No. 4 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.4 Squadron, RAAF, was an army cooperation squadron that used Commonwealth Wirraway and Boomerang aircraft in support of the troops fighting on New Guinea and Borneo.

No.4 Squadron was formed at Richmond on 17 June 1940. For three days it used the Hawker Demon aircraft recently given up by No.3 Squadron, but these aircraft were quickly moved on and the new squadron began to prepare to receive the Commonwealth Wirraway, In the meantime Moth Minor trainers were issued, and the first Wirraways had arrived by September 1940. At the end of September the squadron moved from Richmond to Canberra, and it was still there when the Japanese entered the war in December 1941.

On 7 October 1942 the squadron received the order to prepare for the move to Port Moresby, where it performed army cooperation duties. Its slow aircraft, with their second crewman, were surprisingly good army cooperation aircraft, and were the squadron's main equipment into 1943. In November the squadron moved to Berry airfield (also known as 12 Mile or Bomana), twelve miles along the Kokoda trail from Port Moresby. The squadron was used to support Australian troops fighting in New Guinea, but the squadron also achieved one victory over a Zero. On 26 December 1942 Flying Officer J.S. Archer found himself above the Japanese aircraft and was able make a successful diving attack on it. This was the only confirmed victory for a Wirraway over a Zero.

On 15 June 1943 the squadron received its first Commonwealth Boomerang fighter. It became operational with the new aircraft on 1 July 1943, and continued to use the type for the rest of the war. A small number of Wirraways were also retained, so in January 1945 the squadron had 18 Boomerangs and 6 Wirraways (although it was only meant to have three at that date).

The squadron used its Boomerangs in combat for the first time on 1 July 1943 in support of the Allied landings at Nassau Bay, near Salamaua on New Guinea. The squadron also supported the landings at Cape Gloucester. The aircraft were used for army cooperation, artillery spotting, supply drops, tactical reconnaissance and low level strafing missions. They were also used to guide other Allied aircraft to their targets.

The squadron was based at Berry (12 Mile), near Port Moresby from November 1942 until early in 1944. From February 1944 it was based at Nadzab (Lae), on the north-east coast of New Guinea, but it is clear from the squadron records that many different forward operating bases were used.

In April 1945 the squadron moved to Morotai, disembarking at its new base on the 7th. It continued to fly army cooperation missions from its new base.

In June 1945 the squadron moved from Morotai to a new base at Labuan, an island just off the north coast of Borneo. The squadron mainly flew tactical reconnaissance missions while on Borneo, with a small number of operations being carried out after the Japanese surrender. The squadron remained on Borneo until November 1945, when it returned to Australia. By January the squadron was based at Canberra, but it was soon renumbered as No.3 Squadron, RAAF.

Aircraft
September 1940-1943: Commonwealth Wirraway (small number remain in use to end of war)
June 1943-August 1945: Commonwealth Boomerang

Location
17 June 1940-29 September 1940: Richmond
30 September 1940-19 May 1942: Canberra
20 May-August 1942: Camden, New South Wales
August-November 1942: Kingaroy, Queensland
November 1942-January 1944-: Berry (12 Mile), Port Moresby, New Guinea
-September 1943-: Tsilei-Tsilei, New Guinea
February 1944-September 1944- Nadzab
   March 1944-September 1944: Detachment at Cape Gloucester, New Britain
-December 1944-: New Guinea
April 1945-June: Morotai
June-November 1945: Labuan (off north coast of Borneo)
-January 1946-: Canberra

Squadron Codes: Wirraways code BE

Duty
1942-1945: Army Co-operation, New Guinea, Morotai, Borneo

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 August 2012), No. 4 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/4_wwII.html

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