New coin issue from the Royal Australian Mint celebrates a centenary of service from the Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) joins the Royal Air Force in a very select club of nations whose military air organisation has hit that magic century in age. Little demonstrates the ingenuity and progress that mankind is capable of more than the conquering of air. Barely 65 years separates the first powered flight by the Wright brothers, from the amazing sight of Neil Armstrong stepping out onto the lunar surface.

The driver for this rapid progress is, as you no doubt suspected, war. The 20th century was filled with conflict and the advancements in air warfare are quite extraordinary. From the cloth and wood aircraft of 1914 barely capable of fighting at all, it took just 35 years to have thousands of aircraft, many with jet engines, rampaging around the skies and levelling armies and cities. The paranoia of the Cold War just enhanced the rate of progress.

Today, the RAAF is one of the most advanced air forces in the region, indeed the world as a whole, so it should be of no surprise to see the RAM issue a coin to celebrate. A nice design with the new F-35 Lightning II taking pride of place, but with nods to earlier periods as well. A well composed piece, if a little generic, it gets across the pride that Australians have in the long history of this potent force.

Two precious metal variants are available, both fractional, although a base-metal coin is also on offer for the small gift market. The 11.66 gram silver coin has a mintage of 5,000 pieces, while the 3.11 gram gold version is capped at 2,021 in number. Both are similarly presented in themed packaging and are available to order now. A good start to the Royal Australian Mints year.

 

THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

The RAAF has its roots in history back to 1911 and the London held Imperial Conference. Here, it was decided that the Armed Forces of the expansive British Empire should develop and incorporate aviation into their doctrine and forces. After the British, it fell to Australia to be the first Dominion to implement the concept, approving the establishment of the “Australian Aviation Corps”, starting with the Central Flying School at Point Cook, Victoria, opening on 22 October 1912.

Just two years later, the Australian Flying Corps was off to New Guinea for the fight to capture the German colonies, but they surrendered before they’d even unpacked the aircraft. Their first test came against the Ottoman Empire on 27 May 1915. TheMesopotamian Half Flight aided the Indian Army fighting in what is now Iraq. They later saw further action in the region, mainly in Egypt and Palestine, before heading off the the grinding Western Front.

At the end of the air, the new, hardened force numbered eight squadrons, four active and four in training. Some 460 officers and 2,234 other ranks served in the AFC, whilst
another 200 men served as aircrew in the British flying services.
Casualties included 175 dead, 111 wounded, 6 gassed and 40 captured.

It was in March 1921 that the modern RAAF was formed with the mandate to provide a full spectrum of operations, growing over the next century to include air superiority, precision strikes,
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, space
surveillance, and humanitarian support. The RAAF has fought in many of the 20th centuries major conflicts, including WWII, where they fought in many theatres of operations, including North Africa,, Europe, and the South West Pacific. A total of 216,900 men and women fought for the service in WWII, with 10,562 losing their lives.

Later the RAAF served in the Berlin Airlift, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia Confrontation and Vietnam War. More recently, the RAAF has participated in operations in East Timor, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan, and the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The RAAF has 259 aircraft, of which 110 are combat aircraft. As of June 2018, the RAAF had 14,313 permanent full-time personnel and 5,499 part-time active reserve personnel.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $1 AUD (Australia) $10 AUD (Australia)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 11.66 grams 3.11 grams
DIMENSIONS 25.0 mm 17.53 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None None
MINTAGE 5,000 2.021
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT