Wartime RNZAF Trades

The following list comprises the names of the various trades that existsed in the wartime RNZAF. These refer to the trades for male airmen - see the WAAF page for a list of female trades. This list has been compiled from various sources, including contemporary sources such as Contact magazine. Some of the titles are unfamiliar to me, so some trade descriptions are based upon my own assumptions of the trade title, so if you can add to or correct this list I'd appreciate hearing from you. Please email me at


RNZAF Trade Trade Description

Aircrafthand, General Duties

Aircrafthand, Mess

Aircrafthand, Patrolman

Air Gunner


A general Jack-of-all-Trades, who moved about often from section to section, so may work a few weeks or months as a mechanic, then become a driver, then an armourer, etc., going wherever hey're needed most

A trade that I assume woked in various roles in the Mess

A guard who patrolled the stations for security purposes

Turret gunner in aircraft such as Hudson, Ventura, Avenger, Lancaster or Wellington

Worked on weaponry such as bombs and guns


Barrack Warden




A professional member of the RNZAF Band, who raised morale and funds around New Zealand and abroad

They supplied barrack fittings and clean sheets, etc to those living in barracks

Performed various metal-working and forge tasks?

Must have been part of the Aerodrome Construction Squadrons or PWD

Not sure why the RNZAF needed bushmen, maybe to train airmen in survival?





Coppersmith and Metal Worker

Coxswains, 1st and 2nd Class

General woodworkers, probably worked on the wooden structures of aircraft


Performed administrative duties

Worked in the mess preparing food. All had both civilian and RNZAF training

Obviously performed various metal-working tasks


Dental Clerk

Dental Orderly


Drill and Discipline Instructor

Driver, Petrol Mechanic


Kept the station dental records

Assisted the station dentist, who was usually Army

Maintained discipline on the station. The Station Warrant Officer was a Disciplinarian

Taught airmen military drill and life at Initial Training Wing, training schools. etc.

A driver of petrol driven vehicles

They ensured the mechs had drawings for aircraft maintenance and repair

Electric Welder


Engineer's Assistant

Equipment Assistant

As title states

Worked on electrical equipment - on aircraft or simply around the station?


These were the storemen who handled al the logistics of the RNZAF, purchasing and supplying what was required by each squadron and unit

Fabric Worker

Field Plant Foreman

Field Plant Serviceman

Fitter (works)

Fire Crew

Fitter AE

Fitter Airframe

Fitter Armourer

Fitter, Driver Petrol

Fitter's Mate

Flight Engineer

Flight Mechanic

Flight Rigger

Upholsterer-Taylor, made and repaired all fabric structures required

Looked after ground eqiupment such as generators, pumps, etc. ?

As above

Something to do with Public Works Department?

Firemen who were trained to fight fires after aircraft crashes, etc.

Not sure - some mechanical duty, aircraft electronics?

Worked on the airframe structure on aeroplanes (is this also Fitter AE?)

They armed the aircraft and serviced the weaponry, bomb equipment, etc.

I assume this trade worked on and drove petrol driven vehicles?


Aircrew members who monitored engine temperatures and other guages

Mechanic that ensured the aircraft's engine/s were maintained

Looked after all mechanical equipment on an aircraft except the engine/s

Gas Welder

General Fitter

General Stores Clerk

Grader Driver

Welded using gas welding system

Not sure what this trade did exactly, but must have been mechanical

As title states, doing the paperwork in the Stores I guess

Must have been part of the Aerodrome Construction Squadrons

Heavy Tractor Driver

Hygiene and Sanitation Medical Orderly

Part of the Aerodrome Construction Squadrons, or maybe towed aircraft?

A medic or nurse

Instrument Maker


Instrument Repairer

Made aircraft instruments?

As above?

Worked on the aircraft instruments?

Link Trainer Instructor
These men taught pilots to 'fly' the Link Trainer simulator

Machine Tool Setter & operator

Mechanic (Internal Combustion)

Medical Orderly

Medical Officer

Mess Attendant


Motor Boat Crew

A lathe machinist, ie a Fitter and Turner these days (?)

Worked on petrol and diesel engines (ie Transport vehicles, not aircraft)

Military term for a nurse - also called Medic

Military term for a doctor, known as M.O.

Worked in the mess food halls and kitchens, probably serving food?

Forecast the weather which was vital to pilots and aircrews

Tendered to flying boats and also some sea rescue work

Aircrew member responsible for navigating the aircraft to its destinations
Another name for Navigator, sometimes manned guns on the aircraft too



Parachute Packer


Pay Clerk


Physical Training Instructor



A religious priest or minister, usually the Station Chaplain

Not sure if they painted aircraft, or buildings, etc around the station

Maintained and packed parachutes

A security guard that ensured aircraft and facilities were not sabotaged

Clerks that handled the paying of wages to airmen, etc.

Recording incidents and events for the records using photography

A PTI trained airmen in sport and exercise to maintain fitness

Flew the planes

Ensured the plumbing of buildings around the base was working

Radio Telephone Operator

R.D.F. Mechanic (air and ground)

R.D.F. Operator

Rigger Carpenter

Rigger Metal

Rigger Splicer

Ground trade that kept in touch with aircraft via wireless radio

Serviced Radio Direction Finding equipment, i.e. Radar

Operated the radar systems

I assume these chaps workedon the woodwork of aeroplane

I assume these chaps worked on the metal work of an aircraft

I assume these chaps worked with and maintained ropes

Safety Pilot

Shovel and Ditcher Driver


Service Butcher


Signals Clerk

Signals Instructor

Special Duties, Clerk

Station Electrician

A second pilot on an aircraft, especially during training - not really a trade

Must have been part of the Aerodrome Construction Squadrons

Sawyers cut down trees, does this apply here?

Butchered the meat for the mess. Were all civil qualified and RNZAF trained


Looked after the administrative side of Signals?

Obviously trained members of the Signals trade

There were three types in this trade. I assume it was handling secret documents

Maintained the electrical system on the station

Technical Instructor


Telephone Mechanic

Telephone Operator

Teleprinter Operator

Target Packer and Operator

Transport Driver

Obviously trained technical tradesmen at the Technical Training School (?)

Operated the telegraphy communication system for the RNZAF

Maintained the telephone systems on and between RNZAF stations

Operated the telephone exchange

Operated teleprinters

These people must have orpeated the targets towed by Target Tug aircraft

Drove ground transport, trucks and cars.


Wet Canteen Attendent

Wireless Mechanic

Wireless Electrical Mechanic

Wireless Operator Mech

Wireless Operator

Wireless Operator Air Gunner

Works Foreman

Welded stuff

A barman in a Wet Canteen, i.e. a bar in a Mess. This trade all had NCO rank

I assume they maintained wireless radios

Repaired wireless radios, on the ground and from aircraft


Aircrew member who kept in touch with the ground base via radio methods

A wireless operator who also manned a gun turret when called upon to do so

A foreman with the PWD, or in an Aerodrome Construction Squadrons?

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