No.5 Airfield Construction Squadron (ACS) was formed in July 1942 and served in New Guinea and Borneo. It was first known as No.1 Mobile Works Squadron but ended the war as No.5 ACS. They were also known as 'The Flying Shovels'.
The role of No.5 ACS was to build and maintain airfields and runways in forward positions. This was usually done at short notice and under threat of attack, making it dangerous but necessary work. No.5 ACS built airfields and runways throughout the South West Pacific, including at Port Moresby, Milne Bay, Aitape and Noemfoor Island.
No.5 ACS was one of the few airfield construction units to continue after the Second World War ended. They would go on to serve in the British Commonwealth occupation of Japan and the Vietnam War. They would also serve throughout Australia, including assisting with Operation Hurricane – the British nuclear weapons tests off the coast of Western Australia. When No.5 ACS was disbanded in 1974 it was the longest-serving airfield construction unit.
Reviewed 14 November 2022