No. 87 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.87 Squadron, RAAF, was a photographic reconnaissance squadron that operated over the Dutch East Indies, Timor, Java, Borneo and even the Philippines.

No.1 PRU RAAF had been based in the Northern Territory and used a mix of modified Mosquito FB 40s and purpose-built PR 40s, both produced in Australia. The first PR 40 mission was flown on 1 June 1944.

On 10 September 1944 No.1 PRU was split, with part of it forming No.87 Squadron, RAAF. The new squadron inherited a mix of Mosquitoes and Wirraways, and was initially based at Coomalie Creek in the Northern Territory.

The squadron covered a very wide area, flying missions over the Dutch East Indies, the Celebes, Timor, the Philippines Java and Borneo.

In March 1945 the squadron received the first of sixteen British-built PR Mk XVIs that it would operate. These aircraft were used in April to shadow the Japanese heavy cruiser Isuzu and four escorts as they moved to Koepang on Timor Island. During this mission the squadron's aircraft encountered a Japanese fighter, but were able to use the Mosquito's speed to evade it.

The squadron's longest mission came in July 1945 when one of its Mosquitoes flew over 2,300 miles on a mission to Java.

In June 1945 a detachment of three aircraft was sent to RAF Station Brown on the Cocos Islands, with orders to photograph Singapore. Bad weather intervened and the detachment's only mission saw it photographic Christmas Island.

After the end of the war the squadron returned to Australia, where it used its PR 41s to conduct a large scale aerial study of Australia. The squadron was disbanded on 24 July 1946, although re-appeared two years later when the Survey Flight was designated as No.87 Squadron.

September 1944 onwards: Mosquito FB 40, Mosquito PR 40, Wirraway
March 1945 onwards: Mosquito Mk XVI
1945: Mosquito PR 41

September 1944-: Coomalie Creek

Squadron Codes: Wirraway Code QK

1944-1945: Photographic Reconnaissance, Pacific Theatre



How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 August 2012), No. 87 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War,

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