Royal Australian Air Force 
Caribou  (DHC-4)

Newest data is shown in red  March 17, 2018


Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war began in 1962 with the sending Army advisors to the country. With the arrival of the RAAF new  DHC-4 Caribous the RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam was formed on July 21, 1964.
The unit was based Vung Tau in Phuoc Tuy Province (48 miles south-east of Saigon).

The first three Caribous (A4-171, A4-179, A4185) arrived on August 8, 1964 from a flight from Butterworth, Malaysia. On August 29, 1964 three more Caribous (A4-173, A4-191, A4-193) arrived directly from Canada.

Vietnam bound Caribou crews and ground support crews were trained at the 38 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales.

They used the call sign "Wallaby Airlines". 

The RTFV became the 35 Squadron on June 1, 1966.

Caribous that serviced with the RTFV
 Caribou ID    Date of Service
A4-171 08/64 - 08/67
A4-173 08/64 - 02/72
A4-179 08/64 - 02/72
A4-185 08/64 - 11/64
A4-191 08/64 - 06/71
A4-193 08/64 - 03/70
A4-208 06/65 - 02/72
A4-210 03/65 - 07/68
Note:  A4-185 was written off in Vietnam

Click on photos to enlarge

The following photos were provided by John Griffiths. John was a Sergeant in charge of the Radio Service shop for the RTFV from October, 1964 to April, 1965.

<<< The RTFV workers at Vung Tau, John is the last one on the left at the back. Note the U.S. Army Mohawk in the background.

>>> John is the last on right in back row of RAAF Transport Flight Members. That is A4-193 in the back


John is at the other end of the line at this parade.


<<< That's John checking out the  Vung Tau RAAF workshops.

>>>After a hard day at the office.


John took the following photos during his tour with the RTFV

This is a great photo of A4-185 on the landing strip damaged and C-123 above doing a parachute drop.

A4-185 (cn # 185) was the first  Australian DHC-4 to be written off in Vietnam. On November 18, 1964 at A Ro, A4-159 was tasked to drop supplies that failed due to parachute extraction malfunction. The supplies were needed by the U.S. Forces so the pilot elected to put the Caribou down at the drop zone. The unprepared strip was 1,800 feet long by 60 feet wide, with the mid point just 40 feet wide. Reverse thrust was used during the landing roll which threw mud onto the pilots windows, obscuring their vision. The Caribou drifted to the right, the starboard main gear sunk into the soft mud and tore the right landing gear off. The aircraft was written off and dismantled on site and removed.  The front fuselage section remained at A Ro and was used as an observation post.

The pink haze above the aircraft in both the aerial views is a smoke grenade to show the wind direction as the retrieval crew, including me, arrived by helicopter the next day. We went on to retrieve the port engine and any internal parts that could be usefully salvaged to use as spares.

In this view of the camp the buildings were the accommodation etc for the dozen or so Americans and 1 Australian Army Warrant Officer who lived there and the sandbagged structure in the immediate foreground is sleeping quarters, a bit more mortar proof than the other iron roofed buildings

 <<< A4-185 nose was used as an observation post  (Australian War Memorial)

 >>> A4-185 rear section was used as a storage box

A 16mm projector set up inside the cargo compartment of A4-185, a Caribou of the RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam (RTFV), that crashed while attempting to re-supply the Special Forces camp at A Ro now used as a store room. On the morning of 18 November 1964 A4-185, captained by Flying Officer (FO) B.G. Hammond, was tasked to deliver supplies to this isolated camp that relied entirely on aerial re-supply. His mission was to use the low level aerial delivery system (LOLEX), where the aircraft flew very low and very slow over the drop zone (DZ) and the pallet of supplies was extracted from the cargo compartment by a parachute. The Caribou approached the DZ but the floor mechanism jammed and the pallet of supples remained inside the aircraft. After discussing the situation with the soldiers on the ground, FO Hammond was assured that not only did they need the supplies urgently, but that the runway was suitable for his aircraft to land on. FO Hammond successfully landed the aircraft on the very short and muddy runway but after applying reverse thrust on both engines the windscreen was covered with muddy water and so obscured the pilot’s vision that the aircraft ran off the runway into a ditch running beside the runway and the right hand undercarriage leg was torn off. There were no casualties but the aircraft was badly damaged. Due to the nature of the runway and security situation in the immediate area after the two engines and the mainplane were salvaged by RAAF crews from Vung Tau the aircraft was written off. The Special Forces soldiers quickly moved on this unexpected bounty, the cockpit and cargo compartment became a briefing room and the rear door section of the cargo compartment was used as a store room. (Australian War Memorial)

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