Two Royal Australian Airforce No. 75 Squadron combat jets conducted a low-level fly past over Darwin at 10am on February 19, 2023 to commemorate 81 years since the Bombing of Darwin by the Japanese on February 19, 1942. These F-35 Lightning II aircraft are an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.
The fly past was part of a joint armed forces simulation of the 1942 bombing by the Royal Australian Patrol Boat HMAS Maryborough and soldiers from the 8th and 12th Royal Australian Army regiment. Artillery shots rang out from the navy boats and on land at 10am across Darwin harbour watched by avid onlookers. Another fly past will be conducted in Melbourne on Feb 20, 2023 at the Shrine of Remembrance by an Airforce heritage aircraft from No. 100 Squadron to commemorate the Bombing of Darwin.
Australian Airforce Squadron No. 75 unit is based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory. The squadron was formed in 1942 and saw extensive action in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II, operating P-40 Kittyhawks. It was disbanded in 1948 but reformed the following year and operated jet aircraft throughout the Cold War. The squadron was based at Malta from 1952 to 1954, flying de Havilland Vampires, and Malaysia from 1968 to 1983, with Dassault Mirage IIIs, before returning to Australia.
The squadron was re-equipped with F/A-18 Hornet fighters and moved to RAAF Base Tindal in 1988. It was placed on alert to support the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping deployment to East Timor in 1999, and saw combat in 2003 as part of the Australian contribution to the invasion of Iraq and in 2015 during the military intervention against ISIL. The F/A-18s were retired in December 2021, and the squadron received its first F-35A Lightning IIs the same month.
The Bombing of Darwin Commemoration is a powerful and sombre event that draws a local and international crowd to this city annually. While the gravity of this event is well understood, it’s also an opportunity for both young and old alike to view the amazing moves of Australian Airforce aircraft.