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No. 87 Squadron RAAF
87SQN Badge 2006.jpg
Active 1944–1946
Country Australia
Branch Royal Australian Air Force
Role Air Intelligence
Garrison/HQ RAAF Base Edinburgh
Battle honours Darwin 1942–1944
Pacific 1942–1945
Philippines 1944
Dutch New Guinea 1945
Borneo 1945
Morotai 1945

The pilot and navigator of a No. 87 Squadron Mosquito returning from a mission in 1945

No. 87 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force air intelligence squadron. The Squadron saw action during World War II as a photo reconnaissance squadron.


World War II

Formed at Laverton on 8 June 1942 as No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit, with eight officers and thirty-five airmen under the command of Squadron Leader L. W. Law. Initial training in navigation and aerial photography was carried out at Laverton until 12 August 1942 when the unit began moving to Hughes Airfield, Northern Territory to prepare for operational service.

No. 87 Squadron was formed on 10 September 1944 at Coomalie Creek Airfield in the Northern Territory by re-designating No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit. The Squadron's role during World War II was providing photo reconnaissance support for Allied operations in South East Asia and the Netherlands East Indies.

Operating from Coomalie Creek, No. 87 Squadron primarily conducted reconnaissance flights over the eastern islands of the Netherlands East Indies, with occasional missions over Java and other parts of South East Asia. A detachment from the squadron was briefly based on the Cocos Islands in June 1945 where it unsuccessfully attempted to photograph targets in Singapore.

During the war, one member of No. 87 Squadron was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, four received the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven were Mentioned in Dispatches.

Following the end of the war No. 87 Squadron continued to conduct flights over Japanese held territory in order to monitor Japanese Army units until they could be disarmed. The Squadron moved to Parkes, New South Wales in October 1945 where it was disbanded on 24 July 1946.

Following No. 87 Squadron's disbandment its Mosquito aircraft were operated as the Survey Flight based at RAAF Base Fairbairn. This Flight was re-designated No. 87 Squadron on 8 March 1948. Operating in the photo survey role the Squadron carried out many operations to support the Commonwealth Survey Committee and National Mapping Council. The Squadron also became responsible with providing the RAAF with a photo reconnaissance capability in 1949. Following the withdrawal of funding support by the Department of National Development No. 87 Squadron was disbanded at Fairbairn in December 1953.

Reactivation as the RAAF's Air Intelligence Squadron

No. 87 Squadron was reactivated as the Air Force's air intelligence squadron on 1 July 2006. It is part of the Information Warfare Wing within the RAAF's Aerospace Operational Support Group. The Squadron's headquarters is located at RAAF Base Edinburgh and its seven Tactical Intelligence Flights (TIFs) are situated with all flying Force Element Groups of the Air Force as well as with Combat Support Group.

The Squadron is responsible for providing air intelligence, counter-intelligence and combat targeting analysis and support to the Air Force. Personnel in the Squadron comprise Intelligence Officer, Armament Engineer, Air Combat Officer, Geospatial Imagery Analyst, Photographer, Air Surveillance Operator, Signals Operator, and administrative, computer systems support and logistics trade groups.

The Squadron has a total strength of 170 permanent and 30 reserve personnel stationed at five different bases.[1]

In 2009 the Governor General of Australia awarded No. 87 Squadron with Battle Honours pertaining to its service during World War II. The Battle Honours awarded to the Squadron are:

  • Darwin 1942–1944
  • Pacific 1942–1945
  • Philippines 1944
  • Dutch New Guinea 1945
  • Borneo 1945
  • Morotai 1945

In March 2011, No. 87 Squadron was awarded the Markowski Cup for being the most proficient non-flying squadron in the Air Force for 2010. This achievement marks No. 87 Squadron as the only RAAF squadron to have won both the flying and non-flying awards, the squadron having also won the Duke of Gloucester Cup for the most proficient flying squadron in September 1948 for its photographic survey work.

Commanding Officers

Commanding Officers of No. 87 Squadron

Commanding Officer Date of Appointment
Squadron Leader L.W. Law 8 June 1942 (1PRU)
Squadron Leader C.C. Lawrie 14 June 1942 (1PRU)
Squadron Leader A.S. Hermes July 1943 (1PRU)
Squadron Leader A.S. Hermes 10 September 1944
Squadron Leader H.A. Gamble 20 December 1944
Squadron Leader L.W. Law 28 July 1945
Squadron Leader L.P. Bond 8 Mar 1948
Flight Lieutenant R.A. Hosking 30 April 1948
Flight Lieutenant V.D. Guthrie 23 November 1950
Squadron Leader C.H. Browne 13 April 1951
Squadron Leader A.E. McKenzie 1 July 1953
Flight Lieutenant L.O. Hindley 21 September 1953
Flying Officer T.A. Slattery 16 October 1953
Wing Commander Rick Keir, AM 1 July 2006
Wing Commander Richard Trotman-Dickenson, AM 12 January 2009
Wing Commander Greg Weller 16 January 2012


With the reactivation of No. 87 Squadron in 2006, the original Squadron badge (approved by King George VI in July 1949) was updated and the revised badge with a motto in English was approved by the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd AO, on 22 March 2006.

Explanation of the No. 87 Squadron badge

The Sun

The sun represents the Squadron's role in maintaining knowledge and understanding of its adversaries

The Quill

The quill represents the Squadron's analytical and communications capabilities, as the ability to impart knowledge is as important as the ability to acquire it

The Sword

The sword represents the Squadron's role in the conduct of warfare

Squadron Motto

'We See and We Fight' (originally 'Videmus Militamus' on the previous badge) – highlights the importance of intelligence in detecting, locating and identifying the enemy in the successful conduct of air operations and the Squadron's role in both the offensive and defensive aspects of air warfare.

Aircraft operated by 1 PRU and No. 87 Squadron


  1. FLGOFF Claire Carpenter (9 August 2007). "87SQN’s first bite". Air Force – the official newspaper of the RAAF. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 


External links

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