The No. 2 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF built the main runway at Butterworth airfield as well as the control tower, fuel storage facilities, hangars, accommodation and other infrastructure.
Butterworth, in northern Malaya near Penang, was leased from the British by the Australian government in order to provide a base for the RAAF component of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve (BCFESR).
Although Butterworth had been used as an airfield during the Second World War, in order to accommodate modern jet aircraft it needed substantial improvements including a new 1.9 kilometre runway, part of which had to be built over swamps and paddy fields.
No. 2 Airfield Construction Squadron began work at Butterworth in late 1955. The squadron's 300 personnel were assisted by 600 Malay, Chinese and Indian labourers. Although the monsoonal environment and the waterlogged terrain meant that conditions were often trying, the airfield was completed by February 1958. And when No 2 Squadron's Canberra bombers arrived in July that year, Butterworth became the RAAF's most forward operational airbase