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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

221 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand — [Extract]

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

31 March 1942

Your telegram of 19 February [No. 200], paragraphs 2, 3, and 4.1 Following for Prime Minister:

1. The Air Ministry have discussed [the matter] with the New Zealand Air Liaison Officer, who has we understand been in communication with the New Zealand Chief of the Air Staff. As a result of this consultation it appears that New Zealand's requirements in squadrons as formed units completely manned and equipped are to be regarded as two fighter (long-range), two torpedo-bomber or medium bomber, one Army co-operation or dive-bomber, one flying boat.

2. It is understood that personnel can be furnished from New Zealand for the other squadrons mentioned in paragraph 3, viz., two fighter (short-range) and also the personnel for the Operational Training Unit backing. Confirmation of this is requested and also whether New Zealand still require four troop-carrying aircraft, which were not mentioned in the communication received by the Air Liaison Officer from the New Zealand Chief of Air Staff.

1 Paragraph 4 was not reproduced.

page 258

3. We greatly regret that we cannot transfer existing units to New Zealand from other theatres of war, and it would therefore seem necessary for these units to be formed in New Zealand by the use of aircraft allotted from time to time under the Munitions Assignment Board procedure, which has now started to function both here and in Washington. The Air Ministry will do their best to meet New Zealand's requirements in key personnel to assist in the manning of the squadrons so formed.

4. Against the aircraft requirements set out in paragraph (4) (a) the Munitions Assignment Board in London have allotted 12 Hudsons for March, 12 for April, and 12 for May. In respect of Kittyhawks see my immediately following telegram [No. 222]. In regard to other types the present position is as follows:


Long-range fighters. United Kingdom production will not for some time make good the grave shortage in this type, and no relief can be expected from the United States so long as the Lightning remains unfit for operational use.


Medium bomber or torpedo-bomber. Medium bomber aircraft cannot be shipped or flown from this country to New Zealand at present. We are also very short of torpedo-bomber aircraft, our home production of which is not likely to exceed thirty per month. We should, however, hope that it may later be possible for a share of the Australian production of Beauforts to be allotted to New Zealand.


Army co-operation or dive-bomber. The only suitable types are Vengeance and Bermuda, and of these it is feared that for some time to come priority must be given to the needs of India and Australia and of the Army co-operation squadrons formed or to be formed in this country.


Catalinas. Here again we are very deficient and we cannot at present draw on our slender resources available for the protection of our lines of communication in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Oceans….1

1 A brief statement of the steps being taken to meet New Zealand's requirements in Air Force equipment and personnel has been omitted.