Formed in 1912, the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) played a pioneering role in military aviation during World War I. In 1921, it became an independent service the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), a transformation that signified the beginning of a new era. Since then, the RAAF has maintained a crucial role in defending Australia and contributing to international peacekeeping and security efforts.



Formation of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC)

  • The AFC, the precursor to the RAAF, participated actively in WWI.
  • Conducted reconnaissance, air combat, and supported ground forces.
  • Played a crucial role in the Middle East, contributing to the British Empire's air efforts.
  • The first AFC VC was awarded for gallantry to Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara, VC.

Battle of Hamel (4 July 1918)

  • Demonstrated effective air-land integrated tactics.
  • AFC supported the operation, showcasing precision and coordination.
  • Marked a turning point in utilising aircraft for direct ground support.
  • Enhanced the reputation of Australian forces in combined arms operations.
  • Paved the way for future air support concepts in military operations.

Formation of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

  • The RAAF was established on March 31, 1921, evolving from the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) of World War I.
  • It became the world's second independent air force after the RAF, marking Australia's early commitment to aerial defense.
  • Initially, the RAAF inherited personnel, equipment, and bases from the AFC, laying the groundwork for its operations.
  • The creation of the RAAF underscored the recognition of air power's importance in national defense strategy.
  • The RAAF immediately focused on expansion and modernization, establishing training facilities and upgrading its fleet to prepare for future challenges.


Attempts to build and develop the RAAF

  • Initially equipped with outdated WWI fighters, Australia's air force expanded in the 1930s but remained unprepared.
  • Interwar years saw Australia's military at its lowest, struggling with austerity and retrenchment, losing prior gains.
  • RAAF struggled with obsolete aircraft and poor safety, failing to maintain readiness despite expansion attempts.
  • Depression-era budget cuts devastated all services, reducing capabilities, personnel, and delaying modernisation efforts significantly.
  • Late 1930s rearmament efforts boosted forces, but WWII found Australia's military still rebuilding from extensive deficiencies.


Defence of Port Moresby and Jackson Airfield

  • Critical to halting Japanese advancement towards Australia.
  • RAAF units provided relentless air defence of the region.
  • Jackson Airfield became a hub for Allied air operations.
  • Symbolised the strategic significance of New Guinea in the Pacific War.
  • Facilitated the turnaround in Allied fortunes in the Pacific theatre.

Battle of Britain (1940)

  • Australians served in the RAF
  • No direct RAAF involvement but highlighted individual valor of Australians.
  • Australian members of the RAF played a part in the first major military campaign which was primarily an air campaign.
  • Demonstrated the importance of air power in modern warfare.
  • Contributed to preventing the German invasion of Britain.

Battle For Milne Bay

  • Milne Bay marked the first decisive defeat of Japanese land forces by the Allies in the Pacific War.
  • Australian Army's resilience and strategic tactics were crucial in repelling the Japanese ground assault.
  • Superior intelligence allowed the Allies to deploy overwhelming force, inflicting a major defeat on the Japanese.
  • RAAF played a pivotal role, providing relentless air support and disrupting enemy supply lines.
  • RAAF's effective reconnaissance and bombing missions significantly weakened Japanese forces, ensuring victory.
  • This victory underscored the effectiveness of combined arms tactics, significantly boosting Allied morale.

Battle of The Bismark Sea

  • This strategic victory effectively halted Japanese reinforcement efforts to Lae, altering Pacific campaign dynamics.
  •  RAAF led decisive, coordinated air attacks, significantly decimating enemy convoy with precision.
  •  Invaluable support by Australian Navy and US forces, enhancing operational effectiveness and impact.
  • RAAF's intensive bombing and strafing runs critically undermined enemy capabilities, ensuring victory.
  • This battle marked a pivotal shift in the Pacific, significantly limiting Japanese territorial ambitions.

Bombing Campaign over Europe

  • Participated as part of the RAF and in Australian squadrons.
  • Engaged in strategic and tactical bombing operations over Nazi-occupied Europe.
  • Demonstrated exceptional courage and skill in challenging conditions.
  • Played a key role in disrupting German military and industrial capabilities.
  • Some 10,000 Australians served with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command during WWII


The Cold War 1947 - 1991

  • The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, marked by ideological conflicts and military standoffs.
  • During the Cold War, the RAAF played a key role in regional defence and strategic surveillance, aligning closely with US and NATO security objectives.
  • The RAAF enhanced its capabilities through modernisation programs, acquiring jet fighters, bombers, and surveillance aircraft to meet the demands of the era.
  • The F-111 acquisition in the late 1960s significantly boosted the RAAF's long-range strike capability, symbolising Australia's commitment to deterrence and defence.
  • RAAF personnel participated in joint exercises and operations with allies, demonstrating interoperability and contributing to collective security efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Post-Cold War, the RAAF shifted focus towards peacekeeping, humanitarian missions, and adapting to new security challenges in the evolving international landscape.
  • The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the end of the Cold War era, leading to the emergence of 15 independent republics.

Korean War (1950-1953)

  • Provided vital air support in a multi-role capacity.
  • Engaged in ground attack, air reconnaissance, and interdiction missions.
  • Operated in challenging weather and terrain conditions.
  • Showcased the RAAF's adaptability and resilience in combat.
  • Strengthened Australia's commitment to United Nations efforts.

Vietnam War (1962-1975)

  • Involved in transport, medical evacuations, and bombing missions.
  • Demonstrated versatility and adaptability in varied roles.
  • Enhanced close air support tactics and helicopter operations.
  • Contributed to multinational efforts alongside allies.
  • Faced intense combat conditions, underscoring the human cost of war.

Konfrontasi (Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation 1963-1966)

  • Supported Commonwealth efforts through surveillance and patrol missions.
  • Involved in air transport and logistical support operations.
  • Demonstrated strategic mobility and regional security commitment.
  • Enhanced cooperation with British and Malaysian forces.
  • Contributed to the stabilisation efforts in Southeast Asia.

War on Terror Overview

  • Post-9/11, Australia joined the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, invoking the ANZUS Treaty for support.
  • The coalition ousted the Taliban in 2001, aiming to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan.
  • Australia's military efforts included Special Forces and reconstruction tasks, focusing on Uruzgan Province development.
  • Combat operations ended in 2014, with Afghan forces taking over; allegations of Australian war crimes emerged.
  • The US-Taliban 2020 peace deal failed, leading to a Taliban resurgence and humanitarian crisis.


Operations Okra (2014-2021) RAAF Focus

  • Deployed fighter squadrons for airstrike operations.
  • Conducted surveillance and refuelling missions in support of coalition forces.
  • Demonstrated global security commitment and operational capability.
  • Contributed significantly to the degradation of ISIS capabilities.
  • Emphasised the importance of international collaboration in combating terrorism.



Sir Richard Williams - "Father of the RAAF"

  • Instrumental in the establishment and development of the RAAF.
  • Advocated for air power and its independent role within the Australian Defence Force.
  • Played a crucial role in strategic planning and organisational development.
  • His leadership during the interwar period set the foundation for RAAF's WWII efforts.
  • Left a lasting legacy on Australian and international air power doctrine.


  • Air Marshal Richard Williams | Australian War Memorial (

Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara, VC

  • Awarded the VC for his actions on 20 March 1917 in Palestine.
  • Despite being wounded, he landed his aircraft behind enemy lines to rescue a downed fellow pilot.
  • Demonstrated exceptional bravery and determination under fire.
  • His aircraft was damaged, and he managed to fly back to his base with both himself and the rescued pilot.
  • McNamara's VC was the first to be awarded in Australian aviation history and remains a distinguished part of the Australian military legacy.



  • Foundational Site: Point Cook is the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), established in 1914, making it the oldest operating air force base in the world.
  • Training Hub: Historically, it served as a central training institution for Australian military aviators, playing a crucial role in preparing aircrew for both World Wars.
  • RAAF Museum: The base houses the RAAF Museum, which showcases Australia's military aviation history, including aircraft, memorabilia, and interactive displays.
  • Heritage Significance: The site contains numerous heritage-listed buildings and landmarks, reflecting its longstanding military and aviation history.
  • Ongoing Use: Despite its historical significance, Point Cook remains active for military training, ceremonial activities, and as a venue for air shows, preserving its legacy within the Australian Defence Force.