No. 79 Squadron - RAAF in Thailand


UPDATED: 28 Dec 04

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No. 79


Royal Australian 

Air Force

Unofficial patch provide by Rod Farquhar



No. 79 Squadron


In 1962 as a response to a threat to Thailand from across the Laotian border four member Nations of SEATO, the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia sent armed units to create a holding force to Thailand.  These units were intended to withstand any initial attack until full scale reinforcements could be sent.

Australia ’s contribution would be No 79 Fighter Squadron equipped with eight CA-27 Avon Sabres to be based at RTAF Base Ubon a small airfield near the Laotian border.

The airfield had very little in the way of facilities except a runway and control tower, some Thai Air Force T-28s operated from there and the US had set up a Lion radar unit. Tents, ground support equipment and squadron supplies were flown in from Australia by C-130 Hercules and an operating base was established.

The Sabres flew in on 1 June 1962 and were operational four days later; they would remain so for the next six years.

The base support personnel were posted from units in Australia but the Sabres, aircrew and maintenance crews were drawn from No 78 Fighter Wing based at Butterworth in Malaysia.        

The Wing consisted of No.'s 3 and 77 Fighter Squadrons and No. 478 Maintenance Squadron.

Attachments for ground crew were normally of eight weeks duration and they traveled from Butterworth on the fortnightly Hercules supply flight that staged through Butterworth.

The Squadron’s primary role was the air defense of the area and to achieve this two Sabres armed with 30mm HE ammunition and AIM-9B Sidewinders were on the ORP during daylight hours with a two minute alert time.

As the war in Vietnam intensified a large build up of the base was undertaken by the USAF and eventually it became a major F-4 operating facility with many visiting aircraft.  By this time the RAAF had established a more permanent camp with accommodation and recreation amenities on one side of the runway and a maintenance hangar and aircraft keyways on the other.

To maintain a constant state of readiness the two ORP aircraft were usually scrambled at least once per day and guided to intercept homecoming Phantoms by ground radar, quite a few newby F4 pilots got a big fright when they thought they had been bounced by a MiG.

During the six years the squadron was at Ubon its personnel participated in many civil aid programs designed to help the local Thai community and were very popular with them.

The unit was disbanded in August 1968 with the base support staff returning to Australia and the squadron members to their parent units at Butterworth.   

Aircraft: CA-27 Avon Sabres

Note:  Article by Rod Farquhar (Australian Vietnam Veteran)

79th Maintenance Hangar - 1966
79 Squadron just before disbandment at Ubon in August of 1968
79th Sabres on the orp - 1966
79th Sabre - Notice the Cobra on the tail, Also notice the  two stenciled "Devil's Heads" on the fuselage, One near the leading edge of the wing and the other on the dive brake.  This is the emblem of the USAF 433rd TFS that was also assigned to Ubon.  It was common practice to "Tag" another units aircraft, vehicles, buildings and so fourth.  The photo was taken just before it departed for Butterworth, it had been STOLEN the night before by USAF and only just made it back for takeoff time.
RAAF Sabre on alert with 30mm HE and two Sidewinders.




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