General Dynamics RF-111C strike/reconnaissance aircraft, A8-134 : Royal Australian Air Force

Accession Number AWM2019.549.1
Collection type Technology
Object type Aircraft
Physical description Glass, Metal, Rubber, Steel
Maker General Dynamics
Place made United States of America
Date made 1968
Conflict Period 2000-2009
Period 1970-1979
Period 1990-1999
East Timor, 1999-2013
Period 2010-2019

General Dynamics RF-111C swing wing all-weather supersonic attack and reconnaissance aircraft. All metal construction with the two crew (pilot and navigator/systems operator) sitting side by side in a special ejectable cockpit pod. The aircraft is finished in a green and tan coloured camouflage finish over black camouflaged undersurface. The entire nose radome is finished in a semi-gloss finish. On both sides of the aircraft fuselage (main body) is applied a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) full colour roundel. On the cockpit side of both roundels are decals depicting the Squadron heraldic crests for both 1 and 6 Squadron RAAF. The serial number of 134 is repeated in white on both of the black painted forward undercarriage doors. The undercarriage, inner wheel wells and wheels are finished in an overall white coloured finish with black rubber tyres. A photographic reconnaissance pod is fitted to the lower fuselage for the capturing of imagery both downwards and obliquely.

The vertical stabiliser (tail fin) has two different markings applied, with a large blue lightning bolt (with a small forward facing boomerang within a white disc in the middle) for 1 Squadron on the right and 6 Squadron yellow lightning bolt on the left. Above both lightning bolt artworks is a small full colour Australian flag towards the top of the vertical stabiliser (tail fin). Beneath each lightning bolt is a red, white and blue coloured fin flash, immediately forward of these are the complete aircraft serial of A8-134 stencilled onto the camouflaged background.

History / Summary

A8-134 was one of the original 24 F-111C aircraft purchased by Australia. It made its first flight in the USA on 18 November 1968. The aircraft remained in storage at the General Dynamics factory in the United States until 1973. A8-134 was handed over to the RAAF on 8 June 1973 and flew into RAAF Base Amberley, Qld, on delivery on 27 July. It served with both 1 Squadron and 6 Squadron RAAF.

In 1980 the aircraft was modified with the addition of reconnaissance equipment in a special bay in its underbelly, and became an RF-111C model. The aircraft remained in the reconnaissance role until retirement from RAAF service on 3 December 2010.

A8-134 flew over East Timor in late 1999 to take aerial images of military forces before East Timor became independent. Requests for RF-111 overflights of East Timor had been initially refused by the Indonesian Air Commander, but after Indonesian forces withdrew in late October overflights were permitted. RF-111 missions began on 5 November and continued until four days later. These flights over East Timor were the only operational employment of the RAAF F-111 fleet. Whilst conducting these operational missions, the aircraft was painted in an overall Dark Gunship Grey camouflage scheme along with the entire fleet of RF-111C reconnaissance and F-111C/G strike aircraft.

In 2012 A8-134 was repainted into its non-operationally used original green and tan brown camouflage colour scheme before being offered to the South Australian Aviation Museum (SAAM) on a long-term loan. It was delivered to the SAAM on 17 March 2013, and remianed there until 2019, when it was delivered to the AWM.