The beginning of The No. 2 Operational Training Unit (2OTU), Mildura.
In 1939, a short time after the outbreak of World War II, the Royal Australian Air Force purchased a piece of Mildura land we now recognise as the Mildura Airport for the proposed establishment of a No.4 Bombing and Gunnery School.
The proposed plans for the school did not go ahead and instead 2OTU was established in 1942. On the 6th of April, 1942, 2OTU was formed at Port Pirie in South Australia.
Personnel began moving on the 14th of May, 1942, alongside their equipment to Mildura by rail while their Wirraway and Fairey Battle aircraft were transported by air. On the very same day, the new Mildura unit was allocated its first fighter aircraft, consisting of 5 P40 Kittyhawk aircraft.
After the end of World War II, in Feb 1946, 2OTU closed at Mildura. 2OTU later reformed at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW, and exists today as No 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU).
Early Instructors had a wealth of experience.
The purpose of 2OTU was to train pilots in the tactics of aerial warfare. Trainees of 2OTU would have already successfully completed Elementary Training School before being placed in the hands of 2OTU’s experienced instructors. Many of these instructors had previously fought air battles in the Middle East, England and the Pacific area.
However, not all instructors had been to battle but they were still highly experienced pilots from Operational Squadrons.
2OTU’s responsibility was to provide further training through the use of lectures and flying activities until the trainees knew practically everything there was to know about fighter tactics.
1,247 pilots graduated from the unit and over 104,000 hours were flown in total. Almost all fighter pilots that took part in the Pacific Theatre either trained or completed a refresher course at 2OTU Mildura.