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Australian Aviation marks RAAF centenary with never-seen-before photos

written by Adam Thorn | March 2, 2021

AIA 19 Hornet a2a cr Peter Chrismas-9 v2
A photo of a Classic Hornet from Australian Aviation’s archive, as shot by Peter Chrismas.

On 31 March, the Royal Australian Air Force will commemorate 100 years of service. The pedigree of the RAAF can be traced back to the Imperial Conference in London in 1911, when it was decided to add a dedicated aviation corps for the British Empire. For Australia, this translated into the establishment of the Australian Aviation Corps, and it was the first dominion to do so.

But by the start of the First World War, it had evolved into the Australian Flying Corps, part of the Australian Army, and it remained Australia’s air arm until disabled in 1919 along with the First Australian Imperial Force.

On 31 March 1921, the Australian Air Force was formally formed, with the Royal designation added on 13 August that year to create the Royal Australian Air Force – the second “Royal” air arm in the British Commonwealth, following the formation of the Royal Air Force.

Now 100 years on, the RAAF remains an exemplar for air forces globally, with significant energy and effort being invested into the transition of the service into a fifth-generation fighting force.

“In supporting the celebration of the RAAF centenary, Australian Aviation will seek to tell the stories of the Air Force across its many facets, focusing on the past, present and the future – in particular the people, aircraft and culture that has made the RAAF so capable,” said Phillip Tarrant, director – defence and aerospace at Momentum Media.

“While small compared to many Western air forces, the RAAF is highly regarded for operational expertise, force structure, mix and effective use of assets – especially as it navigates its transition into a fifth-generation air force that’s capable to meet threats and challenges in Australia’s sphere of influence.

“Since its early days on the Western Front and Palestine during the First World War, the RAAF has been active, with its people renowned for their professionalism and can-do attitude in often very hostile environments – traits still synonyms with the Air Force of today.”


Over the month of March, culminating on the 31st and the official date of commemoration, Australian Aviation will tell the stories of the RAAF through dedicated daily image galleries, unearthing images from our vast digital library to tell the stories of the organisation’s people, aircraft and operational history.

“We’re kicking off our coverage with the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Classic Hornet, introduced into RAAF service in 1984. First sent on combat deployment during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Classic Hornet is only just being phased out as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is being introduced.

The first gallery can be accessed here.

Tarrant added that the dedicated photo galleries are part of a range of initiatives Australian Aviation is undertaking to mark the centenary.

“Keep connected and engaged with www.australianaviation.com.au for all the latest commentary and contact regarding the anniversary of the RAAF. It’s a real privilege for us to focus on this milestone over the month of March and showcase the very important work of the RAAF over the past 100 years.”

Phillip Tarrant onboard CVN-76 USS Ronald Reagan during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019.

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