Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Fiat G.91R3B
No. 21 (City of Melbourne) Squadron, RAAF Williams 1969
Citizen Air Force (reserve) fighter squadron
The Fiat G.91 was selected by the RAAF to fill the role of advanced trainer and lightweight strike fighter in 1959. The main operator was to be the five squadrons of the Citizen’s Air Force (RAAF Reserve) where it replaced the De Havilland Vampire.
The G.91 was selected for ease of production as it followed similar construction methods to the CAC Sabre. It was built by CAC at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne with a total of 88 being produced.
Three models were operated: the R1B (4 x .50 cal machine guns), the R3B ((2 x30mm ADEN cannons) and the G-91T/3 two-seat trainer. Australian production also included minor changes to the avionics and a strengthened landing gear.
The G.91 had been designed with the lessons of WW2 in mind; it was easily serviced and maintained in the field and was capable of using rough airfields close to the frontline. The US Army actually evaluated the G.91 in the early 60’s, but any possible future purchase was vetoed by the USAF who objected to the army’s use of fixed wing aircraft.
When Indonesia’s communist led Sukarno government was able to suppress the Suharto uprising of 1966 (resulting in Suharto’s death) Indonesia became even more closely aligned to the USSR. The employment of Tupolev Tu-95 Bear bombers in Indonesia (able to reach Sydney) sent shockwaves through the region.
To supplement the Mirages, the RAAF’s G.91’s were rapidly wired for the carriage of Sidewinder AAM. Along with their twin 30mm cannon, this made them quite formidable bomber destroyers.