The Albatross and the Buffalo: 9 & 12 Squadrons of the RAAF

by Matthew Dahlitz

  • $164,416

    Funding Goal
  • $87,628

    Funds Raised
  • 467

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, Australia

Matthew Dahlitz

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Campaign Story

The Albatross And The Buffalo

The History of 9 and 12 Squadrons of the RAAF


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In A Nutshell

  • We are producing a 60 minute documentary about  9 and 12 of the Royal Australian Air Force, covering the last formations of the squadrons from the Vietnam war forward.
  • We aim to capture first-hand accounts from surviving squadron personnel while they are still here to tell their stories.
  • The documentary will leave a lasting story of the legacy of both squadrons and the men and women who served in them.
  • We would like this work to be a part of the centenary celebrations of the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force in 2021


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I grew up around RAAF bases. My father was a helicopter pilot and as a kid, his world seemed larger than life. Stories of Vietnam, visiting the base and being held spellbound by the amazing aircraft, catching rides in the back of a Chinook, even having dad bring a Chinook to my primary school for show-and-tell (I still wonder how he justified that one… public relations maybe?).

All these memories came flooding back when I received some photo albums and boxes of memorabilia my mother had kept stored away. Photos of faces I could recognise, names that rang a bell, images that reminded me of the smell of “avgas” and the woca-woca sound of helicopter rotors. I wanted to know the stories of these men and their machines that was so much a part of my distant past. But I can’t ask my father as I lost him to cancer when I was in my early 20s, not too long after he had retired from the RAAF. This has given me a sense of urgency: What other stories have been lost, and what stories do we still have an opportunity to capture?  A feature length documentary that would honour the legacy of all who served in 9 and 12 squadrons would capture these stories and serve as an enduring reminder for generations to come. This is the motivation to do this documentary.

Both squadrons were operational during World War II, but it was the re-forming of these squadrons from the 60s and 70s that we most are most familiar. No. 9 Squadron was re-formed in 1962 and equipped with Iroquois helicopters, becoming the indispensable airlift service to the Australian Army in Vietnam. After the war the squadron, based at Amberley, continued to provide airlift tot he Australian Army, civilian search and rescue operations, and international peacekeeping operations.

No. 12 Squadron was re-formed at Amberley in 1973 and equipped with 12 Chinook helicopters in 1974. 12 Squadron was the RAAF’s big muscle in helicopter airlift capabilities and supported the Australian Army as well as a host of other duties such  as air-sea rescue, flood relief, and recovery operations.

This is the story of these RAAF helicopter squadrons and the crews who devoted themselves to serving Australia both in war and peace.



Why This Story?


The Iroquois are probably the most iconic piece of military machinery associated with the Vietnam war and for good reason – they were critical in transporting soldiers and supplies as well as providing air cover and medivac. It was a workhorse like no other and aircrews became highly adept at insertion and extraction in jungle locations. The SAS and regular army relied on these men and machines to get them in and out of difficult places exposed to ground fire. Their story needs to be told and recorded while they are still here to tell the story.

The Chinook is a unique helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities that are still required today by the Australian Defense Force. We may have seen RAAF Chinooks operate in the Vietnam war if the Australian Government could have acquired them in the mid-60s but order delays forced the Government decision to purchase more Caribous and expand the fleet of Iroquois. It wasn’t until 1974, in a re-formed 12 Squadron, would Australia have the flexible and heavy-lift capabilities of the Chinook. The squadron performed many military and non-military tasks during it’s time. In 1980 eight Chinooks were flown in formation (the image below is of the crews just after the formation flight) and earlier the same year a Chinook was flown to Malaysia to recover a downed S-61 helicopter – the longest distance a helicopter had flown at the time.

Just as with 9 Squadron we would like to preserve the legacy of this squadron and the men who flew these amazing machines by way of a well produced documentary. Many of these men have passed away, but there still remains an opportunity to record the stories of those who have survived.

Meet the Team

Matthew Dahlitz (Producer/Director)

Matthew is the Producer/Director at Perfekt Studios and happens to be the son of the late Wing Commander John Dahlitz of 12 Squadron. Matthew is highly motivated to use his creative skills as a filmmaker to produce a documentary that will leave an enduring reminder of 9 and 12 Squadrons for generations to come.

Matthew has a diverse background in the arts, business, and social sciences, holding several degrees and having worked as a paramedic, film composer, film producer, commercial developer, consultant, and neuropsychotherapist. His recent work in corporate and brand awareness video and film production in general holds him in good stead for this current project. You can see some of Matthew’s work with Perfekt Studios here.  

Richard Hill (Producer/Narrator)

Richard has been involved in the performing arts for most of his life. His parents were both authors and active in the development of authors rights including the establishment of the Copyright Council. Richard has been a professional writer, actor, singer and performer, starting out in the early soap operas like No 96, Sons and Daughters and A Country Practice. He learnt the ropes of documentary production and development through direct involvement in a number of projects and pilots, including High Adventure produced by Bruce Gyngell and John Collins in the 1980’s. He provided the voice for many professional documentaries and training films as well as radio and TVC, including products like Toyots, Fabulon, Nobby’s Nuts, Underdaks and the Colonial Bank.

In recent years his focus shifted to academic study. He now has 3 masters degrees in Arts, Education and Brain and Mind Sciences. He practices as a psychotherapist and has written several books in the field of human behaviour and performance. His work as a performer and producer has continued with live presentations around the globe and the development of his own Youtube channel on subjects as diverse and as neuroscience, genetics and lifestyle medicine. A return of focus to performance and documentary is welcome and exciting!

Jachin Dahlitz (Cinematographer/Editor)

Jachin is Perfekt Studio’s multi-talented photographer, cinematographer, editor and color grader. Jachin did not get to meet his grandfather, Wing Commander John Dahlitz (shown here at about the same age strapped into a Vampire), but through this project will get to learn about his grandfather’s legacy and the many great men and women who served alongside him.

Jachin has a keen sense for maximising what we call “production value” – those elements that give a film the best aesthetics within the confines of equipment, budget, and location. The ability to capture a great story with the very best visuals, in a timely manner and at a low cost are all valuable skills Jachin brings to the table. His use of light-weight professional gear and nimble techniques during a shoot, means we can get great footage in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional production crews.

Editing is all about rhythm and pace, something that Jachin has an innate sensibility for. Just like music, the rhythm of the editing has an ebb and flow that dances with the picture, music, sound design, and narration. You shouldn’t notice really good editing, but you will notice poor editing and it will distract from the story. This is why we are so fortunate to have Jachin who not only knows how to shoot a good film, but how to edit it seamlessly as well. You can see some of his shooting and editing talent in many of the videos here.




Producing a documentary requires a lot of time and skill – time to research, to get in contact with people, hear their stories, record their stories, weave their stories into a larger narrative that makes sense and is captivating. Bringing each element, great visuals, clear audio, complimentary music, succinct narrative, all together into a complete feature length film is no easy feat. To have the time, skills and equipment required to do an excellent job requires funding.

We estimate that it will take around 18 months to produce this 60 minute documentary and we are keeping the crew as lean as possible without compromising on quality.

  • All up production costs are estimated to be $164,416 (or  $2,740/finished minute of film. Industry estimates for quality feature documentaries range from $2K-$10K+/finished minute).

The filmmakers personal contribution to this project is by way of a 29% reduction of standard rates for pre-production, 58% reduction in standard rates for production and a 34% reduction of standard rates in post-production. This represents a contribution of  $85,758 (48% of production costs).

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I Just Want To Help.

Thank you for your help to make this film possible and to give the world an enduring record of 9 and 12 squadron and some of the stories of the people who served in these squadrons.

6 backers


Early Access

  • - Early private access to the film online.
2 backers


Support Credit.

  • - End credit in the film as a "Supporter".
  • - Early access to the film.
4 backers


Special Thanks Credit

  • - End credit in the film as "Special Thanks".
  • - Early access to the film.
  • - Access to "Directors Cut" extended version of the film.
1 backers


Sponsor Credit

  • -Film credits as "Sponsor".
  • - Early access to the film online.
  • - Access to "Directors Cut" extended version of the film.
0 backers


Associate Producer Credit

  • - Film credits as "Associate Producer".
  • - Monthly online meetings with Producers, Director for updates on the project.
  • - Pre-release private dinner.
  • - Early access to the film online.
  • - Access to "Directors Cut" extended version of the film.
1 backers


Executive Producer Credit

  • - Primary credit in the film as "Executive Producer".
  • - Monthly online meetings with Producers, Director for updates on the project.
  • - Pre-release private dinner.
  • - Early access to the film online.
  • >
  • - Access to "Directors Cut" extended version of the film.
2 backers
  • 18-04-2019

    First Shoot

    Today marks the beginning of our production with a trip to Amberley RAAF base to interview an ex-9SQN gunner about his experiences in Vietnam.

  • 15-05-2019

    Scope Update

    We have decided to limit the scope of the project to a 60 min documentary focusing on the helicopter squadrons of 9 and 12.

    Talks with the Australian War Memorial and the RAAF are going well and very positive.

  • 23-05-2019

    Green Light From RAAF/Defence

    We have the support of RAAF and the Defence Department for this documentary and will be working closely with the Office of Air Force History.

  • 11-06-2019

    9SQN Association

    Caught up with 9SQN Association leaders in Ipswich and we have their backing and confidence in the project. Looking forward to working with them for the length of the project!

  • 15-07-2019

    Adjusted Costings

    With the positive feedback from the Australian War Memorial about licensing fees for footage, the anticipated gathering of footage and photos from air and ground crews, and reducing the length of the documentary to an hour, we have reassessed the costs of production down and the production crew have pitched in some more.

Name Donate Amount Date
12SQN Reunion Members 2019 $300 August 27, 2019
John Flannery $100 August 23, 2019
Lloyd Cutler $20 July 27, 2019
Perfekt Studios $22,928 July 25, 2019
Robert Redman $100 July 25, 2019
Robert Medwell $50 June 22, 2019
Marie Green $1,000 June 18, 2019
Michael Ham $10 May 23, 2019
Christopher Mear $50 May 16, 2019
Nathan Sampson $100 May 15, 2019
Jake Sampson $10 May 15, 2019
Joel Hill $10 May 15, 2019
Susan Davis $10 May 15, 2019
Allan Pickering $100 May 15, 2019
Paul Jackson $10 May 15, 2019
Matthew Dahlitz $62,830 May 15, 2019

2 reviews for The Albatross and the Buffalo: 9 & 12 Squadrons of the RAAF

  1. Jake (verified owner)

    Super excited for this film to come to life! Perfekt studios always produce quality pieces of work and I think this has potential to be their beat piece yet!

  2. Paul

    I’ve worked on a number of projects with Perfekt Studios and am always blown away by the quality of cinematography and production. Their knack for weaving a beautiful visual and vocal story from the real lives of ordinary people and heroes alike, has me looking forward to this significant documentary.

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