The Queensland Air Museum president, Cameron Elmes, with a Canberra Bomber.
The Queensland Air Museum president, Cameron Elmes, with a Canberra Bomber. Brett Wortman

Bombers were a proud product of our country

AUSTRALIA was one of only two countries to licence-build the Canberra. Production started in 1951 at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fisherman's Bend, near Melbourne.

The first Australian built Canberra, A84-201, flew from Avalon on May 29, 1953. Twenty-nine years later after a long and distinguished career which included bombing sorties in Vietnam, the RAAF withdrew its Canberras from active service.

Maybe one of the most significant RAAF contributions to the Vietnam War was the deployment of 2 Squadron Canberra Bombers to Phan Rang in April 1967. The entire contingent consisted of about 300 men and came under the command of USAF 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.

At the height of Australia's military involvement in Vietnam, RAAF personnel numbered about 800 people from three squadrons.

The Canberra Bomber squadron was the first summoned home in March 1971 followed by the remaining RAAF personnel in August.