Mar 072014
 

In 2014 the Royal Australian Air Force will celebrate the centenary of the first flight of an Australian military aircraft, the Bristol Military Biplane, commonly known as a Bristol Boxkite.

Prior to the establishment of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1921, the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) was responsible for operating military aircraft throughout the country. The AFC made its home at Point Cook in Victoria in 1913, after the Federal Government approved  the establishment of the Central Flying School (CFS) in 1912 and purchased five aircraft.

One of the CFS’s first instructors, Lieutenant Eric Harrison, made Australian military history when he took a Bristol Boxkite for a flight at the aviation school on 1 March 1914. This historic moment is recognised as the starting point of military flying in Australia.

Developed in the United Kingdom in 1910 by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, the Bristol Boxkite was first flown on 29 July that year. Considered to be a state-of-the-art aeroplane for its time, it was also one of the most successful military training aircraft.


Painstakingly constructed, this Bristol Boxkite replica aircraft is expected to be one of the major drawcards at the Centenary of Military Aviation Air Show, starting today at the RAAF Museum Point Cook.

The Bristol Boxkite was instrumental in the evolution of military aviation in Australia. It was the first military aeroplane flown in this country, and in 1915, it also became the first official military aircraft to be built on our shores, constructed by the CFS at Point Cook and used to train the nation’s first military pilots.

Over the next 100 years, military aviation went on to become a vital part of the Australian Defence Force.  During the First World War, 800 officers and 2,840 men served in the AFC. In World War II, Australian aircrew fought throughout the world including Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, over the North Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, India and Asia.

By the end of 1944, the RAAF consisted of more than 182,000 personnel and 6,200 aircraft in 61 squadrons. By 1945, Australia had the fourth-largest air force in the world.

Today, the RAAF employs some 14,000 men and women, supported by 4,000 Air Force Reservists and 800 civilian public servants, at numerous offices and 11 major bases across Australia and has operated F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft since 1984.

Struck by The Perth Mint from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver, no more than 5,000 of these 2014 100 Years of Australian Military Aviation commemorative coins will be released. The reverse of the coin depicts a representation of a Bristol aeroplane propeller with a military Boxkite flying under the propeller blade and an F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft soaring above the blade.

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Image of F/A 18F courtesy of Australian Defence Force. Image of Boxkite courtesy of James Kightly.


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Mar 052014
 

2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War – an horrendous conflict that drew millions of people from around the globe into mechanised warfare more deadly than anything previously seen.

Those who rushed to the seat of conflict in Europe included Antipodeans from the opposite side of the world who saw it as their duty to support the Mother Country – Great Britain – in her hour of need.

Unbeknown to them at the time, Australians and New Zealanders who departed Western Australia at the end of 1914 were, in fact, on a date with destiny at Gallipoli, a strategically important peninsula overlooking Turkey’s Dardanelles Strait.

The dreadful casualties experienced by ANZAC troops during this eight-month failed campaign resulted in the rate of reinforcements slowing down. In response, the Government issued a series of propaganda posters impressing upon eligible males the need to fight.

The Perth Mint is proud to begin its commemorations of World War I with a remarkable collector coin series featuring historic Australian Posters of World War I – commencing with ‘A Call From The Dardanelles’ by artist H.M. Burton.

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Image ARTV05167 from Australian War Memorial. Reproductions of World War I posters are available from the Australian War Memorial. www.awm.gov.au

The image features a WWI digger in a slouch hat standing astride the Dardanelles, one foot on the Gallipoli peninsula and the other on Asia Minor, calling out the Australian bush cry of ‘coo-ee’. By 1915, when the poster was made, strong Australian symbolism rather than references to Britain and the Empire were deemed to deliver a more effective message to men at home.

Struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver and limited to a maximum mintage of just 5,000, this coin is to be followed by four more annual releases featuring historic posters relating to the Australian Red Cross, War Bonds, Home Front and Peace Bonds.

 

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Apr 252013
 

Each year The Perth Mint issues an ANZAC Day $1 commemorative coin in tribute to all Australians who have served their country. This year’s Australian legal tender coin salutes the engineers of the Australian Defence Force.

RAE_badgeThe Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) was officially raised on 1 July 1902 from the permanent and militia engineering units of the separate colonies. Many of these colonial units were descended from the Royal Engineers units that accompanied Governor Arthur Phillip in the First Fleet that landed in New South Wales in 1788.

In 1835, the first engineering officer, Captain George Barney, was appointed to the Australian colonies and raised the first Australian military engineering company.

Today, the RAE is a corps of the Australian Army tasked with providing geospatial, combat and force support engineering capabilities to enable joint manoeuvre and survivability.

Combat engineers of the RAE specialise in bridge-building, minefield clearance, demolition using explosives, field defence systems, water purification, as well as road and airfield construction and repair.

Among other tasks performed by the RAE is geomatic engineering, which includes surveying, cartography, digital maps and other digital topographic projects.

Army engineers are often referred to a ‘sappers’. The term sapper derives from the excavation of trenches, known as saps, designed to advance troops towards the enemy’s fortifications.

The RAE has been involved in many conflicts from the trenches of France in World War I to the jungles of Borneo in World War II.

The corps motto is ‘Ubique’, which is Latin for ‘Everywhere’. The corps also uses the motto ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Pense’, which is old French for ‘Evil be to him who evil thinks’.

2013_ANZAC_Engineers

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Apr 222013
 

“Kapyong came to be the most significant
and important battle for Australian troops in Korea”

– Australian War Memorial.

On the night of 22 April 1951, Chinese forces launched a major offensive against United Nations forces defending the South Korean capital, Seoul. In the ensuing fighting in the Kapyong Valley, a key route into the city, Australian troops helped hold up the Chinese 60th Division. For their contribution to this action, 3 RAR was awarded a United States Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.

Kapyong_Coin-case[www.anzacday.org.au says:] “The ANZAC spirit was alive and well; the 3rd Battalion had remained true to the legend. When others had retreated before an imposing enemy, the Australians stood their ground and defended their position. In doing so, they prevented a massive breakthrough from occurring that would certainly have seen the enemy recapture Seoul and with it, thousands of UN troops.”

Coin collectors can mark this famous battle of the Korean War with The Perth Mint’s Kapyong 2012 1oz Silver Proof Coin.

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Jul 172012
 

The Tanks of WWII 1oz Silver Proof Five-Coin Set is a sure-fire hit for anyone interested in armoured fighting vehicles. The coins in this outstanding set pay tribute to some of the most famous and effective tanks of 1939-45. The time has come for all tank aficionados to think about securing this outstanding coin set released back in 2010 with a limited worldwide mintage of just 1,500.

Soviet T-34 Medium Tank

The best Soviet tank of World War II, the T-34 Medium Tank, formed the backbone of the USSR’s armoured units. Entering service in 1940, its appearance shocked the Germans who expected to face an inferior Soviet Army. At the Battle of Kursk in 1943, the greatest tank battle of the War, the T-34 helped swing the initiative on the Eastern Front to the Red Army.  Up to 65mm thick, its sloped armour was effective in deflecting anti-tank shells, while its 76.2mm main gun, replaced by a more lethal 85mm weapon, inflicted heavy damage on the German Panzers. Produced in vast numbers and continuously refined, the T-34 is often credited as the War’s most effective, efficient and influential tank.

US M4 Sherman Medium Tank

The M4 Sherman Medium Tank, which first saw action in the deserts of North Africa, was used extensively by US, British and other Allied forces during World War II. Produced from 1941, it had a fully rotating turret for its 75mm main gun and featured armour to a maximum thickness of 75mm.  Particularly versatile, it was developed into an enormous range of variants and specials, including an amphibious version. Though it was up-gunned, the M4 Sherman lacked the outright capabilities of later German tanks. However, its effectiveness as a weapon was assured by its mechanical reliability, manoeuvrability, endurance and, with almost 50,000 rolling off the production line during the War, sheer weight of numbers.

German PzKpfw V1 Tiger 1 Heavy Battle Tank

When it entered service in 1942, the PzKpfw V1 Tiger I Heavy Battle Tank was the most powerful in the world. Indeed, with an 88mm main weapon, 100mm thick front armour, the 56,900kg Tiger I laid emphasis on firepower and armour at the expense of mobility. Its fearsome reputation was forged by famous German tank commanders like Michael Wittman, whose Tiger 1 singlehandedly destroyed 12 enemy tanks and various other military vehicles at the Battle of Villers-Bocage in June 1944. Despite the fact that about 1,350 only were built and many suffered from mechanical problems, the Tiger I successfully struck morale-sapping fear in the minds of many Allied soldiers.

British A22 Churchill Infantry Tank

Rushed into production in 1941, the A22 Churchill Infantry Tank made an inauspicious start at the disastrous Dieppe Raid in 1942. Modified several times, however, it was to become one of the most important British tanks of World War II. A good cross-country performer which had a more powerful six-pounder with the appearance of the Mark III, it proved its worth in North Africa. Perhaps the tank’s greatest asset was its armour plating, ranging from 102mm up to 152mm on the Mark VII. Another factor contributing to the Churchill’s importance was its adaptability. Successful variants included the flame-throwing ‘Crocodile’ and the AVRE battlefield engineering support vehicle.

Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank

The Type 97 Chi-Ha was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II. Its development coincided with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, where it played an effective role in infantry support. With 25mm thick armour and a low velocity 57mm main gun, however, it was no match for Allied medium tanks. Pressure for more powerful equipment saw the Type 97 up-gunned by the time it encountered US forces in the Philippines in 1942. Although it had a smaller calibre, the new 47mm gun generated higher muzzle velocity for improved armour penetration. Also fitted with a larger turret, the Type 97 Shinhoto was one of the best Japanese tanks of the War.

More info:  Tanks of WWII 2010 1oz Silver Proof Five-Coin Set

Jul 102012
 

The Royal Australian Navy is 101 years old today. It was created on 10 July 1911 when King George V granted to the Naval forces of the Australian Commonwealth the title ‘Royal Australian Navy’.

Prior to Australia’s action at Gallipoli in 1915 and subsequently on the Western Front, the RAN was already actively involved in The Great War.

Early Timeline for RAN

  • The RAN becomes a reality as a fighting unit in October 1913 when the Fleet, comprising HMAS Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra, enters Sydney Harbour for the first time.
  • With the outbreak of war, Australian ships counter the threat posed by von Spee’s German East Asiatic Cruiser Squadron, which will depart the region leaving just SMS Emden to harass commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean.
  • The RAN takes part in Australia’s first ever battle as a sovereign nation – the Battle of Bita Paka on the island of New Britain. Part of the invasion and subsequent occupation of German New Guinea, it targets a strategically important radio station.
  • Able Seaman William Williams from Melbourne becomes Australia’s first fatality of World War I during the 11 September 1914 attack.
  • Australia’s first naval loss of the War occurs on 15 September 1914 with the disappearance of submarine AE1 with all hands while on patrol near East New Britain.
  • The first ANZAC convoy departs for Europe from Albany, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.
  • The light cruiser HMAS Sydney breaks away from the convoy to engage the German raider Emden off Cocos Island on 9 November 1914 – resulting in the first sea victory of the First World War and Australia’s first naval victory.

100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy 1oz Silver Proof Coin and Badge Set

Issued in celebration of the RAN’s centenary in 2011, this limited coin and badge set remains available from The Perth Mint.