All four units within Air Combat Group’s 81 Wing have operated the classic Hornet – 2 Operational Conversion Unit and 3, 75 and 77 Squadrons – and all four units have had jets painted to celebrate their 75th or 100th anniversaries.
3SQN marked its centenary in 2016, while 2OCU and 77SQN, both based at Williamtown, plus 75SQN, which is based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory, marked their 75th anniversaries in 2017.
3SQN operated its last flight with the classic Hornet in December 2017, and is now based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where it is the becoming the first RAAF unit to transition to the F-35A Lightning II, 72 of which are on order to eventually replace all the RAAF’s classic Hornet force.
Other RAAF fast jets wearing anniversary schemes comprise 1SQN F/A-18F Super Hornet A44-210.
And 6SQN EA-18G Growler A46-306.
Amberley-based 1SQN celebrated its centenary in 2016, while 6SQN, also based at Amberley, followed in 2017.
Meanwhile, a short-lived anniversary scheme was also applied to 3SQN Hornet A21-27 in 2016, inspired by P-40 Kittyhawks flown by Squadron Leader Bobby Gibbes – the unit’s longest-serving commanding officer during WW2.