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Royal New Zealand Air Force



The support of the RNZAF units under the control of No. 1 (Islands) Group was very largely dependent upon air transport. Shipping between New Zealand and the forward area was scarce and subject to delays and cancellations, and was beyond the direct control of the Air Force. While a great deal of the equipment used by New Zealand units was shipped to island bases direct from America, and was obtained by the RNZAF on the spot, a considerable quantity of goods, and practically all personnel, had to be carried to the forward area from New Zealand.

Early in 1942, when it had appeared that a balanced air force would be necessary in New Zealand to fight off an invasion, troop-carrying aircraft had been requested from the British Government, but none could be spared. Later, when plans were made to send RNZAF squadrons up to the Pacific, the need for transport aircraft became more intense. Towards the end of 1942 the Chief of Air Staff visited Washington and discussed the matter with General Arnold, Chief of Staff of the USAAF, and eventually, in December, the RNZAF was allocated six C47 Dakotas and nine C60 Lodestars for 1943.

Until these became available the RNZAF depended for overseas transport mainly on the two American transport organisations operating in the Pacific, the Naval Air Transport Service and the Services Command Air Transport, both of which had terminals in New Zealand. Liberators passing through Whenuapai from time to time also carried New Zealand personnel when space was available, and use was made of RNZAF Hudsons going to or returning from overseas stations. In the early part of 1943 the Hudsons carried an average of about forty-five persons a month in each direction. As the amount of traffic increased it became necessary to make increasing use of Hudsons for inter-island transport. The practice was doubly unsatisfactory in that the payload of a Hudson was extremely small and, moreover, each aircraft used on transport work reduced the already limited number available for combat operations.