Wartime RNZAF Timeline
A Chronology of the RNZAF In World War Two

 

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

 

 
1939
3rd of September 1939


New Zealand declares war on Germany, joining allies Britain, France and Australia. On this day, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Territorial Air Force are mobilised and the reserves are called up. The strength of New Zealand's air capabilities on this day consisted of:

Strength of Personnel

Regular RNZAF: 91 Officers
Civil Reserve of Pilots: 349 Officers, 665 Airmen
Territorial Air Force: 79 Officers, 325 men

Strength of Aircraft

Regular RNZAF -

- 9 Vickers Vildebeeste biplane bombers (obsolete)

•  5 Airspeed Oxford monoplane modern twin-engined trainers

•  3 Avro 626 biplane trainers (obsolete)

•  36 Fairey Gordon biplane trainers (20 of which are under assembly at RNZAF Station Hobsonville) (obsolete)

•  1 Airspeed Oxford survey aircraft

Territorial Air Force

•  24 Blackburn Baffin biplanes (16 in Wellington and 8 in Christchurch) (obsolete)

•  15 Vickers Vincent bombers (obsolete)

 

9th of September 1939

 

Work began on this day by the Public Works Department to construct an RNZAF station at Bell Block aerodrome, near New Plymouth. The construction was completed and the station handed over to the RNZAF in just weeks, the station opened in mid-October

 

11th of September 1939

 

A call was made for RNZAF volunteers to serve for the war's duration. The Government wanted air crew who were aged between 17½ and 28 years old, and ground staff aged between 18 and 35 years old.

 

12th of September 1939

 

Between this date and the 8th of November 1939, 22 De Havilland DH60 Moths, 24 De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moths and 20 other miscellaneous light aircraft are impressed into RNZAF service from aero clubs and private ownership.

The 22 Moths included DH60G, DH60M Metal Moth and DH Moth Major models (the latter resembling DH82A Tiger Moths but with the straight wing of the DH60 Moth).

The miscellaneous aircraft included:
DH80A Puss Moth NZ590 (Formerly 2125 with the New Zealand Permanent Air Force, and impressed from the Southland Aero Club)
DH80A Puss Moth NZ582 (impressed from the Waikato Aeroclub, formerly ZK-ACB)

 

17th of September 1939

 

Between this date and the 10th of November 1939, ten airliners are impressed for military service from Union Airways and Cook Strait Airways. These included De Havilland DH86 Express four engined biplanes, and the similar but smaller De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide twin engined biplanes.

 

18th of September 1939

 

Ohakea opened officially as an operational RNZAF Station. Its main function was to train observers and air-gunners, but for the first few weeks of its existence it acted also as a Recruit Training Depot


20th of September 1939

 

The first course of new recruits for the RNZAF arrived at RNZAF Ohakea to begin training as airmen. They would undergo a month's training in drill and Air Force discipline before they were posted to other stations. This was the RNZAF's first Initial Training Wing establishment of the war


26th of September 1939

 

The British Government proposes the formation of an Empire Air Training Scheme. They asked the countries of New Zealand, Australia and Canada to contribute. Up till the outbreak of war, the Royal New Zealand Air Force had already sent 81 trained pilots to the RAF for short service commissions in Britain, and an additional 267 selected candidates from New Zealand had been taken on for training directly in RAF schools. This new scheme would see New Zealand training pilots to send to Britain.


29th of September 1939

 

The first aircraft landing was made by a Miles Whitney Straight ZK-AFH on the newly built RNZAF Station Ohakea's runway.


2nd of October 1939


The first Government impression of civilian-owned aircraft into the RNZAF took place


7th of October 1939

 

The Royal New Zealand Air Force ensign was approved for use


16th of October 1939

 

No 1 Elementary Flying Training School was formed at RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin


20th of October 1939

 

The first course of airmen pilots, observers, and air-gunners to pass through the newly opened RNZAF Station Levin's Initial Training School began on the 20th of October 1939


9th of November 1939

 

The RNZAF commandeered the aircraft of Cook Strait Airways, after the airline made its last flight on this day


20th of November 1939

 

The first Air Gunners course began at RNZAF Station Ohakea, the trainees drawn from men who had recently finished their initial entry training on the same station.

 

29th of November 1939


A steel-framed hangar that was under construction at Harewood, where a new RNZAF Station was being established, collapsed. The Minister for Public Works, the Non. Robert Semple, stated the wrecked hangar structure would be dismantled, reused and rebuilt.


7th of December 1939

 

No. 2 Flying Training School was formed at the newly opened RNZAF Station Woodbourne under Squadron Leader Nicholl as the Chief Flying Instructor


28th of December 1939

 

The first course arrived at No. 2 FTS, Woodbourne to begin training. It consisted of 18 airmen

 

December 1939

 

At a conference in Canada, New Zealand agrees to the proposed Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) and pledges to fully train 880 pilots per annum, with an additional 520 pilots per year being trained here to an elementary level, who would then complete their training in Canada. Furthermore, the RNZAF would provide initial training for 546 observers and 936 pilots, with this output to be reached by January 1941.

To meet these numbers, New Zealand was allotted aircraft from the existing production orders of aircraft that were to go to the RAF from British and American manufacturers, and the RNZAF was to receive:

- 90 De Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth biplane Ab Initio trainers

- 67 North American Harvard modern monoplane advanced trainers

- 140 Airspeed Oxford twin-engined monoplane trainers

During these latter months of 1939 the RNZAF establishes several new units, including:

- No 1 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin

- No 2 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Bell Block, New Plymouth

- No 1 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Wigram

- No 2 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Woodbourne, Blenheim

The Flying Instructors School at RNZAF Station Hobsonville

The Initial Training School at RNZAF Station Levin

All of these new units were functioning by December 1939. There are three operational General Reconnaissance (GR) squadrons in the RNZAF, flying the obsolete Vincent and Vildebeeste bombers. They are No 1 (GR) Sqn operating in the Auckland district, No 2 Sqn in the Wellington area and No 3 Sqn in Canterbury.

 

19th of December 1939

 

Blackburn Baffin NZ153 crashed into the sea two miles off Island Bay in Wellington whilst attempting to cross Cook Straight. The pilot, Pilot Officer Stan White was unhurt and didn't even get wet. He was rescued by a fishing boat, but the aircraft was destroyed in the attempt to salvage it. See fuller story here


1940

15th of February 1940

 

The New Zealand General Reconnaissance Squadron was formed officially at the new RNZAF Station Whenuapai. It's Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader Geoffrey Roberts, who also became the new station's first Station Commander at the same time. Over the next few weeks the remnants of the three Territorial Squadrons were merged at Hobsonville to form the new NZGR Squadron. See 1st of March 1940.


1st of March 1940

 

The New Zealand General Reconnaissance Squadron became operational from Whenuapai. The NZGR Sqn moved from Hobsonville where they'd formed over to Whenuapai on this day. The station was still under construction and the three ex-Territorial General Reconnaissance squadrons had been physically merged into one large unit at RNZAF Station Hobsonville in February. On this day, the 1st of March 1940, Sqn Ldr Roberts and his Adjutant F/O J.H. Grace reported to to Whenuapai to form the squadron's HQ, and their aircraft had moved onto the new station.

The New Zealand General Reconnaissance Squadron's main function is to cover and protect shipping in the Auckland harbour area. All 20 Blackburn Baffins that remained in RNZAF service had been sent to RNZAF Base Hobsonville to equip the squadron. This was now the only operational squadron in New Zealand at that time. By late 1940 the Baffins were removed to storage and Vickers Vincents with much better range had replaced them in the NZGR Sqn

New Zealanders in the RAF are included in the ten bomber squadrons of the Advanced Air Striking Force transferred to France on this day, with the intention of bombing industrial targets on the Ruhr should Germany bomb Britain


20th of March 1940

 

The station strength of personnel at RNZAF Station Whenuapai was 220. (27 officers and 193 airmen)


27th of March 1940

 

Prime Minister of New Zealand, Michael Joseph Savage, died after a battle with cancer

New Zealand airmen took part in the first RAF raid on Hamburg


April 1940

 

The first of a batch of 146 Airspeed Oxfords that had been ordered in May 1939 began to arrive. 140 of these had been purchased by the British Government under the Empire Air Training Scheme so the RNZAF could equip the new No 1, No 2 and No 3 Flying Training Schools (each with 42 Oxfords on strength)

 

1st of April 1940

 

Peter Fraser becomes Prime Minister of New Zealand


4th of April 1940

 

Following British Air Ministry instructions, the New Zealand Squadron at RAF Feltwell was redsignated as No. 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF.

The New Zealand Squadron had formed at RAF Marham on the 1st of June 1939, as a temporary unit initially with two Flights. The squadron's members were made up of pilots, aircrew members and ground staff who were RNZAF personnel sent to Britain and also from New Zealanders who had been serving with the RAF. The reason for forming this squadron was to train up aircrews of what would eventually be five Flights (six aircrews each) to ferry the RNZAF's new Vickers Wellington bombers home from Britain to New Zealand. However with war looming, in August 1939 the New Zealand Government sold the 30 bombers back to Britain and offered the men of the squadron to the RAF to serve in the event of war. When war began they continued to train and prepare for war. The New Zealand Squadron moved to RAF Harwell on the 28th of September 1939, and then to RAF Stradishall on the 16th of January 1940. Finally they moved to RAF Feltwell on the 16th of February 1940. By the 1st of April 1940 the crews were almost fully trained and the squadron had been supplemented with more crews and grouncrew from the RAF to bring the unit up to full strength. So they were given a new Royal Air Force squadron number before going operational, but they also were given the honour of becoming the first foreign squadron in the RAF and were allowed the special privilege of adding the term New Zealand or NZ into their squadron number, as No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF.


19th of June 1940

 

The RMS Niagara was sunk by German-laid mines near Auckland. It had left the Port of Auckland carrying among its cargo a huge load of gold bullion. The NZGR Sqn was scrambled. Pilot Officer Maurie Pirie and AC1 Alf Lawry took off in Baffin NZ161 to search for the culprit raider that had put the mines out. The range of the Baffins was insufficient for a proper sea search, and the German raider was never sighted. The New Zealand Government began to regret that they had willingly handed over its 30 ordered Vickers Wellington bombers to the RAF on the 26th of August 1939


June 1940

 

DH80A Puss Moth ZK-ACX was impressed into RNZAF service as NZ593


18th of July 1940

 

The first New Zealand-made De Havilland Tiger Moth, built at Rongotai, was delivered to the RNZAF


23rd of August 1940

 

Aircraft of the RNZAF are ordered into the air to patrol the approaches of Auckland, North Cape, Western Cook Strait, Stewart Island and Hokitika, staying seaward by 70 miles, following the sinking of the merchant ship SS Turakina three days earlier in the Tasman Sea by the German raider Orion. The raider was not spotted by the RNZAF


24th of August 1940

 

Following the unsuccessful search for the German raider Orion the previous day, the RNZAF concentrates its search on the eastern approaches to Cook Strait. Again the ship is not spotted


26th of August 1940

 

No 3 Elementary Flying Training School is formed at RNZAF Station Harewood, Christchurch (now Christchurch International Airport) with De Havilland Tiger Moths The first course held by the new school was No 4B


4th of October 1940

 

The following report appeared in the New Zealand Herald on this date:

NEW ZEALAND'S PART

187 CASUALTIES TO DATE

LOCAL AND EMPIRE PLANS

Casualties totaling 187 have been suffered by New Zealanders in the Royal Air Force in Britain since the war began, according to a statement by the Minister of Defence, the Hon. F. Jones, in the House of Representatives to-night. The individual figures quoted by the Minister were:- Killed, 79; missing (believed killed), 23; missing, 49; prisoners, 15; wounded, 21.

The decision to provide additional squadrons in New Zealand was an indication, Mr Jones said, that the country was going to do its job in the event of war coming to these shores, as well as interesting itself in the defence of the British Commonwealth. That expansion would mean additional expenditure and buildings.

3000 Lads Studying

"We want to provide a better protective force for New Zealand," the Minister said, "and we are going to use the Air Force in conjunction with the other forces. We do not want to interfere with personnel for the Empire training scheme."

The high educational standard required for the Air Force previously prevented many men joining, but under the new scheme 3000 lads were attending secondary schools at night or taking the correspondence course for training as pilots, Mr Jones continued.

Local Force 5714

The force in New Zealand to-day totaled 5714, of whom 383 were officers. The men numbered 5331, of whom 727 were technicians and 648 air crew members. Before the war, 402 men were sent from New Zealand to the Royal Air Force, and from the outbreak of war until September 19, 641 had been sent. The figures were: Pilots, 189; observers, 98; air gunners, 179; armourers, 30; wireless operators, 50; fleet air arm, 95. A total of 85 more men would be sent shortly. Including those who had already left, the output by December 31 would be 1465, consisting of 674 pilots, 322 observers and 469 gunners.

1000 Men in England

Mr. W. A. Bodkin (Opposition - Central Otago): Are they all fully trained?

"Yes," replied the Minister, "but they will receive additional training overseas. The figures include some of the observers and airgunners who are going to Canada about the end of this month."


17th of October 1940

 

The NZGR Sqn's last three Baffins NZ151, NZ155 and NZ158 were ferried south from Whenuapai to Ohakea, being taken out of service and retired eventually to Rongotai. They were replaced by Vickers Vincents with three times the range.

 

28th of October 1940

 

No 3 Service Flying Training School formed at Ohakea, flying Airspeed Oxfords and Hawker Hind biplane fighter-trainers. This was the first time the Hind had seen service with the RNZAF


28th of November 1940

 

Following the sinking the previous day of the MV Rangitane, the New Zealand Government makes a plea to the United Kingdom for "a limited number of Hudsons or other suitable aircraft in order to remedy our helplessness." German raiders had become a huge threat to shipping around New Zealand and were causing widespread fear and consternation


November 1940

 

New Zealand's first operational unit outside of this country since 1930 (when a Moth seaplane was deployed to Samoa) was established in Fiji. Unit 20 was set up to provide cover to shipping around Suva, and consisted initially of four De Havilland Rapides and a De Havilland Moth

 

2nd of December 1940


The British Government turned down the request for Hudsons or other reconnaissance bomber-type aircraft made to them on the 28th of November 1940


4th of December 1940

 

The New Zealand Government sends an urgent request to the British Government asking for a ‘limited number of Hudsons' to help alleviate our critical defence problem. The Lockheed Hudson was a modern twin-engined all-metal monoplane with a long range, and capable of a good bomb load. It was designed for maritime work and was seen as perfect for New Zealand's needs.


14th of December 1940

 

The British Government replied to the second request for bombers made on the 4th of December. This time they decided that because the Battle of Libya was won, they could now release "some Hudsons for action against raiders."


23rd of December 1940

 

After completing the training of 183 air observers and 395 air gunners, the Air Gunners and Air Observers School at RNZAF Station Ohakea closed down. It was no longer needed under the EATS

Meanwhile on the same day No 4 Elementary Flying Training School formed at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, flying DH82 Tiger Moths. With the opening of this new school the organisation of New Zealand's contribution to the EATS scheme is complete, and they are on target to meet their annual quota of trained men

 

1941

1st of January 1941

 

No. 1 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron formed at Whenuapai, out of the New Zealand General Reconnaissance Squadron. This became a numbered squadron because on the same day No 2 (GR) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Nelson (now Nelson Airport). The new squadron is equipped with Vickers Vincents and De Havilland DH86 Express airliners converted for maritime patrol work, whilst No. 1 (GR) Squadron continued to patrol with Vickers Vincents and Vildebeests


9th of January 1941

 

New Zealand requested a supply of 36 Lockheed Hudsons "as soon as possible", with a further 24 "plus wastage" for 1942


16th of January 1941

 

The New Zealand Woman's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was officially formed .


March 1941

 

'B' Flight of No. 1 (GR) Squadron moved from Whenuapai up to the newly formed RNZAF Station Waipapakauri to cover the northern approaches of the North Island. they flew Vincents and Vildebeests.


1st of March 1941

 

No 485 (NZ) Squadron RAF was formed at RAF Station Driffield, Yorkshire, flying Supermarine Spitfires


1st of April 1941

 

No 3 (GR) Sqn is formed at RNZAF Station Harewood, flying Blackburn Baffin biplanes. These aircraft have been in storage since their withdrawal from service with the New Zealand General Reconaissance Squadron. The prime objective of the squadron is to patrol and protect shipping in Lyttleton Harbour


Late April 1941

 

A shipment of six Lockheed Hudson modern reconnaissance bombers arrive at RNZAF Station Hobsonville, Auckland, for assembly. These are the first of an eventual total of 96 to be taken on charge with the RNZAF


1st of May 1941

 

A detached flight from No 3 (GR) Sqn is established at RNZAF Station Taeiri, Dunedin (now Dunedin Airport) to cover shipping in Otago Harbour


19th of May 1941

 

The first flight of a Lockheed Hudson was made in New Zealand when NZ2003 was test flown. The first six Hudsons had arrived in Auckland onboard the ships Limerick and Waiotapu in late April-early May, and were undergoing assembly and test flying at RNZAF Station Hobsonville


28th of May 1941

 

The first instructional flight in an RNZAF North American Harvard Mk II was made from RNZAF Station Wigram

On this day, the following amusing tale was filed by reporter Tom Moore "Somewhere in Canada". It was published in the New Zealand Herald on the 7th of June 1941:

MOUSTACHE RAID

AIRMEN IN CANADA

"COMMUNIQUES" IN PRESS

Moustaches and Messerschmitts fall into the same category so far as New Zealand airmen at a Canadian wireless training school are concerned. Both are subjects for elimination in as speedy and efficient manner as the men can devise.

The elimination of moustaches has already been completed in a manner entirely satisfactory to the eliminators, although the same cannot be said for the New Zealanders who fell victim to their companions' "blitz" tactics in a recent offensive carried out against upper-lip targets.

"Official Communique"

There were 10 victims in the purge at the wireless school where New Zealanders developed a dislike for fuzzy upper lips. Now the entire New Zealand contingent goes on parade with smooth faces - although there are 10 members whose sun-tanned cheeks contrast with a narrow strip of lily-white skin immediately below the nose.

An "official communique" from the New Zealand group carried news of the "moustache offensive" to readers of Canadian newspapers. It was based on an eyewitness account given by a member of the "attacking squadron." The "communique" was as follows:-

"Various targets (10) were successfully attacked on the dormitory front last night by the New Zealand squadron of the Commonwealth Air School trainees. The first raid was carried out at about 22.45 hours after a brief reconnaissance had spotted the location of 10 men who had dared to adorn their upper lips with moustaches.

Attacking Squadron In Action

"At 23.15 hours the order was given for the attack on the main front, and for the ensuing hour skirmishes in various section of the barracks marked the successful carrying out of the offensive. Airmen in various stages of undress slipped silently through the night to reach the 10 objectives. Armament consisted of razors, scissors and tweezers.

"On reaching the objectives, the attacking squadron dived into action, took the enemy completely by surprise and completed operations in a manner that reflects great credit on the raiders.

"Strong opposition was encountered on all fronts as the enemy fought strenuously to defend the objectives . However, the defenders were finally overcome, gagged and tied. Except for the snip of scissors, and the scrape of razors there was little sound to indicate that the night's operations were being successfully completed.

"Daylight reconnaissance flights the following morning testified to the effectiveness of the raid. All objectives were reported to have been swept clean. All members of the New Zealand raiding squadron returned to their bases safely."


29th of May 1941

 

Lockheed Hudson NZ2003 became the first of type attached to a squadron, when it was handed over to No 1 (GR) Squadron at RNZAF Station Whenuapai. It was the first of many to join the squadron, and others over the next few months.


7th of June 1941

 

'A' Flight of No. 1 (GR) Squadron replaced the same squadron's 'B' Flight at RNZAF Station Waipapakauri, with the latter rotating back south to Whenuapai


12th of July 1941

 

No 1 Aerodrome Construction Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Rongotai in Wellington.


28th of July 1941

 

Two No. 1 (GR) Squadron Vildebeests were scrambled to conduct a three hour search and intercept mission for the Japanese vessel Yamagiku Maru, which was en route from Kobe, Japan to Auckland. This search was deemed necessary because of the Japanese occupation that day if Indo-China. The vessel was not found and it was concluded that it was recalled to Japan.


Late July 1941

 

No 3 (GR) Squadron's Blackburn Baffins are replaced with Vickers Vincents


6th of August 1941

 

Squadron Leader Geoffrey Roberts relinquished command of No. 1 (GR) Squadron to become Officer Commanding the Detached Flight in Fiji. He was replaced as CO at No. 1 Sqn. by one of the flight commanders, Acting Squadron Leader G.H. Fisher of Auckland.


12th August 1941

 

No 489 (NZ) Squadron was formed at RAF Leuchars, Scotland, flying Handley Page Hampden bombers


2nd of September 1941

 

At the request of the British Government, No 488 (NZ) fighter squadron is formed at RNZAF Station Rongotai. The men are shipped to Singapore during October 1941 to join in the defence of the British base there.

An Aerodrome Construction Squadron which was raised from men of the Public Works department in July go with the fighter squadron to Singapore


15th of September 1941

 

The New Zealand Air Training Corps was formed officially


28th of September 1941

 

No 488 (NZ) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Rongotai (may have been 2nd of September?)


September 1941

 

Six Vickers Vincents are sent to Fiji to join ‘Unit 20', which with the additional aircraft is now renamed No 4 (GR) Squadron

During mid-September 1941, pilots Squadron Leader Eric M. Lewis, Squadron Leader Donald W. Baird, Flight Lieutenant Robert H.M. Hickson and Flying Officer J.W. Winefield arrived at Seletar in Singapore. They were there to undergo conversion training with No. 205 Squadron, RAF, onto the Short Singapore four-engined biplane flying boats. With them were eight airmen of the RNZAF, and more were to arrive for training later in the month. The pilots had already converted at RNZAF Station Hobsonville to the Supermarine Walrus, and were now stepping up to convert to the Singapore in preparation for the long ferry flight of four Singapores to Fiji. With 205 Sqn retiring its fleet of Singapores, having replaced them with the Consolidated Catalina, four examples were being transferred to the RNZAF for Pacific patrols from Fiji.


September and October 1941

 

30 additional Hudsons arrive and are assembled and used to re-equip No's 1 and 2 (GR) Squadrons


1st of October 1941

 

Squadron Leader Donald Baird assumed control of the RNZAF flying boat personnel at RAF Seletar in Singapore, where conversion training was being undertaken onto the Short Singapore flying boat.


14th of October 1941

 

Short Singapores K6912, K6916, K6917 and K6918 (which were all built between May and July 1936) were officially transferred from the books of No. 205 Squadron, RAF, to the ownership of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.


16th of October 1941

 

Short Singapore K6916 flown by Flying Officer Winefield and crew lifted off from RAF Seletar to begin the ferry flight to Fiji. The route taken was via Batavia (Java), Surabaya (also in Java), Bima (Sumbawa), Koepang (Timor), Darwin (Australia), Groote Eylandt (NT, Australia), Thursday Island (NT, Australia), Port Moresby (New Guinea), Samarai (New Guinea), Gizo (Solomon Islands), Tulagi (Solomon Islands)' Vanikoa (Santa Crux Island) and Lautoke (Fiji) before touching down in the harbour at Suva, Fiji.

Shortly afterwards K6917 took off flown by Flight Lieutenant Hickson and crew, taking the same route.


18th of October 1941

 

No. 1 (GR) Squadron's Waipapakauri Detachment set a new record on this day when their 'B' Flight mascot, a large white dog with spots named Percy, became the first dog to do a loop in an aircraft in Northland. Percy, also known as 'Old Currant Bun' was a regular flyer in the squadron's aircraft, and on this day when he looped he was flying with Pilot Officer R.F. Hoyle. He even signed his paw-print on the Form AF20 alongside details of his 'Familiarization Flight'


9th of November 1941

 

The water landing area at the partly constructed RNZAF flying boat station at Lauthala Bay near Suva, Fiji, was used for the first time when the Pan American airways Clipper "Pacific" touched down, inaugurating Fiji's first international air mail flight. As the facilities at Lauthala Bay were not yet operational, temporary moorings had been set up for flying boats at nearby Prices Landing, Suva


14th of November 1941

 

RNZAF Station Lauthala Bay's second international flying boat visitor arrived on this day in the form of the TEAL Empire Flying Boat ZK-AMC Awarua, arriving from Auckland, New Zealand with an official party, including the Minister of Defence, the Hon. Fred Jones, to inspect the station being built there.

The same day the RNZAF's first Short Singapore flying boat K6916 arrived in Fiji following its long ferry from Singapore.


18th of November 1941

 

The second Short Singapore, K6917, arrived in Fiji from Singapore for the RNZAF. The two aircraft and their crews formed on that day into No 5 (GR) Squadron, RNZAF. The two flying boats were soon to go into service in an anti- submarine role on the look out for German raiders and other suspect craft, though this was not to start for a few weeks after arrival until they had been fitted with guns and given a thorough maintenance check following the ferry flight. During these checks K6916 was given the squadron codes OT-B and K6917 became OT-C.

The squadron was under the command of Squadron Leader Eric M. Lewis, and at this time had three other pilots - Flight Lieutenant Robert Hickson, Flight Lieutenant Bill Craig and Flying Officer J.W. Winefield. Also with the new squadron was Pilot Officer T.E.M. Hull, and RAF Technical Officer, and 24 airmen.


November 1941

 

All the remaining Blackburn Baffins in service are reduced to scrap at RNZAF Station Rongotai during this month


8th of December 1941

 

On this day (New Zealand Time) Japan enters the war abruptly with surprise simultaneous attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and several British and Commonwealth strongholds throughout the Pacific. New Zealand declares war with Japan, and is suddenly under a much more direct threat of attack or invasion.

The RNZAF at this point has grown substantially and now has a strength thus:

Personnel

Approximately 17,000 RNZAF Personnel (1582 Officers, 15,062 men and 1269 women)

- 10, 577 of these personnel were stationed within New Zealand

- 1128 were in Canada attached to the RCAF under the EATS

- 3615 were attached to the Royal Air Force

- 593 were serving in the Pacific (mainly in Fiji)

Aircraft

The RNZAF had 641 aircraft on strength on the 8th of Dec 1941

These included:

- 36 Lockheed Hudsons

- 48 Vickers Vincents

- 26 Vickers Vildebeests

- 2 Short Singapore III Flying Boats

- 46 Hawker Hinds in training and Army Co-operation roles

- 30 Fairey Gordons in training roles

- 62 North American Harvard II trainers

- 143 Airspeed Oxford I and II trainers

- 221 De Havilland DH82A trainers

There were still only five operational squadrons in the RNZAF, three in New Zealand and two in Fiji

The two RNZAF Short Singapores that were still at Seletar awaiting their ferry flight to Fiji made uneventful operational patrols in search of Japanese forces


9th of December 1941

 

Five Hudsons were sent to Fiji to reinforce No 4 (GR) Sqn. Only four arrived however, the fifth being forced to turn back to NZ


10th of December 1941

 

The two RNZAF Short Singapores that were still at Seletar awaiting their ferry flight to Fiji gave reconnaissance support to Force Z, which was made up of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales. They had returned to base before the two ships were attacked by Japanese forces and sunk later in the day.


15th of December 1941

 

Upon setting out for No. 5 Squadron's first operational mission from Fiji, on a trip scheduled to take K6916/OT-B to Nandi and scout out possible proposed radar sites, a creeping elevator trim meant the aircraft could not become airborne, and it ran aground on a mud bank. The hull was severely damaged, and despite attempts to repair the aircraft, it was too much for local resources to accomplish, and the plane was later written off the books in July 1942.


19th of December 1941

 

90 airmen arrived in Fiji to join the new No. 5 (GR) Squadron, RNZAF, greatly boosting the personnel level of the squadron. At this time they now only had one operational flying boat in Fiji.


21st of December 1941

 

No. 1 (GR) Squadron suffered its first fatality when Flying Officer E.F. (Rowdy) Holdaway crashed Hudson NZ2020 near Muriwai, Auckland. Also killed were the two crew members, Sgt G.E. Eathorne, and Sgt E. Eldershaw


22nd of December 1941

 

The Governor General of New Zealand, Sir Cyril Newell, issued a prohibition on all civilian flying except scheduled airline services. This ban continued till the 24th of December 1945


24th of December 1941

 

The two remaining Short Singapore III flying boats, K6912 (becoming OT-A) and K6918 (becoming OT-D) arrived in Fiji to join No 5 (GR) Squadron.


26th of December 1941

 

14 more airmen arrived in Fiji for No. 5 (GR) Squadron, bringing the squadron manning up to near full strength.


29th of December 1941

 

Five more Hudsons are flown to Fiji to join No 4 Sqn, making their compliment of the bombers a total of nine


1942

6th of January 1942

 

No 5 (GR) Squadron made its first operational patrol when K6912/OT-A flew an anti-submarine patrol, under the command of Flt Lt MacGregor, Plt Off Scott and four crew, Such patrols continued from this time almost daily, and from the 30th of January standing patrols began on set routes around the Fijian Islands and their approaches


12th of January 1942

 

The newly-promoted Squadron Leader Bill Craig became Commanding Officer of No. 5 (GR) Squadron


23rd of January 1942

 

Japanese Forces captured the New Britain port town of Rabaul, which would become one of their most important Pacific bases, and the site of many RNZAF aerial battles throughout the rest of the war


February 1942

 

FAFAI (Forces Available For Anti-Invasion) Squadrons are organised within all RNZAF Flying Training Schools in New Zealand, utilising existing aircraft and staff. This meant that emergency squadrons were formed from the instructors at the flying schools, who in the event of invasion would be called on to fly in combat against invading forces in their school's aircraft (Tiger Moths, Harvards, Oxfords and other types fitted with bomb racks and guns). Thankfully this desperate scheme was never needed to be used


10th -11th of February 1942

 

Six Hudson bombers from No 2 (GR) Squadron are flown to Fiji from Nelson due to a perceived threat of Japanese attack on the island nation


14th of February 1942

 

Squadron Leader Robert Hickson became Commanding Officer of No. 5 (GR) Squadron


17th of February 1942

 

On this day the RNZAF had the following numbers of aircraft on strength:

In New Zealand
Operational - Four General Squadrons and an Army Co-operative Squadron
No 1 (GR) Squadron with 12 Lockheed Hudsons at RNZAF Station Whenuapai
No 2 (GR) Squadron with 11 Lockheed Hudsons and six Airspeed Oxfords at RNZAF Nelson
No 3 (GR) Squadron with 15 Vickers Vincents at RNZAF Station Harewood
No 6 (AC) Squadron with 21 Hawker Hinds at RNZAF Station Palmerston North
No 7 (GR) Squadron with 18 Vickers Vincents at RNZAF Station Waipapakauri
(most of the bomber squadrons also operated various numbers of Oxfords)
Training - spread throughout the various training schools there were a total of:
81 Airspeed Oxfords
54 North American Harvards
108 De Havilland Tiger Moths
16 Vickers Vincents
15 Fairey Gordons

In Fiji
Operational - Two General Reconnaissance Squadrons
No 4 (GR) Squadron flying 9 Lockheed Hudsons at Nandi, Fiji
No 5 (GR) Sqn with 3 Short Singapores and 6 Vickers Vincents in Fiji


18th of February 1942

 

No 7 (GR) Squadron is formed at RNZAF Station Waipapakauri, formed from an expansion of the existing No. 1 (GR) Squadron Detached Flight there


7th of March 1942

 

By this date a major reshuffle of training units within the RNZAF had been completed. RNZAF Station Woodbourne was now responsible for all advanced single-engine pilot training, and one-third of all multi-engine pilot training.

RNZAF Station Wigram makes up the other two-thirds of the multi-engine pilot Training. Ohakea and Whenuapai close their training schools, with Whenuapai becoming a purely operational base, and Ohakea and also RNZAF Station Levin forming both Fighter and Bomber Operational Training Units (OTU's) .

The three remaining EFTS's at Taeiri, Harewood and New Plymouth are all enlarged. No 6 Army Co-Operation Squadron forms at Milson with Hawker Hinds, and a detached flight of Vildebeests from No 1 Sqn that has been based up north at Waipapakauri is now redesignated as No 7 (GR) Squadron. Meanwhile No 3 Squadron, which was still flying Vincents, transferred from Harewood to Whenuapai

Also on this day No 486 (NZ) Sqn RAF was formed


9th of March 1942

 

No 3 (GR) Squadron moved north from Harewood to Whenuapai, their aircraft (12 Vincents and a Vildebeest) starting the journey northwards on this day. The groundstaff travelled by boat, leaving three days earlier with their CO Sqn Ldr Monckton from Lyttleton on the 6th of March

 

April 1942

 

No 8 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron forms at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, flying the former 3GR Squadron Vickers Vincents and Vildebeest. They later dploy to their new station at Darton Field, Gisborne where their task is to patrol the east coast and eastern approaches to New Zealand


5th of April 1942

 

Squadron Leader Richard MacGill became Commanding Officer of No. 5 (GR) Squadron


25th of April 1942

 

No 14 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Masterton, from the remnants of the battle-depleted 488 (NZ) Squadron, RAF who had been defeated in Singapore and Malaya. No 14 Sqn were equipped with P40E Kittyhawk fighters and Harvard trainers


26th of April 1942

 

Flying Officer Eddie Brooke-Taylor and his crew of No. 1 (GR) Squadron flew a special mission in Lockheed Hudson NZ2022 to produce aerial photos of Norfolk Island. They were probably the only aerial photos of the island ever taken before the aerodrome was constructed - which was the reason for the aerial survey of the island. The aircraft used overload tanks to fly from Whenuapai to Nandi to Norfolk and back (as there was no landing strip on Norfolk of course then)


27th of May 1942

 

The Governor-General of New Zealand made an inspection of No. 5 (GR) Squadron at Prices Landing, Suva, Fiji


1st of June 1942

 

No 15 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, flying P40E Kittyhawks


24th of June 1942

 

No. 5 (GR) Squadron was redesignated No. 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron when the three Short Singapore flying boats operating from Prices Landing, Fiji, were joined by nine land-based Vickers Vincents formerly of No. 4 (GR) Squadron. Four Vincents were based in Tonga and five at Nausori, Fiji, where they carried our both army co-operation work and general reconnaissance inshore maritime patrols. The squadron's headquarters moved to Nausori


25th of June 1942

 

No 3 (GR) Squadron at Whenuapai re-equipped with Lockheed Hudsons

Also on this day No 488 (NZ) Sqn RAF was reformed in England, now flying Bristol Beaufighters


June 1942

 

DH80A Puss Moth ZK-ABG was impressed into RNZAF service as NZ594


June 1942

 

By the end of this month the RNZAF have the following numbers of operational aircraft:

In New Zealand
Operational - Four General Squadrons and an Army Co-operative Squadron
No 1 (GR) Squadron with 15 Lockheed Hudsons at RNZAF Station Whenuapai
No 2 (GR) Squadron with 18 Lockheed Hudsons at RNZAF Station Nelson
No 3 (GR) Squadron with 12 Lockheed Hudsons at RNZAF Station Whenuapai
No 6 (AC) Squadron with 18 Hawker Hinds at RNZAF Station Palmerston North
No 7 (GR) Squadron with 19 Vickers Vincents at RNZAF Station Waipapakauri
No 8 (GR) Squadron with 16 Vickers Vincents at RNZAF Station Gisborne

In Fiji
Operational - Two General Reconnaissance Squadrons
No 4 (GR) Squadron flying 14 Lockheed Hudsons at Nandi, Fiji
No 5 (GR) Sqn with 3 Short Singapores and 9 Vickers Vincents in Fiji


1st of July 1942

 

No 16 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Woodbourne, flying P40E Kittyhawks


10th of July 1942

 

Short Singapore K6912/OT-A of No. 5 (AC) Squadron, based at Prices Landing, in Fiji, made an attack on a rapidly submerging submarine whilst escorting the Thomas Jefferson out of Suva. A single 250lb (113kg) bomb was dropped on the submarine, and as it was seen to go down vertically it was claimed as damaged. The pilot was Flt Lt MacGregor


23rd of July 1942

 

No 9 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed in New Caledonia, flying Lockheed Hudsons


25th of July 1942

 

No.4 (GR) Squadron Hudson NZ2028 disappeared whilst on a flight from Fiji to Tonga. One of the passengers was General O.H. Mead, former commander of all forces in Fiji and Tonga. A No. 5 (AC) Squadron Short Singapore flying boat was dispatched to search for survivors but despite of an intensive search, no trace was found of the Hudson and its crew


Late July 1942

 

The first ten of a batch of 14 Avro Anson light bomber/trainers arrived in New Zealand by sea. The other four arrived soon afterwards and all 14 were on strength with the School of General Reconaissance at RNZAF Station Omaka by September 1942


August 1942

 

No 20 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron was formed at RNZF Station Onerahi, just south of Whangarei with Hawker Hind aircraft, under the command of acting Wing Commander J.G. Fraser RAF. This squadron's duties was to work with army units in their training.


15th of August 1942

 

No 487 (NZ) Squadron RAF was formed flying Lockheed Ventura coastal patrol bombers

Also on this day the Pathfinder Force was formed within Bomber Command, and involved many RNZAF personnel


13th of September 1942

 

No. 5 (AC) Squadron's flying boats moved into their new permanent home at RNZAF Station Lauthala Bay, which had been completed. Previously they had temporarily been moored at nearby Prices Landing, Suva


8th of October 1942

 

The WAAF was officially incorporated into the regular RNZAF


10th of October 1942

 

No 17 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Ohakea, flying P40E Kittyhawks


October 1942

 

No 15 (F) Squadron became the first RNZAF fighter squadron to move into the forward Pacific area, when they went to Tonga and took over 23 ex-USAAF P40E and P40K Kittyhawks

Statistics for this month show that the RNZAF had the following numbers of personnel:

Overseas (including casualties) 8,341
In New Zealand (including casualties) 15,097
Women's Auxiliary Air Force 2,788
Air Defence Units and Works Units 2,946

Total RNZAF Personnel for October 1942 = 29,172

 

27th of November 1942


Flight Lieutenant MacGregor made No. 5 (AC) Squadron's last operational flight in a Short Singapore. The two remaining flying boats were then beached awaiting disposal due to serviceability problems. The squadron came under the command of Flt Lt Gordon MacKenzie, continuing to fly sporadic patrols with its remaining Vickers Vincents from Nausori, NZ307, NZ338, NZ348, NZ355 and NZ358. The serviceability of the Vincents was also becoming a problem and only seven patrols were managed during December 1942

 

1943
22nd of January 1943

 

No. 5 (AC) Squadron based in Fiji was formally disbanded. Three Vickers Vincents and two crews were transferred to No. 4 (GR) Squadron, also in Fiji, and the remaining flyable aircraft and personnel were returned to New Zealand


February 1943

 

The planned No. 6 (FB) Squadron's arrival in Fiji with its Consolidated Catalinas was delayed, so the two beached Short Singapores were re-deployed in the Singapore Flying-Boat Flight formed at Lauthala Bay under Sqn Ldr MacGregor.


2nd of March 1943

 

The Singapore Flying-Boat Flight began operational flights. Over the next six weeks 22 individual patrols were flown by the Flight's two Singapores, the final flight being the 16th of April 1943. Mechanical problems and a shortage of spare parts forced their withdrawal from use again thereafter


28th of March 1943

 

No 490 (NZ) Squadron, RAF was formed at Jui, West Africa, flying Consolidated Catalina flying boats


16th of April 1943

 

The Singapore Flying-Boat Flight made its last operational patrol in Short Singapore K6912 from Lauthala Bay, Fiji. Following the last flight, the two Singapore remaining aircraft were filled with concrete, towed out into Lauthala Bay and scuttled. They had been forced to retire due to a lack of spare parts and poor maintenance. Ironically a week after the two last operational Singapores in the world were scuttled, a boat docked in Fiji from Britain filled with much-needed spare parts for the type


26th of April 1943

 

No 15 (Fighter) Squadron began the RNZAF's first ever P40 Kittyhawk operational mission, flying from their base at Guadalcanal


25th of May 1943

 

No 6 (Maritime) Squadron was formed, flying Consolidated Catalina flying boats. Crews from the Singapore Flying-Boat Flight were transferred to the new squadron


1st of June 1943

 

No 40 (Transport) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, flying C47 Dakotas


4th of June 1943

 

No 30 (Dive Bomber) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Gisborne, flying Grumman TBF-1C Avenger torpedo/dive bombers


5th of June 1943

 

No 18 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Ohakea, flying P40E Kittyhawks


31st of July 1943

 

No 25 (Dive Bomber) Squadron was formed at Seagrove, Karaka, south of Auckland. The squadron was to use a new type for the RNZAF, Douglas Dauntless dive bombers.


August 1943

 

Statistics or this month show that the RNZAF had 39,908 personnel of all types


June - 8th of September 1943

 

Nine further Avro Ansons arrived in three batches over these months. They joined the existing 14 examples, which were now based at RNZAF Station Bell Block, New Plymouth. With their addition to the existing school, the School of General Reconaissance expanded to be renamed the School of Navigation and Reconaissance


1st of September 1943

 

No. 10 Bomber Maintenance Unit, or No. 10 BMU, (later renamed No. 10 Servicing Unit, or No. 10 SU) was formed at RNZAF Station Whenuapai from the ground staff of No. 1 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron


October 1943

 

No. 25 Servicing Unit was formed at RNZAF Station Seagrove, made up from servicing personnel of No. 25 (Dive Bomber) Squadron. No. 25 SU continued to service the Dauntless dive bombers of that squadron, and was broken into three flights - with A Flight and B Flight destined to accompany the squadron into the Pacific while C Flight remained to work up another SBD Dauntless squadron, No. 26 Squadron


5th - 13th of October 1943

 

No. 10 Bomber Maintenance Unit, or No. 10 BMU, (later renamed No. 10 Servicing Unit, or No. 10 SU) moved from RNZAF Station Whenuapai up to Guadalcanal


22nd of November 1943

 

]Here is an official press release from an old newspaper the New Zealand Herald

40 ZEROS OUTFOUGHT

FOUR NEW ZEALANDERS

FIVE ENEMY PLANES DOWN

DAMAGE TO SIX OTHERS
(RNZAF Official News Service)
New Georgia, Nov 22

A highly successful action, in which four New Zealander Warhawks encountered some 40 Japanese Zero fighters, shot down five, damaged at last six and chased the remainder off, all without loss, was fought over Bougainville this morning. It brought that particular squadron's total to 14 confirmed victories and the fighter wing's bag to 62.

Led by Flight-Lieutenant R.H. Balfour, of Waimate, the section was patrolling the island from Empress Augusta Bay at 24,000ft. When about five miles east of Mount Bagana the New Zealanders saw between 35 and 40 Zeroes approaching some 2000ft below. Flight-Lieutenant Balfour maneuvered his team behind the enemy and, with his team behind them, they dived steeply at well over 300 miles an hour.

The leader came up behind the Zeros which comprised a main group and several scattered sub-sections. Two were directly ahead of him and he opened fire at 80 yards. A short burst caused on of the Japanese planes to explode in a sheet of flame, though which the New Zealanders flew as they continued the attack. Two of our pilots attacked the second Zero simultaneously at close range. It began to smoke and went down burning.

Air Filled With Aircraft

The Warhawks closed on the main enemy formation and for ten minutes there was a battle-royal. The air was filled with aircraft diving, climbing, skidding and spinning, with the roar of hard-worked engines and with red flecks of tracer bullets. Keeping their speed high, taking violent evasive action where necessary and working in pairs, the new Zealanders came through this part of the action unscathed and the Japanese took heavy punishment.

Flight-Lieutenant Balfour attacked Zero after Zero. The first two emitted black smoke and then disappeared in the melee. The next was hit heavily in the engine, cockpit and wing. It rolled on its back and spun down.

Time For Humour
Detailed results were impossible to observe in the heat of the action, although there was a time for a second's humour. The Warhawk's control base, many miles away, called Balfour by radio and asked, "have you made contact?" The reply was brief to the point, and caused amusement to all who heard it.

Gradually the battling aircraft lost height, and the fight drifted over toward Cape Torokina. There a solitary Zero was found below the Warhawks and, after several attacks, it was destroyed.

A determined head on attack against Flight-Lieutenant Balfour was made by one Japanese. The enemy was above and ahead. He dived fast firing as he approached. The bullets tore into the New Zealander's motor cowling and he broke downward just in time to avoid collision.

Pilot's Three Attacks
Another New Zealander, flying No 2 to the leader, made three attacks in quick succession upon one of the few of the newer- type Zeros - clipped wing planes in blue instead of the usual brownish-green, but proved just as vulnerable to attack, which was well pressed home. Closing to 50 yards, the New Zealander got a good burst into the enemy's wing root, fuselage and engine. An explosion occurred in the engine and a large piece of metal flew off. Smoke and flame followed.

An Unusual Incident
An unusual incident occurred when a Warhawk pilot attacked a Zero at 10,000ft. He attacked from behind, opened fire at 200 yds. and closed to 50 yds., watching his tracers hit the wing and the fuselage, starting a fire. The Japanese pilot got half-way out of the cockpit, and waved his arms up and down, giving the impression that he was trying to extinguish the fire. A sheet of flame then swept back form the engine, and the aircraft crashed in the jungle.

After sharing a Zero with Flight-Lieutenant Balfour, Flying-Officer C.D.A. Highet, of Wellington, attacked several others before getting his second one confirmed. Although almost out of ammunition, the New Zealanders sighted several Zeros high above and began to climb to attack. The Zeros, instead of facing the threat, turned towards Buka and made off at high speed.

(Source: New Zealand Herald, 9th of December 1943)

 

27th of November 1943

 

RNZAF patrol aircraft reported spotting a Japanese submarine situated 100 miles north of North Cape

 

28th of November 1943

 

RNZAF patrol aircraft spot the Japanese submarine a second time, this time east of Northland

No. 10 Bomber Maintenance Unit, or No. 10 BMU, (later renamed No. 10 Servicing Unit, or No. 10 SU) set up a detachment at Munda


7th of December 1943

 

No 31 (Dive Bomber) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Gisborne, flying Grumman TBF-1C Avenger torpedo/dive bombers

A and B Flights of No. 25 Servicing Unit, previously stationed at RNZAF Seagrove, embarked on the USS Octans for the Pacific where they would continue to service the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers of No. 25 Squadron


10th of December 1943

3

No 19 (Fighter) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Ohakea, flying P40E Kittyhawks


12th of December 1943

 

A and B Flights of No. 25 Servicing Unit arrived at at RNZAF Base Depot, Espiritu Santo


20th of December 1943

 

No 42 (Communications) Squadron was officially formed at RNZAF Station Rongotai, Wellington, using aircraft that had previously been used by the Communications Flight on that station. The aircraft types in the squadron included De Havilland DH89 Dominie and Rapides, and a mix of impressed ex-civil aircraft.


1944
 

 

C Flight of No. 25 Servicing Unit moved by air from RNZAF Seagrove, New Zealand to RNZAF Base Depot, Espiritu Santo during this month to join the rest of 25 SU, following the decision to disband the second RNZAF Dauntless squadron, No. 26 Sqn, which had been working up at Seagrove

In late January the aircrew of No. 25 (Dive Bomber) Squadron also arrived at Santo, and continued their operational training with borrowed SBD-4 Dauntlesses through the next month


25th of January 1944

 

No 20 (Fighter) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying P40E Kittyhawks


March 1944

 

No 4 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore


15th of March 1944

 

No's 25 and 30 Servicing Units arrived at Piva by sea having travelled up from Santo via Guadalcanal and Empress Augusta Bay


23rd March 1944

 

No. 25 Squadron flew their Dauntless dive bombers from Santo to Piva airstrip, Bougainville where they joined their servicing unit


April 1944

 

T he Fighter Gunnery School was formed at RNZAF Station Gisborne


1st May 1944

 

No 21 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers


15th of May 1944

 

The first RNZAF operation with Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsairs began when No 20 (F) Squadron began operational missions from Bougainville


2nd of June 1944

 

The RNZAF's last ever operational mission with P40 Kittyhawks was flown by No 17 Squadron from Bougainville


6th of June 1944

 

D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe began. Taking part were thousands of New Zealanders in the air, including:
No. 75 (NZ) Sqn RAF
No. 485 (NZ) Sqn RAF
No. 486 (NZ) Sqn RAF
No. 487 (NZ) Sqn RAF
No. 488 (NZ) Sqn RAF
No. 489 (NZ) Sqn RAF


19th of June 1944

 

No 22 (Fighter) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers


10th of July 1944

 

No 5 (F.B.) Squadron was reformed in Fiji, flying Consolidated Catalina flying boats


7th of August 1944

 

No 23 (Fighter) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers


22nd of September 1944

 

No 24 (Fighter) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying P40E Kittyhawks and Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers


1st of October 1944

 

No 8 (Bomber Reconnaissance) Squadron was formed at RNZAF Station Whenuapai, flying Lockheed Ventura bombers


30th of October 1944

 

No 25 (Fighter) Squadron reformed at RNZAF Station ?, flying Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers. This squadron had previously operated as No 25 (Dive bomber) Squadron, flying Douglas Dauntless dive bombers


28th of November 1944

 

From this date, all daily inspections of Ventura bombers by No. 10 Servicing Unit were carried out at Munda, New Georgia. Only periodical inspections would be carried out at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal from this date.


4th of December 1944

 

The RNZAF Flying Boat Transportation Unit was formed with the arrival on this day of the first Short Sunderland flying boat in New Zealand


1945
1st of March 1945

 

No 26 (Fighter) Squadron formed at RNZAF Station Ardmore, flying Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers