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Dawn of a new era
A new journey has begun for 36 and 37 Squadrons after more than 40 years of shared history and a successful partnership, reports FLGOFF Eamon Hamilton.

Volume 48, No. 22, November 30, 2006

By FLGOFF Eamon Hamilton

H SALUTE: 36 and 37SQNs march past in slow time as the Escort Squadron presents arms during the Change of Command Parade.
Photo by LAC Ben Dempsterk
LAST STAND: 37SQN clerk LACW Amelia Kelder and 36SQN pilot FLGOFF Adam D’Arcy join forces on the flightline at RAAF Base Richmond before the two squadrons part ways.
Photo by LAC Ben Dempster
HELPING HAND: FLTLTs Matthew Nunn and FLTLT Wayne Baylis from 36SQN transit to Banda Aceh airport as part of Operation Sumatra Assist.
Photo by LS Phillip Cullinan
DRAMATIC ENTRY: A 37SQN Hercules emerges from the dust after landing in Afghanistan with a load of supplies for the Australian Reconstruction Task Force.
Photo by CPL Ricky Fuller

FOR more than 40 years, 36 and 37 Squadrons have been synonymous with the Lockheed Hercules and RAAF Base Richmond.

That partnership came to an end on November 17 when 36SQN bid farewell to Richmond and relinquished its fleet of C-130Hs, ahead of a move to RAAF Base Amberley.

All 24 of the Air Force’s C-130H and C-130J models have come under the command of 37SQN at Richmond, while 36SQN stands on the verge of accepting its first of four Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters.

The new era of Air Force air lift capability was celebrated with a Change of Command Parade at Richmond on November 17, reviewed by CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Shepherd and attended by ACAUST AVM John Quaife, many former COs and members of both squadrons.

Personnel from 36 and 37SQNs marched before a crowd of family members, base personnel and representatives of the 36SQN Association.

Both squadrons have forged a reputation in their support of ADF operations as ready to go at a moment’s notice, and many at the parade noted with some irony that a scheduled Hercules fly-over of the parade was cancelled due to the ADF’s rapid deployment to Tonga.

Aside from recognising the new roles of the squadrons, the parade was a chance to welcome new COs for both units.

Former 36SQN CO WGCDR Paul Nicholas has replaced WGCDR Tim Innes as 37SQN CO. WGCDR Innes was promoted to GPCAPT at the parade and will now command 84WG.

WGCDR Linda Corbould assumed command of 36SQN and was tasked to reform 36SQN at Amberley in preparation for the arrival of the C-17 at its new base on December 6.

After the new 36SQN was formally farewelled from the parade ground, the remaining three flights were ordered to form 37SQN, and a short drill manoeuvre was executed to symbolise the integration of the C-130H and C-130J capabilities within the one squadron.

The achievement is yet another milestone for 36SQN, which became the first foreign operator of the Lockheed Hercules in 1958 – flying the C-130A at Richmond.

In 1966, 37SQN joined the ranks of Hercules operators with 12 C-130Es. Both squadrons have subsequently traded up with their Hercules models – 36SQN receiving the C-130H in 1977, and 37SQN taking delivery of the C-130J-30 from 1999.

For the past 40 years, the squadrons have fulfilled an individual role with the Hercules – 36SQN focused on tactical operations, and 37SQN on strategic airlift.

But that paradigm shifted on November 17, and was acknowledged by CAF.

Speaking at the parade, AIRMSHL Geoff Shepherd said, “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of airlift capability in the Air Force, as we reorganise two of our hardest-working squadrons to best meet the challenges of a rapidly- changing air lift force.

“As long as I can remember, and even before, the air lift force of the Air Force has operated two C-130 Hercules squadrons to meet the bulk of the ADF’s airlift needs,” he said.

“It was, quite simply, a fundamental part of how we did business in the Air Force.

“By amalgamating the two C-130 types into the one squadron, we have created a true ‘super squadron’, with 20 aircraft and close to 500 personnel. A new era has dawned for both squadrons.”

AIRMSHL Shepherd said he hoped that the remaining C-130Hs would be retired “in the near future”, and be replaced with a smaller number of C-130Js.

A snapshot of our Herculean history:

  • 36SQN stood up at Laverton on March 11, 1942, flying Douglas DC-2 aircraft.
  • Moved to Essendon on July 14, 1942, and tasked to transport personnel and stores to Port Moresby.
  • Moved to Townsville on November 8, 1942, and received DC-3 Dakota aircraft January 19, 1943.
  • No. 36 Air Ambulance Flight formed in November 1945 and the squadron commenced tri-weekly services to Tokyo and Hiroshima.
  • 36SQN disbanded on March 8, 1953, and reformed on March 9 at Iwakuni, Japan, when No. 30 Transport Unit stood up as the new 36SQN.
  • Returned to RAAF Base Fairbairn in July 1955 and then moved to Richmond on August 18, 1958, where it received its C-130A model Hercules.
  • Received its Standard from His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on April 1, 1971.
  • C-130As were replaced with C-130H model in July 1978.

  • 37SQN stood up at Laverton on July 15, 1943, flying Lockheed Lodestar aircraft.
  • Throughout 1944, 37SQN flew into New Guinea and Dutch New Guinea. Dakotas replaced the Lodestars in March 1945 and 37SQN commenced a courier run between Darwin and Morotai in Indonesia.
  • Returned to Schofields in July 1946 and took over the service to Japan, as well as services to Lae and Rabaul.
  • 37SQN disbanded on February 24, 1948.
  • Re-established at RAAF Base Richmond flying C-130Es on February 21, 1966, and commenced transport flights into New Guinea and Butterworth, Malaysia.
  • A 37SQN C-130 was the first Australian transport aircraft into Vung Tau on February 5, 1967, and its aircraft supported the Australian withdrawal in December 1972.
  • Received the C-130J model in 1999.



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