Australian Cold War Maritime Air Patrols


Leigh joined the RAAF in 1978 to train as a pilot but was scrubbed after a few months and transitioned to training as an Air Electronics Officer (AEO) at the RAAF School of Air Navigation.

He flew on the P-3C Orion and was employed in operations across the Indo-Pacific region on maritime patrol surveillance operations which included both usual surface surveillance of the region and operations alongside the US against Soviet submarines transiting the area.

He also had the opportunity to track Soviet nuclear missile submarines in the NE Pacific operating with the US Navy.

He details many incidents during his career including an “archaeological” mission, accidentally causing a diplomatic incident, as well as monitoring the splash-down and recovery of re-entry vehicles used to test the heat tiles for the Soviet Buran space shuttle.

I’m delighted to welcome Leigh Collins to our Cold War Conversation.

“Cold War Warriors – RAAF P-3 Ops during the Cold War 68-91” by Ian “Buzz” Pearson is below…

Flickr photo album put together by Leigh Collins.

Other books on RAAF maritime patrol operations in WW2 are:

“Maritime is Number Ten” by Kevin Baff – out of print detailed account of 10 SQN Sunderland ops with Coastal Command. Available second hand online – not cheap! – but it’s in the pipeline to be re-published by RAAF History and Heritage Branch in the next year or two.

Ivan Southall’s  “They Shall Not Pass Unseen” is an account of RAAF 461 SQN Sunderlands in Coastal Command – long out of print but it’s also in the second-hand book market.

RAAF Black Cats by Robert Cleworth and John Linton – a more recent account of RAAF long-range Catalina operations in the South West Pacific, SE Asia during the Pacific war, including 11 SQN which, like 10 SQN has an almost unbroken pedigree from 1939 until the present. 11 SQN now flies P-8A Poseidons while 10 SQN has just paid off its last two EW P-3s and is soon to be equipped with MC-55A Peregrine electronic warfare aircraft.

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Cold War Conversations, Royal Australian Air Force, RAAF, P-3C Orion, Maritime Patrol, Soviet Submarines, Nuclear Missile Submarines, Us Navy, Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean, Soviet Buran Space Shuttle, Air Electronics Officer, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Soviet Naval Activity, Australian Defence Force, Thermonuclear Weapons, Cold War History, Maritime Surveillance, Operation Gateway, Australian Air Cadets, Diplomatic Incident