Military Wiki
RAAF Base Darwin
Darwin International Airport
RAAF Base Darwin's main gate.
Airport type Military/Public
Operator RAAF/Darwin International Airport Pty Ltd (DIA)
Location Darwin, Northern Territory
Elevation AMSL 103 ft / 31 m
Coordinates 12°24′53″S 130°52′36″E / 12.41472°S 130.87667°E / -12.41472; 130.87667Coordinates: 12°24′53″S 130°52′36″E / 12.41472°S 130.87667°E / -12.41472; 130.87667

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Direction Length Surface
m ft
11/29 3,354 11,004 Asphalt
18/36 1,524 5,000 Asphalt
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[1]

Former RAAF Base Darwin Control and Water Tower

A USAF C-130 taking off from RAAF Base Darwin in 1999

RAAF Base Darwin (IATA: DRW, ICAO: YPDN) is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base located in the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. The base shares its runway with Darwin International Airport.


Construction of the airfield began in 1938 and RAAF Station Darwin was established on 1 June 1940, from elements of No. 12 Squadron RAAF. No. 13 Squadron RAAF was also created at the same time and was based at the base. Charles Eaton was the first Commanding Officer between 1940-1941.

No. 12 Squadron RAAF relocated from Parap Airfield, Northern Territory in April 1941 to RAAF Station Darwin. The base hosted a large number of RAAF and United States Army Air Forces units during World War II. The base was bombed by Japanese forces many times, beginning with two major air raids on 19 February 1942.

Units based at RAAF Darwin during World War II

During World War II RAAF Base Darwin served as a first refuge for retreating USAAF units from the Philippines in 1941. The USAAF Far East Air Force and its subordinate commands, V Fighter and V Bomber established headquarters at Darwin in late December 1941. Later, the USAAF 49th Fighter Group and other units were assigned to Darwin before moving north to forward bases in 1943. From 9 August 1944 to 20 February 1945 the USAAF 380th Bombardment Group based four squadrons of long-range B-24 Liberator bombers at the base. From Darwin, the group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of long-range attacks on oil refineries, shipping, and dock facilities in Balikpapan, Borneo, in August 1943. The unit repeatedly bombed enemy airfields in western New Guinea during April and May 1944 in support of American landings in the Hollandia area, being awarded another DUC for this action. Moved in February 1945 to Mindoro in the Philippines.[2]

In 1975, during the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, the base was the centre of the largest airlift in Australian history in which the majority of Darwin's inhabitants were evacuated.

The base was an emergency landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle due to the length of its runway. United States Air Force (USAF) B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, as well as KC-10 and KC-135 tankers can operate from RAAF Base Darwin.

Some houses near the base will require extra sound proofing to deal with the extreme sound levels of the low observable Joint Strike Fighter.[3]

Current units

Unit name Force Element Group Aircraft/equipment
Headquarters No. 452 Squadron Surveillance and Response Group
No. 452 Squadron Darwin Flight Surveillance and Response Group
No. 92 Wing Detachment B Surveillance and Response Group AP-3C Orion
No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit Surveillance and Response Group AN/FPS-117 radar
Headquarters No. 396 Combat Support Wing Combat Support Group
No. 321 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron Combat Support Group
No. 1 Air Terminal Squadron Detachment Darwin Combat Support Group
No 13 (City of Darwin) Squadron Combat Support Group (RAAF Active Reserve)

See also


  1. YPDN – Darwin (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 29 May 2014, Aeronautical Chart
  2. Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4
  3. Homes to be insulated against Strike Fighter noise ABC News, 1 October 2010

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).