1958 to 1960 –
3SQN RAAF first deployed to Malaysia [then called "Malaya"] in October 1958, in support of Malayan forces and other Commonwealth units in their conflict with the military arm of the Malayan Communist
Party. The squadron flew the C.A.C.-manufactured Sabre, which had been acquired when the Squadron reformed on 1 March 1956 after previous disbandment. Under the command of WGCDR C. G. Thomas D.F.C, the squadron flew via Townsville, Darwin, Biak and Labuan
before arriving in November. It began training for their roles in the strategic reserves, usually involving ground-attack missions on covert junglecovered
communist targets. The campaign was bolstered by Canberra bombers from 2SQN and more
fighters from 77SQN.
Due to the absence of air threats in the conflict, 3SQN became primarily a ground attack squadron, targeting communist guerrilla infrastructure in support of the Malayan and Commonwealth troop presence on the ground. 3SQN carried
out its first operation against communist guerrillas on 13 August 1959. In a joint bombing raid with 77SQN, six Sabres from each squadron took off with 500lb high-explosive bombs underwing, and destroyed three terrorist training camps. Despite perfect coordination
and execution of the attack, the raid did not achieve the objectives hoped for. As one pilot described the target area after the
attack: "...several rubber trees were severely damaged and thousands of monkeys scared fartless."
3SQN and 77SQN conducted
two more offensive strikes against terrorist camps in June 1960, one led by FLTLT Jake Newham. [Later Air Marshal J. W. Newham AC, who served with several fighter squadrons in Korea, Malta, Malaysia and Australia. He commanded 3SQN when it acquired the Mirage
fighter and became Chief of Air Staff prior to his retirement in 1987.]
Another milestone set by 3SQN in 1960 was the first live-fire of an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile by FLTLT V. Oborn.
Despite this conflict being referred to only as an 'Emergency'
and not 'Civil War' (due to bureaucratic motivation), the conditions and fighting on the ground were intense and very much war-like. The Malayan Emergency officially ended in 1960, however tensions in the region remained high, and 3SQN remained at RAAF Butterworth.
It would only be three years before the Squadron’s services would once again be required by the developing Malaysian nation....The Indonesian Confrontation.