Caribou aircraft

The de Havilland Canada (DHC) Caribou was the workhorse of the Australian military for more than forty years. Its main operational role was in support of the Australian Army. Although slow and noisy, the Caribou was a versatile transport aircraft, capable of short take-offs and landings on unprepared runways. Its rear-opening ramp doors allowed personnel and cargo to be unloaded quickly. The Caribou was ordered in the early 1960s to replace the reliable, though aging, Dakota aircraft.

The RAAF received its first Caribou on 25 February 1964 when A4-134 was formally handed over at the DHC plant at Downsville, near Toronto. This aircraft along with A4-140 and A4-147 was then flown from Canada to Australia arriving at the Richmond RAAF base on 22 April. In July 1964 Caribous being ferried from Canada to Australia were diverted to Butterworth, Malaysia, where they became the basis of RAAF, Transport Flight Vietnam (RTFV), which later became 35 Squadron. Further Caribous were delivered to Vietnam, while those that reached Australia went to 38 Squadron.

In addition to their work in Australia and Vietnam, RAAF Caribous were flown across Asia and the Pacific from 1965 carrying out much support and relief work. In Papua New Guinea, Caribous were used for civil assistance while in East Timor the aircraft flew mercy flights to refugees. Between 1975 and 1978 Caribous operated with the United Nations Military Observer Group, supplying observation posts along the India-Pakistan border. In more recent years, the Caribous have flown famine-relief operations to Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya, tsunami relief to Papua New Guinea and have also been used in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Specifications

DHC-4 Caribou

Type: light tactical transport

Entered service: 1964, finished 2009

Crew: 2 pilots plus load handling crew as required. Maximum capacity 32 troops

Wing span: 29.15 m

Length: 22.13 m

Weight (laden): 12,927 kg

Speed: max. 348km/h; economical cruise 293km/h
Total operated by RAAF: 26

Armament: nil


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