendas particularly with regard to foreign policies. The Dominion, grasping that the UK was no longer able or interested in providing a defence guarantee to its far flung former colonies in the South Pacific. This resulted in the Dominion's government turning to the United States. The United States, saw that in order to gain acquiescence to a "soft peace" with Japan, which was rapidly shaping up as the US's main Northern Asian bulwark against the aggressive Soviet Union, it would need to grant Australian and New Zealand's desires for a defence pact as a quid pro quo. It also saw to its advantage to include The Republic of Victoria in these negotiations, as a counterweight to the two Dominions with its pro-American viewpoint. When John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State visited Sydney to negotiate the Security Pact it was said afterwards, "I wouldn't call what went on as negotiation". Essentially Dulles laid down the law and told the other participants what the US was willing to accept in such a treaty.

The Dominion's Minister for External Affairs, Percy Spender had wanted a NATO-like guarantee that an attack on one signatory would constitute an attack on all signatories. The New Zealand Minister Frederick Doige preferred that such a clause not be included, for fear of his nation being dragged into wars which did not concern it directly. Victoria was happy merely to be there. Dulles preferred that no such clause be included, mindful of the criticisms levelled at the Administration previously about the NATO treaty by Congress which had perceived it as negating its war making powers.

In the end, as it was the United States which was giving this guarantee, it was the American formula which was adopted. However, each government left, believing that all were in agreement as to the interpretation of the all important clause, Article III:

The Parties will consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific.

In reality, each took very different ideas of what that meant away with them. Perhaps the greatest difference was between that of the Dominion and the United States. Spender believed it meant that Australia had an iron-clad guarantee of defence. Dulles knew there was none. This difference was to bedevil Australian-US relations for decades to come.

Western Australia had failed to grasp the UK's inability to come to its aid. The few visits by the Far Eastern Fleet of the RN during the war had reassured Western Australians. They believed it's presence in the Indian Ocean had deterred the Japanese from following up the advantage they had gained when they had raided Perth in August 1942. They therefore encouraged the RN to base ships in Perth and constructed an extensive anchorage at Garden Island, just south of Fremantle. Western Australia also established a rocket range and nuclear testing ground deep in its interior at Laverton, north of Kalgoorlie. The UK, taking advantage of this conducted many experiments and several nuclear tests both there and offshore in the Monte Bello Islands. At one point, it was proposed that a squadron of Vulcan bombers be stationed in Western Australia to enable USSR Far Eastern and Chinese mainland targets to be attacked but it didn't eventuate.

The Central Australian Republic, on the otherhand, pursued its policy of armed neutrality. It had no desire to be drawn into the Cold War on either side and kept both at arm's length. It became a keen member of the United Nations and supported its aims and efforts as much as it could. It also became involved in various liberation movements in Asia most notably that of Indonesia during its brief war of independence from the Dutch. It refused to load ships and its union movement convinced the “Wharfies” ("Stevedores") not to load ships bound for the NEI in other Australian ports. When President Sukarno subsequently defeated the Dutch, he looked very favourably on the CAR in appreciation of its help in freeing his country. However, as we will see this still did not prevent conflict from occurring between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia.

Victoria continued to look towards the United States. It developed extensive trade and political ties to Washington. Seeing it as being a larger version of itself and frequently welcomed US Naval ships to Melbourne on extensive fleet visits. The United States was flattered, finding its servicemen welcomed and frequent support for its foreign policy in what was soon nicknamed “Little USA” by many American politicians and bureaucrats.

Little Tasmania, isolated became insular and isolationist, largely withdrawing from any political contact except with Victoria and its extensive agricultural trade with Europe. Indeed it was the only Australian nation to not see a substantial increase in its population throughout the post-war period.

This now brings us to the issue of Immigration. Most Australians recognised they were a small population on a large, largely empty continent. Mindful of how the indigenous inhabitants had been dispossessed of their inheritance because of their small population and low level of technological development, the White colonists decided upon a policy of enhanced, assisted migration after WWII. We have already discussed one famous migrant, Kurt Tank and his contributions. During the 15 years after WWII, there was a massive immigration programme entered into by all of the Australian nations, except Tasmania. The Dominion's first Minister for Immigration Arthur Calwell summed it up best that migration was so important that it was a case of “populate or perish”. Most Australians welcomed the displaced and refugee populations of Europe. Some 5 million new Australians were to arrive in the first ten years after the end of the war. They formed the new industrial work force which all of the nations utilised to transform their economies.


1955 dawned with the Federation Issue considered sufficiently developed to be put to the Australian people. A constitutional Convention was called on the advice of the Secretariat. Delegates were invited from all of the Australian nations and New Zealand, as well as Fiji. Fiji failed to attend however. After a fortnight's deliberation, which was keenly followed by the media and the public, the decision was taken that the issue should be put to the Australian Peoples. A proposed Constitution was put forward. A compromise between the traditionalists and the independents was created. Under the new Constitution, the Crown would remain the head of state for the two Dominions. However, it would not be the head of state for the new federation or the Republics. This was considered and remains a unique way of getting around the needs of each nation and allowing them to unite. A Governor-General appointed by the Government of the day would however be created as the Head of State for the Commonwealth as a whole. The individual nations, except in their direct relations with the Monarchy in the UK in the case of the two dominions, would relinquish their foreign affairs powers and diplomatic relations with foreign powers. The nations would also relinquish their income taxation abilities and all customs duties and excises between them would cease, allowing the free movement of trade.

As part of the deal, as a sweetener for Western Australian participation a promise was made for the establishment of a east-west rail link, across the continent. Tasmania, also demanded a federally funded, regular ferry service between the mainland and the island. In return, each of the previously independent nations gave up their income taxation powers. All also agreed to amalgamate their previously independent military forces. This meant the establishment of a truly unified Australasian Navy, Army and Air Force. Each was to be called simply the Commonwealth of Australasia Navy, etc. With amalgamation also came rationalisation. Luckily, standardisation had largely already occurred during the war and consultation had been an ongoing process.

A new capital was established in Broken Hill. Chosen because of its semi-central location, long distance from any coastline therefore preventing easy attack by a potential attacker or invader and its position on the main rail link between Sydney and Adelaide, the city was ideal, even if the climate wasn't. However, establishment of the halls of government would take time. Because of the nature of such a federation, certain government departments came to be dominated by one or the other of the formerly independent nations, as did the armed services. In the case of the Navy, the CARN became the predominate partner, in the case of the Army, the Army of the Dominion of Australia. In the case of the Air Force, it was the RAAF.

The Army inherited overseas commitments in Malaya and Singapore where they were engaged as part of the “Emergency” fighting the Communists who were seeking to foment revolution there against British Rule. A battalion was on rotation, aggressively patrolled the Malayan jungles “up country” with notable success.
The Second Half of the 1950s – Post-Federation

Commonwealth of Australasia Air Force (CAAF)


After Federation, the new CAAF was faced with the problems presented of a large, heterogeneous fleet of aircraft. Rationalisation was the first order of the day in order to reduce costs and improve serviceability. It was decided to standardise on the CA27 and CA28 for fighters. The obvious choice for the bomber role was the Canberra in its various guises. For other roles a series of rationalisation and replacement projects were announced.

Another issue was the matter of new markings. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir John Patrick Joseph McCauley, took the radical step of calling upon the CAAF's serving members for their ideas of how the new aircraft should be marked. A competition was held and designs submitted. The winner was decided by ballot amongst the serving members. The winner chosen was by Flight Sergeant Harold Thomas, one of the few Indigenous Australians in the new nation's armed services. It incorporated several iconic features of Antipodean life – a yellow ochre Kangaroo bounding across an red ochre landscape, with the Southern Cross constellation in the black night sky. Unusually, a square shape was chosen. His nephew, Harold Joseph Thomas was to use similar colours and elements when he later designed the Aboriginal Flag in 1971.


Competing Entries for a new Marking for the CAAF.


The Winning Entry

Organisationally and doctrinally, the CAAF became very much under the influence of the cadre of senior RAAF officers who manoeuvred themselves into positions that allowed them to essentially stage a “take over”. This bred a great deal of resentment amongst the other airforces which made up the bulk of the new CAAF. Morale suffered and dissension was a real problem for the first few years, with several officers and SNCOs needing to be publicly made examples of. While this had largely died down by 1959, the problems of the 1960 West New Guinea dispute and its raised tensions in the region finally solved it.




C-47 replacement

While the CAAF had more than sufficient C-47s after amalgamation for its needs, their age and the increasing demands of long range overseas deployments to New Guinea and Malaya, as well as potential future needs saw the idea develop that the role should be split in two - a large, strategic transport and a smaller, tactical one. An Air Staff Requirement (??) was issued in 1958 for a Heavy Transport and a Tactical Transport aircraft.

Several manufacturers tendered their products for selection. Lockheed the C-130 Hercules, Shorts the Belfast, Douglas both the C-132 Cargohauler and the C-133 Cargomaster, Blackburn the Beverley and a Beverley follow on equipped with turboprops, rather than piston engines, Armstrong Whitworth the Argosy and Nord their Noratlas. After careful consideration the CAAF decided that the C-130 would be ideal for the larger aircraft, offering a larger capacity than the C-47 with the ease of loading the rear ramp offered and the ability to operate from short, rough airstrips. The others were eliminated as unsuitable because of being too large or lacking rough field performance (C-132, C-133, Belfast) or unsuitable engines, performance or design (Noratlas, Argosy, Beverley). This did not prevent Douglas though, attempting to clinch the deal by sending the sole C-132 prototype downunder in RAAF colours in late 1958. That they were the wrong markings did not endear the company to anybody. The C-130A was initially adopted, later complimented by "E" and "H" versions.


For the tactical aircraft, several manufacturers tendered their aircraft for selection. De Havilland Canada offered the DHC-4 Caribou. Avro their 748 design modified for military use with initially a side cargo door and later a Mk.2 redesigned with a rear ramp and "kneeling" undercarriage. Fokker offered their F27 design with a large side cargo door. Handley Page the Dart version of their Herald modified with a rear loading ramp. The winner was the DHC-4 Caribou. The others were rejected as having either insufficient performance in STOL operations (Avro 748, F27) or also requiring considerably further development (Avro 748, Dart Herald) to match the DHC-4's cargo loading ability. The DHC-4 Caribou was to soldier on with the CAAF for 50 years, showing how wise a choice it had been.

The Need for Speed - the search for new trainers

The CAAF had inherited from the Australian Airforces a hodgepodge of trainer aircraft ranging from biplanes through to two-seat variants of fighter aircraft. This fleet was obviously difficult to maintain and failed to offer what was believed to be required in a modern airforce. The Wirraways which had soldiered on since the war were failing to produce pilots of the calibre required for the high performance jet aircraft which the CAAF flew. Looking overseas the CAAF observed that most air forces were adopting a low-performance initial trainer, usually piston powered and a much higher-performance advanced trainer invariable jet powered. The RAF however was talking about adopting the radical idea of an all jet syllabus for its trainee pilots. The CAAF felt that would be too expensive and decided to split the training syllabus along the lines that most other air forces had. It created an Air Staff Requirement for the two trainers in 1960.

For the propeller powered initial trainer, the CAC Winjeel (Aboriginal for "Young Eagle") was chosen. It conformed, with its three place cockpit (instructor and two trainees) to the CAAF's ideas on pilot training than any other two seat trainer which was available.

For the advanced Jet Trainer, the competition was between the Jet Provost, the Jet Balliol, the Fouga Magister, Cessna T-37 and Aermacchi with their MB326. The Cessna T-37 won the tender, primarily because it was cheap to operate and maintain and it featured side-by-side seating, similar to the Winjeel. GAF was granted the license and produced 110 of them, with them entering service in 1961. The CAAF named their T-37's Gijirrigaa (Aboriginal for “Budgerigar”). It was produced under license by CAC.

In 1965, in light of increasing regional tensions, a further 25 were built by CAC as advanced weapons trainers and light strike aircraft. The wings were strengthened and four hard points were added each stressed to 500 lbs. The outer two were wired for Sidewinder AAM and two 7.62mm machineguns were added, housed in the fuselage nose with 5,000 rounds while the engines were replaced with more powerful ones, J-85s to cope with the extra weights. The CAAF named the new version the TA-37 Wumurdalyn (Aboriginal for “Dragonfly”). The USAF, starting to become involved in the Vietnam War ordered a similar aircraft for COIN warfare as the A-37 Dragonfly, after Cessna using the knowledge gained in the CAC modifications offered it to them.

With these purchases it was then possible to create a unified and coherent syllabus, leading trainees through from initial to advanced flying.
Addenda Ho-150 Buuli Development


The first prototype Holden Ho-150v1 Buuli flew in November 1949, followed by two additional 'short-bodied' prototypes (v2 and v3) in as many months. Early trials showed good handling and performance but the design was criticised for poor directional steering, tending to “hunt” or “snake” at speed and it's lack of endurance. Plumbing the wings for drop tanks was planned from the outset but a more radical fix was required to give the new fighter the range that the CARAF required.

Tank's design team increased internal fuel supply by simply lengthening their original fuselage design. This increased the size of one of the original five fuel tanks and added a sixth. The first 'long-bodied' prototype, the Ho-150v4, flew in May 1950. Although hand built, the v4 also acted as the first pre-production Ho-150A-0. The lengthening had the additional benefit it cured the “hunting” problem.

Lengthening the fuselage provided more space for belly-stores on the 'A series Buuli. The v4 carried a 30mm cannon pod test installation. This gun was a wartime German MK108, a planned CAR derivative of which would bring 'A series gun armament up to four 20mm AC-20 (MG151-20) and one AC-30S (MK108). In the end, the CARAF rejected this arrangement. The five Ho-150A-0 development aircraft were not fitted with 30mm pods and 'A series production was abandoned.

The first full-production Buuli variant was the Ho-150B-1. No prototype was flown. The first production example (which flew in August 1950) was essentially an Ho-150A-0 airframe fitted with the uprated, 5,000 HoJ50 turbojet. Plumbed wings with pylon mounting points were standard (although pylons were fitted to the first ten production Ho-150B-1s after their delivery to the CARAF).

The twenty Ho-150B-1s were used primarily for familiarisation training and joined A-0s on CARAF trials. The first truly operational Buuli variant was the Ho-150B-2, deliveries of which commenced in early December 1950. Other than minor improvements to avionics and equipment accessibility, the Ho-150B-2 differed mainly in having a removable belly pylon plumbed to carry a third, long-range ferry tank. The Ho-150B-2 version was the Buuli the CARAF took to war in Korea.

The next four planned variants were destined to remain unbuilt. These were the Ho-150C-1, a tandem-seat trainer, and a progression of air-to-air missile carriers -- the Ho-150B-3, the Ho-150B-4, and the mixed-power Ho-150D-1.

The Ho-150C-1 was a straightforward tandem-seat training adaptation of the Ho-150B-2 Buuli. A longer forward fuselage was compensated for by the deletion of the usual cannon armament. Range would have been quite restricted compared with the Buuli fighters. A semi-permanent, blister belly tank would be fitted to help to restore space for adequate fuel.


The Ho-150B-3 was to have a permanently-plumbed belly pylon for a jettisonable fuel tank (leaving wing pylons free for as-yet-unspecified guided AAMs). The Ho-150B-4 would retain its plumbed wing pylons and drop tanks with AAMs carried on two, additional inboard wing pylons. The mixed-power Ho-150D-1 would be similar to the 'B-4 but substituted a 'C-1 style blister tank and had a liquid-fuelled booster rocket motor mounted above the turbojet.

Unfortunately a mature AAM did not emerge. Most promising was the X-9 (an evolution of the wartime RK-344/X-4) developed by Dr. Max Kramer at Heinkel Australia. Tests were successful but the wire-guided X-9 required a tail pursuit and the missile was little faster than the Buuli fighter which was to carry it.

Truth be told, with the outbreak of war in Korea, the CARAF lost interest in a high-speed bomber interceptors and wished the Buuli developed as a gun-armed dogfighter. Air-to-air missile development was given a low priority in the CAR as were rocket motors (the rocket intended for the Ho-150D-1 progressed only as far as a trial installation in a converted Heinkel HA-110T trainer.

The blister belly tank also proved a disappointment. The smaller version (as would be used on the Ho-150D-1) was trial-fitted to the fourth Ho-150A-0. Unfortunately this development aircraft had a history of hydraulic problems. The blister tank was fitted to this Ho-150A-0 during the third gear-up landing of its short life. Once it was clear that the internal structure of the belly tank would break a Buuli's back in the event of an emergency landing, the blister tank concept was abandoned.
Remember Eureka! - Part 3 – 1960 to 1970

The 1960s – Miniskirts, Guerrillas and Operation HAMMER

Internationally, the world was gripped in the Cold War, the long stand off between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. Most of the events in that war were remote from the new Commonwealth of Australasia. However, they were also reflected in the struggle between the subversive forces of Communism and the attempts by the new Government to suppress them. Internationally, Australasia found itself increasingly becoming involved in crises in its immediate region.

The West New Guinea Dispute and Confrontation

To the immediate North, Indonesia had, had its own problems through the early 1950s with several secessionist movements attempting to break away. Perceived by many in the West as either an outright Communist or a Communist Fellow-Traveller, Sukarno slowly brought most of the Indonesia archipelago under the firm control of Jakarta. One part, which he considered an integral part of Indonesia which had not been included at the time of independence was West New Guinea. The Netherlands had long administered it as a separate colony and ethnologically, environmentally and culturally it was very different. The Dominion of Australia had controlled the Eastern half of the Island basically since WWI when it had added the Northern coast to its Southern coast colony of Papua after seizing it from Germany in the opening weeks of that war.

Sukarno throughout 1958 had become more strident in his demands that West New Guinea be added to his nation. The Commonwealth, alarmed at the idea of sharing a common land border with what it perceived as a Communist nation with its potential for fomenting mischief in the adjacent Australian territory. The Netherlands was initially unwilling to hand over West New Guinea to Sukarno, taking its colonial responsibilities seriously. Australia encouraged this, as did Washington, being hostile to Sukarno's leftist credentials.

The scene was set for a confrontation. The Dutch sailed a naval task force to deter any potential aggression from Sukarno. The Carrier KAREL DOORMAN and several destroyers arrived in New Guinea waters in March 1959. Australia's level of belligerence rose, with MELBOURNE AND LEVIATHAN and other units both of the CAAF and CAN taking part in joint exercises, in and around the island of New Guinea. The Netherlands promoted the idea of amalgamating the three separate colonies on the island - Papua, New Guinea and Dutch New Guinea. They renamed the colony "West New Guinea" in order to attract Australian support for the plan. Broken Hill was, at least initially, keen on the idea.

Washington however appeared to be reconsidering its position. What was not known in Broken Hill or The Hague was that the US Navy was developing and planning to deploy the Polaris submarine launched missile. The US Navy, who's main Pacific fleet submarine base was in Guam knew that in order to attack Soviet central Asian targets it would need to sail its submarines through the choke point that the Indonesian archipelago represented to launch them from the Indian Ocean. Further, the long term economic plans for Japan's redevelopment saw Indonesia as an obvious source for raw materials. Washington began to back-peddle. The Dutch, alarmed at the sudden lack of support and the increasing costs of the extended deployment of most of its main fleet units to the South-West Pacific withdrew the KAREL DOORMAN and its escorts back to the Netherlands in March 1960. The Australians, feeling increasingly isolated asked Washington for a clarification on the ANZUS treaty on 15 August 1960 about a possible "attack on Australian forces in the New Guinea area" - Australia unsure if the treaty considered New Guinea a part of "the Pacific". Washington delayed until December, awaiting the outcome of the Presidential elections of that year. With the election of John F. Kennedy, the incoming President on the advice of the US Department of State declared that it did not consider New Guinea to be part of "the Pacific" for the purposes of the ANZUS Treaty.

Broken Hill, worried at the possibility that it might be facing Indonesia alone, without the backing of its main security guarantor or an ally such as the Dutch had to do an embarrassing back flip. The bitter lessons learnt were threefold. The first and perhaps the most important was that diplomatic posturing without the means to back it is pointless. The second was that without the backing of the USA, Australian forces were totally inadequate to wage an aggressive war in its region. Finally, it also appeared that Washington was losing interest in the Asia-Pacific region. Events in Europe, its increasingly direct conflict with the Soviet Union there, appeared to be distracting it from Australia's interests. All of these factors were to colour Australia's foreign policy for the next 40 years.

Australasia though, was still faced with what appeared to be an increasingly aggressive Sukarno, strident in his calls for amalgamation of West New Guinea into Indonesia. The Dutch were desperately searching for what is now known as an "exit strategy". Broken Hill basically stopped making pronouncements on the issue in the hope that it would be forgotten in Australia. It wasn't in Jakarta.

In 1961, India marched into Goa and annexed it and other remaining Portuguese colonies on the sub-continent. Sukarno, taking his lead from that decided to act against the remaining imperial possession on his border. In December 1961, Sukarno launched an effort to invade Dutch New Guinea. In January 1962, three C-47s attempt to land 70 paratroopers who intended to act as guerrillas. All were either arrested or killed within a short-time of landing. However, the Dutch, under pressure from Washington was forced to accept that its tenure was nearing its end. An agreement was signed in New York, transferring the colony to the administration of the UNO. The UNO, in turn handed the administration over to Indonesia as the most interested member state as long as a plebiscite is held to decide if the population desires independence or incorporation within Indonesia. Indonesia organised a "representative plebiscite" where an insignificant number of West New Guineans (less than 1,500) were asked to vote. Most admitted later they were either coerced or did not understand the significance of what they were doing and voted for incorporation. Upon incorporation, Jakarta renamed its new territory "Irian Jaya" ("West Irian").

Sukarno, in 1961 also helped create the "non-aligned movement" - made up of former imperial possessions and other nations which did not want to publicly align themselves with either the USSR or the USA in the Cold War. His ideas about confronting the Imperialists were already developed and his rhetoric during this period was also directed towards Malaysia which he perceived as a "neo-Colonial construct".

As the first volume of the Australian Official History of the Vietnam War: "Crises and Commitments 1955-1965" explains:

on 8 December 1962 the North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU) staged an insurrection - the Brunei Revolt. Totalling some 4,000, albeit with very limited weapons, they tried to capture the Sultan of Brunei, seize the oil fields and take European hostages.

British forces in Singapore responded promptly and the failure of the insurrection was clear within 30 hours when Gurkha troops secured Brunei town and ensured the Sultan's safety. On 16 December, British Far East Command claimed that all major rebel centres had been occupied. However, several British and Gurkha infantry battalions were deployed to Brunei with significant elements in Kuching and Tawau because the TNKU had the support of the Clandestine Communist Organisation (CCO) in Sarawak. Some 4,000 Kelabits from the 5th Division were also mobilised to help prevent the TNKU escape to Indonesia. Mopping up operations continued until 18 May 1963 when the last elements of the TNKU including its commander were captured.

However, on 20 January 1963, Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio, who was a leftist, announced that Indonesia would pursue a policy of Konfrontasi with Malaysia. It was a complete reversal of Indonesian policy to oppose the creation of Malaysia. On 27 July 1963 President Sukarno declared that he was going to "crush Malaysia" (Indonesian: Ganyang Malaysia).

The motives are unclear, perhaps hubris after West Irian success in 1962, domestic politics or increasing PKI influence. Indonesia started the military bluff and diplomatic bluster that had succeeded with West Irian, despite the Netherlands winning every military encounter. President Sukarno argued that Malaysia was a British puppet state, and that the consolidation of Malaysia would increase British control over the region, threatening Indonesia's independence. Similarly, the Philippines made a claim for Sabah, arguing that it had historic links with the Philippines through the Sulu archipelago.

In order to solve the dispute, the would-be member states of Malaysia met representatives of Indonesia and the Philippines in Manila for several days, starting on 31 July 1963. At the meeting, the Philippines and Indonesia formally agreed to accept the formation of Malaysia if a majority in the disputed region voted for it in a referendum organised by the United Nations. While the fact-finding mission by the UN was expected to begin on 22 August in the same, delaying tactics by Indonesia forced the mission to start only on 26 August. Nevertheless, the UN expected the referendum report to be published by 14 September 1963.[4]

However, North Borneo and Sarawak, anticipating a pro-Malaysia result, declared independence on the sixth anniversary of Merdeka Day, 31 August 1963, before the results of the vote were reported.[4] On 14 September, the result enabled the creation of Malaysia which had been agreed upon by all member states on 16 September 1963. The Indonesian government saw this as a broken promise and as evidence of British imperialism.

President Sukarno had stated in at least four public speeches in 1963-64 that Indonesia had no territorial ambitions over North Kalimantan, and that Indonesia's territorial pursuit was completed with the "return" of West Irian in January 1963. Nevertheless the Indonesian name for the territory "Kalimantan Utara" had the same form as the names of Indonesia's Kalimantan provinces. Furthermore, later events in East Timor demonstrated that influential elements in Indonesia did aspire to the extension of Indonesian territory.

However, while Sukarno made no direct claims to incorporate northern Borneo into Indonesian Kalimantan he saw the formation of Malaysia as an obstacle to his dreams of Maphilindo, a Malay empire covering Malaya, Philippines and Indonesia.[5] The Philippine president was not initially opposed to this idea but, while the Philippines did not engage in hostilities, they did break off diplomatic relations with Malaysia.

Both the UK and Australia were becoming increasingly alarmed at these developments. The UK, mindful of what had happened both in Suez and to the Dutch in West New Guinea decided to act decisively. It called upon the Commonwealth of Australasia for contributions to a force intended to protect Malaysia and deter further Indonesian aggression. The CA offered a battalion of troops and a squadron each of fighter-bombers and maritime patrol aircraft, as well as the CAN carrier MELBOURNE in support. These forces were accepted and deployed to initially Butterworth in late 1964. They were then sent onwards to Northern Borneo in early 1965 as the situation deteriorated in the face of further efforts of Indonesia to destabilise the North Borneo states by the continued infiltration of guerrillas.

1 Squadron (Fighters) and 25 Squadron (MR) immediately began patrols. 25 Squadron was involved on its first patrol in intercepting an attempt by the Indonesians to infiltrate troops by boat into the Northern Borneo states. They vectored a RN patrol boat to intercept which after a brief gun battle destroyed the boat and apprehended the infiltrators. After this, they went from success, to success. 1 Squadron on the otherhand found their Mirages unsuitable for the task assigned to them of patrolling and supporting the Australian brigade engaged in patrolling the border and preventing Indonesian infiltrators from getting across it. They were too fast and found it difficult to follow the twisting, turning border, high in the mountainous terrain. In mid-1965 the decision was taken to withdraw them and replace their aircraft with CA27s which were still awaiting disposal. A hurried effort managed to get 18 CA27s back into service. They proved more suitable once they were redeployed to Borneo in late 1965.


CAAF Mirage, Borneo early 1965


CAAF CA27 Avon Sabre, Borneo late 1965

The UK Government in November 1964 had decided that the advice provided by its service chiefs of how best to deal with Indonesia should be followed. It desired to end his aggression once and for all. London discussed the matter with Broken Hill and both agreed that a sledgehammer like blow, destroying most of the Indonesian military forces in one hit, would stop Sukarno in his tracks. After consultation with Washington, it was agreed that this would be completely a Commonwealth of Nations "show", with Washington keeping it as much as possible at arms distance because of its own needs to court Indonesia. The plans however did require the United States to allow the RAF to overfly its territory and land in Hawaii en route to Australia. This was given. In return, the US promised to deploy more troops and aircraft to Europe to cover the UK's NATO commitments.

Orders were given. On 3 January, "D-Day" was set for 1 December 1965 for Operation HAMMER. Preparations began. The CAAF started by announcing that exercises would be held in Northern Australia. Patently aimed at Indonesia, they were to consist of the movement of aircraft, ships and troops in and around the "Top End" of Australia. In reality they were actually to provide a cover for the preparations for D-Day. Part of that was the secret reactivation of Truscott Airstrip, situated in the Kimberly that had been a secret aerodrome from which attacks had been mounted against the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies. Two CAAF Airfield Construction Squadrons and an Army Construction Squadron worked frantically to get the Airstrip ready. The runway was extended and surfaced. Dispersal pens prepared and fuel and bomb stores either rehabilitated and extended or constructed anew and everything camouflaged. Approach roads were repaired and strengthened. The result was what was to become known as a "bare-bones base".



Pictures of CAAF Airfield Construction Squadron personnel rejuvenating Truscott Airstrip (Source AWM)

The base commander took the unprecedented step of calling personally on each of the Cattle Stations and hamlets which lay around the base. The locals were aware that something was going on. He had decided to take them into his confidence. He told them the base was being rehabilitated in case of war with Indonesia. Well aware of how remote and vulnerable they were, the locals were glad of the Armed Services' presence. They were also flattered that they were being taken into the secret. They kept it. Even today, nearly 50 years later, many older locals will refuse to talk about Truscott and what went on there.

Convoys soon started arriving, laden down with everything the base required for the coming campaign. Included were massive crates which had arrived in Darwin a fortnight before from the UK by sea. Traffic was frequent and heavy on the roads from Darwin and down South.

The RAF, RN and British Army began its biggest redeployment of forces since Suez in early November. To Australia, 10 squadrons of V-bombers - 2 of Valiant tankers (49,90 Sqns) and 4 of Victors (10,15,55,57 Sqns) and 4 of Vulcans (9,12,27,35 Sqns) flew secretly via Canada, Hawaii and New Zealand, timing their landings and take-offs to dusk and dawn, so as to make it difficult to monitor their movements. When questions were asked by inquisitive members of the public or media, the explanation was that it was all part of an exercise. The Valiants which were about to be retired because of fatigue problems were literally snatched from the knackers' and hurriedly put back into service, the ones with the least problems being used.

The airfield at Laverton Weapons Research and Test Range soon became crowded with the massive number of heavy bombers. As the most secure base in Australia, it and the associated town and village were used to security clamp downs whenever a secret test was being undertaken so it was the natural place to act as the forming up point for the strike force. The people of Laverton however knew something special was afoot, simply because of the massive numbers of aircraft present on the airfield outside of town, however the heavy presence of Commonwealth Police, ASIO and Military Police made sure that the news of their presence did not get out.

In addition, several brigades of British troops flew a month before D-Day secretly into Butterworth via the same route, arriving after dark. From there, they were deployed around Malaya and Singapore, in case the Indonesians attempted retaliation. The CAAF deployed several squadrons of Canberras and Mirages to Darwin and the rebuilt Truscott airstrip. The Australian Army, already over-committed to Borneo and South Vietnam staged exercises for its CMF (Citizens' Military Force – roughly equivalent to the UK's Territorials) units in and around the airbase to provide increased security, in the unlikely eventuality that the Indonesians discovered and attempted to eliminate it with ground troops. A large RAF contingent arrived by air from the UK and immediately set to work assembling the squadron of Lightning fighters which had been shipped out in the large crates from the UK.

One British carrier, ARK ROYAL and the two Australasian light carriers MELBOURNE and LEVIATHAN and their escorting ships sailed into position near Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Strict radio silence was observed by all units.


HMAS MELBOURNE and HMS ARK ROYAL steaming in line

On 28 November at 1200 hours (Jakarta Time), the Ambassadors for the Republic of Indonesia in London and Broken Hill were handed simultaneously an ultimatum. If border incursions against Malaysia did not cease immediately and all Indonesian forces present within the borders of Malaysia either had not surrendered or been withdrawn within the next 24 hours, a state of war would exist between the coalition force of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Australasia with the Republic of Indonesia. The Ambassador to the UK was shocked by the ultimatum. The Ambassador to the Commonwealth was belligerent. The ultimatum was also delivered directly to the Republic's government in Jakarta by the UK and Australasian Ambassadors. In Jakarta it was greeted with derision. Sukarno made a particularly inflammatory speech, deriding the UK as a "toothless Tiger" and the Commonwealth of Australasia as it's "imperial lackeys".

At 0600 hours, 1 December, air raid sirens sounded around Jakarta. Explosions were heard at Jakarta airport and Suryadama Air Base near the capital. Anti-Aircraft guns were heard firing wildly into the air. Soon bombs were heard and seen falling in and around Jakarta itself as government buildings were destroyed. As the day grew lighter, high overhead vapour trails could be seen criss-crossing the sky. Reports soon came in that every one of the Indonesian Air Force, the TNI-AU - bases had been attacked, along with numerous Army and Naval installations and bases such as at Surabaya where several ships had been destroyed.

Sukarno, under intense pressure from his military chiefs was forced to accept the UK/CA demands. Without any significant military power to retaliate, the Indonesians were at the mercy of the UK and CA airpower. The Indonesian Government announced their surrender to the UK and CAA Ambassadors in Jakarta early the next morning after a night of further attacks and wild firing into the air by frightened Indonesian forces.

The UK and CAA came in for condemnation in the UN Security Council, which had demanded an immediate ceasefire. However, they were several hours too late, with the ceasefire already having come into effect.

It was later revealed that the V-Bombers, flying from Laverton had been the main attacking force, with subsidiary Canberras from Butterworth, Singapore, Darwin and Truscott attacking secondary targets. They had been escorted to their targets by RAF Javelins and Hunters from Malaysia and Mirages and Lightnings from Australia. The Naval forces had concentrated on naval targets. The CAAF had also revealed a new weapon, when two obsolescent C-130A Hercules transports had each launched 4 modified Jindivik (Aboriginal for “The Hunted One”) drone aircraft against targets in Indonesia. Equipped with ESM (Electronic Support Measures) equipment they had flown in front of the first wave of attackers and distracted and jammed the Indonesian radars and communications systems. Another new version of the Jindivik had also been used to conduct post-strike reconnaissance.

However, the UK and CA forces did not quite have it all their own way. Two Canberras were lost to MiG-17s and a Vulcan was severely damaged after an encounter with a MiG-21. Most Indonesian aircraft however were either destroyed in-situ on the ground or were unable to take off because of the damage to the runways by the RAF/CAAF attacks.

The Naval task force however saw action against the TNI-AU when several Tu-16s first detected and then attempted to attack the carriers. The RN scored the first kill when an Indonesian Tu-16 was destroyed by a RN Sea Vixen fighter when it approached too close to the fleet just as hostilities opened. The RAN scored the second when two Sea Dingos, armed with Sidewinders were vectored into position by a RAN Gannet AEW which had detected another Tu-16 approaching the task force. Just as they began their attack, an AS-1 missile was seen to be launched by the Tu-16. The flight leader, Commander Arthur Jones instructed his No.2, Lieutenant Patrick Smith to chase the missile while he dealt with the bomber. Smith peeled off and opened his throttle to the max, zooming after the missile which looked strongly reminiscent of a MiG-15 fighter, without a cockpit. Jones quickly dealt with the Tu-16, destroying it before it could launch its second missile, firing two Sidewinders at it and scoring with both. Smith found himself in a long stern chase before he could get in range of the AS-1 missile and finally see one of his Sidewinders explode close to its tailpipe.

All Indonesian forces in Malaysia were ordered to report to specific military posts and surrender. After a week, over 1,000 had appeared out of the jungles, to the surprise of the Malaysian authorities who'd expected half that number. On 1 January, suddenly reports filtered in that a coup had been attempted in Jakarta. The PKI - the Indonesian Communist Party - whom had been allies of Sukarno attempted in the aftermath of the pre-Christmas bombing confusion to overthrow him. However within hours, the Indonesian Army under General Suharto had staged their own Counter-Coup. Suharto proclaimed himself President and unleashed a massive attack on the PKI membership and infrastructure with over 1.5 million deaths now being known to have occurred. It is also now known that the CIA was complicit supplying membership lists which it had been supplied with by its agents.

The CAAF in response to the problems of 1 Squadron in Borneo decided that a smaller, slower and cheaper aircraft was required. In mid-1965 they ordered an uprated version of the T-37 from CAC. Equipped with a strengthened wing and more powerful engines, it entered service as the TA-37 Wumurdalyn in late 1966. While too late for use in Borneo, it provided excellent service during Australia's commitment to South Vietnam.

Simultaneous to events in Indonesia, the situation in South Vietnam was worsening. The Communist North was increasing its efforts to "liberate" the South. Attacks by insurgents were escalating and the South's Government was still embroiled in crisis after the military coup and assassination of its President, Ngao Diem. The United States which had taken on the role of patron of the South after the French had withdrawn from Indo-China after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu, was growing increasingly worried.

Since the French had left the US had committed increasing numbers of advisors to try and help the ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Vietnam to organise itself to fight against Communist insurgents and rebellious elements around the country. In 1960 a crisis had sprung up in neighbouring Laos with fears of a Communist take over about to occur as a Coup had plunged that small, remote nation into chaos. The result was a three-way conflict as Rightist, "Neutralist" and Communist forces vied for control of the Royal capital, Vientiane. The US Government, fearful of the possibility of a Communist takeover wished to intervene but were advised not to because of the lack of US forces able to used to do so and the inability to supply them in such a remote country. Frustrated, President Kennedy, had to watch as the Soviet Union flew supply flights to the Pathet Lao through China and North Vietnam. While in reality those few flights contributed little of real substance to the Pathet Lao they hardened attitudes in Washington about Indo-China.

Under Kennedy, the US Government attempted to grapple with the complexities and troubles of Indo-China, concentrating primarily on the Republic of South Vietnam, which were perceived both as pivotal and more accessible to that of the other countries of the region. Beset by Communists from within and without, Ngo Diem, its first president was also troubled by various warlords, factions and criminal or religious elements, all seeking to gain control of the country. Diem, increasingly seen as erratic and dictatorial, as well as unpopular was deposed in a coup with the agreement of Kennedy although it is said that Kennedy was horrified when Diem was murdered in the back of an APC.

After President John F. Kennedy's own assassination, President Johnson sent a succession of "fact-finding" missions to Saigon to ascertain the situation on the ground. They reported disarray, internecine in-fighting, lack of will and chaos within the ranks of the South's corrupt political and military elite as a succession of short-lived Juntas and Dictators rapidly assumed and lost government. In 1965, on the heavy urging by the Australasian Government and its own State Department, Washington decided to intervene in South Vietnam. It sought contributions from its Allies. The UK refused outright, knowing it had its hands more than full enough with Confrontation. Australasia, already aware of events in and the rapidly approaching Operation HAMMER was initially reluctant but amidst fears of increasing American disinterest in the defence of Australasia, Broken Hill agreed to commit a battalion of infantry to South Vietnam to help defend it against the increasing Communist aggression there. The 1st Battalion, Australasian Regiment arrived "incountry" in March 1965.

The US committed ground troops. Initially the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and then other units as they flooded into the country. The Australian battalion was attached to the 173rd, operating around Bien Hoa airbase initially. However the Australian battalion commander was sharply critical of the American style of doing war, seeing it as inappropriate to fighting an elusive Guerrilla enemy and wasteful of casualties. He urged his superiors that a full Brigade would be more suitable, with supporting elements, as the minimum commitment. This would allow the Australians to operate alone without being part of a superior American organisation.

Conscription had been a divisive issue in Australia's past with the Dominion having attempted to introduce it twice in 1916 and 1917 and on both occasions seen the referendum undertaken defeated at the polls. During WWII it had been introduced in the face of the Japanese onslaught in all the Australasian nations and been accepted. Post war, it had been reintroduced but only for service at home and then been abandoned for for economic reasons in the late 1950s. The Army had also, like the armed forces been going through a difficult period of amalgamation and had not felt that the need to train conscripts who did little except mow lawns and paint rocks (or so it seemed) and had advocated an end to the selective service scheme in 1958. In 1964, in the face of the apparently worsening situation in the region and multiple commitments of manpower to the defence of Malaysia and Borneo and because of full employment in the Australasian economy, the Government in Broken Hill decided to reintroduce Conscription for “national service”. As the Official History put it:

In 1964 compulsory National Service for 20-year-old males was introduced under the National Service Act (1964). The selection of conscripts was based on date of birth, and conscripts were obligated to give two years’ continuous full-time service, followed by a further three years on the active reserve list. The full-time service requirement was reduced to eighteen months in 1971.

The Defence Act was amended in May 1965 to provide that National Servicemen could be obliged to serve overseas, a provision that had been applied only once before - during World War II. In March 1966, the Government announced that National Servicemen would be sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army and for secondment to American forces.

With the success of Operation HAMMER, the Australian Government feeling more secure agreed to the request from Army and in order to facilitate this made the very controversial decision that Conscripts would be sent overseas. In 1966 the Australians requested their own AO (Area of Operations) and after examining their requirements, decided on Hue Province, in I Corps, near the DMZ. It had the advantage of being a coastal province with its own port (Hue) and a major US base nearby (Da Nang). It had also been one of the least rebellious provinces before the division of Vietnam in 1954 but would be on the main avenue of an conventional southwards by the North's forces. Since then it had been relatively quiet. The US Commander, General Westmoreland was initially reluctant, preferring the Australians to take a province near the Laotian border but was forced to agree when Broken Hill made it clear it wanted to be able to limit its involvement in the war. In reality the Australian Army appreciated the possible dangers of close involvement and that it may if necessary need to evacuate its forces quickly if "another Korea" occurred.

Late 1966 saw the rapid build up of Australian forces in Vung Tau. A Brigade Task Force was established at Vong Canh Hill,outside the city. In addition, the CAAF contributed a light transport squadron and in 1967 a TA-37 light ground attack squadron, a Canberra bomber squadron, a helicopter squadron and the CAN a helicopter flight. The Australian Task Force set to work to pacify Hue, using the experiences of WWII, the Emergency and Confrontation as an example. It however found very quickly that the intensity and scope of operations were much greater than expected. Indeed, the first Australasian Task Force commander remarked later that at the time he feared that the Australasians had, “bitten off more than they could chew” in choosing a province containing a major urban area like the old Imperial Capital of Hue, particularly with its numerous canals and narrow streets.

The Army responded and increased force levels, including dispatching a Squadron of APCs and another of Centurion tanks, as well as other supporting units. By 1968, the Task Force reached a maximum of over 8000 personnel on the ground. During 1968, the “Tet Offensive” resulted in a massive battle in and around Hue. The Australasian Task Force found itself intensively engaged for the first time in its history in street fighting and the tanks of B Squadron 1 Armd Regt. proved invaluable in destroying strong points with their direct fire capabilities. However, the Regiment suffered appreciably greater casualties as the PAVN and NLF fire invariably concentrated on them in the close confines of the streets of Hue. Working closely with ARVN and US units, particularly Marines, the battalions of the Task Force drove through the city against strong opposition from the PAVN and NLF forces opposing them until they reached the old Imperial Palace. Political considerations forced the Australians to then take up a supporting role while the ARVN units actually assaulted and took the Palace citadel. This was the high point of the Australian involvement. The intensity of the fighting was so great and the CA Government's sensitivity to casualties so high that it became alarmed and operations began to wind down after the end of 1968.

While primarily an "infantryman's war" the CAAF and CAN made valuable contributions. Known as "Wallaby Airlines", 35 Squadron's Caribou transport aircraft in particular were used extensively and suffered a single loss, both to ground fire. 2 Squadron's Canberras also suffered a loss, to a SAM fired from North Vietnam, over Northern South Vietnam in 1968. 4 Squadron, because of its mission of ground attack however suffered the greatest losses, losing three TA-37s, all to ground fire. 4 Squadron's TA-37s were particularly appreciated by the Australian ground troops which found its attacks were invariably more accurate and better placed than most American ones.

However, the Tet Offensive of 1968 had been a wake up call to all concerned that a purely military solution was not going to solve the situation. The United States, under its new President Nixon, sought to break the deadlock by reaching out to China in the belief that by splintering the Communist "Bloc'" the war in Vietnam would be shortened, failing to understand that it was the Soviet Union, not China which was the principle patron of North Vietnam. His efforts at "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" saw the historic visit by the first US President to Beijing on 21-28 February 1972. While this decreased the amount of supplies which were reaching North Vietnam to a certain extent, the USSR stepped up efforts to replace it by sending increasing numbers of ships.

Broken Hill, caught on the hop suddenly found itself in the invidious position of having much more aggressive rhetoric still directed towards Beijing than its patron did. Once again it was forced to suffer an embarrassing situation and back down. However it was obvious that the writing was on the wall. While the US using the example of Operation HAMMER mounted over Christmas 1972 a massive air campaign against North Vietnam, which included the mining of North Vietnamese harbours, in an effort to force it back to the negotiating table when talks stalled in Paris. The plan worked and President Nixon was able to declare "Peace with honour!" upon the signing of a ceasefire in 1973. When the US announced plans for troop reductions in South Vietnam in 1969, Broken Hill quickly followed suit. By 1972, all Australian combat troops and aircraft were withdrawn. Only some advisors remained.

1972 saw the North mount an attempt to force the South to surrender with a massive, conventional ground attack across the DMZ. The USAF however intervened and stopped it in its tracks. Obviously the Northern command had over-reached itself and paid the penalty. By 1975 though, Americans had lost interest in Vietnam and the North again made an attempt to grab Saigon which succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and is now considered one of the modern classics of operational manoeuvre warfare. Saigon fell on 30 April 1975. American advisors, CIA agents, private military contractors, and anybody else who feared a Communist success were seen being bundled ignominiously onto helicopters and planes and fleeing South Vietnam. The Communist bloc' was enheartened by the spectacular way in which South Vietnam finally fell and the 1970s ended with several notable encroachments by the Communists around the world.

At home, the war had been a period of tumult. Australian society had reacted badly to the decision in 1966 to commit conscripts to the war. Conscription's past history of division had reasserted itself. The result was increasing reaction against the war itself as well. By 1970, massive street demonstrations forced the Australian government to reconsider its involvement in the war and were partly to contribute to the decision to withdraw. In the end, Australasia was to suffer over 500 dead and about three times that number in casualties. Six were MIA (Missing in Action) but all were presumed dead because of the circumstances under which they had disappeared. Their remains were eventually all recovered by 2010.

As a result of this period with its commitments to Asia, the Australasian Armed Forces developed a strategy which became known as “Forward Defence”. The justification was that it was better to fight the rampaging Communist (Asian) hordes “over there” rather than “here”. As the government became more interventionary and with each crises and conflict, the strategy was reinforced. Coupled with a aggressive, primarily anti-Communist focused rhetoric, a succession of Liberal-Country Party coalition governments sought to maintain American interest in the region. It believed that by paying an “insurance premium” in blood, it could ensure that the American defence guarantee would be maintained.

It was against this background of instability that the CAA's armed forces undertook the following rearmament programmes in the 1960s:

Commonwealth of Australasia Air Force

CA27 & CA28 Avon-Sabre Replacement Programme

As the 1950s drew to a close the next project was finding a replacement fighter for the CAAF. The world of aeronautics had moved on appreciably in the short time since the CA27 and CA28. Aircraft were now expected to be capable of supersonic flight, often at twice the speed of sound, armed with guided missiles and be able to find and destroy their opponents in all weathers.

When the news came in 1961 that the CA27 was to be replaced by a Mach 2 capable fighter, the competitors were announced to be the American Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. the British English Electric Lightning, the French Dassault Mirage III and the CAR's Ho-200 Jowok (Aboriginal for "Stormbird"). The Ho-200, another design from Kurt Tank and his team of ex-Focke Wulf engineers was a large, twin-engined swept-wing supersonic fighter, armed with 4 30mm ADEN cannons and IR air-to-air missiles. The prototype, powered by 2 Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus Mk 703 after-burning turbojets, each developing 6,275 lb dry and 10,582 lb with reheat, the Ho-200 was able to just reach Mach 1. However, better performance was promised once more powerful engines, such as the Rolls-Royce Avon 67 engine with thrust of 16,000 lb with reheat were installed.

The F-104 was generally considered the favourite because of American aid policies (and as we know now, outright bribery by Lockheed in many of the deals done to adopt it overseas). However, Wackett again intervened. He proposed a variant of the Dassault Mirage, utilising the Rolls-Royce Avon engine. Offering better thrust and fuel economy. After some debate, the winner of the competition was announced as the Avon engined Mirage IIIO. Built largely by CAC, the Mirage IIIO provided sterling service to the CAAF until the early 1980s. The Jowok was abandoned. Tank, in disappointment took up a position in India with Hindustani Aeronautics, taking the design with him. There, it was produced as the HF-24 Murat. However, it never received the more powerful engines and so never fully realised its full potential.

Holdens at this point decided to abandon aircraft and jet engine manufacture. This fitted well with the then Commonwealth Government's plans about industrial rationalisation. Whereas there had been five major and several smaller aircraft manufacturers at the start of WWII, post war there was really only three major ones – GAF, CAC and Holdens. Now there just two.

Canberra replacement

In 1963 the CAAF created an Air Staff Requirement for a strike aircraft to supersede the Canberra, which in the light of aerodynamic and air-defence developments was starting to look decidedly past its use-by-date. Manufacturers were invited to tender and the competition is between the A-5 Vigilante, TSR.2, Mirage IV and F-111. Unfortunately, because of doubts about cost, TSR.2 was cancelled by the UK Government and F-111K adopted instead. US armed services in an orgy of backstabbing and internecine strife decided that the "common" F-111 was impossible and so it was cancelled, leaving the RAF and other potential customers in the lurch. The A-5 Vigilante was considered unable to fulfill the requirements as far as performance and was too heavily optimised as a naval and a nuclear delivery aircraft. It was anyway, out of production. Dassault offered the Mirage IV. Blackburn offered the Buccaneer which the RAF had been forced to adopt to replace both the TSR.2 and the F-111K. Both Mirage IV and Buccaneer did not meet requirements, both lacking adequate performance and warload. The CAAF dithered for several years, looking for alternatives. Dassault in 1967 offered the Mirage G, the newest aircraft on their books. Blackburn, now Hawker-Siddely countered with the P.150 Buccaneer development. The Mirage G was perceived as the lower risk, because of French Airforce interest in the project whereas the UK's forces - the RAF and RN FAA had little in the P.150. In September 1968, RAAF Squadron Leader Fisher made another four-flight evaluation of the Mirage G. His first flight was the aircraft's 200th flight. Squadron Leader Fisher reported very favourably on the aircraft and its potential.

The French government. under the urging of Dassault who scented the possibility of a sale cancelled its order for the Mirage G in November 1968 in favour of the Mirage G4 strike variant more tailored to CAAF requirements.

According to the official Dassault brochure:

The Mirage G4 is a twin-engined variable geometry aircraft, with capability for hi-lo-hi, short take-off and landing. Sweep angles that varies between 23° and 70° like the Mirage G from which it is derived, maximum speed is set to be higher than Mach 2. Range is over 3,000 km. Armament consists of two IR AA missiles and two guns (optional) and seven hard points (two per wing and three under the central fuselage) for air-to-surface bombs or missiles. The aircraft is also equipped with a vertical panoramic camera and a radar in the nose. The engines are the SNECMA 9k50, rated each at 7,200 kg of thrust, mounted side-by-side and fed from integral fuel tanks in the fuselage.

The Mirage G4 is a two seat aircraft, of entirely metallic monocoque construction, with high lift devices such as leading and trailing edge flaps. It had a swept rudder and both horizontal stabilisers were differentially controlled. The side air intakes were fitted with moving shock cones enabling high speed flight.

CAAF delighted with the possibility of gaining an aircraft tailored more closely to their Staff Requirements bought 24 G4 and followed with an order for 12 of the G8 version as a "heavy fighter" to escort the strike version to the target and back.

The combination was to prove particularly popular and quite capable. Both aircraft were upgraded during their service lives having additional systems and weapons integrated into them.





Commonwealth of Australasia Navy (CAN)

A-4 Skyhawk

The CAN also found itself with two very different fighter-bombers on its carriers, the Hawker Seahawk and the McDonnell-Douglas Banshee. Both were rapidly becoming obsolescent. Both carriers were too small to operate the new Mach 1+ fighters entering service overseas. One aircraft however stood out for its small size and its high performance – the Mcdonnell-Douglas A4D Skyhawk. It appeared ideal for the CAN's needs so the decision was made to standardise on the A4D Skyhawk in 1962.

CA28 Sea Dingo replacement

The CAN started looking for a replacement for the CA28 Sea Dingo in mid 1966 which in the face of improving aerodynamic advances it was already starting to look quite dated in its performance only six years after being adopted. Its three carriers, SYDNEY, MELBOURNE and LEVIATHAN were all too small to operate the latest Mach 2+ capable fighters. When an invitation to tender was issued by the CAN in 1968, only SEPECAT, LTV and McDonnell-Douglas offered aircraft. SEPECAT with the Jaguar MO ("Marine Ostralien") a variant of the standard Jaguar M with a radar and with uprated engines, limited air-to-air capabilities, LTV offered a simplied F-8 Crusader variant, the F/A-7 Corsair II with upgrades to provide air-to-air capabilities, McDonnell-Douglas offered two designs, an upgraded A-4 Skyhawk with radar and limited air-to-air capability, using an American turbojet and an improved version which utilised a Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan which while of a similar configuration was slightly larger and in this variant featured full radar and air-to-air capabilities with BVR missiles.

After consideration, the F/A-7E(A) Corsair II was chosen, which had a blown wing and a slightly longer nose with a larger, more powerful radar, as well as being able to carry two Sparrow BVR missiles on the fuselage lower corners. This design brought the A-7 almost full circle back to its F-8 roots and in turn was adopted also by the French Aeronavale as well when they were seeking a new carrier based fighter. The McDonnell-Douglas designs and the Jaguar were rejected on the grounds of being either too expensive and undeveloped or of insufficient improvement over the existing A-4 Skyhawks already in service. The F/A-7E(A) entered service in 1969.


Carrier Matters

In the late 1950s, it was obvious that SYDNEY was entering obsolescence. The first of the MAJESTIC class commissioned by an Antipodean navy, she had been completed before sale with a straight deck and it was found to be difficult to operate jets from her, once MELBOURNE and LEVIATHAN arrived on the scene with their complements of jet aircraft. SYDNEY however found a new lease of life as an ASW Carrier where carrying first propeller-powered fixed-wing ASW aircraft and then later helicopters which weren't as demanding as jets. Fireflys, then Gannets and then Wessex helicopters operated from her straight through deck. However by 1959, the worsening international situation with regard to Indonesian intentions in the region meant that the emphasis for the CAN had started to change. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the various antipodean navies had, had an emphasis on being part of one or another "big power" Navy's Task Forces. SYDNEY as an ASW carrier had fitted into that scheme well. Now that the emphasis had started to change to a much more independent stance in the light of the events of 1960 and the potentially explosive West New Guinea dispute with Indonesia, there was now a greater need for strike aircraft and fleet protection and other ships were being handed the ASW roll, which they were better suited to. The CAN therefore took the decision in 1963 to modernise SYDNEY. She was to be fitted with an angled flight deck, a mirrored landing system and more powerful catapults. That would in turn require the fitting of more modern machinery, particularly boilers, which would help rejuvenate the old carrier even further. With the addition of the newest radars and surface-to-air missile systems, she would become a more modern and powerful version of MELBOURNE and LEVIATHAN.

As part of the rationalisation process it was decided that the CAN would standardise on aircraft of only one type for each mission. For the naval fighter, the CA28 Sea Dingo was chosen. For the strike role, the A-4 Skyhawk. For the ASW and AEW missions, the Gannet was chosen. Where there were insufficient of a type to equip a carrier, more were purchased and excess of the other types disposed of.

After a process that lasted four years, SYDNEY emerged from the dockyard looking like an old maid who had just got her first invitation to a ball and done herself up to the nines. Fitted with Type 988 Anglo-Dutch 3D radar and Seacat SAMs, she was now able to operate CA28 Sea Dingos, A-4 Skyhawks and Gannets, as well as Helicopters.