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Royal New Zealand Air Force

norfolk island

norfolk island

An RNZAF radar unit was installed by Flying Officer Mercer1 on Norfolk Island early in 1943, and became operational in May. By this time the island was no longer used as a base for operational aircraft, but it served as a staging point on the air route between New Zealand and the forward area. In view of the value of radar as a navigational aid, the unit remained operational until the end of the war and was responsible on several occasions for locating and homing aircraft in bad weather.

An instance occurred in the latter.part of 1943. An American Flying Fortress en route from New Zealand to New Caledonia page 229 developed engine trouble 90 miles south of Norfolk. The weather was extremely bad, with heavy rain and no visibility, and the aircraft was observed on the radar screen flying round in circles looking for the island. Contact was made by radio and the plane was brought safely in through the murk. Its captain later remarked that he had never before had any faith in radar, but now had entirely new ideas on the subject.

1 Flt Lt L. F. W. Mercer, m.i.d.; RNZAF; born Auckland, 8 Nov 1915; radio serviceman.