Commander Archie Tindal
Base Tindal may well be one of the few airfields ever constructed
that never heard the beat of aero engines at its birth.
In 1942 a decision was made to construct an airfield south of
Darwin that could operate B24 Liberators against forward Japanese
bases and assets in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Its siting near Katherine, some 320km south of Darwin, was ideal.
This made it safer from attacks by Japanese aircraft, but not
so remote as to be difficult to support.
The airfield was constructed by the American 43rd Engineer Regiment
in April 1942 and was called Carsons Field. But by the time it
was ready for its aircraft, the war in the Pacific had changed
as the Japanese were driven back towards their homeland.
Subsequently, no aircraft ever deployed there. After WWII the
airfield was renamed Tindal after Wing Commander Archie Tindal
(pictured above right), as a permanent reminder of his heroic
actions during the initial raid by the Japanese on Darwin on February
During the attack on the airfield, WGCDR Tindal manned a Lewis
machine gun and opened up on the Japanese Zeroes. He continued
the one-sided struggle for some time before finally being shot
by a strafing fighter.
WGCDR Tindal’s grave is located in the war cemetery at Adelaide
River, approximately 110km south of Darwin. He was the first Air
Force casualty on mainland Australia. Generally forgotten and
ignored, the base remained quietly basking in the top end sun.
In 1963, development began on Tindal as a “bare base” to operate
fast jets to back up RAAF Base Darwin. Darwin was becoming congested
through local housing development and an increase in civil aviation,
which was beginning to restrict air space available for ADF purposes.
This work was completed in 1970. In the early 1980s the Federal
Government decided that the future defence of Australia should
be focussed more on the north of the country to protect the Sea-Air
Gap and that, as a consequence, there would be more deployment
of Defence assets to the north.
Accordingly, in 1984 Tindal began further redevelopment to allow
for a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets to be permanently based there.
On October 1, 1988, Tindal became an operational base and the
new home to No. 75 Squadron. The operational tempo is invariably
It varies from year to year, but the infrastructure that has been
developed has allowed for successful operations, including the
ADF’s deployment to East Timor and the equally successful deployment
of 75SQN to Iraq to be launched from there.